Security Partnerships in Japan's Asia Strategy: Creating Order, Building Capacity and Sharing Burden Asie.Visions, No. 61, February 2013
During the last decade, Japan has sought partnership with many Asian nations - the drive remaining strong regardless of ruling parties. Newly elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan is to continue this trend under the name of ‘value diplomacy".
Partnership is being sought to sustain regional order at a time of geopolitical shifts in a rapidly developing Asia, through coalition-building among like-minded countries. Also, partnership between major and smaller powers is aimed at enhancing the capability to cope with both traditional and non-traditional security threats. America’s regional partners, particularly Japan and Australia, understand well this role of partnership and regard it as an important tool of diplomatic statecraft and burden sharing.
On the other hand, security partnership is limited in so far as there are varied perceptions of and policy priority concerning China, a crucial trade partner for most nations in Asia. Also, such partnership will not sufficiently meet the challenge from the new spectrum of warfare, such as anti-access measures. Finally, without having China in the web of security cooperation, the predictability of the security environment would not be improved and the possibility of power competition would not be mitigated.
This paper analyses Japanese security partnership with Asian nations. First it introduces the concept of partnership in the context of Asian security and Japanese strategic thinking. Then, it looks at and develops the case of Japanese partnership with Australia, India, South Korea and Southeast Asian nations. Finally, it highlights the limitations of partnership and provides a vision for the future.