A new report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies says Japan should work with Taiwan and other Asian democracies to promote security throughout the region.
Written by former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage and former National Intelligence Council chairman Joseph Nye, the report, The US-Japan Alliance: Anchoring Stability in Asia, urges Tokyo to increase ties and collaboration with Taiwan, India, Australia and the Philippines, and to “ensure unhindered sea-based trade, and to promote overall economic and security well-being.”
There is a “drift” in the US-Japan relationship, and the health and welfare of “one of the world’s most important alliances” is endangered, says the report, which was released on Wednesday.
The report says this comes at a time when the resurgence of China, North Korea with its nuclear capabilities and hostile intentions, and the promise of Asia’s dynamism demand more from the alliance.
“The United States needs a strong Japan no less than Japan needs a strong United States,” it says.
The most immediate challenge is in Japan’s own neighborhood, it says.
“China’s assertive claims to most of the East China Sea and virtually all of the South China Sea, and the dramatic increase in the operational tempo of the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] and other maritime services, including repeated circumnavigation of Japan, reveal Beijing’s intention to assert greater strategic influence throughout the First Island Chain,” it says.
A military contingency in the South China Sea would have severe implications for the security and stability of Japan.
“Japan requires offensive responsibilities to provide for the defense of the nation,” it says.
Both the US and Japan need more “robust, shared and interoperable” intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and operations.
The report offers a series of policy recommendations to both Tokyo and Washington, and it advises Tokyo to continue engagement in regional forums and with democratic partners, particularly Taiwan, India, Australia and the Philippines.
“Japan should also increase surveillance of the South China Sea in collaboration with the US to ensure freedom of navigation,” the report says.
It urges the US and Japan to improve the quality of their bilateral defense exercises, and make full use of training opportunities in Guam and Australia.
In addition, it says the US and Japan should jointly develop weaponry.
“Japan has the power to decide between complacency and leadership at a time of strategic importance. With the dynamic changes taking place throughout the Asia-Pacific region, Japan will likely never have the same opportunity to help guide the fate of the region,” it says. “In choosing leadership, Japan can secure her status as a tier-one nation.”