Introduction: An Alliance Renewed? Future-proofing U.S.-Japan Security Relations

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.-Japan Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. With backgrounds from academia, government, military and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Japan bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Click here to download the full volume.


Introduction

On September 8, 1951, the Security Treaty between the United States and Japan was signed, marking the beginning of an alliance relationship that would serve as the cornerstone of regional peace, security, and prosperity in the decades that followed. Forged in the aftermath of the Second World War, at a time when a new post-war international order was being crafted around the United Nations, and an emergent superpower rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union was taking shape, the alliance has endured both economic shocks and geopolitical change. The alliance’s resilience is partly due to its ability to adapt to the changing strategic environment enabled by the willingness of both sides to reconcile, compromise,  and prioritize the welfare and security of their peoples. In 1960, the relationship evolved significantly. The Security Treaty was replaced by the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, granting the United States a permanent presence in Japanese territories in exchange for defending Japan in the event of an armed attack.

When the Cold War ended, the alliance did not fall into obscurity. Instead, it continued to adapt. Alliance managers found negotiating expectations and future responsibilities prudent given new realities. This culminated in the release of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation in 1997. The Guidelines created a “solid basis for more effective and credible U.S.-Japan cooperation under normal circumstances, in case of an armed attack against Japan, and in situations in areas surrounding Japan.” Soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) were dispatched in support of combat operations  overseas for the first time, initially to the Indian Ocean to assist U.S. operations in Afghanistan, but later also to Iraq to help in reconstruction. The SDF continued to carve out a broader international role by engaging in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in South and Southeast Asia. Regional countries welcomed Japan’s de facto armed forces to their shores, alongside those of the United States, as they coped with natural disasters such as the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 that impacted countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, and Sri Lanka, and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 that killed over 6,000 in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, as North Korea pressed on with its nuclear and missile development programs in violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions, and as the region grows weary of the security implications of China’s rise, including effort to operationalize illegal claims in many of the region’s maritime commons, the U.S.-Japan alliance remained responsive. In 2015, Japanese policymakers reinterpreted their constitution and allowed the SDF to exercise the right to collective self-defense, for instance, by defending U.S. vessels subjected to an armed attack. Japan’s embrace of collective self-defense, already enshrined in the UN Charter, resulted in the revision of the 1997 Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, making the alliance even more relevant to the rapidly changing security environment.

In 2022, the alliance is, in many ways, at a crossroads. The United States, under the Trump and Biden administrations, is no longer an anchor of trade liberalization, and both administrations have sought to recalibrate U.S. relationships with close allies in the context of growing challenges to the rules-based order that defined the last three decades. While the alliance has endured, there are challenges, some of which are domestic, that will continue to test the security relationship. For instance, the planned relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which to many Okinawans does not address the overwhelming presence of the U.S. military in Okinawa, the issue of burden sharing in the alliance, the defense of Taiwan, and the demand for Tokyo to dramatically increase defense budget to over 1% of GDP to better cope with the increasingly unfavorable regional balance of power will persist and have to be managed. It is vital that next-generation Japanese and Americans are involved in these economic and security discourses and are mutually invested in the growth of their countries’ partnerships.

It is within this context of change, with the challenges confronting the U.S.-Japan alliance in flux, that our contributors shed light on some of those critical questions that will undoubtedly define not just the future of U.S.-Japan relations but the trajectory of international order in the coming years. This collection of papers includes contributions from emerging voices in academia, government, and the armed forces. It is a timely intervention that takes into account strategic competition between Washington and Beijing, the impact of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine on international order, and heightened tensions over Taiwan.

This collection of papers begins with contributions that explore how the alliance will continue to evolve in the face of emergent challenges. Indeed, the first paper by Jada Fraser places an emphasis on rethinking how the United States can more effectively harness its alliance relationships in East Asia to advance shared interests and counter emerging threats. Fraser identifies the “advantages of organizing the U.S.-Japan-ROK trilateral as a form of flexible multilateralism based on overlapping frameworks of cooperation rather than a formally binding agreement.”

The second contribution to this volume, by Cassie Rodriguez, examines how U.S. relationships in East Asia are shifting from a more traditional network of ‘hub-and-spokes’ security arrangements to a ‘minilateralist’ approach that favors informal alignments of countries that are more targeted and issue-specific. For Rodriguez, the U.S.-Japan alliance could become a model for minilaterlism and a driver for the establishment of robust, yet flexible small groupings of states working closely together on shared challenges. An example of this is the Quad.

The next two papers offer insights from international relations theory. Yu Inagaki draws on Kosaka Masataka’s power, interests, and norms framework to offer recommendations for both the United States and Japan to bring both countries into closer alignment. Meanwhile, Shusuke Ioku presents quantitative data analyses of territorial aggression and formal modeling of gray zone conflicts to argue that the key to deterring gray zone coercion is helping sustain the presence of Southeast Asian claimants through capacity building related to reinforcement of presence, constant naval and air patrols, and other measures that would allow them to withstand low-level aggression without backing down. Ioku recommends that Japan and the United States channel limited recourses accordingly and not be content with symbolic joint exercises and rhetorical support for rules-based resolution of disputes.

The next four papers delve deeper into issue-specific areas and contingencies that present challenges and opportunities for the U.S.-Japan alliance going forward. First, Ayae Yoshimoto provides Japan’s perspective on heightened tensions over Taiwan. Offering recommendations that aim to bolster Taiwan’s own position and image in the international community alongside more practical observations relating to a Taiwan contingency, Yoshimoto underlines the critical importance of Taiwan for Japan’s national security. Next, Rena Sasaki provides a more granular analysis of the legislative, regulatory, and political constraints that a more limited Taiwan contingency scenario would pose for Tokyo. Both Yoshimoto and Sasaki underline how Taiwan contingencies demonstrate the urgent need for Tokyo and Washington to bolster crisis response mechanisms.

Shinichi Hirao then turns to examine how NATO standards can enhance the U.S.-Japan alliance. Benchmarking against NATO’s core tasks of Deterrence and Defense, Crisis Management, and Cooperative Security, as outlined in the 2022 Strategic Concept, Hirao draws lessons for the U.S.-Japan security relationship. Hirao also concludes by offering specific recommendations to Tokyo for defense procurement. The final paper of this collection, by Brittany Bradley-Marcial, explores the question of bringing Japan into the Five Eyes community, analyzing both the rationale and the obstacles to membership, as well as potential paths forward that could bring Japan into a closer intelligence sharing relationship with the Five Eyes.

In sum, each contribution to this volume contains new insights into the U.S.-Japan alliance from the next generation of scholars, decision-makers, or military leaders. To be sure, this collection of papers attests to one of the critical factors that explains the longevity of the U.S.-Japan alliance: the alliance’s continuous ability to remake itself in the face of new and emerging challenges.


PhotoU.S. Marines display the American and Japanese flag attached to the M777’s for the Friendship Festival on May 11, 2019, at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan. Source: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Karis Mattingly/ Public Domain

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR9 – An Alliance Renewed? Future-proofing U.S.-Japan Security Relations

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.-Japan Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. With backgrounds from academia, government, military and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Japan bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Click here to download the full volume.


Table of Contents

Introduction: An Alliance Renewed? Future-proofing U.S.-Japan Security Relations | Christopher Lamont & Jeffrey Ordaniel 
Chapter 1: The Cornerstone and the Linchpin: Reconstituting U.S.-ROK- Japan Trilateral Security CooperationJada Fraser
Chapter 2: The Evolution of U.S.-Led Alliance Systems: A Minilateralist Approach in the Indo-Pacific | Cassie Rodriguez
Chapter 3: Japan-U.S. Alliance in Harmony? Perspectives from Power, Interests, and Values | Yu Inagaki
Chapter 4: Extended Gray Zone Deterrence in the South China Sea | Shusuke Ioku
Chapter 5: Enhancing Taiwan’s Resistance: Military and Diplomatic Roles of the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance | Ayae Yoshimoto
Chapter 6: Why Defending Taiwan is Crucial for the Future of the U.S.- Japan Alliance? | Rena Sasaki
Chapter 7:
Applying NATO’s Practices to the Japan-U.S. Alliance | Shinichi Hirao
Chapter 8: Expanding the Eyes: Japan and the Five Eyes Alliance | Brittany Bardsley-Marcial


This collection of papers begins with contributions that explore how the alliance will continue to evolve in the face of emergent challenges. Indeed, the first paper by Jada Fraser places an emphasis on rethinking how the United States can more effectively harness its alliance relationships in East Asia to advance shared interests and counter emerging threats. Fraser identifies the “advantages of organizing the U.S.-Japan-ROK trilateral as a form of flexible multilateralism based on overlapping frameworks of cooperation rather than a formally binding agreement.”

The second contribution to this volume, by Cassie Rodriguez, examines how U.S. relationships in East Asia are shifting from a more traditional network of ‘hub-and-spokes’ security arrangements to a ‘minilateralist’ approach that favors informal alignments of countries that are more targeted and issue-specific. For Rodriguez, the U.S.-Japan alliance could become a model for minilaterlism and a driver for the establishment of robust, yet flexible small groupings of states working closely together on shared challenges. An example of this is the Quad.

The next two papers offer insights from international relations theory. Yu Inagaki draws on Kosaka Masataka’s power, interests, and norms framework to offer recommendations for both the United States and Japan to bring both countries into closer alignment. Meanwhile, Shusuke Ioku presents quantitative data analyses of territorial aggression and formal modeling of gray zone conflicts to argue that the key to deterring gray zone coercion is helping sustain the presence of Southeast Asian claimants through capacity building related to reinforcement of presence, constant naval and air patrols, and other measures that would allow them to withstand low-level aggression without backing down. Ioku recommends that Japan and the United States channel limited recourses accordingly and not be content with symbolic joint exercises and rhetorical support for rules-based resolution of disputes.

The next four papers delve deeper into issue-specific areas and contingencies that present challenges and opportunities for the U.S.-Japan alliance going forward. First, Ayae Yoshimoto provides Japan’s perspective on heightened tensions over Taiwan. Offering recommendations that aim to bolster Taiwan’s own position and image in the international community alongside more practical observations relating to a Taiwan contingency, Yoshimoto underlines the critical importance of Taiwan for Japan’s national security. Next, Rena Sasaki provides a more granular analysis of the legislative, regulatory, and political constraints that a more limited Taiwan contingency scenario would pose for Tokyo. Both Yoshimoto and Sasaki underline how Taiwan contingencies demonstrate the urgent need for Tokyo and Washington to bolster crisis response mechanisms.

Shinichi Hirao then turns to examine how NATO standards can enhance the U.S.-Japan alliance. Benchmarking against NATO’s core tasks of Deterrence and Defense, Crisis Management, and Cooperative Security, as outlined in the 2022 Strategic Concept, Hirao draws lessons for the U.S.-Japan security relationship. Hirao also concludes by offering specific recommendations to Tokyo for defense procurement. The final paper of this collection, by Brittany Bradley-Marcial, explores the question of bringing Japan into the Five Eyes community, analyzing both the rationale and the obstacles to membership, as well as potential paths forward that could bring Japan into a closer intelligence sharing relationship with the Five Eyes.

In sum, each contribution to this volume contains new insights into the U.S.-Japan alliance from the next generation of scholars, decision-makers, or military leaders. To be sure, this collection of papers attests to one of the critical factors that explains the longevity of the U.S.-Japan alliance: the alliance’s continuous ability to remake itself in the face of new and emerging challenges.


About the Authors

Brittany Bardsley-Marcial is a graduate student at Missouri State University pursuing a master’s degree in Cybersecurity. Brittany interned with the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI- APCSS), where she had many opportunities to work with faculty members on projects related to Indo-Pacific security issues. She helped developed a strategic game scenario at APCSS, which was incorporated into one of the courses run in February 2022. Brittany received her BA in Political Science, with a Minor in Japanese from Hawaii Pacific University. To broaden her understanding of the Japanese language and culture, she studied abroad at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, for one year.

Jada Fraser is an M.A. Student in Asian Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Previously, she was a Policy Research Fellow with the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Her research for the Center primarily focused on prevailing geopolitical trends in the U.S.-Japan-China strategic triangle. Prior to joining SAIS, Jada worked as a Research Assistant with the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She focused on issues in the U.S.-Japan Alliance and U.S. and allies’ Indo-Pacific strategy. Her work has been published on the CSIS website. Jada graduated with High Honors and Departmental Special Honors from the University of Texas at Austin where she completed her B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies and was awarded a certificate in Security Studies from the Clements Center for National Security. Her current research interests include U.S. alliance strategy in the Indo-Pacific, Japan-South Korea relations, and strategic competition with China.

Shinichi Hirao is a Captain of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF). He received his BA in law from the University of Tokyo in 2014. After graduation, he joined the JGSDF and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 2016. He served as a platoon leader and joined a disaster relief operation in Kumamoto in 2016. He was then selected to study in the United States, where he earned his Master of Public Policy degree from the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the University of Virginia, in December 2020. Upon graduation, he returned to the JGSDF, and was appointed as Operations and Training Officer of an infantry company under the 34th Infantry Regiment, Gotemba, Shizuoka.

Yu Inagaki is a research assistant at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) working under the Japan-U.S. Program. He is also an active member of the Young Leaders Program at the Pacific Forum. Yu received his MA from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in international relations and strategic studies. His research interests include theories of International Relations, grand strategy, international order, and security in the Indo-Pacific. Among his latest work is a paper comparing the Indo-Pacific Strategy of Japan and the United States. Previously, he interned at the Hudson Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), both in Washington, DC, and also at the Asia Pacific Initiative in Tokyo. At SPF, he helps run several study groups on Japan-U.S. relations and assists in related research.

Shusuke Ioku is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Political Science, the University of Rochester where he studies formal Political Theory and International Relations. His current research projects address inefficiency of coercive diplomacy and subnational political consequences of Chinese economic statecraft. He has a particular interest in gray-zone maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas since he did an internship at the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative under the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Before coming to the United States, he received an M.A. in Political Science from Waseda University and B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Tokyo.

Casimira “Cassie” Rodriguez of San Bernardino, California is a graduate student and a Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative (SINSI) fellow at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with an A.B. in Politics and certificates in East Asian Studies and the History and Practice of Diplomacy, completing a senior thesis on Japanese security policy. Following graduation, she studied advanced Japanese in Yokohama at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies as a Blakemore Freeman fellow and presented her research on alliance politics. She has interned at both the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Washington, D.C., taking part in research/publications on U.S.-Japan issues and helping facilitate U.S.-Japan exchange events. Her areas of research include Japanese foreign policy, the international relations of East Asia, and security politics. As part of her SINSI fellowship, she will complete two years of federal government service before graduating from her MPA program. She is currently working on the Japan Desk at the U.S. Department of State.

Rena Sasaki is a graduate student at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, pursuing a Master’s degree in Foreign Service. Rena was a senior associate at Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), global management consulting firm and has engaged in defense and security projects with the Japanese Ministry of Defense and the defense industry for more than five years. She has deep knowledge of defense equipment acquisition, domestic supply chains for defense manufactures, and game-changing technology. She is interested in regional security issues in the Indo-Pacific and has engaged in several research projects on China’s military and economic security. She was selected as a delegate for the U.S-.China Dialogue which is a student-to-student dialogue between Georgetown University and Peking University. She graduated from Waseda University with a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Master’s in Engineering, and majored in Statistics. Rena is an intermediate-level Mandarin speaker.

Ayae Yoshimoto is currently working at the Consulate-General of Japan in San Francisco. Previously, she was a junior visiting fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA). She received her B.A. in Communication from Doshisha University in Japan and then her M.A. in International Relations from the National Chengchi University in Taiwan. Her research interests include Japan’s foreign and security policy, Sino-Japan relations, cross-strait relations, and U.S.-Japan Alliance. While in graduate school in Taiwan, she did a research internship on Taiwan-Japan relations at Taiwan NextGen Foundation. In addition to her mother tongue, Japanese, she is fluent in English and Chinese.

About the Editors

Christopher Lamont is Assistant Dean of E-Track Programs and Associate Professor of International Relations. Previously, he held a tenured position at the University of Groningen, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ulster. He was also previously a Fulbright scholar at the University of Zagreb in Croatia. He holds a PhD from the University of Glasgow and has published widely on human rights and transitional justice. His recent publications have appeared in the Journal of Democracy, the International Journal of Human Rights, Global Policy, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, and Human Rights Review. He also co-edited, New Crifical Spaces in Transitional Justice (with Arnaud Kurze, Indiana University Press, 2019) and is the author of two research methods textbooks, Research Methods in International Relations (Sage 2015, second edition 2021), and Research Methods in Politics and International Relations (with Mieczyslaw Boduszyński, Sage 2020). In addition to his scholarly work, his writings have also appeared in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage.

Jeffrey Ordaniel is Director for Maritime Security (non-resident) at the Pacific Forum. Concurrently, he is also Associate Professor of International Security Studies at Tokyo International University (TIU) in Japan. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and specializes in the study of offshore territorial and maritime entitlement disputes in Asia. His teaching and research revolve around maritime security and ocean governance, ASEAN regionalism, and broadly, U.S. alliances and engagements in the Indo-Pacific. From 2016 to 2019, he was based in Honolulu and was the holder of the endowed Admiral Joe Vasey Fellowship at the Pacific Forum. Since 2019, Dr. Ordaniel has been convening several track II dialogues on U.S. security relations in the Indo-Pacific, and workshops on maritime security issues. His current research on maritime security in Asia is funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). With JSPS funding, he also serves as Project Researcher with RCAST- Open Lab for Emerging Strategies, The University of Tokyo.


Photo: President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio participate in an arrival ceremony, Monday, May 23, 2022, at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo. Source: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz/Public Domain

Expanding the Eyes: Japan and the Five Eyes Alliance

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR9, pp. 65-69

Abstract

This contribution argues that Japan can offer the Five Eyes the use of its electronic surveillance capabilities, its vast intelligence infrastructure network, and its analysis and perspective on Asian politics. The Five Eyes would, in turn, be able to shore up capabilities that Japan is lacking, such as foreign intelligence and military defense. Despite Tokyo’s attempts at improvement, there remain significant issues with Japan’s complex and limited intelligence system, and its security clearance system. Moreover, clashes among the Five Eyes members (with or without Japan’s admittance) can potentially hinder trust and intelligence-sharing. With these unresolved issues, expectations from both Japan and the Five Eyes may be too high to consider outright admittance at this time.

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.-Japan Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. With backgrounds from academia, government, military and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Japan bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Click here to download the full volume.


Brittany Bardsley-Marcial is a graduate student at Missouri State University pursuing a master’s degree in Cybersecurity. Brittany interned with the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI- APCSS), where she had many opportunities to work with faculty members on projects related to Indo-Pacific security issues. She helped developed a strategic game scenario at APCSS, which was incorporated into one of the courses run in February 2022. Brittany received her BA in Political Science, with a Minor in Japanese from Hawaii Pacific University. To broaden her understanding of the Japanese language and culture, she studied abroad at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, for one year.


Photo: iStock

Applying NATO’s Practices to the Japan-U.S. Alliance

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR9, pp. 57-64

Abstract

The Japan-U.S. alliance has been the foundation of Japan’s defense. Considering the implications of China’s rise, Russia’s resurgence, and the persistent challenge of nuclear-armed North Korea, the Japan-U.S. alliance should adapt, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) could serve as a model. First, NATO has successfully adapted to new circumstances since the end of the Cold War. Second, NATO members and Japan share common values such as democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. And third, the United States is the foundation of both alliances, which makes sharing best practices feasible. This paper explores NATO’s five practices described in the 2010 and 2022 Strategic Concepts and identifies where the Japan-U.S. alliance is in these practices. The paper then analyzes the applicability of NATO’s practices to the Japan-U.S. alliance and concludes with policy recommendations for the government of Japan.

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.-Japan Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. With backgrounds from academia, government, military and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Japan bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Click here to download the full volume.


Shinichi Hirao is a Captain of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF). He received his BA in law from the University of Tokyo in 2014. After graduation, he joined the JGSDF and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 2016. He served as a platoon leader and joined a disaster relief operation in Kumamoto in 2016. He was then selected to study in the United States, where he earned his Master of Public Policy degree from the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the University of Virginia, in December 2020. Upon graduation, he returned to the JGSDF, and was appointed as Operations and Training Officer of an infantry company under the 34th Infantry Regiment, Gotemba, Shizuoka.


Photo: A 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer conducts a training mission in the vicinity of Japan where they integrated with Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) assets, May 12, 2020. The 9th EBS is deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, as part of a Bomber Task Force and is supporting Pacific Air Forces’ strategic deterrence missions and commitment to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region. Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman River Bruce

Japan-U.S. Alliance in Harmony? Perspectives from Power, Interests, and Values

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR9, pp. 21-30

Abstract

This paper analyzes the policies of Japan and the United States from three perspectives: power, economic interests, and values. The paper explores where their policy preferences converge and where they differ. Unsurprisingly, Japan and the United States have contrasting interests, but if their strategies are too different, it could allow China or Russia an opportunity to decouple them. Regarding power, Japan and the United States share threat perceptions of China and have cooperated to strengthen the alliance. Though there are challenges to be resolved, especially for Japan to play a more active role, they are basically on the same page. In terms of economic interests, they have different priorities; while the current U.S. economic policy is affected by the Trump administration’s America First approach and economic security, Japan has tried to maintain a liberal economic order. As for the values, the two countries also take different approaches. The United States tends to project values such as democracy and human rights more into diplomacy. However, Japan is reluctant to emphasize those values. Overall, Japan needs to evaluate how sustainable its passive stance on values is in the face of intensifying U.S.-China competition. The United States, on the other hand, needs to evaluate how effective its economic strategy and values-based diplomacy will be in sustaining the liberal international order.

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.-Japan Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. With backgrounds from academia, government, military and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Japan bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Click here to download the full volume.


Yu Inagaki is a research assistant at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) working under the Japan-U.S. Program. He is also an active member of the Young Leaders Program at the Pacific Forum. Yu received his MA from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in international relations and strategic studies. His research interests include theories of International Relations, grand strategy, international order, and security in the Indo-Pacific. Among his latest work is a paper comparing the Indo-Pacific Strategy of Japan and the United States. Previously, he interned at the Hudson Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), both in Washington, DC, and also at the Asia Pacific Initiative in Tokyo. At SPF, he helps run several study groups on Japan-U.S. relations and assists in related research.


Photo: President Joe Biden attends a green tea ceremony hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and his wife Yuko Kishida, Monday, May 23, 2022, at Kochuan restaurant in Tokyo. Source: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

The Evolution of U.S.-led Alliance Systems: A Minilateralist Approach in the Indo-Pacific

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR9, pp. 13-20

Abstract

The United States established a system of alliances in Europe and East Asia to combat emerging threats and lay the foundations of a sustained American presence. These two systems of alliances are often characterized as the sole choices available to policymakers: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Europe is a prime example of a multilateral alliance, while the U.S.-led network of bilateral alliances in East Asia epitomizes a “hub-and-spokes” model. Yet, as the security environment in Asia continues to deteriorate, the United States has been trying a new approach – ‘minilateralism.’ While not necessarily downplaying its traditional network of bilateral alliances, Washington has been forming exclusive informal alignments that adopt a targeted/issue-based ‘minilateralist’ approach. This paper considers three possible explanations: the legacy of security bilateralism, shifting geopolitical calculations, and specific foreign policy initiatives of past and current administrations. It concludes with recommendations for the United States to maximize benefits from its minilateralist approach in the Indo-Pacific.

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.-Japan Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. With backgrounds from academia, government, military and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Japan bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Click here to download the full volume.


Casimira “Cassie” Rodriguez of San Bernardino, California is a graduate student and a Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative (SINSI) fellow at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with an A.B. in Politics and certificates in East Asian Studies and the History and Practice of Diplomacy, completing a senior thesis on Japanese security policy. Following graduation, she studied advanced Japanese in Yokohama at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies as a Blakemore Freeman fellow and presented her research on alliance politics. She has interned at both the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation in Washington, D.C., taking part in research/publications on U.S.-Japan issues and helping facilitate U.S.-Japan exchange events. Her areas of research include Japanese foreign policy, the international relations of East Asia, and security politics. As part of her SINSI fellowship, she will complete two years of federal government service before graduating from her MPA program. She is currently working on the Japan Desk at the U.S. Department of State.


Photo: President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pose for a photo at Kantei, the Japanese Prime Minister’s office and official residence, Monday, May 24, 2022, before the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo. Source: Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith/Released

The Cornerstone and the Linchpin: Reconstituting U.S.-ROK- Japan Trilateral Security Cooperation

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR9, pp. 1-12

Abstract

This paper focuses on the ‘why,’ ‘how,’ and ‘what’ of trilateral security cooperation by answering three interrelated questions. First, are there significant enough external and internal conditions to compel U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral security cooperation? Second, what factors contributed to prior success in sustaining U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral security cooperation? Third, in what areas can U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral security cooperation be most effective? By examining the external pressures and internal changes that will continue to push Japan and South Korea closer together than in the recent past, this paper argues ‘why’ trilateral security cooperation is feasible. To understand ‘how’ trilateral security cooperation can be successfully sustained, this paper identifies the advantages of organizing the U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral as a form of flexible multilateralism based on overlapping frameworks of cooperation rather than a formally binding agreement. To promote trilateral security cooperation in a way that recognizes both obstacles and opportunities, this paper recommends a pathway toward reconstituting U.S.-ROK-Japan trilateral cooperation based on this principle of flexible multilateralism. Finally, this paper focuses on the ‘what’ of trilateral security cooperation by recommending two areas of focus that appeal to the shared national security interests of the United States, Japan, and South Korea: 1) trilateral contingency planning for a Taiwan conflict and 2) commitment to a principle of ‘collective economic defense’ to buttress against future instances of economic coercion.

About this Volume

Authors of this volume participated in the inaugural U.S.-Japan Next-Generation Leaders Initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, through the U.S. Embassy Tokyo. With backgrounds from academia, government, military and industry, the cohort brings rich insights on the past, present, and future of the U.S.-Japan bilateral security relations.

The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective organizations and affiliations. Pacific Forum’s publications do not necessarily reflect the positions of its staff, donors and sponsors.

Click here to download the full volume.


Jada Fraser is an M.A. Student in Asian Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Previously, she was a Policy Research Fellow with the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Her research for the Center primarily focused on prevailing geopolitical trends in the U.S.-Japan-China strategic triangle. Prior to joining SAIS, Jada worked as a Research Assistant with the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She focused on issues in the U.S.-Japan Alliance and U.S. and allies’ Indo-Pacific strategy. Her work has been published on the CSIS website. Jada graduated with High Honors and Departmental Special Honors from the University of Texas at Austin where she completed her B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies and was awarded a certificate in Security Studies from the Clements Center for National Security. Her current research interests include U.S. alliance strategy in the Indo-Pacific, Japan-South Korea relations, and strategic competition with China.


Photo: Flags representing the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea are displayed during a trilateral meeting in 2018. Source: State Department photo/ Public Domain

Issues & Insights Vol. 22, SR6 – AUKUS A Look Back at The First Analyses

Introduction
David Santoro and Rob York

Announced just over a year ago on Sept. 15, 2021, the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) security partnership promised work on two interrelated lines of effort between the three allies. One entailed providing Australia with a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability. The other involved cooperation on developing and providing joint advanced military capabilities to promote security and stability in the region, including in cyber, artificial intelligence and autonomy, quantum technologies, undersea capabilities, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic systems, electronic warfare, and information sharing.

AUKUS sent shockwaves across the Indo-Pacific and beyond. Some praised the new partnership, explaining that it would tighten the US hub-and-spokes alliance system and stand as a powerful deterrent to China’s new assertiveness in the region. Others¾with the People’s Republic of China in the lead¾were much less enthusiastic, even outright critical, insisting that it would create unnecessary tensions, possibly leading to arms races or crises, and undermine nonproliferation norms and rules. France was also deeply upset because AUKUS immediately led to Australia’s cancellation of a French-Australian submarine deal, without notice.

In the days, weeks, and months that followed the AUKUS announcement, the Pacific Forum published, via its PacNet Commentary series, several preliminary analyses on the trilateral partnership, each reflecting a specific national perspective from throughout the Indo-Pacific and beyond. One year later, and as implementation of the AUKUS partnership remains ongoing, we have compiled these analyses into a Pacific Forum Issues & Insights volume.

It is our hope that these publications will provide a basis for further study and additional recommendations.

Table of Contents

PacNet 41, 09/20/2021. After the shock: France, America, and the Indo-Pacific by Bruno Tertais

PacNet 44, 09/29/2021. How AUKUS advances Australia’s commitment to collective defense by Ashley Townshend

PacNet 46, 10/05/2021. After AUKUS, “present at the creation” in the 21st century by Brad Glosserman

PacNet 48, 10/19/2021. New Zealand and AUKUS: Affected without being included by Robert Ayson

PacNet 50, 10/26/2021. Fold, call, or raise? China’s potential reactions to AUKUS by Yun Sun

PacNet 51, 11/03/2021. What AUKUS means for European security by Marie Jourdain

PacNet 54, 11/22/2021. What AUKUS means for Malaysia’s technological future by Elina Noor

PacNet 57, 12/10/2021. Building on AUKUS to forge a PAX Pacifica by Henry Sokolski

PacNet 58, 12/14/2021. Why the UK was the big winner of AUKUS by David Camroux

PacNet 59, 12/21/2021. “JAUKUS” and the emerging clash of alliances in the Pacific by Artyom Lukin

PacNet 60, 12/28/2021. AUKUS’ short- and long-term implications for Taiwan by Fu Mei

PacNet 05, 01/21/2022. AUKUS’ opportunities and risks for Indi by Manpreet Sethi

PacNet 11, 02/24/2022. Nuclear submarines for our Pacific Allies: When to say yes by Henry Sokolski

PacNet #35 – Abe Shinzo and the Japan-South Korea relationship: Near- and long-term legacies

Under former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, Japan’s relationship with South Korea had its ups and downs, mostly downs at the end. But the broad actions that Abe took to shore up Japan’s regional role have laid the basis for a promising renewal of security cooperation under Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and the new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

Over his eight years in office, Seoul-Tokyo relations went from bad to worse. The region also evolved during those eight years as overlapping minilateral and multilateral groupings brought Japan and South Korea closer together, even if by accident. Abe was responsible for both—that is his complicated legacy.

As Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Abe spent time alongside four South Korean presidents, but his legacy will likely be cemented by the developments in relations that took place under the tenure of conservative former President Park Geun-hye (2013-17) and progressive former President Moon Jae-in (2017-22). Numerous historical grievances frustrated progress in improving relations during Abe’s time in office, as each government took antithetical views over reconciliation on issues surrounding forced labor and the “comfort women” (wartime victims of sexual slavery).

In the weeks to come following Abe’s assassination there will be countless pieces published that focus, rightly, on Abe’s ideological bent which often manifested itself in revisionist personal and political actions that damaged the country’s relations with South Korea. Yet, Abe’s strategic re-shaping of the Indo-Pacific region will continue to elevate the role of regional powers, like South Korea, in shaping and defending the rules-based international order. As threat perceptions in South Korea and Japan converge to drive closer strategic alignment, Abe’s transformation of Japan’s security and defense architecture can enable the two counties to work together more seamlessly. With an eye to the future, the legacy Abe leaves behind is a strong foundation on which his successors can build.

Abe is often quoted for the famous line he delivered to former Secretary of State Richard Armitage in 2013 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that “Japan is not, and will never be a Tier-two country…I am back, and so shall Japan be.” As the intellectual godfather in the conception of the Indo-Pacific and the Quad, a central stakeholder in keeping the Trans-Pacific Partnership alive after US withdrawal (and renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership), a main player in moving Japan towards a “values” based foreign policy centered on democracy and human rights, and a leading figure in seeing Japan become the most trusted strategic partner in much of Asia, Japan’s proactive leadership role in the region under Abe unquestionably accomplished this goal.

While bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea during Abe’s tenure did not see the same levels of progress, another quote from his 2013 CSIS speech underscores Abe’s view of the strategic importance of the relationship, “Even with the existence of issues…the ties between Japan and Korea is something that cannot be severed.” Many of Abe’s successes in elevating Japan’s security and economic role and re-shaping Indo-Pacific regional architecture have set the groundwork for the two countries to take the bilateral relationship to new heights. These developments have evolved as South Korea, too, has sought a greater security and economic leadership role in the region.

Abe played a large role in re-envisioning the region’s hub-and-spokes-style regional architecture to encompass minilateral groupings. These minilateral arrangements have proven adept and flexible in responding to challenges and organizing collective action. Smaller memberships facilitate stronger consensus-building. As I have argued elsewhere, pursuing regional peace and stability through minilateral engagement allows countries to cooperate where their interests align, without the fear of being trapped in a formal and binding structure. Conflicting views on issues outside the distinct remit of a minilateral grouping do not jeopardize cooperation.

Abe’s leadership in elevating minilaterals to center-stage in the Indo-Pacific has direct implications for future Japan-South Korea relations, as the likely main vehicle for near-term cooperation is the US-Japan-South Korea trilateral. Progress is already happening on this front, as the three countries announced last month that they would restart trilateral ballistic missile defense-tracking exercises, the first such trilateral exercise in three years.

The shared threat from North Korea is an obvious motivation for these exercises, but both countries similarly share concerns regarding China’s assertiveness and provocative actions in the East and South China Seas and across the Taiwan Strait. Both countries’ leaders have joined President Biden in joint statements emphasizing the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, representing a significant shift from prior US-Japan and US-ROK joint statements. While it was Suga Yoshihide, Abe’s successor as prime minister, who issued the first US-Japan joint statement that mentioned Taiwan for the first time since 1969, no one made greater efforts than Abe to bring the two Asian democracies closer together. The significance of both progressive former President Moon and conservative incumbent President Yoon joining Japan to include mention of Taiwan in respective joint statements with the US cannot be overstated.

Economic security is another realm in which Abe spearheaded efforts to minimize risks to Japan from supply chain vulnerability, industrial espionage, and economic coercion by launching an economic division at the National Security Secretariat in April 2020, becoming the largest of the seven divisions in the NSS. As both Japan and South Korea have felt the screws of China’s economic coercion, the South Korean government has taken similar steps and launched a center dedicated to economic security that will be housed under its foreign ministry. In another promising development to link these efforts through US-Japan-South Korea trilateral cooperation, the three countries’ senior officials discussed ways to enhance cooperation on economic security during a June 2022 meeting.

While Abe’s often ultra-nationalist and revisionist actions in office should not be downplayed as his legacy on the Japan-South Korea bilateral relationship is recounted, his time as prime minister was instrumental in shaping the region to the benefit of both countries’ national interests. The growing policy alignment in Japan and South Korea owes much to the path Abe charted in modernizing Japan’s national security state and enabling greater international security engagement. Whether converging threat perceptions and growing policy alignment in Japan and South Korea can translate to substantial cooperation remains unclear, but these past few months have seen promising developments in the bilateral relationship.

All three countries have a responsibility to capitalize on the momentum in both Japan-South Korea and US-Japan-South Korea senior official engagements and invest sustained attention towards incrementally upgrading cooperative activities based on the shared national security interests of all three countries. Abe Shinzo laid much of the groundwork for this. It is now up to Prime Minister Kishida to build on it.

Jada Fraser (jada.fraser@yahoo.com) is an MA student in Asian Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Her research interests lie at the intersection of defense and diplomacy in Asia and her work has been published in outlets such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, The Lowy Institute, and The Australian Strategic Policy Institute. 

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged.

PacNet #21 – India’s strategic autonomy: A lesson for Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s official visit to India in mid-March in the midst of the Ukraine crisis highlighted the two countries’ differing stances on international affairs. While the statement issued during his visit shows that these two countries have deepened defense and security cooperation since the early 2000s, they could not agree on a strong message against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This disagreement is unlikely to impact their relationship in the immediate future but could be a good lesson for Tokyo on Delhi’s strategic autonomy—and what that might mean for a future crisis for Japan.

Kishida’s visit to India

Kishida’s official visit on March 19-20 kicked off the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and India. It also restarted annual mutual visits, halted in 2019 due to unrest in India, and not resumed due to the pandemic. Though several summit meetings between the two, both virtual and in-person, took place during the pandemic, resumption of mutual visits symbolically reconfirms ties.

After their summit meeting, Kishida and Modi issued a joint statement covering a variety of security issues, including the South China Sea, North Korea, Afghanistan, terrorism, Myanmar, and cybersecurity. They welcomed the first 2+2 meeting of their foreign and defense ministers since November 2019 and operationalization of the Agreement Concerning Reciprocal Provision of Supplies and Services between the two forces. They directed ministers to identify concrete areas for future cooperation in defense equipment and technology, beyond ongoing collaboration in unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) and robotics.

They also expressed serious concern about the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, reiterating their call for an immediate cessation of violence.

The statement, however, avoided naming Russia.

India’s strategic autonomy

That New Delhi would continue its traditional stance toward international affairs was obvious as soon as Russia started its “special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24. While Japan, the United States, Australia, and European nations condemned Moscow’s action and imposed economic sanctions, India refrained from criticizing its old friend Russia directly. US President Joe Biden and his senior staff have had several consultations with Indian counterparts and urged them to take a clear position since the incident occurred, but these consultations have not gone according to Washington’s plans. India was one of the minority of countries abstaining from the United Nations resolution condemning Russia for invading Ukraine. US President Joe Biden told a business forum on March 22 that India is being “somewhat shaky” compared to Japan and Australia.

India prefers realpolitik over morals, as Dev Goswami, a senior assistant editor at India Today, writes. He justifies this position as two-thirds of India’s military equipment has Russian origins, which India cannot afford to risk when it faces a potential “two-front” (China and Pakistan) war. Russian oil could attract India as well. Indian Oil Corp., India’s top refiner, recently ordered 3 million barrels of Russian oil, while Hindustan Petroleum Corp has booked 2 million barrels.

That said, India also abstained from the UN resolution submitted by Russia on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. In addition, India has “unequivocally condemned” killings in Bucha in Ukraine by Russian soldiers at the UN on April 6. This also shows how India maintains its strategic autonomy or “proactive neutrality.” Since its independence from British colonialism, India has vowed to chart an independent course in its foreign relations. It led the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War to avoid involvement in the conflict between the Western and the Eastern blocs. Even though India signed the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1971 after the Indo-Pakistan War, many Indians have long hesitated to call their relationship an alliance.

Leading power

Why, then, does India participate in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”) with Japan, the United States, and Australia? Rivalry with China could be one of the factors, but a driver could also be India’s interest to become a “leading power” in the world. Indian leaders have been interested in reaching this status since independence, but that interest has grown considerably with its economic rise in the 2000s. India must engage with countries like the United States, Russia, China, Australia, and Japan to become a leading power. In the last 20 years, India’s steps have oscillated between maintaining strategic autonomy and pursuing world power status. It finally became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) led by Russia and China in 2017, in addition to agreeing to an in-person summit meeting among the Quad leaders last September.

At the same time, New Delhi is also strengthening its leadership as a “big brother” among smaller neighbors as Modi launched “Neighbourhood First”—focused on the good relations and co-development of South Asian countries—or “Act East”—strengthening India’s relations with Southeast Asia—policies during his first term. This clearly appeared when India started “Vaccine Maitri (friendship)” and supplied vaccines to nearly 100 countries.

Japan and like-minded partners, then, should leverage this crisis to enable India to play an important role between Russia and the United States. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar told Indian parliamentarians in late March that India’s position is based on six principles—1) to “stand for peace,” and the immediate cessation of violence and hostilities, 2) dialogue and diplomacy, 3) the global order anchored on international law, 4) humanitarian access, 5) to provide humanitarian assistance, and 6) for India to stay in touch with the leadership of both Russia and Ukraine. He further said that Modi has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin three times and to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy twice, and suggested a direct conversation between two parties.

Conclusions

New Delhi’s response to the Ukraine crisis might disappoint Tokyo but will not impact Japan-India relations immediately. Although Kishida reacted sharply against Russia, Tokyo usually shows an ambivalent attitude toward international affairs, not so dissimilar to India. Due to wartime experiences and their prioritizing of economic relations, Japan is not like those Western nations that have a proclivity to compel other countries to behave like them. Ukraine is too far away for both countries to damage the relationship that has developed over the last 20 years.

Still, a good lesson for Japanese is how their counterparts in India react to an international crisis. India does not align with a majority of the world when their policy might harm its national interest. It means that India also might not support Japan even when it faces a crisis. Tokyo should not expect too much from India, yet many in Japan still want to believe that expansion of security cooperation between two countries, as well as face-to-face summits among Quad members, are evidence that the ties could lead to a significant upgrade, perhaps to a quasi-alliance in the near future.

Japan should remember that India does not promise anything.

Tomoko Kiyota (tomokokiyota@gmail.com) is an Associate Professor at the Office for Global Relations, Nagasaki University and an Adjunct Fellow at Pacific Forum. While she specializes in Japan-India relations, Dr. Kiyota also has work experience at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Embassy in India and Thailand as a diplomat and a researcher. 

PacNet commentaries and responses represent the views of the respective authors. Alternative viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged. Click here to request a PacNet subscription.