The Armitage Report Ⅲ: Its Outline and Analysis

Daiju Wada,Project Research Fellow, Ocean Policy Research Foundation


Recently overheating the territorial disputes between Japan and its neighboring countries, the diplomatic relations are deteriorating. Since the visit to Kunashiri by Prime Minister Medvedev on July 3, 2012, provocations had continued such as Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Takeshima on August 11 and the landing on Uotsurijima by activists from Hong Kong on August 15. It seems that Japan began to put its whole energy into taking actions such as the independent legal challenge to ICJ and nationalizing the Senkaku Islands. As followed with the emergence of new leaders in North Korea and Russia, Chinese regime change comes in November and presidential elections are scheduled for November in the U.S. and December in South Korea. Therefore while it is highly likely that new international relations will be developed by new leaders in 2013, what kinds of ways Japan should take, centering on the U.S.-Japan Alliance? In that circumstance, the CSIS report titled the U.S.-Japan Alliance −ANCHORING STABILITY IN ASIA- written by Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye was published . I would like to translate selected passages from this report and to consider how the alliance should be developed. In addition, this paper would be my personal view and I would like to comment on it not being a view of the organization to which the writer belongs.

1. The outline

The easy summary is that Armitage and Nay explain a need to build up an equal alliance with their full cooperation and strong bond and propose an enhancement for defense cooperation such as interoperability to deal with the rise of China and global terrorism. They also strongly call for Japan to extend the legal latitude of peacekeepers to protect civilians and other international peacekeepers, to revise its prohibition of collective self-defense and to promote overseas dispatching of JSDF. Moreover they insist that Japan should confront the historical issues that continue to complicate the relation with South Korea for the trilateral alliance of U.S.-Japan-South Korea. Other part, as followed that they recommend a promotion of U.S.-Japan cooperation such as “Energy Alliance” with nuclear energy, natural gas and methane hydrates, the strong requirement is given to Japan that the U.S. needs Japan’s participation to TTP and its FTA conclusion with the U.S.

2. The contents

(1) Introduction

According to them, this report was released from the following backgrounds.

Today in facing concerns such as the rise of China, the nuclear issue of North Korea, global terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we rush into the nature which security environment is increasingly complicated. To deal with this, an “equal” alliance with strong bond is essential and the both of the U.S. and Japan need to be tier-one nations . The tier-one nations from American view have significant economic weigh, capable military forces, global vision, and demonstrated leadership on international concerns and the U.S. have no doubt of its continuing tier-one status. But Japan has a decision to be made and it depends on Japan being a full partner on the world stage .

Today in the fact that Japan faces many challenges such as its political instability, economic stagnation and shortage of labor population caused by declining birthrate, a pessimistic view by younger generations has become stronger. But we are sure that Japan is fully capable of remaining a tier-one nation because it is not only the third largest economy, but also the second-largest contributor to the United Nations and IMF. In addition to the fact that Japan has international respect and more openness to free trade, its progresses on immigration and women’s social participation possibly add significantly to Japan’s GDP growth. Moreover it is geopolitically located as a strategic balancer to stabilize Asia-Pacific region and the U.S. need “strong Japan” no less than Japan needs strong United States . Japan can continue to be an Asian leader in remaining standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S.

In sum, as seen in the Armitage reports which were released in 2000 and 2007, the U.S. proposes an expansion the scope of Japan’s defense role and responsibility. But compared with last two reports, this shows the U.S.’s deeper intention, pushing Japan to choose tire-one nation or tier-two and emphasizing the importance of U.S.-Japan-ROK Relations.

(2) U.S-Japan Cooperation on Energy Security

In the part of nuclear energy, first, they appreciated Japan’s decision to re-operate the nuclear power plant, saying that “cautious resumption of nuclear generation under such condition is the right and responsible step in our view” , and pointed out the challenges Japan faces such as the increase of CO2 emission and the over-dependence to oil, coal and natural gas without restart of nuclear power plants . And taking on board lessons from Fukushima, they showed economic and environmental merits depending on nuclear energy under strict control and emphasized the importance of U.S.-Japan cooperation with nuclear research and exploitation .

Secondly, in the part of natural gas, the discoveries of large new shale gas reserves in the lower 48 states, which made the United States the world’s fastest growing natural gas producer, are described . Armitage and Nay show U.S’s great expectation for being able to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Asia with lower shipping costs, accompanying with the planned expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014. And they said that “as part of the security relationship, the United States and Japan should be natural resource allies as well as military allies, this area of cooperation remains insufficiently developed” .

Thirdly, they introduce great possibility to Methane Hydrates from long-term . It is estimated that Methane Hydrates deposits off south-central Japan at 10 years’ worth of domestic consumption of natural gas and they emphasized that “the U.S. and Japan should promote collaborative research and development in this area” .

Fourthly, they discuss about how to secure oil and natural gas . In the probability that the world economy will run primarily on fossil fuels, oil will retain a near monopoly in transportation. While rising oil production in Canada, the United States and Brazil make the Americas less dependent in imports from other regions. In the next 40 years, they noted that “the next major shift in the global oil market is likely to be a massive surge in flows of oil and gas from Middle East producers to increasingly wealthy Asian consumers”. Additionally, as the stability of sea-lane in that area is vital for the both of international economy and Japan, they concluded that “Tokyo’s increased participation in multilateral efforts to combat piracy, protect Persian Gulf shipping, confront threats to regional peace, such as those currently posed by Iran’s nuclear program and secure sea-lanes will be needed and welcome” .

(3) U.S-Japan Cooperation on Economics and Trade

According to the report, it is highly clear that the U.S. has a full of expectation for Japan’s development at this area. In the situation that Japan has been slow to enter TTP and conclude an FTA with the U.S. , Armitage and Nay insisted that “it is in Japan’s economic security interests to cease delaying entry into negotiations. Furthermore, it is incongruous that Japan does not have an FTA with its most important ally, and we strongly encourage Japan to enter negotiations” . In practice, though Japan already has an FTA with Mexico and showed its intention to negotiate an FTA with Canada, these countries are U.S.’s most important trading partners and participants in the world’s largest FTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. And it is also noted that “A Comprehensive Economic, Energy, and Security Agreement (CEESA) joining the United States, Japan, Canada, and Mexico would substantially broaden and deepen the U.S.-Japan economic, Security, and strategic energy relationships” .

They continuously refer to Japan’s decline of farmer population and its aging society, and said that “by signing onto CEESA, Japan would become fundamentally integrated in the fastest growing ? part of the advanced industrialized world, support the bridge-building between advanced and emerging economies embodied by TPP, and spur global economic growth by creating the world’s? largest free trade zone” .

(4) Relations with neighbors

In this chapter, Armitage and Nay describe the U.S.-Japan-ROK relations . They noted that this three democratic allies that share common values and strategic interests should promote more frequent cooperation including not only security but also nuclear energy and ODA . But to realize its full potential, they emphasized that “it is essential for Japan to confront the historical issues that continue to complicate relations with ROK , and Tokyo and Seoul reexamine their bilateral ties though a realpolitik lens against the rise of China and North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons” .

Secondly, facing the China’s military buildup and maritime assertiveness, it is described that “how U.S.-Japan alliance should respond it and what kinds of internal problems China is virtually confronting” . According to the report, Armitage and Nay confirm the U.S-Japan alliance’s contribution for having provided a stable, predictable, and secure environment within which China has flourished, and strongly urge Japan to develop capabilities and policies adaptable to China’s trajectory and a broader range of possible futures with India and ASEAN. Moreover, contrary to the China’s increasing presence, they described that “China’s leaders have to tackles six demons; energy constraints, calamitous environmental degradation, widening income inequality among people and provinces, restive ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and endemic official corruption”. But in any case, they emphasized that “only one thing is certain: the alliance must develop capabilities policies adaptable to China’s trajectory and abroad range of possible futures” .

Thirdly, the role of U.S.-Japan alliance on human rights is described . According to the report, Armitage and Nay asserted that” Japan and the United States share a commitment to democracy, the rule of law, open societies, human rights, human security, and free and open markets and we pledge to work together to promote the rule of law, protect human rights, and enhance coordination on peacekeeping, post-conflict stabilization, development assistance, organized crime and narcotics trafficking, and infectious diseases”. Especially in advancing democratic reforms in Myanmar, they declared “the United States and Japan should take an advantage of the economic leverage provided by private-sector investment, foreign assistance, and loans from international financial institution to advance good governance, rule of law, and adherence to international norms of human rights”. And as well as Myanmar, they also refer to Pyongyang’s human rights abuses and Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea and recommended that “Japan and the United States cooperate closely on this issue within the context of a broader strategy effective engagement on human rights and other issues with North Korea”.

3. Toward a New Security Strategy

Facing the China’s increasing presence, this chapter shows Japan’s measures to take action . Armitage and Nay said that “ Tokyo would be well-served to continue its engagement with regional forums, namely ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum(ARF),the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation(APEC), as well as with democratic partners in the region, especially India, Australia, the Philippines, and Taiwan”, and urged that “Japan should continue collaboration with regional partners to promote a peaceful and lawful maritime environment, to ensure unhindered sea-base trade, and to promote overall economic and security well-being”. Moreover, they propose Japan’s positive defense roles on the South China Sea and the Persian Gulf such as Japan’s spontaneous action to send minesweepers to the Persian Gulf and enhancing U.S.-Japan cooperation for more robust, shared, and interoperable Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and operations. Yet, according to them, while the U.S. Navy and Air force have been making progress for cooperation with Japan Marine Self-Defense Force and Air-Defense Force, the U.S. Army/Marine Corps cooperation with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force has been limited due to a contrast in focus. One of the ways they exemplify in the report to enhance interoperability is that “the United States and Japan should make full use of new training ranges in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), as well as the new shared facility in Darwin, Australia”.

Discussed in the last two Armitage Reports, this report repeatedly introduces the Japan’s collective self-defense . According to the report, even though the U.S. and Japan has developed its cooperation such as Operation Tomodachi at the time of 3.11 Eastern Japan Earthquake, Armitage and Nay asserted that “prohibition of the collective self-defense is an impediment to the alliance. It would be a responsible authorization to allow our forces to respond in full cooperation throughout the security spectrum of peacetime, tension, crisis, and war” . Furthermore, they refer to Japan’s more cooperation to extended deterrence and peacekeeping operations, recommending that “the United States and Japan should reinvigorate the current extended deterrence dialogue to foster mutual confidence in U.S. extended deterrence strategies and capabilities” and “Japan extend the legal latitude given to her international peacekeeping forces to protect civilians, as well as to protect other international peacekeepers, with force, if necessary”.

Other part, the cooperation on defense industry and cyber security is also described . By Japan’s revision of the ‘Three Principles on Arms Exports”, it is noted that “the United States should take advantage of the policy change and encourage the Japanese defense industry to export technology and import its electronic, nanotech, composite, other high-value components”. That can vitalize U.S.-Japan trade on defense industry and they insist that” the United States should encourage arms exports and technology cooperation between Tokyo and other allies”. Moreover, as the cases of cyber attacks and cyber hacking have increased, Japan lacks of managing a cyber command while the U.S. has fully equipped alongside the National Security Agency (NSA) and they suggested that “to alleviate this disparity, the United States and Japan should establish a Joint Cyber Security Center for research and implementation of common information assurance standards”.

4. Conclusion

This report reveals the U.S.’s real intention and political pressure to Japan, as stipulated by the sentences such as ‘Japan is at a critical juncture”, “If tier-two nation statue is good enough for the Japanese people and their government, this report will not be interest” and “Prohibition of collective self-defense is an impediment to the alliance”. Today the security environment in East Asia has already been changing, affected by the rise of China and its hegemonic inclination to neighboring seas. Japan and the U.S. need to take measures to deal with it. In this report, they emphasize a promotion of U.S.-Japan cooperation on nuclear energy, natural gas, methane hydrate, Japan’s participation to TTP and its FTA conclusion with the U.S. Even in the stagnant economic situation, Japan needs to be an economic superpower to keep the U.S. efficient player in Asia-Pacific. While it is also inevitable for the U.S. to decrease its military expenditure, they propose an “Energy Alliance” for mutual economic stability and maintaining the alliance. But in any cases, this alliance is the base not only for Japan’s defense but also the peace of Asia-Pacific. As Armitage and Nay indicate, today Japan may be at the crossroad where they have to choose a way for what it wants to be. While this report is described by the two Americans and their requirement does not fully match what Japan wants, it tells Japan to be a normal country which does not prohibit the use of collective self-defense right and has a concept of risk sharing. It is the time for Japan to consider how they want to be.

From “Intelligence Analysis (August 2012)”