pacific forum History of Pacific Forum

PacNet #77 – US-Japan “2+2” statement – breaking new ground?

On Oct. 3, the United States and Japan held the Security Consultative Committee (SCC) meeting, often referred to as “two-plus-two” because it includes the US secretaries of state and defense and Japan’s foreign and defense ministers, in Tokyo. The Joint Statement issued at the end of the meeting, Toward a More Robust Alliance and Greater Shared Responsibilities, described the vision of the US-Japan alliance that is “more balanced and effective.” It included an extensive list of action items in three categories: “bilateral security and defense cooperation” (previously called “roles, missions, and capabilities”), “regional engagement,” and “US force realignment in Japan.” While this Joint Statement is encouraging in that it reaffirms the two countries’ joint commitment to further enhance the resilience of the US-Japan alliance, its ambitious agenda raises a simple question: can Washington and Tokyo muster the political capital necessary to move forward with the action items in the document?