AnzhiJiangInternationalRelations of Northeast AsiaJan16, 2018The U.
S.-Japan Relations: A U.S.
PerspectiveIntroductionThe U.S.-Japan relationship since the endof World War II has been intimate and complex.
The formal structure supportingthe relationship has been the US-Japan security alliance, however, thebilateral relationship encompasses no only the military alliance but also closeand complex economic and political ties. Since the US is a military andpolitical superpower with both military and economic advantages over Japan, theasymmetry between the two nations caused the abnormal status of the US-Japanrelations, and as a result, it is recognized as a one-sided relation. The world changed a lot since the late 20thcentury.
During the Cold War era, the former Soviet Union had been the mainthreat to Japan’s security. After the collapse of the USSR, instead, otherpotential danger spots in Southeast Asia, events on the Korean peninsula, andeven China, Japan’s largest neighboring country. A series of provocation byNorth Korea and increasingly aggressive maritime operations by China since 2010appeared to have set the relationship back on course. Also, changing policiesdue to unstable leadership e.g. The electing of Trump also slowed somebilateral security initiatives.
This paper will introduce and discuss the1) goals, 2) means, 3) policy contents and priorities, 4) implementation and evaluation,and 5) implications of the US’s policies and strategies toward Japan. In myopinion, the United States and Japan are constrained in their ability tostrengthen alliances and need new tactics to find new guiding principles forshaping an environment for China’s rise. HistoryOn August 6 andAugust 9, 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs, code-named”Little Boy,” in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, killing at least129,000 people.
It is still the only time in history today Use nuclear weaponsfor war. After World War II, Japan surrendered, followed by the U.S. occupationof Japan and the military’s marginalization.
The US-Japan relationship today isbasically formed at that time, when the United States established a significantpresence in Japan to slow the expansion of Soviet influence in the Pacificafter World War II. The United States was also concerned with the growth of theeconomy of Japan because there was a risk after World War II that an unhappyand poor Japanese population would turn to communism and by doing so ensurethat the Soviet Union would control the Pacific. By the late 1960s, Japan hadrisen from the ashes of World War II to achieve an astoundingly rapid andcomplete economic recovery. GoalsIn my opinion, the goals for the USdealing with Japan are mainly the following: Dealing with a rising China andunstable security threats on the Korean peninsula, strengthening U.S.-Japanalliance, focusing on bilateral relations and opening Japanese markets for theUS.
The United States has struggled for acentury to define and redefine its strategic relationship with China and Japan.From the beginning of the twentieth century until the latter part of the ColdWar in the 1970s, the United States never simultaneously had good relationswith China and Japan. As the 21st century begins, the US again faces strategicchoices in Asia. Now China is the ”rising” power, therefore the U.S.-Japanalliance remains as strong as ever, indeed perhaps even stronger. Russia cannotbe counted out, but it is now a weakened regional player, despite itscontinuing arms sales to North Korea and China. And since the Trumpadministration seems to be more economically oriented, opening markets in Japanwill still be an important goal for the US.
MeansFor eight years, President Obama’s foreignpolicy doctrine has been rooted in a belief of multilateralism, while PresidentTrump has promoted the “America First” agenda and shifted his focus tobilateralism. Economically, Trump’s protectionist policies, such as the bordertax and U.S. withdrawal from the TPP, may have significant implications formajor powers including Japan. Politically, US’s traditional allies in Asiaincluding Japan and South Korea are still playing important roles on theregion’s security and stability.
On the other hand, the several missile testslaunched by North Korea became an opportunity for the US to export its weaponsto Japan and Korea, eg. The THAAD system.The U.S. deployed a missile defense system,Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea in April 2017,citing North Korea’s nuclear and missile “threats” as justification. Itsdeployment, however, needs to be seen in the wider strategic context.
Not only doesthe measure raise the arms race with North Korea, it also facilitates Japan’s “proactivecontribution to peace” and exacerbates the security dilemma between the U.S.and its allies on one side and China and Russia on the other. Policiesand PrioritiesSince the rising of China, most countriesin the Asia-Pacific region followed the option of trying to integrate Chinainto existing and new regional and global institutions such as the RCEP, orASEAN plus. The US under Trump administration hasbeen explicitly rebalancing its international posture toward Asia and China.The US-Japan alliance is becoming less important than before, given the factthat this bilateral relation depends heavily on the Sino-US relations and theinstability of the Korean peninsula. But the U.S.
-Japan alliance is now farfrom the only relationship of substance for the United States in theAsia-Pacific region. Most notably, relations with China have become an enormousfocus for U.S.
policymakers in recent years and will continue to be a highpriority for the foreseeable future. While fundamentally different from theU.S.-Japan relationship, the elevation of U.
S.-China relations as a major focalpoint for U.S.
foreign policy raises a critical question: How can policymakersensure that the rise of U.S.-China relations does not come at the expense ofthe U.
S.-Japan relationship?1Until the end of the Cold War, Chinavalued the U.S.-Japan security alliance’s role as a counter to Soviet influencein East Asia. It also appreciated the alliance’s role in capping Japanesemilitary options and ambitions.
Even after the end of the Cold War in the early1990s, China was concerned that U.S.-Japan trade tensions and American trooppull-downs from Asia might impair the U.S.-Japan security alliance and open long-closedsecurity debates and options within Japan. On the other hand, Japan was alsogreatly concerned about America’s alliance fidelity during President Bill Clinton’sfirst administration because of the lack of a U.
S. strategic focus and,especially, the emphasis on trade-deficit reduction. From 1995, the Japanese weregradually reassured with the Nye Initiative and the U.S.-Japan DefenseGuidelines review. However, since the United States and Japan acted tostrengthen their alliance, China has warned that Japan’s expanded role could bethe first step toward Japanese remilitarization, and it has expressed concernsabout an increasingly independent Japan.
2However, there is currently no prospectof China and the US becoming strategic allies, but in contrast, Japan is a keyAmerican security and political ally in Asia, and in addition, Japancontributes about $5 billion annually to underwrite the cost of maintainingU.S. forces there. On the other hand, unlike China, Japan shares coredemocratic values and institutions with the United States. As a result, itis still important for the US to maintain the US-Japan alliance while facingthe challenge of a rising China. Implementationand evaluation Trump’s foreign policy can be understoodas a cost-effective bilateralism, expressing deep skepticism towards perceivedencumbering regimes that tie down or place burdens on American freedom ofaction. Instead, of building or leading new regimes it prefers to deal withother powers on a bilateral cost-benefit basis, according to how relationshipswork in America’s perceived economic or political interests.3 In Northeast Asia, in addition toits direct relations with states as the primary security guarantor and tradingpartner for a number of states in this region, the U.
S. has long enjoyedimmense structural power: the power to shape the international preferences ofpolitically equal but security subordinate states. The TPP is instructive inthis sense. Rather than a regime that tied the United States down, the TPPsought to bind economically powerful states in a crucial region of the globaleconomy into a U.S.-led regime that reflected the United States’ own economicand geopolitical interests. In this context, regional organizationslike the TPP negotiations go far beyond just economic benefits. It is alsoabout security and its long-term strategic value is significant as well.
Butgiven the fact that the US withdrew from the TPP in early 2017, Trump’s newbilateralism is a signal that the U.S. is no longer interested in buildingwide-ranging regional regimes, and its allies in East Asia must now try andmanage the delicate balance between their national interests, a rising China,and a United States increasingly wary of broader regional leadership. Below this strategic level, theagenda for the incoming corps of U.S.
-Japan alliance managers is substantial,which makes having strategic principles in mind all the more important. Inparticular, three critical issues are likely to consume the attention of thesepolicymakers: 1) deeper defense integration in the face of North Korea’sincreasingly capable missile and nuclear forces; 2) reinforcing deterrenceagainst China in gray-zone situations in Japanese-administered waters in theEast China Sea; and 3) managing issues surrounding U.S.
military presence inJapan, particularly in Okinawa.4 Given this full agenda, having astraightforward, strategic framework is critical. But this framework shouldalso not be based on solely reinforcing U.S.-Japan cooperation thatinadvertently drives undesirable Chinese behavior. Washington and Tokyo shouldfollow the following five guiding principles as they forge the next steps inthe alliance, each keeping in mind the impact on one another’s relations withChina. ImplicationsTrump’s bilateral approach to foreignrelations might lead to decreasing influence of the US in Asia. Though afterwithdrawing from the TPP, the renewed CPTPP negotiations went on promptly, theASEAN-China leading RCEP, and the One Belt One Road Initiative launched byChina seemed to declare a new era of globalization, without the USparticipation.
And all the dramas between Donald Trump and Kim Jung Un also ledto a concern of a less stable security environment in Asia. As a solution, anew round of negotiations with North Korea can perhaps help complete the unfinishedjourney toward denuclearization and a peace regime. On the other hand, however,the instability of the Korean peninsula might also lead to the normalization oreven re-militarization of Japan, which the US and the rest of the world won’tbe happy to see. Given the fact that China has made clearthat it now prefers a ”hollowed out” U.S.-Japan security alliance5and has pressured Japan on the guidelines but has gone relatively easy on theUnited States.
Japan, as the weaker alliance partner, has sidestepped China’spressure tactics. But this unpleasant experience has enhanced the strongJapanese trend toward a more hard-nosed and wary approach to China. The Japanesehave concluded that China is now the most important and unpredictable geopoliticalvariable in Asia’s future. American policymakers and others need to considerthe policy implications of new trends in China-Japan relations for the UnitedStates. ConclusionIn the near future, the present securityrelationship will continue witj no doubt, perhaps with Japan taking a moreactive role in its own defense, but not militarization. As China starts to takeon a larger and larger role in regional and global affairs, the United Stateswill also have to modify its relations with China, Japan, and Asia.
I will makethe following suggestions for the future of the US-Japan relations:1. The United States cannot afford tobecome isolationist. It must balance the reduction of U.S. forces in Japan andAsia with an increased diplomatic and economic presence. 2.
While the United States shouldcontinue to support Japan’s development of a UN peacekeeping role for Japanesetroops, it should make it clear that a “remilitarized” Japan is not in the bestinterests of either Japan or Asia.3. To continue to play an effective rolein Asia, the US government must gain a deeper understanding of Asian politics,economics, and culture. In order to maintain the respect of its allies, it willbe necessary to move toward an equal political relationship.