Transitioning to the panel, JIIA President Kenichiro Sasae expanded the discussion on the current geopolitical context. He noted that the conflict between North Korea and China has evolved over the past decade, specifically highlighting today’s tumultuous climate compared to that of 2013, when Japan’s former security arrangements were well defined. in policy guidelines and programs. Sasae pointed out that their current security agenda framework leans more towards diplomatic cooperation, but that debates over Pacific island security and the need for increased defense capabilities largely shape the political landscape and public opinion. of Japan as controversy rages.
Green then asked Sasae to describe the “two plus two agenda” the United States and Japan have engaged in, specifically probing the roles of the two nations’ foreign and defense ministries. Sasae presented the evolving economic component and its critical importance to the new national security policy by reviewing the proposed legislation, in particular the National Security Strategy (NSS) recommendations. He focused on NSS safeguarding tax infrastructure in the private sector, technology collaboration and patent confidentiality. Green also highlighted the creation and appointment of a major director of technology competition within the Biden administration, which Sasae followed up with a discussion of an increased focus on screening low-cost semiconductor investments at Kantei, the residence of the Japanese Prime Minister. These two steps both indicate that the United States and Japan are considering digital modernization for potential policy solutions.
Shifting gears to address defensive capabilities, Green posed a question to Tetsuo Kotani, Professor of Global Studies at Meikai University and Senior Fellow at JIIA, regarding the Japanese government’s defense budget considerations in a new external environment. . Kotani referred to a pledge Japan made during a two-plus-two dialogue regarding fundamental defense capability building that later turned into a point of political consensus in the lower house elections. He added that the government understands that the defense budget per capita will have to increase to achieve its political objectives, and despite the budgetary burden of COVID-19 on the agenda, there is enough political momentum to begin the budget reallocation.
Green expanded on Kotani’s discussion by highlighting the Liberal Democratic Party’s platform to increase defense spending to 2% of total GDP, but questioned how realistic such a goal was and how it would play into strategy. wider Indo-Pacific. Kotani said the Biden administration’s plans are more reassuring than the Trump administration’s because Biden seeks coexistence with China and the preservation of a rules-based order, while Trump seeks to undermine the CCP. and to reshape the behavior of the Chinese government. Yet Kotani and his colleagues believe that the concept of integrated deterrence, despite its efforts to preserve democratic values, has not been fully developed and will likely result in a disappointing basic security framework rather than the free trade framework. foreseen.
Indo-Pacific strategy is also about mobilizing troops in defense of Taiwan, an issue that Green says has become more relevant as the world looks at the conflict in Ukraine. Although the panel took place before the February 24 invasion, Green shifted the conversation to Bonny Lin, Director of the China Power Project and Senior Fellow for CSIS Asian Security, to explain how Beijing will interpret artillery duels in Ukraine and how this should inform next steps for the US and Japan. Lin addressed the two opposing views regarding the state of US foreign policy toward Ukraine as it relates to Taiwan; the first being passive, so as not to divert attention and resources, and the second seeing the conflict in Ukraine as a springboard for further global escalation. Furthermore, Lin sided with Green on the latter view as the situation has many implications not only for Eastern Europe but also for the Indo-Pacific.
China, Lin explained, has maintained the original perspective that Russia will not invade Ukraine, despite recent developments in the nuclear exercise which have indicated to the West that Ukraine may not be not just a point of negotiation. Even so, in reference to Xi-Putin’s statement ahead of the Olympics, it is likely that China will support Russia to some extent, but it is unclear whether this would take the form of political or economic support. However, China is unlikely to provide military support to Russia in Ukraine, given its cautious track record with larger geostrategic ramifications as well as its positive economic relationship with Ukraine.
Finally, Green asked Lin to elaborate on potential cooperation projects for the United States and Japan regarding Taiwan. Lin responded by mentioning the changing relationship with Japan and Vietnam, the Philippines and other South China Sea countries, and how models of economic investment and reciprocal assistance for chain resilience of supply have an impact on the range of opportunities for Chinese influence in the region. The United States and Japan are working together to, directly and indirectly, support Taiwan through economic means and widespread improvements in diplomatic relations in the region.