Japan Chair Platform: Despite Political Uncertainty, Japan Can Still Show the Flag
May 19, 2009
Gloom and doom are spreading in Washington about the reliability of Japan as an alliance partner and global security player. The dual crises of political paralysis and economic stagnation could easily be perceived as a recipe for endless strategic drift in Japan. Moreover, the political elite in Japan has avoided hard choices on strategically important issues ranging from immigration reform to women’s empowerment and diplomacy toward North Korea. However, the activities of the Self Defense Forces, fresh strategic thinking and increased public consciousness of security policy all suggest that it would be an enormous mistake to confuse the process of political realignment in the Diet for broader Japanese strategic retrenchment. The next year or so will be challenging for alliance managers, but if Washington assumes that Japan is going backward, U.S. policy will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the United States and Japan prepare for the 50th anniversary of the Security Treaty next year, both sides have every reason to be ambitious about the future of the alliance.