The Second-Term Obama Administration and Japan
Abstract:The controversy in the Unites States on how to deal with the “fiscal cliff” revealed not just a deep ideological difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party but also a new sign of a possible crack of the conservative Republican ranks between those Republicans close to the Tea Party and those who favored the tax hike for the wealthy in order to save the tax cut for the rest of the people.
The planned deep cuts in the defense expenditure will have important implications for national security of Japan, which recently experiences increasing tension with China over the Senkaku Islands. The Obama Administration adopted a tough stance with China over the territorial issues in the South China Sea in July 2010. Rebalance to Asia could be understood, at least in part, to be a response to the rise of China, in a financial situation with fewer resources available for the national defense in the US.
The logical conclusion for Japan and the US would be for both of them to deepen security cooperation. Shinzo Abe, the new Prime Minister of Japan, should further clarify his foreign and national security policy priority and concentrate his efforts on strengthening the alliance with the US and building up the capabilities to defend Japan's territory, while exerting caution in jumping into “history” issues with China and South Korea so that Japan's message on the Senkaku Islands issue is crystal clear and focused: that it is against the established international norm to try to change the status quo by force or intimidation; this message should have universal appeal to a wider international community.