Stimson in the News

Yuki Tatsumi responds to what Obama should say about China in Japan in ChinaFile

in Program

During his visit to Tokyo later this week, President Obama needs to strike a careful balance. His message in Tokyo needs to be two-fold: he needs to reassure Japan, but he also needs to encourage Japan to look for any opening for high-level diplomatic engagement with China.

First and foremost, Obama needs to reassure Japan of U.S.’ defense commitment.There has been rising concern in Japan about whether the U.S. can be relied upon to come to Japan’s defense should the situation grow more aggravated, particularly around the Senkaku Islands area. The U.S. response to allegations of Syrian use of chemical weapons last year and Russia’s aggressive behavior in Crimea make many in Japan seriously concerned about U.S. capacity and willingness to act decisively were a similar situation to occur in the East China Sea. Furthermore, many in Japan have expressed concern about what the Obama administration has in mind for “operationalizing a new model of major power relations.” Obama must articulate in Japan that the U.S. anchors its Asia policy in regional alliances, and the U.S.-Japan alliance is among such critical anchors.

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