U.S.–Japan Relations


In this lesson students examine the history and current state of U.S.–Japan relations and consider the significance of several specific themes in this relationship. They then consider the role that individuals—and they themselves—can play in bridging together different communities, societies, and cultures.

Days One & Two

Students learn about the history of U.S.–Japan relations by reading a general overview, “Relations Between Japan and the United States, 1853–2018,” which was written by Stanford Professor Emeritus (History) Peter Duus. They then work in groups to conduct research on one of six facets of contemporary U.S.–Japan relations.

Day Three

Each student group presents its research on one of six different facets of contemporary U.S.–Japan relations. They then view video vignettes about two prominent individuals who have served as bridges between the United States and Japan—former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, John Roos, and former Secretary of Transportation and Commerce, Norman Mineta—as examples of influential leaders in the U.S.–Japan relationship.

Day Four

Students view video comments by young Americans who have become involved in the U.S.–Japan relationship in some form. After reflecting on the methods and possible value of being involved in U.S.–Japan relations, students broaden their thinking and consider how they might be able to serve as bridges between different communities in their own city or school.