Saturday, November 05, 2005

New Analysis of Japan-Taiwan Relations

One of the biggest, but least commented upon, strategic changes in the last couple of years here in Asia has been the Japanese tilt towards Taiwan. This new analysis from the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) looks at this issue in light of US policy. The blurb on the website says:

This issue of the NBR Analysis analyzes the nature of, and trends in, Japan-Taiwan relations and draws implications for the United States, particularly in the event of a crisis occurring in the Taiwan Strait.

Main Argument:

A strengthened U.S.-Japan alliance is the best mechanism to ensure Tokyo's support for U.S. military intervention in any crisis in the Taiwan Strait. Any efforts undertaken by Washington to deepen and strengthen ties with Japan will—regardless of their nature—serve the strategic end of improving the alliance, and thus increase the likelihood of the United States receiving assistance from Japan in a crisis.
Policy Implications:

* The February 19, 2005 U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee Joint Statement—which noted the commitment of the alliance to a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan Strait issue—does not reflect a departure from the alliance's original purpose, but is an appropriate adjustment of the alliance to new challenges.

* The most successful strategy would likely be for Washington to undertake a less public campaign—prior to any Taiwan Strait crisis—to secure Tokyo's assistance in the event of any such escalation of tension.

* In seeking Japanese support, Washington should be sensitive to the enormous pressures Tokyo faces in dealing with Beijing. These challenges can be political, often stemming from unresolved issues related to Japan's World War II invasion of China. The problems can also be economic, as Japan's trade with China has become necessary for Japan's domestic economic growth.

* U.S. consultation with Japan—undertaken within the alliance structure—regarding the best strategy to perpetuate cross-Strait stability might both help regain the diplomatic initiative from Taiwan and reduce the likelihood that Taipei would resort to actions that could provoke a conflict with Beijing.

* A strengthened U.S.-Japan alliance may also assist other regional players who, due to China's growing economic power and influence, face pressure to accommodate Beijing in the security realm.

The analysis itself is online.

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