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Op-ed: Evolving Japan-U.S. alliance remains vital to peace, stability

By Joseph M. Young, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, U.S. Embassy in Japan


Today we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, the textual foundation of our Alliance. Although the treaty prompted intense debate in 1960, history has proven the wisdom and foresight of Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, President Dwight Eisenhower, and other architects of our partnership. In the intervening years, the Alliance has become the bulwark of our two countries’ security interests, safeguarding peace and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific region. 


One of the most prominent strengths of the Alliance has been its remarkable flexibility and adaptability to the times. From the 1960s through the 1980s, our security partnership stood firm against Soviet expansionism during the Cold War. To address regional dangers that have evolved since that era, the Alliance has developed new capabilities and forms of coordination that could scarcely have been imagined at the time of its birth.


Today, the Alliance plays an essential role in realizing our nations’ shared vision of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order. Our continued coordination remains central to diplomacy on the denuclearization of North Korea. U.S.-Japan cooperation has also been key to addressing China’s assertive maritime behavior and zero-sum vision for the regional order. As the regional security environment grows more severe, however, we both must do more. We can do so by delivering the resources and resolve needed to keep the Alliance strong, while taking steps to maintain military readiness and deterrent capabilities.


To this end, we are seeking new avenues of cooperation on 21st century threats, such as in the cyber, space, and electromagnetic domains. We are also leveraging new authorities in Japan’s security legislation and defense guidelines to work together on maritime security operations, mutual logistics support, regional capacity-building, and joint activities with partner countries. Moreover, the United States will continue to support Japan as it strengthens its own defense capabilities and assumes a greater leadership role within the region and on a broader global scale. Of course, we remain committed to the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan to meet evolving security challenges while minimizing the impact on local base-hosting communities.


As the Alliance reaches its kanreki and begins the sexagenary cycle anew, we should take pride in the achievements of our security relationship and acknowledge the enduring strategic advantages it provides. We should also make every effort to secure the future of the Alliance, already one of the longest lasting in history, as the indispensable cornerstone of peace and stability of the region and beyond.

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