American Research Unit was originally established in 2007 as Waseda organization for Japan US Studies (WOJUSS) in order to bring together researchers in a broad range of fields from within and outside of academia and Japan, in order to conduct research on challenges between Japan and the US, carry out comparative studies, and research and study global issues that should be resolved jointly by Japan and the US. Since its foundation we have not only analyzed various challenging issues objectively, neutrally and comprehensively, we have also undertaken strategic research on partnerships between Japan and countries in the Americas and in Asia and have been working to link research outcomes to policy proposals through holding international symposiums, seminars and workshops, by publishing books and working papers, and similar activities.
However, both the quantity and the quality of Japan-US studies in Japan are gradually declining, so is the number of researchers showing major interests in Japan-US studies. As a result, the US understanding of Japanese politics and policies is becoming superficial. In debate on global challenges also, Japanese perspectives and experiences are rarely reflected. This is causing recent wane of Japan’s presence in the international community. If this continues, we may become incapable of making accurate judgments and responses when meeting challenges, which could lead significant impacts on Japan-US relations. Some are warning that in the longer term, the relations could be estranged or even deteriorate. Additionally, the fixed-point researches on bilateral relations such as the Japan-US security are wanted with fresh perspectives over more becoming diverse and multilateral relations under the rapidly globalizing world.
Amid this environment, in 2011 WOJUSS re-examined realities and developments of Japan-US research. In addition to the research carried out by individual academic staff and the Project Research Institutes thus far, it set out the four key themes that are important both in scholarly and practical terms: “US domestic politics,” “Economics,” “Security” and “Environment,” and decided to implement policy-oriented research of a more multifaceted and comprehensive nature in the next five years.
These comprehensive and intensive research projects have been realized on the foundation of the five years of research amassed thus far since 2007 and our networks with partner research institutions abroad, including US universities, allowing many foreign researchers to take part in and effectively disseminating our research outcomes. We believe that the formulation of comprehensive policy-oriented research will contribute to the promotion of political dialogue both in Japan and the US, and cultivating the next generation of young researchers will also lead to enhancement and strengthening of Japan-US relations in the future.
The scopes of studies are broadened in terms of regional coverage and issues to be considered under the new organization of the ORIS.