The Washington-Tokyo Defense Relationship: Where Now?

Report Defense

The Washington-Tokyo Defense Relationship: Where Now?

September 20, 1991 25 min read Download Report
Seth Cropsey
Seth Cropsey
Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Director of Hudson's Center for American Seapower

(Archived document, may contain errors)

No. 116 September 20, 1991



Adebate is burning in Japan over what its future role should b e as a responsi- ble member of the international community. It was ignited by the slowness of Tokyo's response to American requests for assistance following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Among the questions the debate seeks to answer. Wh a t are Japan's foreign policy interests? What is the most effective way for Tokyo to advance them? Will "checkbook diplomacy" alone do the trick? Should Japan commit forces to international peace-keeping efforts in the future? As the preeminent Pacific pow e r, as Japan's largest trading partner, and as her effective military protector, there is no nation with a keener interest in its out- come than the United States. For the U.S to remain influential in Asia, Americans need a clear understanding of what to e x 'pect from a security relationship with Japan. Yet, there is no agreement on thii subject among those who fashion Ameri- can policy or opinion toward Japan. In fact, there is barely a debate. If America is to retain its leadership role in Asia, Washington must convince Tokyo of several key ideas as Japan strives to chart its own course in the world order. U.S. Umbrella. The most important idea is the continued usefulness to both Japan and America of their current defensive partnership. From it Japan derive s the principal source of its security, the umbrella of U.S. military force deployed in the western Pacific. America, meanwhile, gets a base in Japan for protecting American influence in a region of the world whose importance will increase with time. Ameri ca's superior, and Japan's subordinate, role in this security partner- ship are essential to the regional and global peace that both nations seek. As such,

U.S. policy makers should resist isolationist and budget-driven pressures to dimin- ish American in fluence in Asia. Japan's leaders, meanwhile, should hold fast the American military umbrella by contributing to its technological and financial sup- port as actively and greatly as possible. Specifically, U.S. policy makers should recognize that while Jap a n's neighbors remain wary of a militarily strong Japan, the most painful memories of World War II may be fading. At ambassadorial level meetings and in discussions be- tween cabinet ministers, Washington should encourage Tokyo to do more in reas- suming t h e defensive prerogatives of a great power. This means: 1) Tokyo should increase its support for, and operations with, the U.S. naval forces that protect Japan. Pentagon and State Department officials should work together to obtain the agreement of Japan's Defense Agency and Foreign Nfinistry for Japan to pay half of the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet's fuel costs. This would amount to an estimated $100 million annually. 2) With the diminishing U.S.-Soviet competition, Japan9s strategic import- ance has changed. Its geographical proximity to the Soviet Union is now less significant than the technological and financial contributions it can make to the common defense. 3) Defense Secretary Dick Cheney should become personally involved in key discussions now taking p l ace at the staff level between U.S. and Japanese defense officials. His personal intervention would increase greatly the chances that these negotiations will conclude by permitting the U.S. military to acquire advanced Japanese technology. 4) George Bush s hould press Tokyo to accept a major role in researching, producing, and paying for the space-based anti-ballistic missile system that each nation will require in the future. America and Japan have a shared interest in protecting peace throughout Asia and a round the world. One key to this task is military force. Washington needs to maintain its military influence in the western Pacific. And Japan, which is the sin- gle greatest beneficiary of the U.S. presence, needs to guarantee the future of that presence by increasing its support for iL


The Asian solar system has a binary star for its center. China, the primary sun has the greatest mass. It and the smaller Japanese star revolve around one another affecting with their combin ed gravitational force the moment and rotation of all the lesser Asian planets. Beginning with the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Japan's pull has been so strong that it is impossible to discuss Asian security relationships without not- ing how t h e Japanese have altered everyone else's paths. This is especially true in Asia where, owing perhaps to the unusual antiquity of its recorded events or the deep animosity between its peoples, history is remembered in detail and called upon routinely as a l esson for the future.


Inescapable History. For her neighbors, one ines capable historical fact of the past century is Japan's aggression. From the closing decades of the 19th century until 1945, Asia lived under the specter of Japanese conquest. Whether in imita- tion of the European nations' colonialist policies in Asia or t o protect itself from the same, Japan applied its own unique and fiery and often brutal brand of im- perialism. Japan annexed Korea in 1910, and moved quickly to erase the subjugated nation's sense of identity. Newspapers were banned, schools closed, and h istory rewritten. Occasional demonstrations against Japanese rule, such as the peaceful, popular outpouring when the old Korean Emperor Kojong died in 1919, were an- swered with club, bullet, and handcuff. In Seoul in 1919 some 6,000 demonstra- tors were k illed, 15,000 wounded, and 50,000 arrested. In late summer 193 1, Japan turned against China. Japanese soldiers first took the city of Mukden and then conquered all of Manchuria and several thousand square miles of neighboring inner Mongolia before the ye a r was out. Over the next six years, an uneasy peace was observed while Chinese frustra- tions at their occupiers mounted. The tension snapped on July 7, 1937, in a skir- mish between Chinese and Japanese forces near Beijing. It erupted immediately in gene r al warfare. By August the fighting had reached Shanghai. In December the Japanese, known as the Kwantung Army, advanced up the Yangtze River val- ley and captured Nanjing, the capital of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's Nation- alist government. Charnel Ho u se. Japanese military commanders were determined to crush resis- tance. They turned Nanjing into a charnel house, killing 200,000 civilians and prisoners of war in the first six weeks of occupation. Japanese military authorities failed to discipline their forces, who looted and burned what could not be raped or slaughtered. Berlin's ambassador to China cabled home describing the Japanese army as "bestial machinery." After Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japan's armed forces turned its machine upon Southeast Asia. The Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaya: hardly a country in the region escaped the harsh treatment. The legacy of these not-so-distant events among Asians is the deep suspicion of the Japanese which Hngers today.


That suspicion was stirred last April when Japan announced that it would dis- patch four naval minesweepers to the Persian Gulf to help clear mines following Operation Desert Storm. While the Philippine government raised no objection, the issue was evidently sensitive. Foreign Minister Raul Manglapus refused to elabo- rate when asked in a radio interview how his country had responded to Japan's an- nouncement. And, when Chinese Premier Li Peng met with former Japanese Prime Minister N akasone in May, Li called the subject of the four minesweepers "delicate." Such actions, he ventured, might remind other Asian nations of "un- pleasant" episodes from the paSt.


Taipei's Free China Journal, meanwhile, looked at the minesweeper mission and asked, "Is the tiger ... out of the cage?" This newspaper on May 14, said that "the idea of Japan trying to bestow its version of the kiss of peace on Asia with a new era of Pax Nipponica could sow seeds more deadly than the mines the Japan- ese vesse l s have been sent to defuse." Silent Protest. Asia Week opened its May 17 story on Japan's new international assertiveness with the description of a guest who neither rose nor applauded when Japanese Prime Minister Toshild Kaifu entered an auditorium to de l iver a speech in Singapore on a visit through Asia last spring. The gesture was in remembrance of his father whom the Japanese had killed in Indonesia during World War IL "It's odd," said the man. "I thought I had forgotten until that moment. Then it all came back."

The collective effect of this memory will keep Japan from assuming soon a sig- nificant military position in Asia, although attitudes are changing as the genera- tions that remember World War II grow old. The mostly quiet reaction to Japan's de ployment abroad of her minesweepers to the Persian Gulf demonstrates this, but, as the journals quoted above show, a complete reversal has yet to occur. In the meantime, were Japan seriously to rebuild its national defenses, other Asian countries Iwhich f o r several years have been occupied in ambitious arma- ment programs, would feel an added obligation to redouble their efforts. A hot market in weapons would be transformed into a furnace. The apprehension caused by a remilitarizing Japan would be sharpene d further by the Bush Administration's continuing reductions in American military strength, especially its intention announced last year to decrease troop levels in Asia from 135,000 to 120,000 by 1993. Asia could become dangerously tense. Destabilizing Si d e-Effects. The prospect of a Japan wholly responsible for its own defense may be tempting to many Americans. It surely would save America some money in the short run. But the side-effects likely would destabilize Asia, interrupt its economic progress, and even postpone fulfillment of its hopes for de- mocracy. Japan's rearmament thus would contradict overall U.S. policy goals for the region and be impractical for the Japanese as well. Since its absolute defeat at the end of World War H, Japan has eschewed a rms as passionately as it once embraced them. Article Nine of Japan's Constitution, enacted in 1946, "forever renounce(s) war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settlimg international disputes." Successive Japa n ese governments have interpreted Article Nine to bar all weapons but those minimally necessary for self-defense. Excluded are intmontinental ballistic mis- siles, aircraft carriers, and others deemed offensive. Under this strict interpreta- tion Japan has not, until this past spring, deployed any armed forces outside its

I While the U.S. was decreasing its defense budget, the Republic of China, South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand, for example, have all recorded double digit increases in their defense spen ding the past two years in a row. Seelhomas J. Timmons, ed., The U.S. andAsia Statisdcal Handbook (Washington. D.C.:The Heritage Foundation, 1989 and 1990 editions).


borders. Japan has foresworn collective defense, that is coming to the aid of allies u nder attack, and steadfastly has refused to export weapons to anyone. Deliberately Unassuming. Thus, although Japan's defense budget is the world's third largest (reaching $30 billion in 1990, after America's $292 billion and the U.S.S.R's official figure of $117 billion, which most Western sources say is at least half the actual sum), its military when compared to its global economic importance and interests, is small. It is also deliberately unassuming. Rejecting even the slightest appearance of military ostentation, the Japanese Self Defense Force (SDF) does not speak of its component parts as an army, navy, and air force, choosing instead to call them the Ground, Maritime, and Air Self Defense Forces. Together the SDF numbers about 249,000 active duty t r oops, a little larger than the total active and reserve strength of the smallest U.S. military ser- vice, the Marine Corps. With 156,000 men, the Ground Self Defense Force is the largest component of Japan's military. It fields one armored and 12 infantry divisions, and would con- stitute the nation's final defense against an invasion of Japanese soil. The Mari- time and Air Self Defense Forces split the other 93,000 troops equally in carrying out their defensive missions. Roughly one-third of the air forc e 's 365 combat air- craft are to support ground troops, with the balance assigned to defending Japan- ese airspace. The maritime force is built around a core of surface warships and submarines. Its principal mission is to carry out Japan's 1981 promise to d efend the sea lanes through which its vital commercial shipping passes up to 1000 miles from the mainland. Beyond this thousand-mile boundary steams the U.S. Seventh Fleet. It is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, with its premiere capital ship the convention ally- powered aircraft carrier U.S.S. Independence, and is responsible for patrolling the chilly waters of the North Pacific and keeping open the sea lines of communica- don that link Japan with much of the rest of the world.

Chart 1 Major Deployments of U.S. Forces in Japan

.............. ............ ............ Misawa Air Base U.S. Personnel: 5,081 'Z:

lwakuni Marine Air Bass U.S. Personnel: B.SOO 'TOKm .......... Yokosuka Naval Base Sasebo Naval Base y US. Personnel: 10.135 U.S. Personnel: 1,802 Ateugil Naval Air Facility U.S. Personnel: 980 ..u Nbkots Air Bass ?I U.S. Personnel: 5,082

Note. Not shown U.S. deployments on Okinawa Including: Kadena Air sees. Toril (Army), Zukeran Air Base. Makimoto (Army), Futenme (Marines) Source: U.S. Department of Defense. Public Affairs Office Heriftgo DataChart



Japan has benefitted richly from America's defensive umbrella since the end of World War III. Released from the burden of acquiring a military commen surate with its dependence on the seas for delivery of raw materials and export of fin- ished goods, Japan has stood out among the free nations in the relative puniness of its defense budget to gross national product (GNP) ratio. In a comparison of defens e spending to GNP ratios, Japan has hovered around last place after all fifteen of America's NATO allies. The U.S. started off the 1970s spending 7.5 percent of GNP on defense, while Japan spent 0.9 percent. By the end of the 1980s, the U.S was still ahead of its allies, and far ahead of Japan's 1.0 percent, spending 5.9 percent of GNP on defense. In fact, it was only in 1987 that Japan reversed a decision taken eleven years earlier by Prime Minister Takeo Miki's cabinet to keep defense spending below one p e rcent of GNP. The yen not spent on arms because America Chart 2 was protecting Japan Defense Spending as a Share of surely contributed to Gross Domestic Product: 1989 the Japanese economy's position as 7% - the globe's second rich- est. Washington also . . .......... ............................... has profited militarily. ................................................... The use of Japan as an a%- American base roughly 4% 4.1% 2W miles off the 4% . . ........................ 3.7% X. X eastern coast of t he So- 3.2%3.2% . ............. 2. viet Union has been of 3%- 2.4% great strategic value to the U.S. throughout the 2% Cold War.

American policy has exploited the 0% Kremlin's historic vul- @0 %oat evo "o -ooo- Opp nerabilities in the Far 1*0 q0 vt VY East . Since 1905, when Sources Department of Defense, Report an the Russians were de- Allied Contributions to the Common Heritage DataChsrt Defense. May 1991. feated in their war with Japan, Moscow has been unable to turn its complete attention to Europe sere n e in the knowledge that its easternmost Asian approaches were secure. Over the years, Kremlin rulers also may have recalled that the Japanese troops who landed at Vladivostok in December 1917 were the first of those sent by foreign powers to crush the Bol shevik Revolution. Japan did not act out of a fear of communism; the chance to seize territory at fire sale prices was simply irresistible.


Moscow further probably recalled the vulnerability of its Asian approaches as tensions grew with China in the 195 0s. By the 1980s the very low technology threat of mainland China's People's Liberation Army was tying up as many as 50 Soviet divisions at a time in Asia. Powerful Language. The U.S. military bases in Japan, meanwhile, sit across the Sea of Japan from Vl a divostok, which is the eastern terminus of the Trans-Si- berian Railway, the Soviet Union's pricipal warm water port, and the logistical center of the Soviet Far Eastern theater of military operations, or Teater Voennoe Desandi (TVD). The American armed f o rces at the U.S.S.R's back door spoke to Kremlin rulers in a powerful language that has needed no translation. The Soviets' Far Eastern vulnerability made them divert armies and fleets to Asia that could have been sent west to increase Soviet numerical su p eriority over NATO. America's Pacific forces based in Japan kept ratios between U.S. and So- viet forces in Europe less lopsided than they otherwise could have been. Most im- portant, American military power in the Far East threatened the valuable strateg i c position of Vladivostok and threatened Soviet military planners with a wider con- flict. These threats have helped keep the peace. Japan's security has been assured without the Japanese actions that would have destabilized all of Asia. America has gaine d power and influence in the western Pacific while deterring war with the Soviets. The relationship has benefitted Amer- ica and Japan. It has, however, benefitted Japan more-not only in the military costs it did not have to pay, but in the luxury of being able to concentrate exclu- sively on the non-defense, competitive sector of its economy.


While the climate between America and the Soviet Union now obviously is more temperate than during the Cold War, Soviet capabilities in the Far East nonetheless have been expanding even as they have been contracting in Europe. Since Mikhail Gorbachev assumed Kremlin power six years ago, the Soviets have continued to modernize their Far Eastern forces. Although the Pentagon anticipates ov e rall reductions in the number of Soviet tanks deployed in the U.S.S.R.'s Far Eastern TVD, modem and mare powerful tanks such is the T-80, T-72, and upgraded T-72 tanks will replace many of the older ones. As a result, tank firepower will not be diminished . This is also true for tactical air forces. As older warplanes are withdrawn, new models such as the Su-24 Fencer E and MiG-29 Fukrwn will preserve combat capabilities. The addi- tion of some newer aircraft, more@oiver, like the Su-27 Flanker will give So viet commanders a long-range escort role which will increase the threat to Japan and the American forces based there.

2 U.S. Department of Defense, Soviet Military Power 1990.


The Soviet Pacifi c Fleet surface forces also are not expected to diminish, even in numbers, while their fighting capability is expected to grow significantly throughout the 1990s. The Pentagon estimates that surface-to-surface missile ca- pacity aboard Soviet warships wil l increase by 100 percent, surface-to-air missiles by 50 percent, and the number of ships with long-range anti-submarine warfare weapons by 40 percent. Adding the ability to project power ashore to this swell- ing armada, the Soviet Pacific Fleet is predic t ed to increase by 60 percent its ca- pacity to transport amphibious troops by the year 2000. Symbolic Cuts. The Soviets have made some reductions in their Asian ground forces. Symbolic cuts were announced this April when Gorbachev visited Tokyo and declar e d his intention to reduce by one-third, or about 2,000 men, the military division based on the Kurile Islands, which are claimed by both Japan and the U.S.S.R. The rest of the 325,000 troops in the Far Eastern TVD, whose military object is Japan and U.S. f orces in Asia, remain where they were. The real reductions in Moscow's Asian military strength have been in the divi- sions facing China. Since 1988, nearly 120,000 Soviet troops have been with- drawn from the Chinese border. This is not necessarily reass u ring to Tokyo. As an unnamed Japanese defense expert told the Far Eastern Economic Review this June, "if the Soviets say their Far Eastern forces are not focused on the Chinese, then there are only the Japanese and the U.S. left."3 Worrying Tokyo too, pre s um- ably, is that Russian Republic President Boris Yeltsin claims the Kurile Islands as Russian territory. Before Gorbachev visited Japan, he was told by Yeltsin not to cut any deal with the Japanese without first obtaining the Russian Republic's ap- prov al. It is this and similar statements that keep Japanese defense officials nervous. In its 1991 annual White Paper, Japan's Defense Agency calls the situation in the So- viet Union, "still unpredictable and untransparent."


Between 1985 and 1989, bowing to intense diplomatic pressure from the Reagan Administration, Japan increased its payments for such facilities as mainte- nance depots and hangars on U.S. bases 45 percent. During the same period Tokyo's annual payments for the bases' water, electricity, construction, and sim- ilar items and for part of the salaries of Japanese nationals employed on the bases increased 176 percent. Japan's level of support is today far greater than that of any other natio n that hosts U.S. armed forces. Japan pays for 48 percent of the total cost of the U.S. military presence on its soil, minus the salaries of U.S. armed forces personnel and civilian Defense Department employees. Japanese payments amounted to $3 billion in 1990. By 1995, Tokyo promises to raise this to 73 percent.

3 Far Eastern Econondc ReWew, June 27, 199 1.


Favorable Developments. Japan also has increased defense cooperation with America. In 1983 at the request of the Reagan Administration, Prime Minist er Yasuhiro Nakasone's government re-examined Japan's "Three Principles on Arms Export" which, since their declaration in 1967, effectively had prevented the sale abroad of any equipment even remotely connected with military technol- ogy. Nakasone waived t he rules exclusively for the U.S. to allow transfer of Jap- anese naval and surface-to-air missile technologies to the Pentagon. Other gauges record similar progress. Among all nations, Japan is second only to Turkey in the amount by which total defense s p ending increased during the 1970s and 1980s. From 1971 to 1989 Japan's defense budget grew 165 percent. The U.S. by comparison increased its defense spending during the same period by just 20.5 percent. These favorable developments, however, were not matc h ed by Japanese leaders' clumsy response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. A key prob- lem seemed to be that the Gulf crisis erupted suddenly, as crises typically do. Japan's progress in sharing the West's burden of responsibility for defense has bee n measured in years if not decades. By this timetable, the pokey pace by which Tokyo eventually pledged $10.04 billion to defray American expenses incurred by Desert Shield and Desert Storm came swiftly. And, since one result of this has been to overturn J apan's post-World War II reluctance to send troops abroad, the decision has brought Japan closer to reassuming a military role in international af- fairs.


The Japanese have a term kokusai-koken. Literally it means "internati onal con- tribution." It is now used to refer to Tokyo's still-to-be-defined contribution to the emerging post-Cold War world. The Gulf War helped concentrate the attention of Japanese leaders on the question. American policy makers should anticipate and d ebate the issue and seek to guide its resolution. A central principle for America is that its influence in the western Pacific and Asia should be maintained. Giving the U.S. considerable leverage in Asia are the forward-based units of the American militar y . The center of this are the bases in Japan. Even with the threat to U.S. interests from Moscow greatly reduced, Amer- ican forces should remain in Japan. They would remind potentially belligerent Kremlin leaders of their vulnerability to a second front. T he second reason for preserving Washington's defense relationship with Tokyo is economic. Japan is the heart of the dynamic Asian market, to which the center of international trade is shifting from the North Atlantic. As American trade with Asia grows, so does its interest in Asian stability. U.S. forces based in Japan assure this stability, first by protecting Japan, and second by saving Tokyo the military exertions which today would agitate other nations in the region. The rotating presence of the Yokosu ka-based U.S. Seventh Fleet throughout the west- ern Pacific offers genuine hope for Asia's continued prosperity and its progress to- ward democracy.


The fact that Japan now recognizes the need to increase its participation in shap- ing international ev ents dovetails with American popular opinion that Japan should assume a greater share of responsibility for its own defense. The most re- cent survey of this is the April 1990 Gallup Organization poll of Americans. It found 63 percent in favor of, and 30 p ercent opposed to, the proposition that Japan should increase its defense capabilities. Predatory Energies. The Japanese may be predatory, but their energies appar- ently are expended commercially. Japan's military today occupies an unpopular place in soc i ety. Recruiting, for example, is difficult. This year one-fifth of the Na- tional Defense Academy's graduating class turned down commissions largely to accept more lucrative offers in business. Prestige is low. Only after Noburu Takeshita became prime min i ster in November 1987 were military officers again allowed to wear their uniforms in the chief of government's office. The military's voice within the government, meanwhile, is a whisper. The mili- tary does not even have a place at the table when the bud g et is discussed but is represented in budgetary deliberations by the Finance Ministry. The military thus has no direct control over those bureaucratically momentous decisions. The story is the same in matters of policy. Senior military officers grumbled i n private re- cently that the Kaifu govemmentis wooing of North Korea dangerously ignores Japan's historically strategic dispute with the Korean Peninsula. An even more significant protection against a return to the excesses of Japan's martial past is the s trength of its democracy. As Supreme Commander for the Al- lied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur made reforms in Japan between 1946 and 1950 that changed the nation profoundly. Despite rampant corruption among its businessmen and politicians, Japan posse s ses a political system that allows op- posing parties (although the Liberal Democrats have held power uninterruptedly since 1955), a bicameral legislature, and a vigorous if occasionally irresponsible free press. These, combined with the stability of a fl o urishing national economy, give Japan's democratic institutions a permanence unmatched by any of the other nations which have built democracies in the second half of this century. While the chance of a relapse into the warrior-dominated society that preci pi- tated Japan's behavior in the decades before and during World War H cannot be dismissed, signs of it so far are scant. Kokusai-koken should be welcomed by America.

Difficult Task. Japan's re-examination of its international role offers America the chan ce to persuade Tokyo to increase its participation in sharing defense bur- dens with Washington. This, however, will not be easy. The Japanese seem to have taken literally the view George Bush often ex- pressed throughout the Iraq-Kuwait crisis that Unite d Nations action is the solu- tion to international outlaws like Saddam. Hussein. Despite the fact that Bush or- ganized and led the coalition against Hussein, and despite the fact that America is now the only superpower in the world, Japan sees the U.N. a s the fulcrum in a major crisis. Thus, the U.N. is the object of Japan's increasing international contri- butions.



In a February 1990 poll of Japanese corporate leaders, 75 percent said that they believed that the Gulf war forced Ja pan to consider the extent of her cooperation with the United Nations. Only 35 percent thought that the issue raised had been the nature of the U.S.-Japan relationship. 4 Japanese politicians and intellectuals share their corporate colleagues' faith in th e protective powers of discourse and fi- nancial reward. Those who favor a more active role in the world see this as medi- ating Third World disputes, using foreign aid to advance peace, and stepping up participation in internationally-sanctioned peace kee ping operations and similar measures.

These initiatives can be useful, but will not do much to counter immediate dan- gers to peace: rulers like Saddarn Hussein or North Korea's Kim Il Sung. Nor can economic or diplomatic measures protect Japan from the fa llout of more distant international explosions: a possible cataclysmic splintering of the Soviet Union, major unrest on the Chinese mainland, atomic exchanges between India and Paki- stan or in the Middle East, or nuclear blackmail as powerful weapons and the means to deliver them proliferate. Linking the Past with the Future. As a great commercial power, Japan faces its biggest threat in the turmoil in marketplaces and unavoidable disruption in sea- going commerce which such upheavals cause. Japan's clear e st foreign policy in- terest is in continued international stability. The most dependable guarantor of this is American willingness to lead other nations in coalition efforts like Desert Storm or, if necessary, to act by itself. And this fact links the fo r mer basis of the U.S.-Japan security relationship with its future. Where the foundation of the relationship was once the common need to guard against potential Soviet aggression, Japan in the future stands to gain just as much, and probably more, from Ame r ica's ability to protect international order. For America, Japan's strategic value has shifted from its geography to a mixture of economics and the value of Japanese technology with military application, its industrial prowess, and its wealth. This shift a lters somewhat the balance of the security relationship between the two nations. Now relieved of having to cope with the Soviets' most troublesome aggressiveness, America has a slight edge over a Japan which still must face Moscow's local well-anned force s . While Washington will gain by drawing upon Tokyo's know-how and wealth, Japan has much more to gain from the defensive umbrella wielded by America. The new leverage that favors America in the U.S.-Japan relationship should not be used by Washington to t hreaten Japan with termination of U.S. defensive pro- tection. It rather should be used to build and strengthen the framework of the rela- tionship that already exists between the two nations.

4 See "Industry's View of the War," Economic Eye, Summer 1991.


Japan's direct financial support for U.S. forces based on Japanese soil is al- ready substantial. Still, there are significant expenses borne by America that the Japanese could assume. Example: the 5.3 mi llion barrels of ship fuel that the Sev- enth Fleet burned last year cost American taxpayers roughly $200 million. Since the Japanese are protected by the U.S. Fleet, they should pay half of the fuel bill. But Tokyo should not be expected to shoulder U.S. defense costs be- yond those which protect the Japanese people. For the immediate future, the cur- rent of Japanese pacifism will run strong. Though not dictating the country's for- eign and defense policies, this current certainly will influence them. We r e Japan required to pay for U.S. defense costs beyond those which clearly protect Japan, the significant portion of Japanese public opinion that strongly opposes the use of force would demand a say in the use of American forces. This would hurt and probab l y ruin the defense relationship between the two nations. The limits of the defense relationship between America and Japan are set by Ar- ticle Nine of Japan's Constitution which "forever renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation." The U.S. should n o t press a sovereign ally to invalidate its constitution. But at ambassadorial level meetings and in exchanges between se- nior cabinet ministers, Washington should begin to explore the expanded security role Tokyo will play in the future. The U.S. must pl a n now for Japan's emergence from the fading memories of World War II. Paying a major share of costs for U.S. military operations which protect Japan beyond her borders, such as those per- formed by the Seventh Fleet, would be a ma or step for Tokyo toward reassuming the defense responsibilities of a great power. To prompt Japan to take these steps, Washington should: 1) Include Japan in daily operations with the U.S. military. In the immediate future, a small but important area that offers opportunities fo r Japan to play a larger role in its own defense is for Japan to participate in the daily operations alongside the U.\'df . military. Japanese naval supply ships, for ex- ample could help resupply U.S. naval vessels, while Japanese command and con- trol aircraf t could work with Seventh Fleet aircraft carrier battle groups. Such co- operation would reduce the heavy demands on the U.S. Navy. The Japanese tradi- tionally respond more quickly to private urging than to public demands. The Bush Administration should s tep up its efforts quietly to persuade Japanese politicians to pass legislation that would allow the Self Defense Forces to conduct routine op- erations with the U.S. 2) Urge Tokyo to make more Japanese technology available for the U.S. military. The Japa n ese government's 1983 decision to allow export of military technol- ogy to the U.S. creates the potential for increased availability of leading-edge technologies. This would significantly reduce production costs for the U.S. and substantially decrease the long intervals that typically separate the completion of research and development for U.S. weapons systems from their actual production.


There already are three committees of American and Japanese defense officials working on agreements for transferri ng to America advanced Japanese military technologies. Two other committees are addressing how to move selected Ameri- can technologies to Japan. The committees are discussing, among other things, how the U.S. can gain access to Japanese technology that g r eatly improves a missile's ability to locate and destroy its target, and to technology in some areas of magnetic field research. These discussions would be spurred if Secretary of De- fense Cheney were to emphasize the importance that America attaches to t heir success. He should elevate the discussions from their current staff levels and di- rectly raise the matter with Japanese Defense Minister Yukihiko Ikeda. The U.S. should expand its efforts to obtain Japanese technology so that all of Japan's manufact u ring industry can be tapped to support the American armed forces which protect both nations. Japanese micro-processing, electro-optics, and advanced steel technologies can serve the interests of Washington and Tokyo by improving the combat capabilities of the U.S. military. 3) Strengthen the U.S. ability to obtain Japanese technology in the future. The U.S. should consolidate in one Pentagon office responsibility for all U.S. government efforts to identify and then negotiate with the Japanese to obtain rel e - vant military technologies. Currently, in the Pentagon alone, officials of the De- fense Security Assistance Agency, the Defense Technology Security Administra- tion, and in the Undersecretary for Acquisition's office are all involved. Officials at the D epartments of State and Commerce also are working to obtain Japan's technology for U.S. defenses. 4) Press Tokyo to take a lead role in building SDL Finally, and most important, Japan's industry and wealth should become a pri- mary engine in the effort to build an effective space-based defense against ballis- tic missiles. With Prime Minister Nakasone's 1986 agreement to participate in re- search on America's Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI, the base for such cooper- ation already exists. Japan's alre a dy has proved its ability to contribute to SDI. The Pentagon's Stra- tegic Defense Initiative Office has awarded contracts to Japanese corporitions in such areas as superconductivity and magnetic field technology. Japan's advanced computers should be used to design some of SDI's complicated equipment. Japan- ese industry's great efficiency in moving ideas from research to production should be used swiftly to bring SDI equipment to the defense of Washington and Tokyo. And, of course, Japan has*the wealth to shoulder a large portion of this burden. When George Bush visits Tokyo this November, he should urge Prime Minister Kaifu, or whoever succeeds him in Japan's October election, to prepare a plan for Japan to become a major partner in the effort to build an antimissile system. In making his case, Bush should point to the suitability of SDI, a defensive weapon, to Japan's constitutional limitations. He should recall Japan's aversion to nuclear attack, and its nearly total vulnerability to the ballistic missil e-borne weapons of mass destruction which before long will find their way into more and more hands.



Japan's reliance on U.S. arms for defense will complicate the overall task of persuading Tokyo to act forcefully. So will the still strong p acifistic legacy of Japan's terrible experience in World War 11. And, more corrosive than both is the urge to turn to the checkbook to exert influence. Tokyo's discussions with the North Koreans last January over possible reparations from World War H are a good example of this. They came at a time when Pyongyang was probably trying to complete plans for the production of nuclear weapons. A fundamental issue in the U.S.-Japan security relationship's future is not whether Japan will remilitarize, but whether Japan chooses to become an active, influential participant in shaping world events. A powerful Japan must resist the temptation to employ the wealth which is the source of its power to solicit neutral nations and placate hostile ones. Brighter Future. The future, although brighter, is not cloudless and problems that require the threat or use of force surely will reappear. Washington must per- suade Tokyo that its most effective contribution to the future of the two nations' defense relationship and to Asia n security in general Hes first in preserving Japan's subordinate position in that relationship. Second, the U.S. must exploit its strategic advantage to convince Japan that greater technological and economic support for the superior partner in the U.S.-Ja pan defense relationship is the surest path to preserving America's defensive commitment to the Far East. Seth Cropsey Director, Asian Studies Center


Seth Cropsey
Seth Cropsey

Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Director of Hudson's Center for American Seapower