Michael J. Green, Patrick M. Cronin, eds. The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Past, Present, and Future. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1999. xix + 403 pp. $19.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-87609-249-1.
Reviewed by Aaron Forsberg (Legal Science Institute, Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan)
Published on H-US-Japan (September, 1999)
The Case for Strengthening the U.S.-Japanese Security Partnership
Rare is the collection of essays that achieves the distinction of being more than the sum of its parts. The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Past, Present, and Future is one such volume. As a window on the strategic thinking informing U.S. security policy toward Japan in the 1990s, it is unequaled. The contributors include policymakers, social scientists, historians, and policy analysts who were engaged in the debates that generated the Joint Security Declaration of April 1996 and its subsequent implementation. As Michael J. Green and Patrick M. Cronin note in the introduction, "all of the authors--whether critics of the status quo or not--begin with the fundamental premise that the U.S.-Japan alliance is critical to the maintenance of U.S. interests and stability in the Asia-Pacific region (p. xiii)." This unity of purpose is at once the book's greatest strength and its most conspicuous shortcoming.
As former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry writes in the foreword, the book's contributors inquire into "the history, process, and future possibilities for the U.S.-Japan relationship" (p. vii). Like Perry himself, who is presently acting as coordinator of U.S. policy toward North Korea, the authors have all enjoyed close proximity to power and continue to take an active interest in U.S.-Japanese relations. The book thus stands as the latest example of the many works published over the years by informed observers that aim to explain the workings of the alliance and adapt it to the needs of the future. Other examples that come quickly to mind are I. M. Destler, et al., Managing an Alliance (1976), and Michael Armacost, Friends or Rivals? (1996).
Although The U.S.-Japan Alliance draws upon a wide range of scholarship and certainly is of value to academics, like its predecessors it does not seek primarily to break new ground in any historiographical debate or to advance a new theoretical approach. Published by the Council on Foreign Relations, The U.S.-Japan Alliance aims instead to set the terms of public debate on the alliance as the United States and Japan adapt to the changing conditions of the post-Cold War world. In this regard, the book is a cogent response to popular doubts about the alliance.
In recent years, such feeling surfaced most dramatically in the press following the September 1995 rape of a young Japanese schoolgirl in Okinawa by three U.S. servicemen. On the American side, doubts have simmered for many years in various quarters, providing much of the energy behind the rise to prominence during the 1980s of the "revisionist" paradigm for understanding postwar Japan. They also find expression in a wide range of published works, including books on current affairs such as The Coming War with Japan (1991), by George Friedman and Meredith Lebard. More significant, at least with regard to policy debate in Washington, is the work of think tanks, such as the Cato Institute, which advocate withdrawal of American forces from Japan and termination of the mutual security treaty. Sentiment in Japan for greater autonomy in security affairs is hardly new, but the transformation of the international environment in recent years has enhanced the salience of the question. Although Socialist opposition to the alliance is a relic of the Cold War era, there are signs that some of Japan's leading opposition politicians are sympathetic to a reduced U.S. security presence in Japan. At the same time, a recent study by the U.S. National Intelligence Council concluded that Tokyo is hedging its bets on the alliance by building a more independent defense force. The authors of The U.S.-Japan Alliance specify few of the alliance's detractors by name, but the volume is clearly intended to address the many issues raised by skeptics of the alliance as well as its outright opponents.
The editors of the The U.S.-Japan Alliance have organized the fourteen essays of the book into four principal sections: "The Strategic Environment," "The Military Bond," "The Politics of the Alliance," and "Economics, Technology, and Security." An introduction and a conclusion bring together for the reader the book's common themes and an agenda for the future. In addition, eleven appendices present basic documents concerning the alliance. These documents include an alliance chronology; a copy of the 1960 treaty of mutual cooperation and security; the "Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation" (also available like some of the other documents in electronic form at http://www.jda.go.jp); the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) Final Report; the "U.S.-Japan Joint Declaration on Security" of April 17, 1996; information regarding Japan's national defense program, transfer of military technology to the United States, Japanese arms exports, and Japan's defense budgets; and a list of the major fora for U.S.-Japan consultations on security. In short, as the editors intended, The U.S.-Japan Alliance achieves distinction as both a thoughtful introduction to the alliance for students, and a basic reference work for researchers and policymakers working on U.S.-Japan relations.
In the first and most general essay, "The Eagle Eyes the Pacific," Richard J. Samuels and Christopher P. Twomey assess the strategic options from which the United States must choose. Although the authors of the other essays may differ with regard to the appropriate emphasis, it is fair to say that Samuels and Twomey spell out the security interests of basic concern to the authors as a group. These include preservation of stability among the great powers, maintaining the safety of sea-lanes of communication (SLOCs) in the region, preservation of U.S. leadership in regional and global institutions, peaceful resolution of the division of the Korean Peninsula on Seoul's terms, and peaceful resolution of the Chinese-Taiwanese conflict in a manner that upholds democracy and economic freedom. They also mention avoidance of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as ensuring the independence of Indochina and Southeast Asia (owing in no small part to their proximity to the region's SLOCs).
Samuels and Twomey clearly appreciate the role that these security concerns have played in causing the various wars in Asia of the past century. In rejecting the courses of "isolationism" (i.e., U.S. strategic withdrawal from the region) and "multilateralism" (whether modeled on NATO or the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)), the authors emphasize the role that the U.S.-Japan alliance plays in balancing power in the region. In this regard, they are refreshingly honest about the alliance's function as a so-called cork in the Japanese military bottle. Besides failing to enable the United States to accomplish its strategic goals in the region, military withdrawal carries the risk of unleashing "a dangerously destabilizing arms race" (p.6). The obvious reason is that the rearmament required for Tokyo to stand alone would necessarily provoke a response from the region's other capitals, and the absence of an American presence would heighten insecurity on all sides. A weak multilateral arrangement for security, if it were to replace the alliance, would suffer from the same problems. A pact modeled on NATO would prove destabilizing for different reasons, not least because in practice it would probably be pointed at China.
Thus, in the view of Samuels and Twomey, the United States must realistically choose from four options. The first is to "accept the risks of a fragile status quo" (p. 11). The most basic of these risks is unsurprisingly the perception on the American side that the asymmetries of present arrangements are unfair--that the United States shoulders a disproportionate share of the military burden and that Japan enjoys a disproportionate share of the economic benefits of interdependence. "In a strictly military sense,"the authors note, "fairness has limited relevance to the ability of this [alliance] to achieve American interests at a low direct cost." But it is politically relevant on both sides. "Should it come to conflict," they continue, "Americans will wonder why their rich ally cannot assist the U.S. military more, and the Japanese will question why they are being asked to play a role in a conflict that appears more important to Washington than Tokyo. Both are good questions. Unless the elites in both capitals find answers to these concerns, the alliance will remain fragile" (p. 12).
The second option is to "reconfigure the alliance" (p. 13). In line with both political considerations and a sea- and air-based post-Cold War strategy, the authors favor withdrawal of the U.S. Marines from Okinawa. At the same time, consistent with the risks they consider inherent in the status quo, Samuels and Twomey call for "overt linkage" in which "the United States ought to offer security guarantees, technology, and market access in the context of reciprocal access to Japanese technology and the Japanese market" (p. 13). The third option, which the authors suggest offers at best marginal advantages over the status quo is the "ally-free" route. In practice, this amounts to the United States abandoning its bases abroad and developing a long-range military force for frequent deployment from locations such as Alaska and Diego Garcia. Although militarily feasible, the required changes in the composition of American military forces would be expensive in both dollar and human terms. The United States would likely find itself in more actual conflicts. Simply stated, "credibility comes at a price" (p. 15). The fourth option is to "find a new friend." Granting the uncertainties inherent in any such a shift, they identify Taiwan, Australia, the Philippines, and Vietnam as the most likely candidates.
Within this broad framework, the other essays in the volume develop more fully a wide range of topics. At the risk of seeming lengthy, this review mentions the contents of each in the context of summarizing the book's overall perspective so as to convey the volume's scope for list readers. Of particular interest in the other two essays on the strategic environment is the significance of China for U.S.-Japanese Relations. In "China, Japan, and the United States," James Przystup inquires into the challenge of integrating China into the international system in light of the record of the past one hundred years. The immediately policy-relevant aspect of his basic argument is that American-Japanese cooperation can contribute to successful integration of China by enhancing regional strategic stability and promoting commercial ties that spur Chinese growth while increasing interdependence. "The history of the twentieth century has repeatedly demonstrated that neither the United States nor Japan can force China to act against its perceived interests," he writes. "What the United States and Japan can do is to communicate interests clearly and coordinate approaches with like-minded democracies with the intent of creating an international environment in which China, in the pursuit of its interests, will be inclined to do the right thing."(p. 40).
The real force of Przystup's argument flows from his emphasis on how the first four decades of the twentieth century demonstrate the potentially disastrous consequences of unilateral and multilateral attempts to maintain security in East Asia. "In retrospect," he explains, "the termination of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1921 opened the door to Japanese unilateralism later in the decade. Multilateralism, as embodied in the Washington Conference treaties, proved an insufficient means of protecting Japan's interests in China" (p. 27). The same arrangements also proved insufficient to protect China's interests against encroachment by Japan as well as to contain U.S.-Japanese differences over China during the 1930s. There is no stronger argument against wishful designs for U.S. disengagement or fuzzy multilateral arrangements for East Asian security than the abysmal record of such arrangements during the interwar years. The carnage in East Timor that dominated the news as I composed this review should be a reminder that stability can be more apparent than real, and that peace can be shattered as suddenly today as in previous generations.
An essay by Robert A. Manning on the security environment in Northeast Asia rounds out the first section. It focuses principally on China, Korea, the Taiwan factor, and relations among the powers, including those with Russia. Like Przystup, Manning sees China's emergence as "perhaps the paramount single challenge to the post-Cold War system of relations" (p. 54). The reason is not that a stronger China is necessarily threatening. (Manning, like the other authors, regards overly confrontational policies toward China as fundamentally destabilizing because of their potential to provoke Chinese retaliation and thus lead to polarization of the region.) Rather, the problem is that in Northeast Asia there are "no collective security structures, multilateral institutions, or even firm alliances out-side of the U.S. network of bilateral alliances," and "economically dynamic states are modernizing their respective military forces" (p. 54). The challenge is "to establish a stable triangular relationship among the U.S.-China, U.S.-Japan, and Sino-Japanese relationships" (p. 65). For each party it is a task that involves clearly defining interests and making hard choices about what to defend and what not to defend. In Manning's view, the vast majority of the work in this task lies ahead. He is not encouraged by what he calls the "mindless multilateralism" (p. 57) of this decade, exemplified, for instance, by the notion that the ASEAN Regional amounts to a new security architecture.
The five essays on "the military bond" are the most substantial of the volume with respect to analysis of the workings of the U.S.-Japan alliance and the opportunities for pursuing new initiatives. Sheila A. Smith writes about the evolution of the military cooperation in the alliance during the Cold War years. She describes the "carefully negotiated division of labor" (p. 79) in U.S.-Japan military cooperation. In the same way that the 1978 Guideline for defense cooperation represented an adjustment to changes in the wake of the Vietnam War (and, one might add, popular criticism of the alliance), the 1997 Guidelines represent an attempt to adapt to more recent changes in the international environment. Here too, however, the task remains far from finished. "The key to the future success of U.S.-Japan security cooperation," Smith concludes, "lies in identifying the missions that allow Japan to continue to subscribe to its policy of military restraint in keeping with the spirit of the constitution, while at the same time providing a visible and viable role for the SDF [Self Defense Forces] in
In an essay on structures and mechanisms of the alliance, Paul S. Giarra and Akihisa Nagashima similarly conclude that the "second Guidelines review, eminently successful, points to much more work rather than marking the conclusion of a process. Ultimate success depends on close political control of defense policy by defense officials, diplomats, and military commanders, not an abrupt hand-off of alliance planning responsibilities to technicians and operators" (p. 112). They present arrangements for refueling American Aerial Tanker Aircraft at Kadena Air Base as an "illustrative scenario" (p. 104). In a separate essay, Ann Dixon surveys differences in the American and Japanese views of "multilateralism," the limitations of key institutions and initiatives comprising regional multilateral dialog such as The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the prospects for Japanese participation in peace keeping operations. In another selection, Cronin, Giarra, and Green expand on this theme of the great amount of work required on both sides with regard to the case of theater missile defense (TMD)--including the high risk of damage to the alliance in the absence of such effort--in order to expand the scope of the bilateral military partnership.
In perhaps the most original essay of the volume "U.S. Bases in Japan: Historical Background and Innovative Approaches to Maintaining Strategic Presence," at least in its immediate policy implications, Giarra takes up one of the enduring sources of friction in the alliance. U.S. military bases in Japan are central to current defense arrangements, and at the same time the bases--especially airfields--are the subject to "vexing local political pressure from surrounding communities" (p. 115). The call for an alliance without bases strikes a chord with many Japanese, and Tokyo Mayor Shintaro Ishihara's call for return of Yokota Air Base earlier this year has boosted the profile of the issue. The essay describes the crucial role the bases play in the defense of Japan, and the region, lists them, and outlines an imaginative agenda for "integration of the bases" (p. 133) into the mainstream of Japanese life.
Giarra plausibly argues that, "in the long run, American bases can no longer remain the exclusive enclaves they have been" (p. 133). Some that can revert to SDF custody should be handed over. By combining civil and military use at others, for example--allowing civilian flights to land at Yokota or other airfields in the same manner as at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii and Misawa Air Base in northern Japan--would give the Japanese a greater sense of ownership of the installations, and would bring members of the public into the dialog about defense as participants rather than obstacles. As someone who has worked at many of the military bases in Japan (from 1993 to 1998), I found Giarra's agenda well-tuned to both defense requirements and political sentiment in Japan this decade. At the moment, nothing has been decided with regard to the disposition of Yokota Air Base, but Mayor Ishihara has evidently been receptive to the idea of joint-use. Given the inconvenience of using Narita Airport, civilian use of Yokota would have an immediate if undramatic effect on the lives of the millions of Japanese who live to the west of Tokyo.
The third section on "the politics of the alliance" consists of two essays: "Alliance Politics and Japan's Postwar Culture of Antimilitarism," by Thomas U. Berger; and "The Alliance and Post-Cold War Political Realignment in Japan," by W. Lee Howell. Berger doubts that Japan "will soon emerge from its half-century of military semi-isolationism" owing to what he calls "a peculiar culture of anti-militarism" (p. 191). It is a deeper argument than it appears on the surface. Non-Japanese commonly assume that, "the Japanese have not learned any lessons" from their wartime experience. "This view," he argues, "is mistaken." It is not that the Japanese did not draw any lessons from their recent past, but that the lessons drawn are not the ones the outside world feels are appropriate. "The chief lesson learned by the Japanese people," he plausibly claims, "concerned the dangers of an overly strong state" (p. 190). This anxiety about civilian control over the military is the elephant in the room in any discussion about defense policy. In the other essay, Howell surveys the unraveling of the Cold-War era Japanese political framework, with particular emphasis on how changes in the electoral system have expanded opportunities for public involvement in dialog on defense issues, as well as the demographic and budgetary constraints on defense spending. Despite the quality of both essays, this section is disappointingly short. Attention to the political process in the United States as well as the informal ties that bind the two nations together both deserve attention.
A thoughtful essay on the effect of economics on security by Mike Mochizuki opens the fourth section. The liberal tradition, he notes, tends to see the growth of trade and investment as a "positive-sum, rather than zero-sum, game," (p. 232) in which greater prosperity fosters interdependence and promotes democratic political processes (the mantra of pundits presently heralding the arrival of "globalization." Although granting that the end of the twentieth century has seen more progress in these directions than expected even a few years ago, Mochizuki is understandably not willing to "rely solely on economic interdependence strategies for regional security" (p. 243). This is because the bleaker expectations of two other theoretical traditions--realism on the one hand and mercantilism or imperialism on the other--are also potentially relevant. Consistent with realist prescriptions, some states can gain more from economic development than others, thus causing the balance of power to shift, and with economic development can come competition for scarce resources. Similarly, consistent with mercantilist or imperialist prescriptions, differential rates of growth or other indicators of uneven development can provoke considerable social concern that has a corrosive effect on the political support for a given order. Japan's persistent trade balance and the backlash in the United States stands as an example. Mochizuki does not advocate overt linkage, however. He concludes that "the best course is [for the United States] to pursue vigorously both economic and security interests simultaneously on their own terms" (p. 245).
Having investigated the question of economic relations in some depth in my own research, readers should be aware of my own view that there is a tendency among scholars to overstate both the strategic implications of trade and to underestimate the role of economic exchange in cementing security ties. But for better or for worse, trade enjoys a special place in relations between the United States and Japan as well as the published literature on the relationship. In an essay that surveys the relationship between trade and security relations in recent decades of U.S.-Japanese relations, Laura Stone displays a keen awareness of the political salience of trade disputes for the alliance. Viewing controversy over trade from the inside (she is a Foreign Service Officer), Stone conveys the how the managers of U.S.-Japanese relations have over the years regarded such friction as disruptive and have attempted to insulate the alliance from it. She sensibly concludes, however, that "this policy of insulation carries with it serious problems for the long-term future of the alliance" (p. 265). Ultimately, the alliance depends for its effect on popular support, which is undermined by attempts at insulation. Trade has a real effect on the alliance. And defense trade is inseparable from the security relationship.
Gregg A. Rubinstein takes up the latter topic in a thoughtful essay entitled, "U.S. Armaments Cooperation," and in "The Technology Factor in U.S.-Japan Security Relations," Michael Chinworth surveys technology transfers and the security relationship. "Despite charges of unbalanced benefits," Rubinstein finds that "defense equipment and technology programs with Japan over the past forty years have continued to meet basic U.S. needs--modernized Japanese defense capabilities, interoperability, and significant benefits for U.S. industry--while also satisfying Japanese security, political, and economic interests" (p. 279). He is similarly optimistic with regard to the future. Chinworth's essay draws heavily on the case of the FSX Fighter and inquires into how the United States may preserve its interests while assuring mutually beneficial ties with regard to cooperative technology development and defense equipment production programs. He concludes on a practical note: "Technology transfer takes place through 'hands-on' activities, including research, development, and most important, production. . . . Thus, the challenge facing policymakers will be to institute new mechanisms and practices quietly over time, but in a fashion that assures equitable political, security, technological, and economic benefits" (p. 304).
In the final chapter, Green and Cronin make their own recommendations for enhancing military cooperation, coping with China, forging a global security partnership, and anticipating changes in the current strategic environment. Although not all authors may agree with every item, they essentially flow from the foregoing essays and do not require repeating here. In this discussion, there is clear emphasis on the need to rectify some of the asymmetries in the alliance so as to make the military partnership more fully functioning, and on the incremental nature of such change. All in all, the book's perspective assumes that the nation-state will remain the basic (but by no means the only) actor in international relations for the foreseeable future. There are firm grounds for such thinking. But this is not a view which will sit well with many academics, who are showing increasing interest in non-traditional approaches to international relations.
On the one hand, the authors' relatively orthodox focus should serve as a reminder to scholars and pundits that the international system does not necessarily conform to current intellectual fashion. But there are two serious shortcomings to this aspect of the book. The first--and more important of the two--is that the process by which U.S.-Japanese relations are changing is not dealt with as effectively as it needs to be. The editors make the point that "the security policymaking process in both the United States and Japan is becoming more fluid and pluralistic" (p. xv). This acknowledgment understates recent change. In fact, not only the policymaking process, but the bilateral relationship as a whole has seen a remarkable proliferation of actors in the last generation. On the Japanese side, the change is more abrupt as suggested by the actions of Mayor Ishihara. The end of the Cold War, and the gradual collapse of the institutions that took shape during that era, have provided the opportunity for debate about the nation's future not seen since the 1950s. Yet neither the editors nor any of the contributors look beyond the usual constructs (such as distinguishing trade and security relations) to come to terms with the significance these developments, or how they can be harnessed to achieve the objectives at hand.
Paul Giarra's analysis of the military base issue charts a new course, but it is just a start. Rather than aggressively pursue the involvement of new actors in the relationship, most seem to me more impressed with the potential of pluralistic tendencies and outside players to disrupt security relations (disgruntled trade interests make several appearances). Admittedly, the essays were conceived at a time when the bilateral security relationship was seemed more in jeopardy than is the case at the moment, and such instincts come naturally to the caretakers of the alliance on both sides. Yet if the tasks that the authors spell out for the two nations are ever to be accomplished, there is much more that needs to be done with regard to the meaning of expanded participation in cross-border activities for the security relationship. The challenge will be to harness energy of the forces--including, of course, networks such as the one carrying this review--that are making relations more "fluid and pluralistic," because those forces promise only to multiply in the future. The good news for defenders of the alliance is that sentiment in a wide range of institutions and the public at large is likely much more willing to support the alliance than pessimistic predictions allow.
A second criticism is in a sense the converse of the book's greatest strength. By giving expression to American experts close to the alliance, there are few Japanese voices in the conversation, and no one from the other side of the debate in the United States. To be fair, the editors do envision a second volume featuring Japanese participants as well. But in either case readers interested in hearing directly from important figures on the Japanese side as well as American critics of the alliance will need to look elsewhere.
In summary, The U.S.-Japan Alliance is a work certain to be of value as an introduction and basic reference work to students, educators, researchers, and participants in the policy arena alike. If the second volume that brings together participants from both sides of the Pacific matches the caliber of the present collection of essays, it will be worth waiting for.
. I. M. Destler, Priscilla Clapp, Hideo Sato, and Haruhiro Fukui, Managing an Alliance: The Politics of U.S.-Japanese Relations (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1976); and Michael Armacost, Friends or Rivals?: The Insider's Account of U.S.-Japan Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).
. George Friedman and Meredith Lebard, The Coming War with Japan (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991). As list members are probably aware, of the "revisionists," Chalmers Johnson stands as one of the most (if not the most) critical of the U.S.-Japan alliance as measured by his negative evaluation of its utility and his vision for the future, namely American military exit from Japan. See the website of the Japan Policy Research Institute he helped to found: http://www.jpri.org.
. See, for example, Doug Bandow, "No One Benefits from U.S. Presence in Japan," February 9, 1998, http://www.cato.org/dailys/2-09-98/.html; and the Japan section of the Cato Institute handbook of policy recommendations also currently online. "Toward a New Relationship with Japan," http://www.cato.org/pubs/handbook/hb105-47.html.
. Morihiro Hosokawa, "Are U.S. Troops in Japan Needed: Reforming the Alliance," Foreign Affairs, July-August 1998.
. Jim Mann, "Japan Taking Steps to Ensure Its Independence," L.A. Times (home edition), August 25, 1999.
. The authors point out that public rhetoric notwithstanding, Chinese and North Korean senior officials privately acknowledge that the U.S.-Japanese alliance is a familiar force that contributes to stability in the region (p. 17 and p. 20)
. Ishihara is a well-known, novelist, former LDP politician, nationalist, and author of the book, The Japan That Can Say No: Why Japan Will Be First Among Equals, trans. Frank Baldwin (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991). On the Yokota Air Base issue and the Tokyo mayor race, see Valerie Reitman, "Author of Anti-U.S. Book to Govern Tokyo," L.A. Times (home edition), April 12, 1999.
. A recent work exemplifying this view is Kent Calder, Pacific Defense: Arms, Energy, and America's Future in Asia_ (New York: William and Morrow, 1996).
. See my own America and the Japanese Miracle: The Cold War Context of Japan's Postwar Economic Revival, 1950-1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming 2000).
. For a fine review, consult Frank Ninkovich, "No Post-Mortems for Post-Modernism Please," Diplomatic History, 22 (Summer 1998): 463. Akira Iriye explores this point more fully in Cultural Internationalism and World Order (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997)
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Aaron Forsberg. Review of Green, Michael J.; Cronin, Patrick M., eds., The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Past, Present, and Future.
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