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.
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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 eg. The electing of Trump also slowed some bilateralsecurity 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, both the United States and Japan face constraints on their ability toenhance the alliance and they will need new strategies in finding a new guidingrationale in shaping the environment for China’s rise. HistoryOn August 6 andAugust 9, 1945, the United States dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanesecities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The two bombings, which killed at least129,000 people, remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history.After the surrender of Japan shortly after the atomic bomb, WWII was finallyover, which was followed by the American occupation of Japan and themarginalization of the military. The US-Japan relationship today is basicallyformed at that time, when the United States established a significant presencein Japan to slow the expansion of Soviet influence in the Pacific after WorldWar II.
The United States was also concerned with the growth of the economy ofJapan because there was a risk after World War II that an unhappy and poorJapanese population would turn to communism and by doing so ensure that theSoviet Union would control the Pacific. By the late 1960s, Japan had risen fromthe ashes of World War II to achieve an astoundingly rapid and completeeconomic recovery. After World War II ended, the Japanese Empire dissolvedand became a democracy state with leading of the US. Japan was banned to havemilitary forces and types and numbers of weapons were also limited. NowadaysJapan is still one of the most important allies of the United States in Asiaand the 3,000 cherry blossom trees in Washington DC is the symbol of friendshipbetween the two countries. Goals The United States has struggled for a century to define and redefine itsstrategic relationship with China and Japan.
From the beginning of thetwentieth century until the latter part of the Cold War in the 1970s, theUnited States never simultaneously had good relations with China and Japan. Asthe 21st century begins, the US again faces strategic choices in Asia. NowChina is the ”rising” power, therefore the U.S.-Japan alliance remains asstrong as ever, indeed perhaps even stronger. Russia cannot be counted out, butit is now a weakened regional player, despite its continuing arms sales toNorth Korea and China.
And since the Trump administration seems to be moreeconomically oriented, opening markets in Japan will still be an important goalfor 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. 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 has been explicitly rebalancingits international posture toward Asia and China. The US-Japan alliance isbecoming less important than before, given the fact that this bilateralrelation depends heavily on the Sino-US relations and the instability of theKorean peninsula.Until 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.1However, 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 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. On the other hand,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 alliance2and 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. ConclusionInthe near future, the present security relationship will continue witj no doubt,perhaps with Japan taking a more active role in its own defense, but notmilitarization.
As China starts to take on a larger and larger role in regionaland global affairs, the United States will also have to modify its relationswith China, Japan, and Asia. I will make the following suggestions for thefuture of the US-Japan relations:1. The United States cannot afford to become isolationist. It must balance thereduction of U.S.
forces in Japan and Asia with an increased diplomatic andeconomic presence. 2. While the United States should continue to support Japan’s development of a UNpeacekeeping role for Japanese troops, it should make it clear that a”remilitarized” Japan is not in the best interests of either Japan or Asia.3. To continue to play an effective role in Asia, the US government must gain adeeper understanding of Asian politics, economics, and culture. In order tomaintain the respect of its allies, it will be necessary to move toward anequal political relationship.
Reference:1. Neil E. Silver, The United States, Japanand China: Setting the Course (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press,2000)2. 1 Neil E. Silver, The United States, Japanand China: Setting the Course (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press,2000)1. 2 Neil E.
Silver, The United States, Japanand China: Setting the Course (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press,2000)