July 6, 2009
The U.S.-Japan alliance is beset by contradictions. Both countries affirm the centrality of the alliance to their national security; indeed, facing new and diffuse threats, the importance of the alliance has increased in recent years. Yet officials in both capitals voice concern about their partner’s ability to fulfill previous commitments and fear that its ally entertains doubts about its own reliability. Even more disconcerting is the continuing reluctance of Japanese to openly discuss doubts about the credibility of the U.S. commitment to Japan’s defense: after several years of progress, it looks again like political sensitivities foreclose meaningful discussion of this pivotal concern at the official level.