What is JUSFC?

The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission was established as an independent federal government agency by the United States Congress in 1975 (P.L. 94-118) to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship through educational, cultural, and intellectual exchange. The Commission is a grant making agency that supports research, education, public affairs and exchange with Japan. Its mission is to support reciprocal people-to-people understanding, and promote partnerships that advance common interests between Japan and the United States.

How Does JUSFC Operate?

The Commission receives no funds from general revenues from the U.S. budget.

The Commission operates entirely from the Japan-United States Friendship Trust Fund, which originated from payments by the Japanese government for U.S. assistance. These funds remain in the U.S. Treasury in a separate account.  Congress established the Commission to manage the Fund.

The Commission’s enabling legislation allows it to accept gifts and in-kind contributions, which it may disperse at its own discretion within its approved budget authority.

Decisions on the expenditure of the Commission’s earnings are made by a board of 18 commissioners — nine private citizens and nine U.S. government officials — who meet annually to consider all grant proposals that come to it.  Among the government officials are four Members of Congress, bipartisan representation from the Senate and the House of Representatives, who serve in a non-voting capacity.

By statute, the Members of the House of Representatives who serve on the Commission board are appointed by the Speaker of the House per 22 USC §2903 (a) (2).  Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) currently serves on the Commission.  Senators who serve on the Commission are appointed by the President Pro Tempore per USC §2903(a) (3).  From the Senate, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)  currently serves on the Commission.

The JUSFC Trust Fund

The Trust Fund originally was composed of two parts:  an appropriated dollar fund; and an  appropriated yen fund.

The appropriated dollar fund stemmed from dollar payments made by the Japanese government to the U.S. government for facilities received in Okinawa at the time of the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty in 1972.  By the terms of the Commission’s enabling legislation, these funds are to be invested in U.S. Treasury instruments.

The appropriated yen funds stemmed from Japanese government repayments to the U.S. for postwar economic assistance and were to be invested in Japanese government bonds. They were used by the Commission for its programs of training and research in Japan.  Beginning in FY 1998, Congress amended the Commission’s legislation to allow it to convert its yen fund into dollars and invest those dollars in U.S. Treasury instruments.

Currently, the Trust Fund stands at approximately $38M. The Commission spends approximately $2.1M for its operations.

The Commission’s Programs

The Commission is the chief instrument of the U.S. government for maintaining expertise on Japan throughout U.S. academic and professional institutions.

The Commission serves only to make grants to institutions. It does not operate its own programs. It relies on the academic, non-profit sector to organize and operate programs of training, research and exchange.

The Commission operates its grant-making activities in four areas: Exchanges and Scholarship; Global Challenges; Arts and Culture; and Education and Public Affairs.