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Issues & Insights Vol. 16 – No. 18 – A New Era for Cooperation: Next Generation Views of the US-Japan Alliance

Japan’s passage of new security legislation and reinterpretation of the right of collective self-defense have created opportunities for greater cooperation and partnership on security affairs between the United States and Japan. As both Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and President Barak Obama have expressed their desire for and commitment to a strong US-Japan relationship, they have provided a vision of a strong alliance working together for the betterment of the region and the world. 
Believing that the sustainability and growth of the US-Japan alliance demands an engaged next generation, the Pacific Forum Young Leaders Program and the US Embassy Tokyo called on Young Leaders to think of bold and innovative ways the two countries can work together to take on current and future challenges. The pieces selected for this volume were written by four Young Leaders in the rising generation of policy experts to promote their ideas for the future of the US-Japan alliance.
These essays explore not only how to strengthen the alliance but also how it can be used as a problem-solving mechanism to reinforce regional stability and security. Lauren Dickey recommends developing trilateral relationships between the US, Japan, and Taiwan to promote prosperity and security. Looking to possible future obstacles, Akira Igata presents the need and opportunities for the alliance to further cooperation in the space domain. To tackle issues like maritime security and territorial disputes in the South China Sea, multilateral approaches are suggested as the best solution. Miha Hribernik proposes the creation of a Partnership Coordination Mechanism and a Public Diplomacy Coordination Mechanism to facilitate multilateral partnerships, using NATO as an example. Erik French recommends coalitions of the willing to address security risks in the maritime commons. These groups would give partner countries the ability to adapt the purpose and extent of their cooperation with the US-Japan alliance to fit their specific needs and interests. This kind of multilateral cooperation would move the region toward sustainable security, especially in the maritime domain.
This project and the Pacific Forum Young Leaders Program seek to motivate the next generation to realize the necessity of and opportunities provided by the US-Japan alliance. The generous support of the US Embassy Tokyo sent the authors to tour Japan in October 2016, sharing their recommendations to inspire engagement in foreign policy and regional security. We hope this volume stimulates debate among current and future policy leaders and encourages creative problem-solving for the US-Japan alliance, prompting others to think more about Japanese foreign policy generally, and about the US-Japan alliance in particular.