Compared to April last year, when we met to discuss issues surrounding our alliance, the state of the US-Japan alliance is much improved. In the first half of 2010, our alliance was at rock bottom. In January, in Washington, D.C., the 16th Japan-US Security Seminar, which was supposed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the revision of the US-Japan Security Treaty, was held.1 The mood at the conference was, however, rather low-key and gloomy. I started my presentation on “The Future Visions of the Alliance” with the following words:
As all of you would probably agree, this is the worst time, particularly from a Japanese point of view, to talk about the future of our alliance… Since around 2003, thanks to efforts made by some people in this room, it once seemed that the era in which the US-Japan alliance would deal mainly with housekeeping matters was finally ending, and a new era in which the two allies can conduct talks and policy coordination on substantive strategic and security issues was finally beginning. Since last fall, however, the alliance has seemed to return to the era of housekeeping. The future of the alliance seems quite unpredictable.