Hedging vs. Reassurance in Asia

Writing at East Asia Forum, Yusuke Ishihara argues that if the Bush-era U.S.-Japanese posture toward China consisted of “hedging without reassurance” due to Sino-Japanese tensions, the current posture is closer to “reassurance without hedging” due to emerging tensions in the U.S.-Japanese alliance. All that in the context of the military cooperation agreements signed last month between China and Japan, including maritime rescue exercises and other mil-to-mil communication and cooperation exercises.

Clearly, we’re in a moment of uncertainty in terms of both the U.S. regional posture in Asia, and its future as a superpower. Given the new party in power in Japan, it’s easy to generalize that uncertainty to the U.S.-Japan alliance as well. But I wonder how far the U.S.-Japan relationship will really drift before it shifts back into place — hopefully evolved and renovated, but still stable. In other words, I think the “hedging” component of a strong U.S.-Japanese alliance will be back before long. In the meantime, the intervening “reassurance” vis à vis China, from both the U.S. and Japan, can only pay dividends.

By the way, it’s not often that I add blogs to RSS feed these days, but East Asia Forum is definitely a welcome exception.