It sits on the front lines of virtually any future showdown in Asia. Take North Korea’s recent missile launches. If those missiles worked, they could potentially reach American shores. But Japan knows North Korea could attack it at any time. And while Japan knows it can count on U.S. support, having its own skilled military could help deter North Korean aggression.
Japan and the U.S. have similar goals for Asia. In 2005 our countries signed a joint declaration to 1) support peaceful reuni¬fication of the Korean peninsula, 2) ensure stability in the Taiwan Strait and 3) maintain and enhance the stability of global energy supplies.
And let’s not forget that a confident Japan also could serve as a check on China, which is rising economically and militarily. Together, Tokyo and Washington can help China integrate into the world as a responsible stakeholder in the existing international system and eventually even move toward a democratic system of government.
It’s time to rethink Japan’s defense policy. With a declining population and a long democratic tradition, today’s Japan doesn’t threaten Asian security. In fact it’s critical to maintaining security there.
Just as Britain helps the U.S. protect Europe and the Middle East, Japan can help us protect Asia. If we cooperate with Japan, by the time Hisahito takes the throne, the U.S. can have another “special relationship” -- and a safer world. That would be a birth for all to celebrate.