America is preparing for its 58th quadrennial presidential election, following a schedule set in the US constitution in 1787 (or 天明/Tenmei 7 in the calendar then in use in the Edo Shogunate) and unchanged since then. After a pre-primary season marked by developments few observers expected, we will have a conversation followed by a discussion session with Ambassador Orr who will give us a historical perspective on the election. Thanks to his unique viewpoint, having worked in Washington on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch, as an American business executive and diplomat overseas, and now as an academic, Ambassador Orr will provide us with a perfectly timed analysis just a few days after the Super Tuesday primaries. As Ambassador Orr was on the TUJ faculty and ran the Institute for Pacific Rim Studies, the forerunner of ICAS, we are particularly happy to welcome him back to campus.
Ambassador Robert M. Orr is a Member of the Board of Governors, Pacific Forum, Center for Strategic and International Studies. He was confirmed by the Senate as United States Executive Director with rank of Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in September 2010. In July 2013 he became Dean of the Board of the ADB. He served as Ambassador to the ADB until December 31, 2015. From 2007-2010 he was Chairman of the Board of the Panasonic Foundation and concurrently Vice Chair of the National Association of Japan-America Societies, a member of the Board of Trustees of J.F. Obirin University and a member of the Board of the East-West Center Foundation.
From January 2002 until March 2007 Dr. Orr was President of Boeing Japan holding that position during the development of the most successfully selling airplane in history, the 787 Dreamliner, 35% of which is made in Japan. Prior to joining Boeing, Ambassador Orr was Vice President and Director of European Affairs for Motorola based in Brussels. And before that he held various senior level posts with Motorola in Japan culminating as Vice President of Government Relations. In that capacity he successfully led the negotiations that opened up the cellular phone market in Japan.
In addition to the corporate world, the Ambassador has also spent many years in academia and the United States Government. Between 1985 and 1993 he was a professor of Political Science at Temple University in Japan with two years off to run the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies and the Stanford Center for Technology and Innovation at the Stanford Japan Center in Kyoto. His book The Emergence of Japan’s Foreign Aid Power published by Columbia University Press won the 1991 Ohira Prize for best book on the Asia Pacific.
Dr. Orr’s career began in 1976 when he served for two years as Legislative Assistant to Congressman Paul G. Rogers (D-FL) a 12 term member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Between 1978 and 1981 he served on the House Foreign Affairs Asia Subcommittee staff seconded from the Select Committee on Narcotics. In 1981 he was appointed as Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator of Asia in the U.S. Agency for International Development. He served on the foreign policy team of president Obama’s first campaign in 2008. The Ambassador holds a B.A. in History, cum laude, from Florida Atlantic University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Tokyo University. He speaks German and Japanese fluently. He is a member of the Council of American Ambassadors.
Kyle Cleveland, Associate Director
Eriko Kawaguchi, Senior Coordinator
Temple University, Japan Campus