Japan-U.S. Relations

Japan-U.S. Relations : Issues for Congress

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Japan is a significant partner for the United States in a number of foreign policy areas, particularly in U.S. security priorities, which range from hedging against Chinese military modernization to countering threats from North Korea. The alliance facilitates the forward deployment of about 50,000 U.S. troops and other U.S. military assets based in Japan. In addition, Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks could enhance the credibility and viability of the proposed trade pact, which is a core component of Obama Administration efforts to "rebalance" U.S. foreign policy priorities toward the Asia-Pacific region. After years of turmoil, Japanese politics has entered a period of stability with the December 2012 and December 2014 election victories of current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The Japanese constitution does not require new elections until 2018. The LDP's recent election may have given Abe some political capital to pursue the more controversial initiatives of his agenda, such as joining the proposed TPP trade pact and increasing the Japanese military's capabilities and flexibility. The political continuity in Tokyo has allowed Abe to reinforce his agenda of revitalizing the Japanese economy and boosting the U.S.-Japan alliance, both goals that the Obama Administration has actively supported. On the other hand, comments and actions on controversial historical issues by Abe and his Cabinet have raised concern that Tokyo could upset regional relations in ways that hurt U.S. interests. Abe is known for his strong nationalist views. Abe's approach to issues like the so-called "comfort women" forced prostitutes from the World War II era, Japanese history textbooks that critics claim whitewash Japanese atrocities, visits to the Yasukuni Shrine that honors Japan's war dead and includes Class A war criminals, and statements on territorial disputes in the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea are all ongoing points of tension in the region. To many U.S. observers, Abe brings both positive and negative qualities to the alliance, at once bolstering it but also renewing historical animosities that could disturb the regional security environment. The upcoming 70th anniversary of the end of World War II could be a sensitive time for Asia as Japan and other countries reflect on a difficult period that remains politically potent today. U.S.-Japan defense cooperation has improved and evolved in recent decades as the allies adjust to new security challenges, such as the ballistic missile threat from North Korea and the confrontation between Japan and China over disputed islets. The government's 2014 decision to relax Japan's prohibition on participating in collective self-defense activities could allow the Japanese military to play a greater role in global security, but domestic legislation is needed for implementation. Despite overcoming a major hurdle in 2013 to relocate the controversial Futenma base on Okinawa, many local politicians and activists are opposed to the plans to realign U.S. forces. In addition, the U.S. Congress has expressed concern about the cost of the plans. Japan is one of the United States' most important economic partners. Outside of North America, it is the United States' second-largest export market and second-largest source of imports. Japanese firms are the United States' second-largest source of foreign direct investment, and Japanese investors are the second-largest foreign holders of U.S. treasuries. Japan, the United States, and 10 other countries are participating in the TPP free trade agreement negotiations. If successful, the negotiations could reinvigorate a bilateral economic relationship by addressing long-standing, difficult issues in the trade relationship.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 36 pages
  • 215.9 x 279.4 x 2.29mm | 145.15g
  • Createspace
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1507737041
  • 9781507737040