The future of US–Japan military exercises

US Navy FA-18 Hornets cram the flight deck of the USS George Washington during a joint military exercise with Japan in the Pacific Ocean, 28 November 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tiago Mauricio, Pacific Forum CSIS

Military exercises play an important role in strengthening America’s extended deterrence in Northeast Asia. Given the transformations in the regional strategic environment, and budgetary constraints for the US and some of its allies, multinational military exercises are particularly alluring for their ability to bolster deterrence on the cheap. Read more…

Can Japan exercise collective self-defence effectively?

Members of airborne troops participate in the annual military parade of the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) at the Asaka training ground in Tokyo, Japan on 27 October 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Narushige Michishita, GRIPS

On 15 May, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hand-picked Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security submitted its final report. The report recommended that Japan play a more active international security role by exercising the right of collective self-defence as well as participating in collective security activities authorised by the UN. Read more…

China responds to Japan–US ‘sushi’ diplomacy

Effigies of Shinzo Abe and Barack Obama are displayed at a May Day event in Japan. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The Chinese media exhaustively covered Obama’s visit to Japan on 23–25 April. There were references to the exorbitant cost of the Abe–Obama sushi dinner and the ¥25 million worth of entertainment laid on by Prime Minister Abe. But it was Obama’s verbal guarantees regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands that attracted the most attention. Read more…

Why Obama should abandon the pivot

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet at the residence of the US ambassador in The Hague on 24 March 2014 on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hugh White, ANU

President Obama faced a stark choice when he went to Japan last week. Either he had to commit himself and his country unambiguously to supporting Japan militarily over the Senkakus/Diaoyus, or he had to accept that the ‘pivot’ — and by extension his whole foreign policy and US leadership in Asia — was no longer credible. Read more…

Abe’s defence ambitions alarm region

Camouflaged members of Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces airbourne troop hold automatic rifles on a UH 1 helicopter during the new year exercise in Narashino in Chiba prefecture, suburban Tokyo on 12 January, 2014. A total of 300 personnels, 21 aircrafts and helicopters took part in the open exercise at the defense forces Narashino training ground. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Gui Yongtao, Peking University

The move by Shinzo Abe’s administration toward lifting the ban on the exercise of the right to collective self-defence is not driven by the imperatives of the US-Japan alliance, nor by Japan’s internationalist aspirations to contribute more to global peace. Read more…

Japan’s strategic predicament behind the Yasukuni curtain

A Shinto priest leading Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he visits the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo on 26 December, 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hugh White, ANU

Why did Prime Minster Abe visit Yasukuni Shrine? Tessa Morris-Suzuki says:

His core aim is to ‘escape from the postwar regime’ — that is, to reverse the liberalising reforms introduced to Japanese politics and society in the wake of the Asia Pacific War — and his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is a very explicit expression of that aim.

I don’t doubt that she is right, but her answer does lead us straight on to another question: Read more…

Abe’s Yasukuni visit escalates tensions in Asia

Protesters shout slogans during a rally against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, 27 December, 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: H. D. P. Envall, ANU

Visits by Japanese prime ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan’s war dead (including convicted Class-A war criminals), have repeatedly caused tensions in Asia over the years. Yasuhiro Nakasone created controversy when he visited the Shrine in 1985. Junichiro Koizumi did substantial damage to Japan’s relations with South Korea and China by visiting annually between 2001 and 2006. Read more…

Is Abe threatening Japan’s democracy?

Protesters demonstrate against the approval of the state secrecy law in Tokyo. The banner states that the meaning of secret is unclear and expresses opposition to the law. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sebastian Maslow, University of Heidelberg

After his political resurrection in December 2012, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has campaigned on the promise to ‘take Japan back’ from the institutional constraints of the country’s ‘post-war regime’.

With his pledge of (re)establishing a ‘strong nation’, Abe has pushed hard for revising Japan’s national security institutions and promoted a new strategy of ‘proactive pacifismRead more…

Japan cleaves to the United States

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama hold a meeting at the White House in Washington on 22 February, 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Yoichiro Sato, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

The United States and Japan recently agreed to revise their Guidelines for Defense Cooperation. The Guidelines provide a broad framework for cooperation between the US military and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and revision is expected to realign the two countries’ joint military operations to changes in the regional security environment. Read more…

The strategic implications of US–China codependence

US President Barack Obama and China President Hu Jintao take their seats during the G20 Summit, June 19 2012, in Los Cabos, Mexico (Photo: AAP).

Author: Stephen M. Harner, Forbes.com

In a world experiencing dramatic, epochal changes, few regions are changing more dramatically than East Asia.

The past two decades have seen an historic reversal of fortunes between the region’s two dominant economies and societies, China and Japan, the consequences of which are changing global politics.

Read more…

US–China collusion and the way forward for Japan

Guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain (L) pulls alongside the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during a refueling at sea during the "Keen Sword" US-Japan joint military exercises in the Sea of Japan close to the coast of South Korea, 5 December, 2010 . (Photo: AAP)

Author: Susumu Yabuki, Yokohama City University

Many people think that current US–China relations are comparable to US–Soviet relations during the Cold War. This is completely mistaken.

It is often said that the US and China are rivals — even potential combatants — in areas near Okinawa and the South China Sea. Some Japanese military strategists go as far as asserting that Read more…

Japan’s foreign policy and avoiding the unthinkable

Mt. Fuji is seen between Shinjuku skyscrapers in Tokyo, Japan. The new Abe policy ‘Strategic Special Zones’ focuses on the development of Tokyo and other major metropolitan cities through regulatory reform and fiscal incentive measures. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Building a stable international order in Asia and the Pacific, in which a major international conflict remains unthinkable, requires a number of elements.

Understandably much of the focus on thinking about avoiding the unthinkable, to date, has been on the how to manage the rise of China’s power and its impact on America. Read more…