Authors: Mason Richey, HUFS and Michael Reiterer, Brussels School of Governance
As a major regional power and key US ally, Japan has a special role in influencing security and economic outcomes in the Indo-Pacific region. To begin with, Japan’s position relies on Tokyo’s alliance with Washington, which stations 50,000 soldiers on Japanese territory and provides the archipelago with extended nuclear deterrence. The United States is also Japan’s second-largest trade partner and a partner in democratic values. Japan’s ability to promote a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ depends on the growth and adaptation of this alliance, as well as on cooperation with other partners.
The biggest challenge in this regard is China’s revisionist role in East Asia — covering Taiwan, the South and East China Seas, technology competition, predatory economics and military modernisation. North Korea and Russia (especially given its strategic partnership with China) also pose security risks, while destabilisation from climate change looms on the horizon.