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Global Insights: Moving U.S.-Japan Relations From Drift to Progress

Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012

Last month, the Center for Strategic and International Studies released the report of a bipartisan study group co-chaired by Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye on improving the U.S.-Japan relationship. The report, titled “U.S.-Japan Alliance: Anchoring Stability in Asia,” received little media attention, and some of its suggestions seem impractical, at least for now. However, its findings deserve consideration by policy analysts interested in strengthening the most enduring U.S. alliance in Asia at a time when Washington is seeking to reinforce its interests in that region.

Although the report finds flaws with various U.S. policies, most of its concern is directed at Japan. In the authors’ view, Japan has several untapped sources of power and influence that could allow it to remain a “tier-one” global player, but perhaps lacks the will to do so. They argue that the Japanese must reduce their inward focus, overcome powerful domestic interests fighting against trade liberalization and set aside longstanding impediments that limit Tokyo’s ability to assume a wider global role. ...

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