Many observers believed that the United States’ efforts to reorient its strategic focus to the Indo-Pacific region amid China’s resurgence had hit a snag when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. But for now, Washington may actually be accelerating its long-sought rebalance, recalibrating the center of gravity of U.S. foreign policy.
Japan recently announced a series of changes to its defense policy, drawing criticism from rivals and praise from partners. A clearer understanding of the situation requires more balance and less hyperbole. As important as what changed in Tokyo’s defense posture is what did not change—namely, the pacifist stance at the heart of it.
Last year, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio warned before the outbreak of war in Ukraine that a full-scale invasion would force Japan’s hand on supporting economic and political efforts to isolate Moscow. Since then, Japan’s opposition to the war in Ukraine has only sharpened, with a lasting impact on bilateral relations.