Could domestic politics shake the US–Japan alliance?

US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Nuclear Security Summit. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Pandu Utama Manggala, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies

Signed in 1951, the US–Japan Security Treaty and the alliance it established have endured for over six decades and continue to play an instrumental role in shaping the regional security order. But with Republican presidential nominee frontrunner Donald Trump’s ‘America first’ isolationist foreign policy views gaining traction in the United States, concerns are mounting over the future of the alliance.

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Six Challenges for US–Japan Cooperation in Asia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama hold talks on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Manila on 19 November 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hitoshi Tanaka, JCIE

In 2016, the regional order in East Asia will continue to be characterised by a sense of instability. A key question as 2016 progresses will be: how best to focus US–Japan cooperation to address both the challenges and opportunities that accompany the rise of China? There are six thorny issues that carry the potential to undermine US–Japan cooperation. Close, careful US–Japan consultation and cooperation is required to ensure that these issues do not create a wedge in the alliance. Read more…

Proactive diplomacy for peace under Japan’s new security legislation

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aboard the Escort vessel Kurama of the Maritime Self-Defense Force attends a Naval review ceremony in Sagami Bay off Kanagawa Prefecture on 18 October 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hitoshi Tanaka, JCIE

International scrutiny of Japan’s foreign policy direction and defence policy posture has been particularly intense in recent months. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s 14 August statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and security legislation passed on 19 September, have brought renewed attention to the topic. Read more…

Abe’s new security legislation doubles-down on the US alliance

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waits for a vote of opposition-submitted no-confidence motion against his cabinet at the lower house of the parliament in Tokyo, 18 September 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sourabh Gupta, Samuels International

In the wee hours of the morning yesterday, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)–Komeito coalition muscled a suite of security-related bills through the upper house of the Diet. The bills, now certain to become law, fundamentally re-draw the legal parameters of security cooperation in which the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) may now engage. Read more…

Will regional tensions shift the deadlock on Okinawa’s military bases?

The Okinawa prefectural assembly adopts a resolution on 19 August 2015, calling for the consolidation and scaling down of US military bases. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: H.D.P. Envall and Kerri Ng, ANU

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be close to achieving one long-pursued goal, the relocation of the controversial Futenma airbase in Okinawa. This has been a perpetual sore in the US‒Japan alliance. But recent international trends may be reshaping Okinawa’s base politics and pushing the two allies closer to carrying out the Futenma relocation. Read more…

The next step for the US-Japan alliance

Japan Ground Self Defense Forces' type 92 anti-landmine missile firing while 74 tanks stand by during an exercise at the Higashi-Fuji training ground in Gotemba, some 100 kilometres west of Tokyo. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Hitoshi Tanaka, JCIE

US-Japan relations gained momentum with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s US visit in late April. Abe’s historic speech to a joint sitting of the Congress was well received. The two countries also announced the first revision of the US-Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines since 1997, based on the understanding that the Japan Self-Defense Force (SDF) will take on a larger role and US-Japan security cooperation will be expanded. Read more…

What to expect from the new US–Japan Defense Guidelines

Ships from the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, including the George Washington Strike Group, steam together after the conclusion of exercise Keen Sword, a biennial exercise between Japan and the US, 16 November 2012. (Photo: US Pacific Fleet/Flickr).

Author: Ken Jimbo, Keio University

When the current Guidelines for US–Japan Defense Cooperation were released in 1997, the core strategic impulse of Washington and Tokyo was to deal with potential armed contingencies in Northeast Asia, namely regarding the Korean peninsula and Taiwan. As the US Asia strategy emphasised deterrence of and response to these contingencies, Japan reconfigured its alliance strategy from predominantly territorial defence to proactive cooperation with the US in ‘situations in areas surrounding Japan’. Read more…