"For much of Japan’s modern history, the sea has protected the Japanese from their neighbors,” yet today they are alarmed by the increasing evidence that “China may have a far greater appetite for risk in Asia’s near seas,” says CFR Senior Fellow Sheila Smith
Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies, overviews President Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima in May and his last visit to Asia that reemphasized the regional priorities of his “pivot” to Asia. She, together with Charles McClean of University of California, San Diego, also examine the shared challenges the United States and Japan face such as domestic politics of each country, the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, North Korean fifth nuclear test, and continued maritime tensions in Asia even after the ruling of The Hague came out.
Last September, tens of thousands of opponents of Japanese Prime MinisterShinzo Abe gathered outside the National Diet building in Tokyo, often in torrential rain, holding placards and shouting antiwar slogans. They were there to protest the imminent passage of legislation designed to allow Japan’s military to mobilize overseas for the first time in 70 years—a shift they feared would undermine Japan’s pacifistic constitution and encourage adventurism.
CFR Senior Fellow Sheila Smith refutes the idea that the U.S.-Japan alliance appears to be a Cold War artifact. Rather, the U.S. and Japan have adjusted to the complex geopolitical currents, and President Obama’s landmark visit to Hiroshima has more than symbolic meaning
Japan hosts the G7 summit at a time of rising strategic tensions in Asia and worrisome global economic trends, but for many the gathering will be sidelined by a U.S. presidential visit to Hiroshima, writes CFR's Sheila Smith.
Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies, analyzes how the United States and Japan together dealt with North Korean fourth nuclear test, China’s increasing military activities in the South China Sea, the long-standing base relocation issue in Okinawa, and the “Trump Shock,” caused by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign language toward Japan on trade and on security cooperation.
While tensions continue to rise in the South China Sea and the disputing governments nervously await a decision in the Philippines’ arbitration case against China, an important sideshow has arisen between Japan and Taiwan in the central Philippine Sea.
Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies, identifies three areas of U.S. Asia policy that is particularly important for the next U.S. administration: devising a strategy for managing China’s increasing maritime activism, continued leadership in effective economy governance, and moving beyond the rhetoric of the presidential campaign to reassure allies and partners in Asia of the continued commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes and confidence building and risk reduction across Asia.
“For some time, the idea of a formal trilateral discussion between the United States, Japan, and China has been considered but not acted on. Today, however, as the interactions among these three major powers carry such significant implications for the future of the Asia Pacific, the need for such a trilateral seems stronger than ever,” writes Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies.
Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea as well as local opposition to Tokyo’s plans for building a new airfield to replace the U.S. Marines’ Futenma facility are the two main challenges for Washington and Tokyo in the new year, writes Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies.
The governments of Japan and South Korea discussed the trafficking of South Korean sex slaves (known as "comfort women") in Japan during World War II. Japan agreed to provide reparations to surviviors which the government of South Korea would distribute; South Korea agreed to review the placement of a memorial statue dedicated to comfort women, which is near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
Fifty years after the establishment of official diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea, continued animosity between the United States’ two Northeast Asian allies remains a problem for Washington, hampering its ability to deal with the challenges posed by North Korea, China, and a host of nontraditional security threats. Mark E. Manyin argues that, for the United States, the costs of nonintervention are rising.
Over the past half century, South Korea and Japan have established themselves as firm and reliable allies of the United States, contributing to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. But despite increasing cultural exchange and deepening economic ties between the two countries, Korea-Japan relations have shown deteriorated. Cheol Hee Park explains that, given the deteriorating security situation in East Asia and the emergence of an assertive China, the United States has an interest in repairing Korea-Japan relations.
Sheila A. Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies, reflects on the current state of the complex bilateral relationship between Tokyo and Beijing as they celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the World War II this summer.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye spoke on August 15, 2015, marking the anniversary of Japan's surrender during World World II. President Park discussed the development of the South Korean economy and relations with North Korea and with Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a speech on the end of World War II the previous day. See CFR.org's timeline, "Last Days of Imperial Japan" for background information.
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