Essay on US-Japan Relations

Essay on US-Japan Relations

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“For more than 50 years, the alliance between Japan and the United States has been the cornerstone of security in the Asia Pacific region” (Clinton, 2011). In its fiftieth anniversary, the alliance faced a tumultuous year, but appears to have recovered following North Korea’s shelling of Yeonyeong Island, the arrest of a Chinese captain following a collision with a Japanese Coast Guard ship, and the collective joint effort after the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11 dubbed Operation Tomodachi. These events have reinforced the notion that mutual regional and global interests will help ensure the alliance remains strong. However, the strategic environment of the Asia-Pacific region has and continues to change, and the alliance will have to learn to adapt quickly to the new environment.
With Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s announcement at the APEC summit held in Hawaii this past weekend that Japan will enter into Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the economics aspects of the alliance appear to be progressing in light of the changing strategic environment. It has been no secret that the U.S. has been pushing hard for Japan to enter into TPP talks and President Barack Obama praised Prime Minister Noda’s decision in face of strong opposition within his own party and the politically strong agricultural sector as one that, “could provide an historic opportunity to deepen bilateral economic ties” (Lindsay, 2011).
While economic challenges still remain between the U.S. and Japan, the biggest obstacles to the alliance persist in the security aspects of the relationship. The implementation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma relocation agreement remains unresolved and as was demonstrated last year has the p...

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...retation of the constitution to exercise the right of collective self-defense should be pursued in line with this proactive approach. However, given the current economic climate, budgetary constraints may impede any major developments in the alliance on the side of the Japanese or the U.S.
Following the debacle of the Futenma relocation issue last year, the major challenge facing the U.S.-Japan alliance is restoring mutual confidence with each other. While basing issues are fundamental to this process it is important to recognize that the U.S.-Japan alliance has more to offer. It is time for the alliance to expand its scope and incorporate other areas of cooperation that are mutually beneficial to both countries. The alliance is certainly in a better position than a year ago but must maintain flexibility to meet the changing demands of the Asia-Pacific landscape.

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