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About the Mike Mansfield Fellowships

Program Overview


Program Objectives and Benefits


The Fellowship Years


Post-Fellowship Return to U.S. Agencies


Relationship with the Mansfield Foundation


Nexus Newsletter

Program Overview


The Mansfield Fellowship Program—named after Mike Mansfield, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Senate Majority Leader, U.S. Senator and U.S. Congressman from Montana—is a first-of-its-kind program for both the United States and Japan. The two-year Fellowships enable U.S. federal government employees to develop an in-depth understanding of Japan, learn how its government works, and establish relationships with their counterparts in the government of Japan as well as in the business, professional and academic communities.

Ambassador Mike Mansfield greets the Mansfield Fellows.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe greets a Mansfield Fellow from the twelfth group


Each year, up to 10 two-year Fellowships are awarded to qualified U.S. government officials. The Fellows spend a year working full-time in Japanese government offices, preceded by a year of full-time rigorous language and area studies training in the United States. After the year in Japan, the Fellows are required to serve at least two additional years in the federal government where it is anticipated they will continue to work on projects involving Japan issues.


The Mansfield Fellowships are administered by The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, which works with the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, as grantor. The program receives significant in-kind support from the government of Japan, Central Japan Railway Company, Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, Panasonic Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation, and Ishikawa Prefecture. The Toshiba International Foundation has provided support for alumni programming.

Before leaving for the year in Japan, Mansfield Fellows in the fifth group discussed U.S.-Japan issues with former Ambassador Mike Mansfield in his office in Washington, D.C.

Since the program was established,91 Fellows have been selected, representing 22 agencies of the U.S. government. Shown here, the fourteenth group of Mansfield Fellows in front of the Japanese Diet.


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Program Objectives and Benefits

Congress created the Mansfield Fellowships in 1994 in order to build a corps of U.S. federal government employees with proficiency in the Japanese language and experience working inside the government of Japan. Through the Fellowships, the Fellows develop networks of contacts in Japan and an understanding of the political, economic and strategic dimensions of the U.S.-Japan relationship that can strengthen their agencies' Japan-related policies and programs and help the United States manage its relationship with Japan more effectively.


Once they return to the United States, Fellows are expected to continue their professional work on Japan issues and cooperative programs with Japan, provide advice to their agencies on Japanese decision-making systems and processes, and share their enhanced knowledge, expertise and relationships with a broad audience, including others in the federal government.


Benefits to U.S. Agencies

U.S. agencies have discovered that there is an immediate and substantial return on their investment in sending employees to the Fellowship Program.

  • Mansfield Fellows return to federal service with a deep, practical understanding of Japan, including knowledge of Japanese government policies, including how the government of Japan works on issues and programs in the Fellows' professional fields; Japanese decision making, including how their counterpart agencies in Japan are organized and make decisions; the work environment in the government of Japan; and Japanese society and culture.

  • Mansfield Fellows have Japanese language skills and networks of contacts that facilitate their agencies' work on Japan-related programs and policies.

  • Mansfield Fellows have been able to quickly resolve issues involving Japan that previously took months to work out.

  • Mansfield Fellows serve as a resource to their agencies in matters pertaining to Japan, and they help plan visits and meetings by Japanese delegations.

Alumni Fellows are able to make significant contributions to their agencies' Japan-related work, and many have been promoted or assigned to federal government positions with direct responsibility for issues involving Japan. Alumni Fellows' titles include:


  • Regional Director for Northeast Asia, U.S. Department of Defense

  • Director for ASEAN Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce

  • Assistant Director for Africa and Asia, Food and Drug Administration

  • Director's Advisor, U.S. Executive Director's Office, Asian Development Bank

  • Senior Counsel for Japanese Trade Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce

  • Director, Office of East Asia, U.S. Department of the Treasury

  • Director for Japanese Affairs, Office of the United States Trade Representative; Tokyo

  • Mutual Defense Assistant Attaché, U.S. Embassy, Tokyo

  • Senior Japan Analyst, U.S. Department of State

  • Deputy Director, Agricultural Trade Office, U.S. Embassy, Tokyo

  • Director of International Economics, National Security Council

  • Assistant to the Director, International Affairs Staff, Center for Radiological Devices and Health, FDA

  • International Education Policy Specialist, U.S. Department of Education

  • Director, Asia-Pacific Office, Office of International Aviation, Federal Aviation Administration


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The Fellowship Years

Year I: Intensive Language and Area Studies Training

During the first year, which begins in September, the Fellows receive full-time intensive training in the Japanese language in the Washington, D.C., area, including instruction in making presentations in Japanese and in the technical vocabulary relevant to their professional fields. They also attend classes in the history, culture and economics of Japan as well as educational seminars designed to broaden their expertise about Japan. This training is supplemented by a series of orientations on practical, logistical issues and general background related to the second year in Japan and the placements in Japanese government offices.


Throughout the year, the Fellows work closely with the Foundation staff and representatives of the government of Japan (GOJ) and National Personnel Authority (NPA) in both Washington, D.C., and Tokyo, to identify and secure appropriate placements in counterpart agencies, tailored to the interests of their agencies and the Fellows' expertise and professional interests. The government of Japan ultimately makes the final decision on placements. At the conclusion of the first year, the Fellows participate in six weeks of language training and a homestay in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, in order to enhance their language proficiency and confidence in their language skills.


Throughout the first year of the program, Mansfield Fellows work closely with the Foundation staff and representatives of the government of Japan in Washington, D.C. and Tokyo to identify and secure appropriate placements in counterpart agencies, tailored to the interests of their agencies and the Fellows' expertise and professional interests.



Year II: Assignment in Japan

Fellows spend the second year of the program in Japan where they work full time in ministries and agencies of the Japanese government and participate in a program of supplemental education, administrative training, language training and study tours.



During the year in Japan, Fellows participate in full-time placements in ministries and agencies of the Japanese government or in non-governmental Japanese institutions as appropriate. Fellows also have the opportunity for a short internship in the office of a Japanese Diet member.


The Fellows' work allows them to learn how Japan addresses issues similar to those of their U.S. agencies. In particular, they observe the internal dynamics of the host agencies, learn about the government of Japan and its organizational culture, build professional relationships with their Japanese colleagues, and where appropriate, participate in policy meetings and assignments. It is expected that they will use Japanese in their daily work.


Because some ministries and agencies have overlapping jurisdiction over certain issues, some Fellows work in more than one government office during the year in Japan. However, in order for the Fellows to gain an in-depth knowledge of the Japanese government and develop relationships with their counterparts, one of the placements must be a minimum of six months duration.


Continuing Education Program

To broaden their view of Japan, expand their network of contacts and establish a context for their professional work, the Fellows are required to participate in a continuing education program that includes monthly meetings and small group discussions (kenkyukai) with Japanese leaders and Japan experts.


Fellows broaden their view of Japan by participating in a program of continuing education that includes discussions with Japanese government officials and Japan specialists.











GOJ-Provided Activities

Fellows may attend a mandatory two-week administrative training program, which the National Personnel Authority provides for mid-level civil servants and makes available for the Fellows. While in Japan, Fellows also must attend twice-weekly language training classes and participate in a GOJ study tour to locations outside of Tokyo.


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Post-Fellowship Return to U.S. Agencies

Following the year in Japan, the Fellows return to U.S. federal government service for a minimum of two years. It is expected that agencies that send their officials to the program will use the Fellows' expertise and network of contacts in ways that will benefit the agency in Japan-related work. During the Fellowship, the Foundation works with the Fellows and their agencies to support agency plans for involving the Fellows in Japan issues when they return. As alumni, Fellows participate in Foundation-sponsored professional development activities and programs. They are also expected to participate in educational outreach programs, including briefings for Congressional staff and other policy makers, and to assist the Foundation in recruiting, training and orientation for new Fellows.

Following the year in Japan, Fellows return to U.S. federal government service and participate in a variety of outreach activities to share what they have learned.







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Relationship with the Mansfield Foundation

Fellows detailed to the Mansfield Foundation (both "detailees" and "non-detailees") are supervised and evaluated by the Program Director during both years of the Fellowship Program.


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