This Op-Ed was originally published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies Pacific Forum
By Yuki Tatsumi – On October 3, the United States and Japan held the Security Consultative Committee (SCC) meeting, often referred to as “two-plus-two” because it includes the US secretaries of state and defense and Japan’s foreign and defense ministers, in Tokyo. The joint statement issued at the end of the meeting, “Toward a More Robust Alliance and Greater Shared Responsibilities”, described the vision of the US-Japan alliance that is “more balanced and effective.” It included an extensive list of action items in three categories: “bilateral security and defense cooperation” (previously called “roles, missions, and capabilities”), “regional engagement,” and “US force realignment in Japan”.
While this joint statement is encouraging in that it reaffirms the two countries’ commitment to further enhance the resilience of the US-Japan alliance, its ambitious agenda raises a simple question: can Washington and Tokyo muster the political capital necessary to move forward with the action items in the document?
A future vision for the Alliance
The joint statement is important for several reasons. First, the document reaffirmed the role of the US-Japan alliance as “the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region”. It builds on the work done in previous SCC joint statements – “Toward a Deeper and Broader Alliance: Building on 50 Years of Partnership” issued in June 2011 and the joint statement adopted in April 2012 – when Japan was led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).
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Photo credit: DOD photo, Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo