Hitoshi Tanaka, chairman of the Institute for International Strategy at the Japan Research Institute and senior fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange, spoke about the challenges and opportunities for the United States, China, and Japan as they adapt to a changing security environment in East Asia. Tanaka said that finding the "right approach" to China's rise remains the biggest task for the U.S.-Japan alliance, and that policymakers must be mindful of how Chinese domestic factors shape its foreign policy.
Japan's Political Change and Alliance Management
Kazuyoshi Umemoto, deputy permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations, shared his thoughts on Japan's leadership transitions, the role of bureaucrats and politicians, and the expectations of the Japanese public for the alliance. While Umemoto acknowledged that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) faced challenges in implementing its foreign policy agenda, he also described how the DPJ's leadership improved over its three-year tenure at the helm of Japan's government.
Historical Perceptions and U.S.-Japan Relations
A group of experts from the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA)—including Toshihiro Nakayama, Aoyama Gakuin University; Nobumasa Akiyama, Hitotsubashi University; Junya Nishino, Keio University; and Asuka Matsumoto, JIIA—spoke on the role of history in Japan's contemporary relations with its neighbors.
The group discussed how perceptions differ in Tokyo and Washington on how Japan has dealt with its historical legacy and the implications both for regional relations and the U.S.-Japan alliance.
Japan-Korea Relations and East Asian Security
Yoshihide Soeya, director of the Institute of East Asian Studies and professor, Keio University, described Japan-Korea relations as a "paradox" with serious security implications in Northeast Asia. Soeya stressed that while ties between the people of the two countries remain strong, improving the diplomatic relationship will require greater political leadership from both Tokyo and Seoul.
Recent Writings on Japan by Sheila Smith
Sheila A. Smith is CFR's senior fellow for Japan studies and director of the Japan studies program.
Elizabeth C. Economy, Sheila A. Smith, Tim Huxley, and Michael Fullilove weigh in on what happened to Obama's Asia "pivot" in 2013, and offer their projections of what 2014 will bring for regional policy.Read the Expert Roundup »
Since the succession of Kim Jong-un, Tokyo has put greater emphasis on ensuring it is prepared militarily for a more unpredictable Pyongyang and strengthening support for UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea's proliferation. Read the Asan Forum article »
Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine's re-election has put Tokyo on notice that construction of the new runway for the Futenma Marine Air Station will incur local opposition, though the degree of discontent remains to be seen.Read the post »
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to visit the politically charged Yasukuni Shrine creates more rigidities in a region already ridden with tensions over territorial disputes, popular sensitivities, and leadership rivalries.Read the post »
Prime Minister Abe announced Japan's new National Security Strategy (NSS), which represents the first comprehensive, "whole-of-government" effort to articulate the ends and means for Japan's long-term security.Read the post »
China's announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) put regional tensions on the front burner of U.S. vice president Joe Biden's trip to Northeast Asia, and highlighted the U.S. role in balancing a rising China.Read the post »