Challenges, opportunities, and major events await Japan in 2020, notably its hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympics and the expected state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping. In addition, Japan will need to navigate the political maneuvering for succession to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, continuing economic headwinds, new threats from North Korea, and strategic competition between the United States and China. 

David R. Stilwell and Hiroyuki Akita will join two panels of leading experts from academia, business, and the media to consider a broad range of political, economic, security, and social issues likely to impact Japan and the U.S.-Japan alliance in the year ahead. 

This event is cosponsored by the Japan-America Society of Washington DC with support from the National Association of Japan-America Societies.


9:45 to 10:15 a.m.

Welcome Remarks

James L. Schoff, Ryan Shaffer

10:15 to 11:00 a.m.

Morning Keynote

David R. Stilwell, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State

11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Japan’s Domestic Political and Economic Prospects in 2020

Tobias Harris, Dai Mochinaga, Sheila A. Smith, James L. Schoff

12:30 to 2:00 p.m.

Lunch Keynote

Hiroyuki Akita, Editorial Commentator, Nikkei

2:00 to 3: 30 p.m.

Japan’s Foreign Policy, Asia, and the U.S.-Japan Relationship in 2020

Patricia M. Kim, Masashi Murano, Scott A. Snyder, Kristin Vekasi, James P. Zumwalt


David R. Stilwell

David R. Stilwell is the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Most recently, Stilwell served as the director of the China Strategic Focus Group at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii 2017-2019 and an adjunct senior fellow at the East West Center in Honolulu from 2016-2019.

Hiroyuki Akita

Hiroyuki Akita is a foreign affairs and international security commentator for Nikkei. He previously served as editorial staff writer, Washington chief correspondent, senior staff writer, and Beijing correspondent for Nikkei.

James L. Schoff

James L. Schoff is a senior fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program. His research focuses on U.S.-Japan relations and regional engagement, Japanese politics and security, and the private sector’s role in Japanese policymaking. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Japan-America Society of Washington DC.

James P. Zumwalt

James P. Zumwalt is chairman of the board of trustees for the Japan-America Society of Washington DC and a non-resident distinguished senior fellow for the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA. He was chief executive officer of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA until 2019. Prior to Sasakawa, he served as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Senegal and the Republic of Guinea Bissau, and served as deputy assistant secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. 

Ryan Shaffer

Ryan Shaffer joined the Japan America Society of Washington DC as president in February of 2019. He previously served as director of programs and development at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, where he oversaw integration of programmatic efforts to advance shared interests in U.S. relations with Japan and other Northeast Asian Partners.

Tobias Harris

Tobias Harris is the fellow for Economy, Trade, and Business at Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA. He is also an analyst of Japanese politics and economics at Teneo Intelligence, a political risk advisory firm.

Dai Mochinaga

Dai Mochinaga is a senior researcher for the Keio Research Institute at Shonan-Fujisawa Campus (SFC). A specialist in cybersecurity, international relations, and information technology, he previously served for 10 years as a cybersecurity researcher at the Mitsubishi Research Institute.

Sheila A. Smith

Sheila A. Smith is senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. An expert on Japanese politics and foreign policy, she is the author of Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power, Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China and Japan’s New Politics and the U.S.-Japan Alliance

Patricia M. Kim

Patricia M. Kim is a senior policy analyst with the China Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Her areas of expertise include Chinese foreign policy, U.S.-China relations, and East Asian security issues. She is currently the project director of the China-Red Sea Senior Study Group which examines China’s activities and influence in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

Masashi Murano

Masashi Murano is a Japan chair fellow at Hudson Institute. His research areas include U.S.-Japan defense cooperation and nuclear/conventional deterrence analysis. Prior to joining Hudson, he was a fellow at the Okazaki Institute.

Scott A. Snyder

Scott A. Snyder is senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. His program examines South Korea’s efforts to contribute on the international stage; its potential influence and contributions as a middle power in East Asia; and the peninsular, regional, and global implications of North Korean instability.

Kristin Vekasi

Kristin Vekasi is an assistant professor in the department of political science and School of Policy and International Affairs at the University of Maine. Her research interests focus on international political economy, and the dynamics of political conflict, foreign direct investment, and nationalism.