Japan-US relations

A UH-1J helicopter flies during a live fire exercise at Japan's Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF) training grounds in the East Fuji Manuever Area in Gotemba on 22 May 2021. (Akio Kon/AFP)

Japan’s weapons transfers to Southeast Asia: Opportunities and challenges

Research fellow Victor Teo says that Japan’s re-emergence as a weapon exporter is fuelled by desires to increase Japanese capabilities, counteract China’s rise, hedge against possible future strategic abandonment by the US, fund next-generation weapon research, and foster Japan’s global leadership and influence in Southeast Asia. Using its overseas development assistance to the region, it is promoting the transfer of weapon systems, naval vessels and surveillance planes, particularly to Southeast Asian claimant states in the South China Sea. What are the implications of these actions?
Japan's Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF) soldiers wearing protective face masks arrive for a live fire exercise at JGSDF's training grounds in the East Fuji Maneuver Area in Gotemba, Japan, on 22 May 2021. A key part of US President Joe Bidens foreign policy has been turning to allies for support in addressing the security risks posed by the likes of China and North Korea, placing a greater emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region. (Akio Kon/Bloomberg)

What removing the defence budget cap means for Japan’s role in the Indo-Pacific

​Since 1976, Japan’s defence budget has traditionally been capped at 1% of its GDP. However, in a recent interview, Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said that this self-imposed limit would effectively be removed.
US President Joe Biden and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga walk through the Colonnade to take part in a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on 16 April 2021. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

US academic: Is Japan a true and loyal US ally?

US academic Han Dongping says that while many assume Japan to be a loyal friend of the US, their complicated history suggests otherwise. Having used the atomic bomb on Japan, the US has continued to leverage the outcome of WWII to keep Japan as a pawn in its international strategy. Americans may argue that they are protecting Japan, but ask the Japanese in private, and some of their answers may surprise you. He asks: will Japan still be a willing US flunky if the global situation changes?
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (centre) leaves after a lower house budget committee session at parliament in Tokyo on 10 May  2021. (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP)

Japanese academic: Has Japan 'crossed the Rubicon' in Japan-China relations?

With China's increasingly strong rhetoric on its core interests and its criticism of Japan's recent diplomatic moves, Japanese academic Tomoki Kamo takes stock of China-Japan relations and moves that Japan might make in its overall strategy.
A screen shows Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on 7 May 2021. (Yuki Iwamura/AFP)

Japanese academic: Biden's emphasis on allies is impacting Japan-China relations

Relations between Japan and China have been on an uptrend in the past few years. Even after the new Suga administration came to power, the trend of improving relations has been maintained. However, with the Biden administration's emphasis on working with its allies, ostensibly against China, will Japan-China relations suffer?
Joggers run along the Bund as the Lujiazui Financial District stands in the background in Shanghai, China, 10 April 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Chinese researcher: No one can reverse the shrinking economic gap between China and the US

Researcher Chen Hongbin notes that the economic gap between China and the US is closing. But the crux is not when China will overtake the US, but how the US will cope with the change. Its previous high-pressure tactics may have worked against the Soviet Union and Japan, but China will be a different kettle of fish.
People cross a street under the rain at dusk while a shinkansen N700A series, or high speed bullet train, leaves Tokyo on 21 March 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Balancing China: Can Japan continue to be a reliable power in SEA after Abe?

Academic Victor Teo says that Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has big shoes to fill as his predecessor Shinzō Abe had made visible and significant achievements on both the domestic and diplomatic fronts. With the Biden administration in place in the US, and a rising China amid a post-pandemic world, how will Suga's Japan engage Southeast Asia? Will he reaffirm the “silent” leadership role that Japan has played in the region through economic and security means? Furthermore, Japan has guided the US in regional matters during Trump's presidency and has been keen to include Southeast Asian countries in the Quad. Can Japan fulfil its security goals without seriously antagonising China?  
A general view shows the skyline of Tokyo's Shinjuku area on 22 March 2021. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Chinese academic: Japan is the ‘hidden warrior’ behind China-US competition

Chinese academic Deng Qingbo examines the recent Alaska meeting between China and the US, and concludes that Japan plays a hidden but crucial role in how the China-US relationship is developing. As Japan has much to gain from conflicts and intense competition between China and the US, it may indulge in actions that could worsen such big power competition and land the world in a disastrous situation.
In a photo taken on 8 February 2021, a Korean People's Army (KPA) soldier walks past a poster displayed on a street in Pyongyang marking the 73rd anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People's Army. (Kim Won Jin/AFP)

Japanese academic: Will Northeast Asia work with Biden on North Korea?

A survey in Japan shows that Japanese foreign policy decision-makers are most concerned with “US-North Korea denuclearisation negotiations and North Korea’s status as a nuclear power” in Northeast Asia. The Biden administration is likely to work with its allies to tackle the issue, but it is enmeshed in a web of complex geopolitical relationships. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima considers the deliberations of the key players involved.