U.S.-Japan Economic Relations: Significance, Prospects, and Policy Options [Updated August 30, 2006] [open pdf - 122KB]
"Japan and the United States are the two largest economic powers. Together they account for over 40% of world domestic product, for a significant portion of international trade in goods and services, and for a major portion of international investment. This economic clout makes the United States and Japan powerful actors in the world economy. Economic conditions in the United States and Japan have a significant impact on the rest of the world. Furthermore, the U.S.-Japan bilateral economic relationship can influence economic conditions in other countries. The U.S.-Japan economic relationship is very strong and mutually advantageous. The two economies are highly integrated via trade in goods and services - they are large markets for each other's exports and important sources of imports. More importantly, Japan and the United States are closely connected via capital flows. Japan is the largest foreign source of financing of the U.S. national debt and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future, as the mounting U.S. debt needs to be financed and the stock of U.S. domestic savings remains insufficient to meet the demand. Japan is also a significant source of foreign private portfolio and direct investment in the United States, and the United States is the origin of much of the foreign investment in Japan. The relative significance of Japan and the United States as each other's economic partner has diminished somewhat with the rise of China as an economic power, and with U.S. economic ties with Canada and Mexico deepening as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Nevertheless, analyses of trade and other economic data suggest that the bilateral relationship remains important, and policy leaders of both countries face the challenge of how to manage it."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32649