FPI Resources: New Opportunities for the U.S.-Japan Alliance

December 19, 2013

This month, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concluded a year of diplomatic and national security initiatives by hosting a summit with Japan’s Southeast Asian neighbors, publishing the country’s first National Security Strategy, and announcing new defense spending plans.
As Patrick Cronin notes, Japan’s December 17 release of its National Security Strategy, along with updated defense modernization plans, marks a set of “clear, cogent and cost-effective responses to a number of pressing challenges.”  These challenges include Chinese incursions in the waters around its southwest islands, including Beijing’s November 23 declaration of an “Air Defense Identification Zone” that covers Japanese-administered territory.  In response, the Abe government’s investments will include new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms like the Global Hawk, as well as strengthened amphibious capabilities paired with Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.  Combined with the establishment of a National Security Council, a new information protection law, and plans to increase international defense industrial cooperation, these efforts are intended to create what Michael Green calls a “qualitative” transformation in Japan’s national security posture.

Also in December, Prime Minister Abe hosted a summit meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), capping a year in which he visited the capitals of the organization’s ten member-states. The participants at the Tokyo summit adopted a statement describing their commitment to “promoting maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation… and resolution of disputes by peaceful means” as well as the need to “enhance cooperation in ensuring freedom of overflight and civil aviation safety” in the region. This statement marks both a rebuke to Beijing’s assertive behavior and a reaffirmation of principles the United States has long championed – all coordinated through Japan’s regional leadership.
Looking toward 2014, the United States and Japan have an opportunity to capitalize on these initiatives.  Washington and Tokyo are working to update a bilateral agreement that describes how to coordinate military operations.  The Abe government is also working to revise self-imposed restrictions on “collective self-defense,” in order to allow Tokyo to take such steps as intercepting a ballistic missile headed toward U.S. territory.  This agenda will require continued vigor by the United States and Japan, in concert with other allies and partners in the region.

The following resources provide useful background on these important developments.

FPI Resources
Additional Resources

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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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