LEP/TLEP Contact Information

Program Assistant: Andrea Powell
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (+1) 202-994-8744

U.S.-Japan Legislative Exchange Program—Building Bridges for 25 Years

January 15, 2014

In the late 1980s, a decades-old security alliance between the United States and Japan was straining under the burden of rising economic tensions. Under the Omnibus Trade Act of 1988, the United States charged its ally with unfair trading practices, and Japan-watchers like the late GW Professor Gaston Sigur worried that the bilateral relationship was nearing a crisis point.

U.S.-Japan-South Korea Legislative Exchange Program (LEP/TLEP)

The U.S.-Japan-South Korea Legislative Exchange Program is a public policy program co-directed by Professors Henry R. Nau and Mike Mochizuki and housed in the Sigur Center for Asian Studies of the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. Established in 1989, the U.S.-Japan Legislative Exchange Program (LEP) brings together U.S. Congressional members and Japanese Diet members on a semi-annual basis for in-depth and informal discussions of a broad range of political, economic and security issues affecting U.S.-Japan relations. This exchange was later expanded to include South Korean National Assembly members. The Trilateral Legislative Exchange Program (TLEP) is now the only regular dialogue of national legislators from the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. An Elliott School graduate student serves as program administrator, and Elliott School undergraduate students assist in the annual Washington meeting in late April/early May. The LEP/TLEP is funded by the Congressionally-endowed Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission.

The 52nd LEP and the 18th TLEP meetings were held in Seoul, South Korea in January 31-February 1, 2015.  The topics discussed during these meetings included:

  • domestic politics after important elections held in 2014 in all three countries,
  • macroeconomic policies, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other regional trade negotiations,
  • historical issues between Japan and South Korea,
  • regional security issues concerning North Korea and China, and
  • security challenges posed by ISIS.

Three U.S. Congressional members, seven Japanese Diet members and eight South Korean National Assembly members participated in the Seoul meetings.  Speaker of the South Korean National Assembly, Chung Ui-hwa, hosted a luncheon in honor of the U.S. and Japanese delegations.

Photos from the January 2015 LEP/TLEP Meeting in Seoul

photo: Attendees of the 52nd LEP, Seoul photo: Welcome Dinner, 52nd LEP, Seoul
photo: Working session, 52nd LEP, Seoul

The exchanges, which have never missed a meeting, have involved a total of 306 legislators from the three countries.  The next LEP/TLEP meetings will take place in Washington, DC in April 29-30, 2015.

The LEP/TLEP also convenes a public forum from time-to-time at George Washington University to give the GW community and the public an opportunity to hear the perspectives of national legislators.  In April 2014, the program organized a panel discussion with representatives from the Liberal Democratic Party, the ruling party in Japan, and the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party.  With Professors Henry R. Nau and Mike Mochizuki moderating, the discussion focused on President Obama’s visit to Asia, Prime Minister Abe’s economic policies, trade relations between the United States and Japan, changes in Japanese security policy, and Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors.
» Watch the video of the April 2014 program

photo: U.S. Congressmen Jim McDermott, Tom Petri, and Frank James Sensenbrenner with Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Kenichiro Sasase

(left to right) Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Stars awardees U.S. Congressmen Jim McDermott, Tom Petri, and Frank James Sensenbrenner with Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Kenichiro Sasase.

In March 2015 the Japanese Emperor awarded the Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Stars to three members of  the U.S. Congress who have served as program co-chairs and participated regularly over the past fifteen years.


photo: participants of January 2014 LEP meeting

January 2014 LEP/TLEP meeting participants with U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy.