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Policy Brief- January 2013
Japan's Shifting Strategic Discourse
by Richard J. Samuels (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

As Narushige Michishita and I have argued, after decades of accepting U.S. supremacy in Asia as the foundation of its foreign and security policies, finding the right distance between the U.S. and China is the most important strategic choice facing Japan today. "Getting it just right" with these two powers will require both military and economic readjustments. But it will not be easy. Some in Japan fret about a Washington-Beijing "G-2" condominium. Others doubt U.S. capabilities and commitments going forward.  There are also those who insist that unless Japan accommodates to Chinese power, it will lose influence in the region and globally. Still others are concerned that rivalry with China is unavoidable. Because the debate is often so clamorous, and because the Sino-Japanese relationship is so frequently punctuated by tension, the possibility that improved relations with China might be compatible with sustained close relations with the United States is often lost in the noise. 




The Sigur Center's Rising Powers Initiative examines how domestic political debates and identity issues affect international relations in Asia and America's role. The Policy Brief series is sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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"...Japan's current strategic discourse has not been aligned with public opinion and this misalignment prevents-- or at least frustrates efforts to establish-- the clear mandates necessary for difficult strategic choices."


The Sigur Center for Asian Studies is an international research center of The Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Its mission is to increase the quality and broaden the scope of scholarly research and publications on Asian affairs, promote U.S.-Asia scholarly interaction and 
serve as the nexus for educating a new generation of students, scholars, analysts, and policymakers.


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