By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Two esteemed international experts were special guests on Horizon Radio’s International Power Hour, sharing their experience with and knowledge of Japanese-American relations with hosts Dr. Jean Abshire, associate professor of political science and international studies, and Dr. Cliff Staten, professor of political science and international studies..
The high-profile visitors were Ambassador James P. Zumwalt, retired diplomat and CEO of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, and Dr. Satu Limaye, director of the East-West Center in Washington, D.C. and creator of the Asia Matters for America initiative.
The delegation was in Kentuckiana to participate in public discussions highlighting the impact of the Japan-U.S. alliance on security and the regional economy.
“The United States and Japan enjoy a positive and important relationship,” Zumwalt said.
Zumwalt detailed the deep and enduring relationship between the two countries, who are linked both through common security interests in Asia and cultural and political affinity.
It’s a relationship built from the ground up since the end of the Second World War, extending from a mutual love of baseball and Mickey Mouse all the way to cyber defense and military cooperation in conflict zones such as South Sudan.
Japan also occupies an outsized importance for our region, as detailed by Limaye. It is Kentucky’s leading foreign investor, with 206 companies employing some 50,000 Kentuckians. More than 50,000 jobs in Indiana are in Japanese-owned companies and over 13,000 jobs in Indiana are tied to exporting Indiana-made products to Japan.
According to Limaye, Japanese tourists contribute $130 million annually to the Kentucky economy, and another $115 million to Indiana’s.
Educational exchanges also have economic benefits. Indiana’s 261 international students from Japan contribute $9 million to the state’s economy, while Kentucky’s 152 Japanese students spend $5 million.
In fact Zumwalt first experienced Japan as a foreign exchange student there, and remains in close contact with his Japanese family. Through exchange opportunities–such as the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program–students can enjoy a truly immersive experience in Japan, and become lifelong contributors to the cultural bonds between the two nations.
Both Zumwalt and Limaye underscored the intertwining of security and economics in the partnership, with examples ranging from international trade agreements to regional defense pacts, demonstrating how shared interests continue to strengthen cooperation not only in Asia, but around the world.
“Considering all the different vectors of cooperation–be it aerospace or autoparts or manufacturing–there is no U.S. relationship internationally that is as expansive and as deep across all categories as the relationship with Japan,” Limaye said.
That relationship is only one strand in a global web connecting all nations in a community of common interest. Everyone has a stake in the survival, and the success, or everyone else. All the more reason to grasp the global dimension to local actions.
“The world beyond the Ohio Valley will have a great impact on people living here, so it is important to understand it,” Zumwalt said. “I hope that students in the Ohio Valley can better understand global trends in order to position this region to take advantage of new economic opportunities.”