The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research


The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research

Trilateral Forum Tokyo 2012–2017

December 11, 2017

The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a nonpartisan US public policy and grant-making institution dedicated to promoting greater cooperation and understanding between North America and Europe that has been going beyond its traditional focus on transatlantic cooperation and expanding research on relations with Asia.

The Foundation's partnership with the GMF is based upon the notion that transatlantic issues are no longer the sole ownership of the transatlantic community; with international relations becoming more multifaceted and complex than before, these issues are interrelated to views, situations, and actions of other regions and countries—including Japan. Japanese perspectives on transatlantic issues and the implications of transatlantic issues to Japanese society are of increasing importance, but there has been a dearth of policy research and academic activities on these issues.


The fifth Trilateral Forum Tokyo, held on December 1-2, 2017, provided an opportunity for an exchange of perspectives and bridge-building among scholars and practitioners from Japan, Europe, and the United States. Organized with the aim of supporting trilateral cooperation, TFT5 attracted more than 70 experts to discuss such topics as regional security challenges and a nuclear North Korea, populism’s effect on democracy, climate change, the future of global trade, and demographic challenges to economic growth.

Shigeru IshibaItsunori Onodera

This year’s conference featured renowned keynote addresses on each day. Shigeru Ishiba (left), a prominent leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, spoke on the challenges facing Japan on Friday, while on Saturday, Itsunori Onodera (right), Japan’s minister of defense, noted the importance of international cooperation in response to security threats.

Attendees also attended breakout dinner sessions—supported in part by the German Embassy—to discuss a range of topics, including the state of liberal democracy, strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, and the transformative influence of technology. TFT5 was jointly organized by the Tokyo Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the United States and generously hosted by the Delegation of the European Union to Japan.

Download PDF of main points of discussion:

Session 1: Tackling Security Challenges through Trilateral Cooperation
Session 2: DPRK. Where Do We Go from Here?
Session 3: Populism’s Effect on Democracy
Session 4: Climate Change–Thinking beyond Paris
Session 5: The Future of Global Trade
Session 6: Demographic Challenges, and the Prospects for Economic Growth


2015fukuda.jpgThe fourth Trilateral Forum Tokyo was held on October 16-17, 2015, hosted by the Delegation of the European Union to Japan. Some 80 participants from Japan, the United States, and Europe discussed such issues as new opportunities and challenges for trilateral cooperation, the return of geopolitical competition, the Asian economy in the changing geo-economic order, the future of climate change and energy security, and the future of global governance.

The two-day conference featured a keynote address by former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who spoke on ways to promote friendlier ties with neighboring countries. The closing session focused on approaches to strengthening trilateral cooperation with special reference to the historical role played by the Group of Seven summits as a forum for such cooperation.

2015akiyama.jpg 2015asano.jpg 2015hosoya.jpg




Over 70 policy experts from Japan, the United States, and Europe came together on September 26–27, 2014, for open and frank discussions on major issues confronting the three regions at Trilateral Forum Tokyo 2014, organized by the Tokyo Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The conference was attended by leading scholars, researchers, journalists, government officials, and business representatives, who examined such topics as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other aspects of global trade diplomacy, Japan’s economic renewal, new frontiers of security cooperation, emerging cyber issues, lingering tensions in East Asia, and trilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

Conversations were also held with such distinguished guests as Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and General David Petraeus, former commander of the Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and director of the CIA.

copy_of__54A3027.jpgFollowing the sessions in Tokyo, a study tour was organized to Okinawa, where participants gained insights into the efforts being made to reconcile security needs with the wishes of local residents through a visit to a US base. They were also acquainted with the rich history of the Ryukyu Kingdom, its experiences in World War II as the site of the Battle of Okinawa, and its geopolitical importance for East Asian security.

The sessions in Tokyo were hosted by the Delegation of the European Union to Japan, which, along with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, provided additional support for Trilateral Forum Tokyo.

• Report by Joshua Walker, Transatlantic Fellow, GMF: “Not Just an Island, But a Bridge: Japan's Thorny South Becomes Its Greatest Global Asset,” Huffington Post.


tft2013Views on a broad range of topics of vital interest to researchers and policymakers in Japan, the United States, and Europe were shared over the weekend of June 8–9, 2013, in Minato-ku, Tokyo, during the second Trilateral Forum Tokyo, co-organized by the Tokyo Foundation and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Some 70 leading scholars, think tankers, journalists, government officials, and business representatives from the three regions met for a Track 1.5 conference to explore avenues for further trilateral cooperation and to discuss topical issues in the Asia-Pacific regional architecture.

The regular sessions covered such topics as how China will relate to the international order, the impact of plethora of trade liberalization talks outside the framework of the World Trade Organization, the role of innovation in driving future economic growth, the viability of the existing nonproliferation order, the expansion of energy options, new frontiers in development cooperation, and the future of Myanmar’s political opening.

In addition, breakfast, lunch, and breakout dinner sessions were held focusing on specific topics like security, Trans-Pacific Partnership, public debt, and America’s rebalancing toward Asia.

Many Forum participants also made a study tour of Kyoto on June 10, participating in an international symposium at Doshisha University focusing on citizen diplomacy on attempts to draw on centuries of cultural heritage to achieve growth in a globalizing world. (See video of the public symposium)

• Report of the breakfast meeting held during Trilateral Forum Tokyo 2013: "Senkaku and Maritime Security in the Asia-Pacific"

Report of the public Kyoto Session, held in conjunction with Trilateral Forum Tokyo 2013: "Citizen Diplomacy in the Age of Globalization: Japan-US-Europe Symposium on Kyoto’s Heritage in a Globalizing World"

Unlocking the Potential of the U.S.-Japan-Europe Relationship, papers authored for Trilateral Forum Tokyo 2013.


tft2012Held on April 16 and 17, 2010, the inaugural Trilateral Forum Tokyo on a "New Global Architecture and Directions for a Transforming World" attracted over 40 lawmakers, government officials, journalists, scholars, business leaders, and other experts from Japan, the United States, and Europe for intensive dialogue on a broad range of crosscutting challenges confronting the three regions, including the crisis of democratic governance, disaster relief, global financial instability, security dynamics, energy sustainability, and world trade.

• Read the report "Dialogue with Europe and the United States" of the public symposium held in conjunction with the Forum and view the video of the symposium.


tft2010A two-day seminar was co-hosted with the German Marshal Fund of the United States in December 2010 as a predecessor to Trilateral Forum Tokyo to explore new forms of cooperation between Japan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which in November 2010 announced a new Strategic Concept outlining fresh approaches to extending partnerships with countries around the globe. A public forum was held at the Tokyo Foundation on December 16 following the seminar. The forum featured Masafumi Ishii of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gilles Vander Ghinst of NATO Headquarters, Michito Tsuruoka of the National Institute for Defense Studies, Phillip Stephens of the Financial Times, and Craig Kennedy, president of the GMF. The forum was moderated by Tokyo Foundation Director of Policy Research and Senior Fellow Tsuneo Watanabe.

• Read the report "Japan and NATO as Global Partners" of the public symposium held in conjunction with the seminar co-hosted with the GMF.


tft2009The Tokyo Foundation organized a dialogue with the German Marshall Fund of the United States titled “What Does Japan Think?” in Tokyo in December 2009 with the aim of promoting mutual understanding among Japan, the United States, and Europe. The event was the inaugural forerunner of Trilateral Forum Tokyo. For the dialogue, Western journalists and others were invited to Japan to exchange views with Japanese opinion leaders and to deepen their understanding of the shifts taking place in Japan following the historic change of government in 2009. A public forum was held featuring a number of participants of the dialogue.

• Read the report "Japan after the Change: Perspectives of Western Opinion Leaders" of the public symposium held in conjunction with the Forum and view the video of the symposium.
• Read articles written by Forum participants:
-- "Japan’s Easy US Marriage Becomes a Ménage à Trois" by Philip Stephens, Financial Times
-- "Does Japan Still Matter?" by Fred Hiatt, Washington Post
-- "Obama's Japan Headache" by Roger Cohen, New York Times

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