Center for U.S. Japan Studies and Cooperation


To raise the level of public discussion about issues of mutual interest to Japan and the United States and to facilitate particular forms of cooperation between the two countries by:

  • conducting research on issues in U.S.-Japan relations (for example, national security, trade, technology transfer and intellectual property, and by comparative approaches to domestic policy design such as health care, education and the environment);
  • organizing a program of meeting and publications based on the research of government, business and academic leaders of both countries;
  • hosting degree and non degree seeking research fellows from Japan and Korea and assisting their research efforts to support the U.S.-Japan Center ‘s mission.

The VIPPS U.S.-Japan Center has significantly raised Vanderbilt University ‘s profile in Japan, which was already high in the area of medicine, particularly in the area of U.S.-Japan national security policy. Since 1990 it has hosted more than 100 masters’ degree and non degrees research fellows from Japan ‘s Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, Ministry of Defense, National Police Agency, Small and Medium Enterprise Corporation, Japan Patent Office, major newspapers as well as Fulbright scholars and Ph.D. candidates from elite Japanese universities.

Since 1990 the Center has conducted an annual Vanderbilt U.S.-Japan Technology Forum bringing together leading business and government related officials from the United States and Japan to discuss dual purpose technology cooperation.

Since 2004 the Center has also conducted an annual Vanderbilt U.S.-Japan Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Forum for American and Japanese government and private sector officials to discuss methods for promoting the protection of critical infrastructure in multiple sectors against natural and man made threats.

Center Director Jim Auer is a frequent contributor to discussions of U.S.-Japan defense cooperation in Japanese media and at academic conferences in the United States and Japan.

Center Activities

  1. Host research fellows from Japan and Korea:
    • One master’s degree fellow and two non-degree fellows from Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) are present on campus each year. METI is an elite Japanese government department and VIPPS U.S.-Japan Center alumni/ae fellows are advancing into increasingly senior positions in the organization.
    • A smaller but significant number of Japanese National Police Agency (NPA) officials have conducted one year research programs at the center and are similarly moving up in seniority in the NPA, Japan’s most prestigious law enforcement agency.
    • Major Japanese newspapers sell well over five million morning editions daily, making them larger in circulation than any in the U.S. national press. Four journalists from three of Japan’s most influential dailies have spent one year to 18 months research programs at VIPPS and regularly consult with the Center regarding U.S.-Japan national security issues.
    • Since 2001 as the U.S.-Japan Center’s reputation has grown it has been requested to host one Japanese Fulbright scholar, two Japanese Ph.D. candidates, a major Korean policy maker, and one member of the Japanese House of Representatives.
  2. Conduct Vanderbilt U.S.-Japan Technology Forum on the Vanderbilt campus.
    • This annual (since 1990) one and one-half day conference has become a major avenue of connectivity between major U.S. corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing and their Japanese counterparts such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Toshiba, and Fujitsu to discuss collaborative dual purpose technology cooperation. The U.S. Department of Defense and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Ministry of Defense are also regular participants.
    • An annual report is published and accessible in the Library page.
  3. Conduct Vanderbilt U.S.-Japan Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Forum in Washington D.C. or Tokyo:
    • This annual (since 2004) one and one-half day conference responded to a major U.S. Department of State initiative to examine the protection of critical infrastructure following September 11, 2001. Although there are some U.S.-Japan government to government discussions of CIP, the majority of critical infrastructure is owned by or maintained by local governments or private industry. Also most CIP discussions center on the important area of cyber security; however, no matter how good cyber security might be, there are other critical areas of infrastructure such as finance, utilities, transportation, etc. which cannot be neglected in responsible public policy.
    • Since the inception of the U.S.-Japan CIP Forum major events such as Hurricane Katrina in the United States, major earthquakes in Japan which damaged the world’s largest output nuclear power plant and the collapse of the bridge over Interstate-35 in Minneapolis have occurred and have been topics of this forum.
    • Keynote speakers for the CIP Forum have been Assistant Secretary of State Lincoln Bloomfield (2004), President of Japan Central Railway Yoshiyuki Kasai (2005), former Senator, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen (2006) and Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Shintaro Ishihara (2007).
    • An annual report is published and available upon request.
  4. Collaborate with other universities:
    • Meharry Medical College: The VIPPS U.S.-Japan Center coordinated the establishment of the Michio Watanabe Special Scholars Program at Meharry Medical College in 1990. The Honorable Michio Watanabe was the first foreigner ever to be elected to the board of a traditional black college in the U.S. and donated over $500,000 of his private funds to sponsor four African American medical students annually for five years.
    • Mississippi State University: VIPPS Director Jim Auer has partnered with former Hungarian Ambassador Janos Radvanyi (condemned to death by communist Hungary, currently “Hero of Hungary” since the fall of the Iron Curtain) in conducting a 2006 and 2007 workshop on U.S., Japanese and Australian efforts to assist Southeast Asian countries in dealing with terrorism, particularly in the Malacca Strait. These workshops have been highly regarded as models of policy cooperation in important but politically sensitive areas.
    • Workshop reports are available in the Library page.
  5. Host monthly outreach open house, “Third Tuesday” during the academic year (September – April) at VIPPS/Curb Center:
    • Started in 1989 as a monthly open house for a dozen or less persons interested in U.S.-Japan relations, this monthly function has become an opportunity for as many as 100 Vanderbilt faculty, graduate and undergraduate students and their families to come together socially with similarly interested members of the Nashville community.
    • Light refreshments are served at this popular opportunity for those very or even only slightly interested in U.S.-Japan relations.
  6. Serves as VIPPS Japan representative for Vanderbilt Asia Initiative (VIA).

Center Structure and Funding

  1. VIPPS research center.
  2. One full-time director and one full-time Cultural Relations Staff Assistant.
  3. The director is the administrator, researcher and fund raiser for the center which is self-supporting.
  4. The director teaches two courses each spring in the College of Arts and Science (AS 240: Current U.S.-Japan Relations and History 169: History of Sea Power) and a summer course in Current U.S.-Japan Relations at the Osher Lifelong Learning at Vanderbilt.