U.S.-Japan Alliance Must Be Redefined, Says Funabashi

January 7, 2003

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September 7, New York, NY - Facing its most critical test since its 1951 inception, the U.S.-Japan alliance needs immediate redefinition. The Asian financial crisis, China’s growing international power, and Japan’s economic decline coupled with its political immobility threaten the assumptions that have traditionally guided the U.S.-Japan relationship.

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In assessing the form this redefinition might take, Yoichi Funabashi’s Alliance Adrift presents four specific case studies: trade frictions between Japan and the United States, suspicions of a North Korean nuclear program, the strains in Sino-American relations over the issue of Taiwan and Chinese missile tests, and anti-alliance protests triggered by the 1995 rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl by U.S. servicemen.

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Specific recommendations to redefine the alliance include: moving beyond the “secretarial” relationship to a broader-based alliance, including the Congress, the Diet and the public; getting the United States to explain its strategy to a new generation of Japanese, rather than taking Japan’s acquiescence for granted; and encouraging greater alliance leadership in both countries, especially in the untethered post-Cold War system.

Based on interviews with over 200 U.S. and Japanese government officials, scholars, and others, Alliance Adrift is indispensable to those interested in the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

Yoichi Funabashi is a columnist and Chief Diplomatic Correspondent of the Asahi Shimbun and a leading journalist in the field of Japanese foreign policy. He won the Japan Press Award, known as “Japan’s Pulitzer Prize,” in 1994 for his columns on foreign policy, and his articles in Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy won the Ishibashi Tanzan Prize in 1992.

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