U.S.-Japan Strategic Reciprocity: A Neo-Internationalist View

Tuesday, January 1, 1985

Since the Korean War, the United States has been pressuring Japan to assume more responsiblity for its own defense. Japan's economic success and the United States' economic difficulties in the 1970s brought charges that Japan has been enjoying a "free ride" in defense, furthering its own economic interests while sheltering under the U.S. military umbrella.

For its part Japan has made only minimal efforts to satisfy U.S. demands, pointing to its "no-war" constitution, popular opposition, Asian fears of Japanese remilitarization, and its traditional 1.0 percent of GNP limit on defense spending. Meanwhile Soviet forces in Asia have multiplied and become a potential threat both to Japan itself and to the sea lanes of communication so important to Japanese commerce. The responses of Japanese analysts have varied from a denial that the threat exists to the suggestion that Japan in effect "finlandize" itself. In U.S.-Japan Strategic Reciprocity, Edward A. Olsen reviews the history of U.S. -Japanese security relations since World War II, analyzes the present relationship and the options open to each side, and makes policy recommendations for strengthening defense cooperation between the two countries. Although a strong supporter of the view that Japan should do more on its own behalf, he argues that misunderstandings on both sides have prevented formation of a working alliance based on mutual interests and that an objective approach considering both sides' views is essential to an equitable sharing of defense burdens.

Copyright 1985.