(Aurelia George Mulgan, Professor of Politics at the University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, East Asia Forum, 10/26/10, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2010/10/26/us-japan-alliance-the-big-winner-from-the-senkaku-islands-dispute/ /mr)
Japan’s new DPJ government initially set out to rebalance Japan’s relations between the United States and Asia by emphasising a more independent Asia-oriented diplomacy with an East Asian Community as the centrepiece.¶ Japanese rhetoric about the alliance has also changed: There was more talk of an ‘equal’ alliance and a security stance ‘equidistant’ between the United States and China. The shift in the government’s foreign policy stance was subtle but clear: Japan was reorienting itself toward Asia and away from the United States. Difficulties over the Futenma base issue compounded the view of a troubled and tense bilateral relationship and a possible weakening of alliance commitments on both sides. Some in the DPJ, such as former leader Ozawa Ichiro, made explicit their antipathy towards the presence of US military forces in Japan.¶ The Sino-Japanese dispute over the Senkaku Islands has changed all that. It has energised the Japan-US alliance across a number of fronts.¶ First, the United States has offered reassurance to Japan that the Senkaku Islands fall within the scope of the Japan-US Security Treaty, which obligates the United States to defend Japan. The Japanese press reported an explicit commitment from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in talks with Foreign Minister Maehara Seiji in New York in September. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have also expressed strong support for Japan, offering assurance that the US will fulfil its alliance responsibilities. These statements underline the deterrence function of the alliance, which is the chief rationale for US bases in Okinawa. The Senkaku ‘shock’ will, therefore, become a factor in the mix of considerations determining the resolution of the Futenma base issue.¶ Second, the US side is leveraging the deterioration in Japan’s security environment to apply pressure on the Japanese government to maintain, if not increase, the fiscal allocation for ‘Host Nation Support’ for US forces in Japan, which the Japanese call the ‘sympathy budget’, or omoiyari yosan. While these payments were under review to assist in budget cuts, there are indications that the funds will continue at least at the current level. This can be directly attributed to the newfound importance that the government is attaching to the alliance after the recent dispute with China.¶ Third, Foreign Minister Maehara Seiji, who is well known for his pro-US sympathies and who in the past has referred to a China ‘threat’, has proposed a review of the 1997 Japan-US Defence Cooperation Guidelines, which enable Japan to provide logistical and rear-area support for the United States in the event of regional conflict. Such a development could conceivably see an expansion in Japan’s operational role and thus the operational capability of the alliance. There may also be developments in other areas of Japanese security policy such as the ban on exporting weapons and related technology, and participating in collective defence. Both Defence Minister Kitazawa Toshimi and Foreign Minister Maehara are in favour of reviewing the weapons export ban in order to strengthen the alliance, a move that is strongly supported by US Defense Secretary Gates.¶ Fourth, in addition to a joint SDF-USFJ exercise to reclaim a remote southwestern island in December, a joint command post exercise (CPX) will be held next January, which incorporates the defence of southwestern islands for the first time. The CPX will entail Japanese and US forces establishing a south-western barrier to bottle up Chinese naval forces in the East China Sea, simulating the deployment of military forces to one of the Amami Islands and other outlying islands, and operations to recapture islands from foreign forces.¶ The Southwest (Nansei) or Ryukyu Islands have a special value in solidifying the alliance because they are an issue on which US and Japanese strategic interests are strongly aligned. These islands are not only central to Japan’s sovereign territorial interests but are also highly relevant to US naval strategy in the region.¶ James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara of the Jamestown Foundation argue that if China gained possession of one or more of the islands in the Ryukyus, it would secure vital straits through which a Chinese PLAN flotilla could exit from the East China Sea into the Western Pacific as well as protecting PLAN shipping through the straits. Further, a Chinese island campaign would underpin what the US Department of Defense has called China’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) operations against the US navy. This strategy is designed to prevent US naval reinforcements from reaching maritime Asia as well as blocking in-theatre forces from entering the Taiwan Strait and the seas off the east coast of Taiwan. Holmes and Yoshihara give the Senkakus, which lie due north of the southwestern tip of the Ryukyus, potential significance in this strategy as political, psychological and resource assets.¶ Funabashi Yoichi concurs and reports the words of a US administration official who stated: ‘I think about what will happen to the Senkaku Islands if the marine corps leave Okinawa. A Chinese flag will probably be standing on the Senkaku Islands the next day.’ Funabashi interpreted this comment as an American attempt to play the ‘Senkaku Islands card’. As it turns out, the need for such a ploy has been obviated by China itself.¶ Indeed, in a conflict scenario where the Chinese capture one or more of the Ryukyu Islands, the marines based in Okinawa could possibly play a key role. Andrew Krepinevich, President of the US Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments was quoted in the Asahi Shimbun on 5th May as saying that ‘the marine corps stationed in Okinawa could play a role in territorial disputes in the South China Sea etc’ (i.e. presumably also in the East China Sea).¶ The overall outcome of the Senkaku Islands dispute has been a Japan-US gain and a Chinese loss. The alliance is more highly valued in the region, particularly by other countries embroiled in their own maritime territorial disputes with China. The dispute also offers the Obama administration a chance to rebuild the bilateral security relationship by recruiting Japan into a strategic coalition against China. Meanwhile, the Kan administration has been handed a powerful argument in favour of maintaining a strong marine presence in Okinawa. Across a spectrum of bilateral issues including island defence, the Senkaku ‘shock’ has turned out to be a ‘Senkaku tailwind’.
Relations high now – marines aren’t key
The Korea Herald 12 (July 8, 2012, “U.S. –Japan alliance grows for Asia-Pacific security balance” http://view.koreaherald.com/kh/view.php?ud=20120708000302&cpv=0 /mr)
U.S.-Japan alliance deepens¶ As the U.S. has been shifting its military and diplomatic priorities toward the economically vibrant region, its alliance with Japan, along with its one with South Korea, will continue to be the core of its strategy to maintain primacy in the region.¶ “Washington hopes to work with China’s neighbors to put together a balancing coalition that will contain China and prevent it from dominating Asia the way the U.S. dominates the Western Hemisphere,” said Mearsheimer.¶ On the surface, the alliance between the U.S. and Japan appears to have worsened in recent years due to a long-standing controversy over the relocation of the Futenma airbase in Okinawa.¶ But this would not undermine the core of the alliance between the two countries that share security interests and values of democracy, and take initiatives against global terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, experts pointed out.¶ “People should not misconstrue a long-running local dispute over how to close one Marine air base with the durability and capability of that vital alliance,” said Patrick M. Cronin, senior director of the Asia Program at the Center for a New American Security.¶ After the Democratic Party of Japan took power in 2009, ending a half-century of almost unbroken conservative rule, the alliance appeared to have deteriorated with the Tokyo leadership pursuing a closer yet “equal” relationship. ¶ But it has apparently re-prioritized its relationship with Washington as it recognized growing security challenges from China and North Korea.¶ Amid its strategic pivot toward Asia, the U.S. is likely to escalate its calls for the Asian ally to contribute more to maintaining stability in the region. ¶ Japan also wanted to increase its military role in the region and beyond. But it has been fettered by the pacifist constitution. ¶ The law prohibits Japan from going to war and having any potential war materials, and engaging in collective defense action, which makes it difficult to help support its ally U.S. even if it is attacked. Right-wingers have sought to rewrite the law or tried to alter the interpretation of it to expand the role of the Self-Defense Forces.¶ The deepening of the military alliance is also crucial for Tokyo, which has been engaged in an increasingly strident territorial disputes with Beijing over a set of islands in the East China Sea, which are called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.¶ Japan is now considering nationalizing the islands to manage them “stably and peacefully.” This move has sparked strong opposition from China and Taiwan.¶ As the U.S. is now fleshing out the AirSea Battle concept apparently to counter China’s “anti-access/area denial” capabilities, Japan is also expected to play a crucial role in making it more concrete and viable given its close missile defense cooperation with the U.S., observers said.¶ The concept Washington put forward earlier this year is to conduct integrated aerial and naval operations across all domains such as air, maritime, space and cyberspace to neutralize increasingly sophisticated military techniques of potential adversaries.¶ “Japan’s role is expected to be crucial (for the AirSea Battle concept) given its air and naval power in addition to U.S. troops in Japan consisting mainly of marines, naval and air units,” said Nam Chang-hee, political science professor at Inha University.¶ “Japan is actively supporting America’s move to strengthen the bilateral military cooperation as it expands its naval assets such as submarines. The two countries are becoming united in the alliance.”¶ Seeking to tackle its national debt, Washington has been striving to form a security network with its allies including South Korea and Japan, and other partners such as Vietnam, which wants a greater U.S. presence due to China’s aggressive foreign policy.¶ At the same time, Washington also hopes to engage Beijing in its diplomatic activities and a variety of multilateral cooperative mechanisms to encourage it to play a “positive” role in the regional security architecture.
The alliance is unshakeable
(Grace Ruch, 5/8/12, “US, Japan Leaders Meet on 60th Anniversary of Alliance to Talk Security, Exchanges, and Blossoms,” http://www.japanmattersforamerica.org/2012/05/us-japan-summit-security-exchanges-and-blossoms/ /mr)
Obama-Noda Summit: “A Shared Vision for the Future”¶ Prime Minister Noda’s long-awaited visit to the White House was President Obama’s first formal meeting with Japan’s top leader since the Democratic Party of Japan came into power in 2009. Shortly after arriving in Washington, D.C., Noda met with members of the Fairfax County Search and Rescue Team that assisted with the response to the March 11, 2011, disasters in Tohoku, as well as the family of JET program English teacher, Taylor Anderson, who died after getting her students to safety. Noda later remarked that while he had “always held the conviction that our bilateral alliance is the lynchpin of Japan’s diplomacy,” after that visit he “felt anew that the U.S.-Japan alliance…is unshakeable.”¶ At a press conference following their summit meeting on Monday, April 30, Obama saluted the Prime Minister’s efforts to revitalize the US-Japan alliance and the strength and resiliency of Japan in the wake of last year’s disaster, saying to the Japanese people: “More than ever, the American people are proud to call you a friend and honored to call you an ally.” There, he and Noda announced what was referred to as “a joint vision to guide our alliance and help shape the Asia Pacific for decades to come.”¶ This US-Japan Joint Statement, the first issued since Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met with President George W. Bush in 2006, described five main areas of this shared vision: that the US-Japan alliance will remain the foundation for peace and prosperity between the two nations and within the broader Asia Pacific region; that increased bilateral trade and investment will support jobs and economic growth; that America and Japan seek an Asia Pacific region built on international norms, freedom of commerce and navigation, and peaceful resolution of conflicts, and as such are partners in addressing the provocations of North Korea and the democratic transition of Burma; that the US and Japan continue to act as global partners through shared values and commitment to international peace and human rights; and to deepen the ties between the people of the US and Japan.¶ Exchanges and Blossoms¶ Dogwood trees in bloom in Washington DC. After receiving the gift of 3000 cherry blossoms- sakura- in 1912, President Taft and his wife sent 50 dogwood trees to Tokyo, though few survive today; on the centennial of the sakura the US government announced it will give 3000 more dogwoods to the people of Japan. Photo by: Julia Ross, via Flickr¶ A suite of US-Japan cooperative initiatives were announced to undergird the leaders’ commitment to expanding America-Japan ties. These include the establishment of a Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation to continue the close US-Japan efforts in this area following the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident, and new joint research and development initiatives under the US-Japan Clean Energy Policy Dialogue in areas such as green communities in Tohoku, innovation in clean energy, and the use, production, and recycling of critical materials such as rare earth elements. Other programs and initiatives were announced on cooperation in travel facilitation, cyber and space collaboration, and supply chain security.¶ At a dinner hosted in honor of the Prime Minister, Secretary Clinton also announced that 3,000 flowering dogwood trees, native to America, will be given to Japan as a gift from the people of the United States. The donation celebrates the centennial anniversary of Japan’s gift of the sakura cherry blossom trees to the city of Washington, D.C. Toasting Noda, who had appropriately promised the day before to make Japan-US relations “bloom,” Clinton remarked: “We hope that these dogwood trees in Japan will, like the cherry trees here, serve as a symbol of the strong relationship and friendship between our countries.”
Relations strong –
A) Military exercises
Williamson 10 (Tara A. Williamson, Airman 1st Class, 18th Wing Public Affairs, Kadena Air Base, 12/1/2k10, “Keen Sword exercise sharpens US-Japan alliance,” http://www.kadena.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123232979)
About 10,500 U.S. service members and their Japan Self Defense Force counterparts are participating in exercise Keen Sword 2011, Dec. 3-10, on military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the waters surrounding Japan. Keen Sword is a regularly scheduled exercise designed to strengthen U.S. and Japanese military interoperability and meet mutual defense objectives. “Keen Sword will cap the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. alliance as an ‘alliance of equals,’” said Maj. William Vause, chief of operational plans, training and exercises. “It is the largest bilateral exercise between the United States and Japan military forces. [The exercise] will better enhance both of our countries’ readiness to respond to varied crisis situations.” Training events include integrated air and missile defense, base security and force protection, close air support, live-fire training, maritime defense and interdiction, and search and rescue. “Guardian Angel, rescue specialists delivering combat medical care under extreme duress, has very unique ground focused rescue techniques,” said Capt. Robert L. Wilson, team commander 31st Rescue Squadron. “Throughout Keen Sword the 31st and 33rd will be employing and sharing techniques with our JSDF partners. Focused mission sets will be maritime rescue, high-angle procedures, and extrication from vehicles.” Keen Sword is also designed to allow Japan and the United States to practice and evaluate their coordination procedures and interoperability requirements. “We hope to increase both U.S. and Japanese understanding of our mutual capabilities and rescue limitations,” said Captain Wilson. “An exercise like Keen Sword is invaluable for presenting opportunities to establish closer host nation friendships and practicing interoperability for the future.” Keen Sword is not designed to respond to or mirror any actual world events, nor is it directed at any nation. This training between Japan and the United States has been a routine, recurring event for many years. “The goal of Keen Sword is to increase and improve our bilateral relationship to further enhance the Japan and U.S. alliance,” Major Vause said, “and to provide a realistic training environment that allows JSDF and U.S. forces to respond to a wide range of situations.”
B) Cultural and education ties
Japan Times 10 (Takashi Kitazume, Staff writer, Japan Times, 9/24/2k10, “New vision of Japan-U.S. ties needed at key turning point,” http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20100924d1.html)
Calder added that Japan and the U.S. need to move beyond the military-security dimensions and broaden their scope of cooperation to other areas including energy, environment, mass transportation and the medical field. He stressed the importance of cultural and educational ties between the two countries. "The alliance is something much broader than simply political-military dimensions, even if they are at the core. And these can be things that help us to create a win-win environment, rather than just a narrow focus on Futenma, where there is always a sort of scoreboard on who is winning and who is losing. I think we need to broaden our relationship beyond that," he said.
C) Earthquake Assistance
Stimson Center 11 (Henry L. Stimson Center, nonpartisan institution devoted to enhancing international peace and security, 5/9/2k11, “The US-Japan Alliance After 3/11,” http://www.stimson.org/essays/the-us-japan-alliance-after-311/)
The day opened with introductory remarks by Ambassador Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., Stimson's Chairman of the Board. Ambassador Bloomfield proposed that while the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake continues to present both the Japanese government and its people a formidable challenge, the tragedy was also an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the US-Japan alliance. Ambassador Bloomfield shared his confidence that the United States, as Japan's ally, will work closely with Japan as it tackles the formidable challenges of recovery and reconstruction in the years to come.
Alliance high – perception of moving the marines solved problems
Washington Post 4/30/12
(David Nakamura, “Obama, Japan’s Noda hail security alliance after bilateral meeting, Washington Post 4/30/12, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/44/post/obama-japans-noda-hail-security-alliance-after-bilateral-meeting/2012/04/30/gIQAZSYSsT_blog.html /mr)
President Obama on Monday reaffirmed the United States’ defense commitment to Japan, calling the relationship the “linchpin” of security in the Far East.¶ Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda/ (KAZUHIRO NOGI - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)¶ Appearing with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda after their bilateral meeting, Obama hailed the recent agreement to relocate 9,000 U.S. Marines off Okinawa to other bases in the Western Pacific, saying the move will help allay concerns of Japanese residents of the island.¶ Obama pledged that the move will not compromise the long-time alliance at a time when the United States is rebalancing its commitment to Asia to counter China’s influence and renewed nuclear threats from North Korea.¶ “We think we’ve found an effective mechanism to move this process forward in a way that is respectful of the situation in Okinawa, the views of residents there,” Obama said during a joint news conference in the East Room, “but also is able to optimize the defense cooperation between our two countries and the alliance that’s the linchpin not just of our own security but also security in the region as a whole.”¶ The Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa is seen as critical to counterbalancing China’s aggression in the region, but the noisy base has caused tension with Japanese residents in the crowded urban area.¶ U.S. and Japan officials have been negotiating a relocation of some troops and the base for years. Some of the 9,000 Marines likely will be relocated to Guam, but the two sides still have not settled on a new location for the airbase inside Japan.¶ Noda, who was making his first visit to Washington since taking power seven months ago, said that he and Obama were “able to confirm that our two countries will cooperate in the context of a deepening bilateral alliance towards the realization of the optimum U.S. force posture in the region and the reduction of burden on Okinawa.”