As the 50th anniversary of the
U.S.-Japan alliance unfolds, multiple trends in Asia suggest the need to move
beyond today’s bickering over the relocation of a Marine base in Okinawa. These
trends include accelerating regional integration, the rapid ascents of China
and India, and a range of traditional and emerging threats with which the
alliance must be able to cope.
While the U.S.-Japan alliance has changed a great deal since its inception in 1960, such changes have always come in fits and starts, and not in the programmatic ways which are necessary to meet future needs both within the region and globally. The prospects for change are also complicated by a number of factors, including Japan’s historical legacy and domestic politics, as well as the alliance structure itself. Born in a Cold War setting, the alliance developed a decidedly bilateral and security-based focus. However, today’s challenges often demand cooperation across agencies and multilaterally.
To remain relevant for the next fifty years, the U.S.-Japan alliance must evolve. The United States and Japan will have to put the alliance on more sustainable footing and bolster extended deterrence amidst a drawdown in the U.S. nuclear stockpile. They will also have to develop a shared vision for a regional architecture, collaborate to secure access to the global commons, and explore new opportunities to cooperate on natural security challenges. Along the way, the United States and Japan will need to craft alliance management mechanisms reflecting a more dynamic political situation in Tokyo. Lastly, the United States and Japan must better integrate their scientific, technological and economic capabilities into the alliance.
With these ends in mind, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is conducting a major study that will put forth a strategy to renew the U.S.-Japan alliance. CNAS will hold high-level seminars with influential strategists in the United States and Japan and publish reports timed to shape the alliance agenda on both sides of the Pacific.
Past reports and policy briefs include Renewal: Revitalizing the U.S.-Japan Alliance, Robotic Skies: Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and the Strategic Defense of Japan, Extreme Crises: Reassessing U.S. Preparedness after Japan and Disaster in Japan: Nuclear Energy, the Economy and the U.S.-Japan Alliance.