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  • Author: Tom Karako
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Several decades ago, former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone once described his country as a “big aircraft carrier” from which to defend against Soviet aircraft.1 Although such an analogy fails to capture the richness and depth of the U.S-Japan alliance, it did say something important about Japan’s unique geographic and strategic position. Today’s air and missile threats in the Asia-Pacific region are different, as is the joint U.S.-Japanese defense posture to meet them. Given a handful of changes underway, however, one might instead say that Japan is shaping up to be a giant Aegis destroyer group of sorts. A vision of much more robust air and missile defense capability in the Asia-Pacific region hinges upon the forthcoming acquisition of Aegis Ashore sites in Japan. Japan’s intent to acquire two such sites was announced in December 2017, a decision supported by 66 percent of the Japanese population, according to one recent poll.2 But the potential significance of Japanese Aegis Ashore deployments has not yet been widely understood. Combined with military forces in other domains, these sites will be the foundation of more robust air and missile defenses against North Korea and form a base upon which to adapt to more sophisticated future threats, including China. Assuming the approval process for the foreign military sales comes along well, this development has broad implications for the United States and America’s allies.3 The road to more layered missile defense goes in part through Aegis Ashore, and the road to innovative Aegis Ashore deployments probably goes through Tokyo. The U.S. Navy’s Aegis Combat System has evolved considerably since the first Aegis ship deployed in 1984. Some 90 Aegis ships are currently operated by the United States, and five other countries have Aegis ships as well: Australia, Norway, South Korea, Spain, and Japan. The word “Aegis” refers to the shield of the ancient god Zeus, and Aegis ships have long provided fleet air defense, strike, and antisubmarine warfare. Over the past decade, 35 American and 4 Japanese Aegis ships have also acquired a ballistic missile defense mission. The most recent configurations are capable of executing the integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) mission, with simultaneous air defense and ballistic missile defense operations.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: President Trump's cancellation of the summit with North Korea is a warning as to just how difficult it is to bring any kind of stability to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. It is also a warning that the U.S. cannot focus on the nuclear issue and ICBM, rather than the overall military balance in the Koreas and the impact that any kind of war fighting can have on the civil population of South Korea and the other states in Northeast Asia. The nuclear balance is an all too critical aspect of regional security, but it is only part of the story and military capability do not address the potential impact and cost of any given form of conflict.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Brad Glosserman
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US extended deterrent in Northeast Asia is strong. US alliances with Japan and South Korea are each arguably in the best shape in years, with alliance modernization efforts proceeding in tandem with domestic adjustments to security policy that strengthen the foundation for cooperative action. Policy toward North Korea, historically a wedge between Washington and allied governments in the region, is largely aligned, and serving as a glue rather than a source of discord. This otherwise sunny outlook is darkened by the difficulties in the Seoul-Tokyo relationship. The (from a US perspective) obvious convergence of interests among the three governments is overshadowed by a lengthy and depressingly well-rehearsed list of problems. The second US-ROK-Japan Trilateral Extended Deterrence Dialogue, hosted by Pacific Forum CSIS and the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, with indirect support from the Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), explored ways to overcome those obstacles to enhanced cooperation. In an attempt to push the envelope, the 43 senior participants from the three countries joined 17 Pacific Forum Young Leaders (all attending in their private capacities) in discussions and a tabletop exercise that was designed to explore reactions to a nuclear contingency on the Korean Peninsula. The results were sobering and underscored the need for increased coordination and planning among the three governments to prepare for such a crisis in Northeast Asia.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North Korea