RIETI Special Seminar

U.S.-Japan Relations, Japanese-Americans, and Silicon Valley: A personal perspective


Ever since large-scale immigration took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japanese-Americans, now 1.2 million strong, have played a historically crucial role in the evolution of U.S.-Japan relations. During the Pacific War, 1941-45, they were sent to wartime internment camps in violation of their rights as American citizens and legal residents.

After being released in 1945, Japanese-Americans worked hard, overcoming the barriers of prejudice and discrimination, to establish themselves in positions of leadership in every sector of American society--from professional fields, such as medicine, the sciences, engineering, and law, to literature, music, the arts, and entertainment, and to nationally- and state-elected political office.

Born in 1942, Dr. Daniel I. Okimoto has experienced personally the worst and best of times in U.S.-Japan relations. U.S.-Japan relations have evolved from bitter enemies engaged in all-out war to trusted allies deeply bound together by multi-dimensional ties of economic, military, political, and diplomatic interdependence. The U.S.-Japan alliance has laid the foundations for peace and prosperity that has allowed the nation-states of Asia Pacific, including China, to enjoy the biggest sustained economic boom in history.

Professor Okimoto uses his life experiences as a lens through which to explain the role of Japanese-Americans in U.S.-Japan relations. As he has spent forty years of his life at Stanford University, he explains Stanford's role in the remarkable emergence of Silicon Valley as the Mecca of entrepreneurship and innovation. He discusses the powerful impact of rapidly advancing technology in transforming every sector of the global economy--from retail and the financial services to infrastructure and health care.

To date, Japan has not been able to connect as synergistically with Silicon Valley as other countries have. This is a lost opportunity of incalculable value. Silicon Valley operates as a fast-moving, networked eco-system, one that the Japanese have not yet managed to access effectively. A small group of Japanese-American members of the United States Japan Council, based in the Bay Area, have been working hard to bridge the Silicon Valley-Japan chasm through the organization of the Silicon Valley-Japan Project.


  • Time and Date: 14:00-15:30, Friday, April 3, 2015
  • Venue: 1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, RIETI's seminar room #1121 (METI Annex 11th floor)
  • Language(s):English / Japanese (with simultaneous interpretation)
  • Admission:Free
  • Host(s):Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)
  • Seating Capacity:150
  • Contact:RIETIMINOWA(E-mail )
    Tel: 03-3501-8398

Registration is now closed.


  • Daniel I. OKIMOTO (Professor Emeritus, Stanford University)
  • KURODA Junichiro (Director, Americas Division, Trade Policy Bureau, METI)

♦Speaker's profile

Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, and Senior Fellow Emeritus, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, at Stanford University. He has taught as a Visiting Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics.

In 1978, Professor Okimoto co-founded the Shorenstein Asia/Pacific Research Center at Stanford, a leading center for scholarly research, public policy analysis, and policy outreach, where he served as the Director for more than ten years. He has been Vice-Chairman of the Japan Committee of the National Research Council at the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Department of Politics at Princeton University. In 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Professor Okimoto to the National Endowment of the Humanities.

He has served on the Board of Directors of a number of Silicon Valley start-ups. He is Senior Advisor to Formation 8 Partners, a highly successful venture fund in Silicon Valley. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Councilors of the United States Japan Council.

In 2004, Professor Okimoto received the Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation in recognition of his contributions to U.S.-Japan relations during the 150th year celebration of bilateral relations.

In 2007, he was awarded the "Order of the Rising Sun with Goldray Neck Ribbon" by the Japanese government.

In 2009, Professor Okimoto was chosen for "The Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Keizai Society of Silicon Valley.

Professor Okimoto earned his BA from Princeton University, MA from Harvard University, and PhD from the University of Michigan. He is the author and editor of many books and articles, including Between MITI and the Market: Japanese Industrial Policy for High Technology (Stanford University Press); The Political Economy of Japan (Stanford University Press); and Competitive Edge: The Semiconductor Industry in the U.S. and Japan (Stanford University Press).

*Agenda is subject to change