A 12-Step Recovery Plan for the U.S.-Japan Alliance
May 12, 2010
The U.S.-Japan alliance has seen periods of strategic drift and even crisis before. Usually, the security relationship emerges stronger as each side adjusts to new political realities at home and shared strategic challenges abroad. Will the alliance come out of the current crisis of confidence resulting from the impasse over Marine Corps Air Station Futenma? Probably. Opinion polls in both the United States and Japan continue to show strong support for the security relationship, though increasing anxiety about its health. The U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review and preparations for Japan’s new Mid-term Defense Plan both suggest more convergence than divergence in terms of American and Japanese strategic perceptions and planning for bilateral defense cooperation. The challenge will be finding a way to restore mutual confidence and rebuild a positive strategic agenda in the wake of the deflating bilateral disconnect over Futenma. The timing and the agenda will have to be realistic and not just superficial efforts to sidestep hard issues in favor of “easy” topics to work on together.