On 18 August, U.S., Japanese and South Korean leaders held a trilateral summit at the Camp David presidential retreat, in Maryland, to agree on a new security pact to expand security and economic cooperation, while establishing a bulwark against the two greatest security threats in the Indo-Pacific region, i.e., North Korea and China. The choice of such setting had a two-fold significance: first, following the footsteps of the US-brokered peace between Israel and Egypt in 1978, it marked the opportunity for Tokyo and Seoul to consolidate a long-meditated rapprochement after decades-long grievances between them. In this line, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol decided, not without domestic discontent, to put past the memories of Japanese occupation in the early 20th century. Secondly, it reflected the relevance attached by President Joe Biden to the initiative, especially given China’s central focus of his foreign policy.
Following the end of World War Two, Japan was occupied by the Allied Powers and administrated by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur. While occupying the nation, the US oversaw the drafting of a new constitution that prioritised democracy, individual freedoms and pacifism. Japan’s shift towards pacifism is enshrined in Article 9 of its Constitution and formed a central part of its foreign policy for decades. This research paper seeks to understand how Japan has shifted away from Article 9 and began the process of remilitarisation. Despite maintaining a small military capability, the Japan Self-Defence Force, Japan has relied heavily on its alliance with the US to protect its interests internationally. In recent decades, Japan has taken further steps to increase the size and strength of its military for defensive purposes but also to protect its essential interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
This Info Flash examines the historical background to provide a comprehensive analysis of the US-Japan military cooperation. It delves into the current security situation shaping the Asia Pacific region, serving as the driving force behind the ongoing efforts to modernize and enhance military collaboration between the two nations. Despite their complex shared histories, the United States and Japan have significantly bolstered their military cooperation. The primary catalyst behind this strengthening of defence collaboration is the mounting instability within the Asia Pacific region. Japan confronts a multitude of challenges as the increasingly assertive China, which is pursuing a more aggressive regional security policy, and the persistent threat posed by North Korea's missile and nuclear capabilities, including their missile launches targeting Japanese territory. Moreover, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia contributes to the volatility in the region. The resulting instability underscores the paramount importance of the alliance between the U.S. and Japan, emphasizing the need to modernize their forces and project their combined influence. This is crucial for promoting stability and upholding the rule of law in an international system that is growing increasingly turbulent.