Expand Security Cooperation between Japan and the US (Anti-Globalism and Japan)

We’re heading into “election season” from this fall to the end of next year, with a number of major nations holding elections. The role Japan must fulfill is huge to ensure continued diplomatic and security coordination, as well as to help prevent inward-looking posturing from these nations.

Starting with the U.S. presidential election in November, this year there are also presidential elections in France and South Korea and nationwide elections in Germany. Then, in China, the quinquennial Chinese Communist Party Congress — where changes in party executives are anticipated — will be held in autumn 2017.

Accelerate Policy for Strengthening Alliance

While leaders in these countries are expending all their energy on the domestic side of politics, they must avoid setting off international flashpoints of conflict. Serious crises such as the South China Sea and North Korea continue to smolder on in the Asia-Pacific.

Japan, with the ruling party winning big in July’s upper house elections, is one of the few major nations currently with a strong foundation for effective political administration. This paper wants the central government to encourage long-term participation of the U.S. in this region via the Japan-U.S. alliance. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an economic framework perfect for this purpose. Likewise, from a security standpoint, it is essential that the U.S. strengthen its ties with Asia.

With war fatigue from Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is turning inward. In the U.S. presidential race, the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has alluded to the possibility of pulling U.S. troops from Japan and South Korea. According to a Pew Research poll conducted in the U.S. in April, 57 percent of Americans, when asked about the U.S. dealing with its own problems, responded to “let other countries deal with their own problems.” In the midst of this, what Japan should do is quickly take measures to push forward concrete policy for strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, while at the same time preventing any rollback of U.S. participation in security guarantees.

Guidelines were revised for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation for the first time in 18 years last April, and in it a “bilateral coordination mechanism” featuring a permanent coordination center was set up. The center allows for exchange of information and analysis in times of peace, so on issues such as strategy, both sides can work hand-in-hand during times of crisis. Using this system, this paper hopes for haste in dialogue engagement to address how to handle the situations in the South China Sea, East China Sea and the Korean Peninsula.

There is a reasonable limit to the influence U.S. action can achieve by simply strengthening the bond in the Japan-U.S. alliance. So it is important for the U.S. to call on its allies and friendly nations and further develop its security cooperation links. The U.S. already has a foothold to that end. The cooperation partnerships between Japan-U.S.-Australia, Japan-U.S.-India and Japan-U.S.-Korea are some examples.

Particularly in the case of Japan-U.S.-Australia, cooperation appears to be deepening through the addition of cabinet-level dialogues. For example, in late April the three nations conducted joint military exercises in the sea around Indonesia.

Japan-U.S.-India also conducted foreign ministerial talks for the first time in September of last year. It’s been decided that Japan’s Self-Defense Force will regularly join annual U.S.-India joint military exercises starting this year.

Japan-U.S.-Korea cooperation is seeing new signs of life after the Japan-Korea agreement reached late last year over the “comfort women” issue. Momentum is gathering as well on missile defense coordination focusing on North Korea.

Support for International Contributions from Each Nation

As a next step for this “Japan-U.S.-plus one” coordination, this paper wants to see Southeast Asian nations brought into the fold. If this happens and a loose network of security cooperation is formed, you can expect that it will also have the effect of stemming the tide of isolationism.

Of course, there are many things Japan can still do on its own. One example is support for improving the ability of developing countries to contribute on the international stage. Since 2011, Japan has offered training programs teaching necessary skills and knowledge on major disaster relief for the United Nations Peacekeeping Organization (PKO). There are now 11 target nations, centered mostly in Asia. The Self-Defense Force is dispatched and military personnel from these nations are invited to share their technical know-how. This type of support is meaningful since each nation raises their ability to contribute internationally and develops a system in which stability is protected internally for participating nations.

On top of this, we must not forget this effort actively involves China and encourages responsible behavior. It is important Japan join other nations and call for China to not get any further carried away with hard-line behavior than it already has in the South China Sea. If conflicts in the world continue to spread and there is insecurity in the use of sea lanes, Japan will be directly affected. It will be a major boon for Japan to take on leadership and work toward preventing a rollback on the current course of globalization.

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