The U.S.-Japan Alliance Stands for Freedom and Opportunity


By Rep. Adrian Smith

The Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, home of the Thomas Jefferson, the Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorials, is encircled by scenic cherry trees. Each spring the trees bloom in a picturesque display, drawing visitors from around the world. This popular tourist attraction is the result of a gift of more than 3,000 trees presented to the United States by the government of Japan. Likewise, in Western Nebraska we share a special connection with the Japanese people as we await the grand opening of the Japanese Hall and History Center at the Legacy of the Plains Museum.

This week, the United States welcomed Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, to Washington, DC. Our relationship with Japan is absolutely vital, especially considering the country’s regional proximity to foreign powers who pose an open threat to our democratic allies and are increasingly working together.

Just this week as North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un intensified his typically combative rhetoric, China sent a senior diplomatic delegation to Pyongyang to demonstrate the close ties between their communist regimes. Additionally, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, published disturbing new evidence of ongoing exchanges of weapons and oil between Russia and North Korea.

In his formal address to Congress, Prime Minister Kishida raised concerns about the aggressive postures of these nations, the risk of a Ukraine-like confrontation occurring in East Asia, and even the possibility of nuclear conflict. It is important to keep in mind, as our most powerful adversaries seek to undermine freedom and opportunity in any country they can, Japan’s location places it front and center in this struggle. Because of this, Japan has wisely increased their own defense spending.

The Prime Minister thanked the United States for our unique historical impact and ongoing responsibility to stand for freedom. He was realistic about the fact our common values, such as a commitment to democracy and openness are not shared by rogue states. He called upon the U.S. to continue to demonstrate leadership among those who oppose authoritarianism on the international stage.

These values are the keys to a prosperous future, yet we cannot achieve this kind of security without robust engagement on rules-based trade relations. Japan is an important market for U.S. agriculture products, especially high-quality Nebraska beef. However, President Biden’s abdication on trade matters has put both the U.S. and our allies at a competitive disadvantage.

This is inexcusable, and it’s the reason I worked with my Ways and Means Committee colleague from West Virginia, Rep. Carol Miller, and others to introduce a bill this week calling for greater U.S. engagement with Indo-Pacific trade partners such as Japan.

The saga of United States-Japan relations is storied and gripping. The development of a historic partnership between our countries in the decades following our opposition in the Second World War is a monumental triumph of restored goodwill and continues to stand as one of the most important alliances we have in the world today.

At the opening of his address, Prime Minister Kishida announced Japan will gift an additional 250 cherry trees to Washington’s planned Tidal Basin renovation project in preparation for the coming celebration of 250 years of American independence. With endless opportunity on the horizon, there is great promise for the United States and Japan to strengthen our cooperation and friendship.