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ESSAY 2 Choose ONE from the following: 1.

Analyse Japans current and future security role in the Asia-Pacific and how this will affect the security interests of at least two other countries.

Introduction Japans security, current and future, is tied to US actions in the region, Chinese rising power, and security cooperation amongst the smaller regional States. In the recent past Japan has played a strategic security role in Asia as a base for US military activities, driving regional economic growth, international institutional engagement, rule of law, and civilian maritime stability around Japan. Since the economic bubble burst for Japan in 1991, they have been gripped in economic crises. Japanese sovereign debt is massive, and the difficulties in retuning Japans economy are hampered by domestic political divisions. All the while Japan has remained a global economic giant. Recent Japanese diplomatic distancing, during the lost decade (1998-2008) from the US alliance due to a need to engage with China, has been somewhat diminished in light of failures at regional security forums and ever present distrust between Japan and China. This has led to a reinvigorating of the US alliance, just in time for the USA pacific pivot. China has is the primary maritime power in the Yellow Sea, forcing back US-ROK war games triggered by 2009 North Korean antagonism. The games were held in Japanese-ROK waters instead. The proliferation of war games by US strategic thinkers has led to a friendship among navies keeping good order on the open seas. A secondary affect of this stability is Japanese civil authority force projection, rather than military. China is reflecting this role model by using civilian authority to resolve South China Sea disputes. With a nuclear submarine in dock at Hainan island, China chooses to use civilian authority to enforce its claims. North Korea has been the most marginalised State for a long time, and seems happy to continue being the evil protagonist. Any attempt to reunify or change the status quo on the Korean Peninsula is a sacred cow. A pacific pivot USA might find a diplomatic solution to improve life for the citizens of North Korea. In the face of a growing and assertive China, the USA needs to demonstrate its willingness to commit maritime force in support of the many bilateral alliances in Asia. Could the North reform? South Korean domestic politics seeks to reunify the Korean Peninsula, which would only be possible if a positive China-ROK relationship unfolds. Chinese-Japanese-Korean-US relations are bound up in a delicate balance which revolves around the Korean peninsula. South Korea balances being isolated by its US-Japan-ROK triad and its need to develop closer ties with a burgeoning China, and a domestic desire to reunite the Peninsula. South Korea has obtained a status in US circles as the Linchpin for regional security (Victor Cha [2012]. President Obama has strengthened the relationship with South Korea. President Lee in turn has stated that When it comes to cooperation between our two governments, we speak with one voice, and we will continue to speak with one voice. This represents a shift from Japan, which had previously held the linchpin status.

Dimensions to Strategic Security The fundamental objective of any States strategic security considerations is the continued survival of the State. Productivity, trade, and economic success are essential to the ability of a State to function. Japan has for the past 60 years had to rely on economic and diplomatic power, to ensure its strategic security. Economic interconnectivity through loans, investments, treasury bonds, and other financial instruments has been argued as a major contributor to peace and stability. Japan, China, and South Korea, are heavily bound together in terms of economic interconnectivity. Japan has been referred to as the the leader of the geese of Asia, recognising the significance of Japanese diplomatic, economic, and international engagement. While the US can enforce military supremacy in the region, Japan is free to carry out business as usual with cargo and tanker ships from around the world. Japanese leadership over the past decade has shown a continued obsession with a necessity for arms. Japan has a rising, and assertive, China to contend with, which increases anxieties around military capabilities. A growing sense of USA retrenchment is lending weight to the idea of militarising Japan. The Obama administrations Pacific pivot may help alleviate these tensions, with US military commitments in the region still dominating the military dimension. A States interests are engaged when their citizens break the law within territorial waters. China seeks to enforce Chinese maritime law and jurisdiction over large areas of SCS, if not de jure in international eyes, then de facto via Chinese government authorisation of larger powers for civil authorities. Massive trade ships travel the yellow sea every day, down the coast to Hong Kong and beyond. Disruptions to Chinese trade flows effect prices and costs of goods. Chinese civilian authorities have a lot of ships to clear, with big profits at stake.

Figure 1 - World Merchant Fleet

Figure 2 - Global Comparative

Theoretical Lenses From the Realist camp, Japans current and future security role in the Asia-Pacific is centred on maritime power, with geostrategic entanglement in Asia, in particular China, the Koreas, and the Philippines. The realist framework neatly explains much of the activity around Japan, but does not accurately resolve the way these shifts have occurred. Understanding Japans economic troubles as a power transition to China helps understand the tensions, without predicting how these States will react to this shift; hedging and reinforcing classic alliances is a result of failed attempts to cooperate on security with a rising China. Constructivism suggests that the deep historical context of the Far East will shape behaviour between Japan and its neighbours, with Japan recognising a relatively more powerful Chinas legitimate authority in the region. Japanese policy decisions over the past two decades, appear to reflect the Japanese acceptance of a rising China. Sino-Japanese relations continue to be strained by historical anonymities created by numerous and bloody wars. Japans historical revisionism chaffs at the Sino-Japan relationship, adding to the difficulties in establishing regional security arrangements. Additionally Japans ravished political leadership and domestic turmoils have constructivists talking about negative birth rates causing an aging and declining population. Liberalists point to ASEAN and other multilateral organisations as the conduit through which the Far East will cooperate and compete pacifically, in accordance with various commitments to international treaties and organisations. The short history of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and importantly the Asian Regional Forum (ARF), failure to attract China and Japan into a multilateral institutional framework, suggests that continued bilateral security arrangements will prevail in regional strategic security discourse. Liberal analysis suggests that realism is becoming less relevant due to the increased dependency on institutional mechanisms within Asiai. Economies Massive economic growth in the 1970s led to Japans decade of power in the 1980s. The total revolution of US middle management by Japanese business thinkers gave them a cult like status. Japanese trade seemed to know no limits, until 1992, then again in 1997, and most recently the GFC. Even with these balancing shifts towards Chinese economic centrality, Japan has remained a top global economic performer. The lost decade (98-08), and analytics suggesting comparative decline

of Japan and weakening of US hegemony have created secondary affects including a frenzy in North Korean policy, with a liberal and progressive ROK challenging the status quo on the Peninsula. Chinese economic ascendency has created power transition affects as regional economic primacy shifts towards China. These shifts have affected US-Japanese alliances as Japan realigned itself in order to seek cooperative arrangements with China. The failure of the Chang Mai Initiative (CMI), and weakness of the Asian Regional Forum (ARF) has increased scepticism of Japans ability to forge security arrangements with Chinaii. This trend in regional security dynamics is likely to force the issue, particularly now that South Korea has changed its rules of engagement for North Korean contingencies. Failure of the CMI typifies the state of affairs between China and Japan; a failure to cooperate as regional financial leaders. This state of affairs reflects realist expectations, caused by geostrategic hierarchy contention. Japan and China are faced with a choice of joint leadership, or regional primacy. Joint leadership is ultimately unstable, and comes with a heavy political commitment. Regional primacy, if contested, could threaten regional security. This weakness in financial leadership has resulted in a series of bilateral treaties linking the regions economies. Japanese domestic political conditions have impacted Japanese FTA manoeuvres. Institutions empowered by the Japanese have gained momentum and have biased Japanese policy towards bilateral agreements. Important cultural distinctions have not assisted in overcoming trust issues between the two nations. China and Japan are invariably cast as competitive powers in the regional context. Japan has been successful in establishing institutional power within the Asian Development Bank. This leadership has permitted Japan to continue influencing investment decisions in China, and throughout the region. This security in the institution has enabled China and Japan to stand together against the USA on major financial issues. South Korea and the US have increased financial ties via the KORUS FTA is the first with a major Asian economy. KORUS is expected to increase US merchandise exports to Korea by an estimated $9.7-10.9 billion and to boost US GDP by up to 11.9 billion. Korea is expecting a 5.6% increase in economic output over a ten year periodiii. This tightening of economic ties is a major strategic victory for the US-Japan-ROK triad. North Korea remains constrained by aid dependency and systemic internal failures. A revamp of North Korean financial and productive sectors, would add a significant contribution to the region. China has a natural and significant transnational link with North Korea and has interests in ensuring an enduring peace in the maritime passages of the Yellow Sea. Military and Civilian Forces Chinese increase in military capability has not yet eclipsed the Japanese self defence force. Growth of Chinese military capabilities on the back of increased expenditures will probably see China overtake Japan in capabilities sometime in the next ten years. Realist predictions suggest this military shift may precipitate a parting shot from Japan, while it still has the ability to contain any potential spill over from a re-unifying Korean Peninsula. On current trends, there is a limited window before China has the military clout to back up a change in South Korean politics. Adding to this

realist dynamic, the dynastic leadership changeover represents a period of heightened risk for the dictatorship, particularly in light of the Arab spring. Joel Rathus; [2011] suggests that the ARF as an institutional failure taught Japan that a regional security cooperative with China is not possible. This has led Japan, along with domestic pressures, to adopt a hedging framework, bilaterally/mini-laterally and seeking to reaffirm the Hub and Spokes + India system. Deterrence and defence against North Korean aggression has become a difficult question for Japan to deal with due to the nuclear dimension. North Korea does not have the conventional weapons required to take on the ROK, let along launch a raid on Japan. The development of ballistic missiles and nuclear capabilities has altered the security calculus, placing Japan within firing range of North Koreas nuclear weapons. Resolution of the North Korean threat would remove the immediacy of needing the US nuclear umbrella, and potentially weaken the US-Japan alliance. Japan-China-Korea key thoughts Pre WWII Japan, along with Asia, had been dragged into the European Colonial view of the world, with Westphalia States as the referent object of International order. This rethinking of the world order had massive affects on Asia, and ultimately led to Japanese national imperialism and the outbreak of war in the Pacific. Post WWII Japan has been focused on economic power, relying on US military primacy to provide physical security for Japan. Japanese trade channels and connections to Chinese shipping lanes create a natural economic link to two of the worlds three largest economies. Japan also import major trade, and economic, links between Asia and the USA, serving as both a major destination for resources, and is a source for high tech products. The move of industrial centres to China has changed this flow of goods, and changed the Japanese economic fundamentals, with much of the high tech products now being sourced from China. Japan should be internally or externally balancing these economic shifts, but seems crippled by a weary domestic political situation. Rathers [2011] describes how Japanese domestic political conditions have impacted Japanese FTA manoeuvres. Institutions empowered by the Japanese have gained momentum and have biased Japanese policy towards bilateral agreements. Important cultural distinctions have not assisted in overcoming trust issues between the two nations. China and Japan are invariably cast as competitive powers in the regional context.

Figure 3 - Shipping in the Yellow Sea; Green = Cargo, Red = Tankers, Blue = Ferries/Civil. [attribution:]

South and North Korean geography places it in the middle of China-Japan trade routes. This geostrategic position between Japan and China would be hard to overstate as an influence on the Korean peninsulas history, and futureiv. Yasuyo Sakata [2011] states that due to geographic proximity and historical context, the Korean peninsula has been, and will continue to be, a primary security interest for Japan. Japanese security interests since the end of the Cold war: 1) to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula; 2) to deter and defend against the North Korean threat; 3) to maintain a favourable strategic balance in Northeast Asia. The US-Japan alliance provides a nuclear umbrella and military security, which is key to seeking Japanese these security interests on the Korean Peninsula. While open warfare has loomed over the Korean Peninsula in a global strategic sense, both China and Japan share an interest in ensuring the tensions do not spill over and create a threat to international peace and stability. South Korea in turn has held various North Korea policies in the past two decades. Under the Roh administration South Korea attempted cooperative arrangements with China, proclaiming itself the Northeast Asian balancer. ROK domestic politics currently support a reunification with the North. China-Japan-Korea a Geostrategic Certainty Japan faces China with the Philippines to the south and the Korean peninsula in between. The resolution of the age old battle grounds of the peninsula would increase transport shipping lanes within the Yellow Sea. With the Korean Peninsula bristling with weapons, no one is too keen to see an out. A fresh Iraqi memory of the price to be paid for war, even an Easy war, global defence budgets are shifting from west to east. Maintenance of peace and stability on the Peninsula means a continued support of the United Nations Command in place to hold the armistice together. It also means that Japan-ROK-USA are likely to seek a replacement of the armistice with a more pacific arrangement, and support eventual reunification of Korea.

Maintaining the strategic balance in northeast Asia involves the balancing of China, North Korea, ROK, Japan, and the USA. Despite historical tensions, the US-Japan and US-ROK alliances have drawn the ROK and Japan closer together. This US-ROK-Japan triangle has contributed to maintaining the strategic balance in Northeast Asia. Striking a positive sum relationship is the biggest contemporary challenge for Japan and the US-Japan alliance. Japan-US alliance is constrained due to North Korea. USA determined to make progress on nuclear non-proliferation with North Korea, while Japan is trying to resolve the abductees issue. The alliance is also constrained due to Japans security policy restrictions based on section IX of the Japanese constitution. The Japan-US alliance continues to serve Japanese security interests on the Korean Peninsula. This alliance is challenged by the changes to the Asian regional order. The US-Japan alliance remains focused on the Korean peninsula, and needs to adapt in order to remain relevant into the future. The Japanese and the Chinese will need to work together in resolving Korea. Whatever State emerges out of the process, China and Japan should agree to maintain borders prior to proposing a resolution strategy. This is in accord with Customary International Law it would also signal the Koreans that they will not lose sovereignty with a political readjustments. A Chinese led intervention calling for a Security Council resolution to disarm and reform Korea, may give Japan and the US, an opportunity to work with the Chinese on a Historic pacific moment in Korea. Any change in North Korean government will only happen with a change to the current external influences.

Figure 4 - Japanese-ROK maritime traffic

Massive trade flows through the East Sea to Japan. Much of this is Chinese and Korean, and the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese authorities all have incentives for maintaining this sea lane. Any increases in this trade flow have massive implications for regional and global economies. Securing land access through North Korea could establish massive logistics chains to Russia, and into the Bering straits. Increased shipping lanes through the Yellow Sea near the coast of North Korea could also lead to an increased efficiency in maritime flows.

Conclusions Japanese great power has allowed it to survive a turbulent 20 year rebalancing with China. Geostrategic engagement with the Korean peninsula and China, while dominated by US alliance systems, has led to a weak series of security regimes. Civil authorities provide adequate good order at sea for Chinese waters, while nuclear submarines lay in wait at Hainan island. Japan and Chinas competition for influence in provision of public goods is not a net benefit for the Asian region. The cost of establishing and maintaining the network of bilateral treaty systems creates unnecessary overheads which could be more effectively managed through a centralised multilateral treaty system. The Korean peninsula solution will come to a head as power transitions between Japan and China, accompany Chinas rise. The Japan-US-ROK security triad is one of the key elements to ensuring a peaceful disarmament of the Korean armistice. US retrenchment, or an acceleration of Chinese military growth, would accelerate the timeframe for a Korean transformation. Institutional power brokerage may see a Myanmar style softening of the new North Korean leadership. Japanese geostrategic location provides the bedrock for its close relationship with Korea and China. Political differences with China, and failures to create regional security arrangements with China, have led Japan to reinforce US security arrangements. This has the potential to isolate an ROK which is being drawn closer to China, and keen to see a unified peninsula. While this is as expected by Realist explanations, Liberal analysis provides a defendable case for why power transitions in Asia are generally occurring peacefully. Japans future strategic environment involves continued participation in the global commons, and a strengthening of traditional security structures. The US pivot to the Pacific should provide some relief to stability, at least in the medium term while the USA maintains a strong maritime primacy. Japan plays a key role in the ongoing saga of the Korean Peninsula, and its State interests will be key to any change of status quo. The wanning influence of Japan may induce a last minute of glory in reunification, or a quite supplication to Chinese will on the matter. Resolution of tensions on the peninsula would be a significant victory for Japanese strategic security, while maintaining a regional balance of powers will require a continued hedging and external balancing of power transitions to China.

End Notes

G. John Ikenberry; 2009, Liberal Internationalism 3.0: America and the Dilemmas of Liberal World Order, Perspectives on Politics 7, no. 1 (March 2009): 7187

Joel Rathus; 2011; Japan, China and Networked Regionalism in East Asia

This book examines 7 areas of the Sino-Japanese rivalry, concluding that institutional proliferation is driven by weakness of the Sino-Japanese relationship. Anxieties in the region over primacy in the relationship forces smaller neighbours to form coalitions to provide civil and crises capabilities. Japanese attempts to secure the current status quo institutional influence has pushed China into US style bilateral security treaties.

[3] Victor Cha KatzKatrin; 2011; South Korea in 2011: Holding Ground as the Regions Linchpin, Asian Survey, Vol 52. No. 1 (Jan/Feb 2012), pp 55-


[1] Yasuyo Sakata; 2011; Korea and the Japan-US alliance: A Japanese Perspective, The US-Japan Security Alliance, Regional Multilateralism,

edited by Takashi Inoguchi, G. John Ikenberry, and Yolchiro Sato, pp 91-110