US-Japan Foreign Policy

PUBLISHED: 9:33 PM 5 Oct 2018

How The US-Japanese Military Alliance Is Strengthening – Why Is It Important For US Foreign Policy?

Although some in the United States are worried about potential trade problems with Japan, countless others aren’t concerned due to the strengthening military alliance between the two countries.

The strengthening military alliance between the United States and Japan on behalf of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has major implications on foreign policy (pictured above).

Ever since President Donald Trump won the 2016 election, many would agree that the alliance between the militaries in Japan and the United States has been strengthening immensely.

Just recently, for example, both countries have reportedly further solidified their ties by ramping up military training at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, which is purportedly the largest base that’s shared with American Marine Corps and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.

In addition to the recent increase in training exercises, the two countries have also been brought closer together to work even more cohesively as a result of the recent military and economic moves by China.

Despite this, some, including the president, are concerned the $70 billion trade deficit that the US has with Japan may pose potential problems for the two countries in the future, even though Japan produces 3.8 million cars in America.

The recently strengthened military alliance between both nations, however, has countless others convinced that there aren’t going to be any trade problems with Japan, which is why the relationship between the two countries is so important.

Apparently, the powerful relationship between President Trump and Shinzo Abe, who’s the prime minister (PM) of Japan, reportedly began last year when Trump hosted Abe as the first world leader to spend time with him at his winter estate in Palm Beach, Florida. During their time together, they purportedly built rapport by playing a round of golf and having dinner together.     

“Melania and I are hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mrs. Abe at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. They are a wonderful couple!” tweeted President Trump at the time.

“Having a great time hosting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the United States!” he added in a follow-up tweet that included a picture of him giving PM Abe a high-five on the golf course.

Although Trump and Abe, who have since met eight other times, appeared to get along together very well, countless leftist media outlets have incessantly bashed their strong relationship and claimed that their relations are actually strained because of the trade deficit that exists between the two countries.

Moreover, many of the outlets have also suggested that the relations are strained because Trump didn’t take the Japanese leader’s advice on what to do when negotiating, quite successfully, with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Un.  

In fact, contrary to what various liberal outlets have suggested, the two countries have reportedly been working together quite closely at the Iwakuni air base.

For example, earlier this year, MCAS Iwakuni’s Cultural Adaptation Program demonstrated the strong ties that the two countries have by sending their station residents to Tsuzu Elementary School. While at the school, they then took part in a cooking class and a tea ceremony.

Specifically, those who visited the school as members of the program participated in a special tea ceremony where they were taught about things like the tradition behind mixing herbs. The students at the school helped out by mixing green tea and teaching others how to properly drink the tea.

Additionally, the station residents were shown how to make sushi, adzuki bean paste, miso soup, and other Japanese delicacies. Afterward, the attendees were then able to cook some of their own dishes and eat them afterward.

“These events are very important because we have a great alliance between Japan and the United States, and they’re the building blocks of the relationship we’ve built here in Iwakuni,” explained US Marine Corps Col. Richard F. Fuerst, who’s the commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni.

“That relationship builds up throughout Japan and increases the bond between both countries,” added Col. Fuerst.

While speaking to reporters, Mikie Watanabe, who’s the works for the Marine’s Community Service Family Programs at MCAS Iwakuni as the cultural adaptions specialist, noted that the trip benefitted the natives as well as the Americans.

“It gives the Japanese a chance to practice their English, while Americans can learn Japanese,” mentioned Watanabe.

“It’s about having a good time, making friends and keeping an open mind,” continued the cultural adaptions specialist for the community service program.  

“People who are brought here get to experience something new,” he added, noting, “some people are uncomfortable when they move out here. We try to give them an opportunity to meet Japanese locals and learn something different.”

To clarify, US Marine Corps Sgt. Larry Garavito, who works as a material control supply expeditor for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, emphasized how food is basically a universal language that transcends borders and language.   

“Food is a universal language wherever you go,” reasoned Sgt. Garavito of the fighter attack squadron.

“Their way of life is learned through the food they eat and the traditions that are practiced during a meal,” he asserted.

In addition to trips like this, teams are being prepared for cyber-war conflicts and there are also more drills being conducted with fighter pilots training together.

As of now, there’s more than 50,000 US military personnel working closely with the Japanese on these kinds of training exercises. They, of course, are there to not only help defend Japan but also ensure security and protection in the region for all of America’s allies.

While some are worried about having a trade deficit with Japan and the fact that there are threats from tariffs from the US, like the 25% tariff on automobiles, many would agree that this is not something to be too concerned about due to the fact that trade deficits are not actually problematic.  

“Under the prevailing flexible exchange rate regime, the US trade deficit should not be viewed as a worrisome economic ‘imbalance’ that will inevitably have to be corrected,” explained Dr. Thorsten Polleit, who’s the chief economist of Degussa, a precious metals trading firm, and also a macroeconomic advisor to the P And R Real Value Fund, which is also an investment company.

“So far, the US trade deficit seems to be a reflection of the US economy’s strength vis-à-vis its trading partners. it might well be that the US trade deficit will continue to widen in the coming years — which would be the case if the United States’ trading partners prove to be unsuccessful in making their economies more conducive to investment and growth compared with the status quo,” clarified Polleit.   

“So the essential issue about the future of the US trade deficit is whether and how the current relative growth performance constellation in the world trading system will be changing in the coming years,” continued the chief economist.

“As long as the United States keeps its preference for a free market regime, it might well retain, or even increase, its competitive advantage in allocating scarce resources more efficiently than currency areas where relatively wide-spread government interventions have become a characteristic of societal organization,” he added, noting, “in today’s world of flexible exchange rates, the United States’ competitive edge is reflected by a capital surplus, i.e., a trade deficit.”

A multitude of people would also agree that there’s no need to worry about trade relations between Japan and the US because Japan’s exports of cars to America is roughly $40 billion and because there has been long-running mutual economic and defense cooperation between the two countries regardless of issues being raised on trade deficits and tariffs.

Specifically, the US is Japan’s largest trading partner in terms of Japanese exports. In total, they reportedly export an estimated $135 billion to America, which is about 20% of Japanese exports. Moreover, Japanese auto production is currently a large chunk of exports and has been for decades.

Part of the reason for the trading relationship has to do with the US putting pressure on Japan during the Cold War to basically place self-imposed voluntary export restrictions on their automobiles, which they agreed to do from 1981 to 1994.

As a consequence of the government’s interventionist measures during what many consider to be an utterly frightening era, countless Japanese businesses moved production to the US, which greatly benefited American workers.

Without a doubt, many would agree that the business owners’ decision to move production out of Japan perfectly illustrates the complete and utter economic harm that unfolds when the government intervenes in the market.

It also shows, quite beautifully, that while there may be challenges ahead, history has clearly shown that tariffs and protectionist measures can be worked around.

Additionally, it shows that the US may not only ultimately benefit in the end without harming close allies, but also further solidify its ties to other countries like Japan.

Plus, countless recognize that the more Japanese leaders continue to get themselves involved in international agreements as a member of the “Quad” countries, the more of an incentive they have to maintain a strong relationship with America.  

“Quad,” to be clear, is a four-country security partnership that also includes India, Australia, and the US. In other words, it’s an alliance of four democratic countries with shared ideals working together closely.

Apparently, the Trump administration is reportedly working to host two meetings with the Quad countries in an attempt to move the interactions from the joint-secretary level to the international-secretary level, which the Indian government purportedly isn’t interested in doing.

“We are working and discussing planning of the next Quad session. I think two meetings a year is probably a good tempo with other working group meetings at lower level, expert level,” explained Alice Wells, who works as the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for both South and Central Asia, while speaking at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which is a well-known think-tank in America.

“Then what do we transfer into or add to the Quad discussion whether it’s maritime domain awareness, all of our countries experience in this area and need to develop it further with our partners,” she added.

In addition to getting involved in international agreements, Japanese officials have also recently launched a new class of military destroyers, which are equipped with US anti-missile defenses.

They reportedly did so in an attempt to deter North Korean aggression and also ensure that Japanese and American forces in the region are upgrading hardware and prepared for combat at all times.

Specifically, the Japanese defense forces launched the first of it’s two 27DDG-class destroyers, named the “Maya,” during a ceremony at a shipyard in Yokohama several months ago that was purportedly attended by Itsunori Onodera, who’s the country’s defense minister.

According to reports, “the 8,200-ton, 170-meter–long destroyers are equipped with the Aegis Baseline J7 combat system and the Northrop Grumman AN/SPQ-9B radar system, which provides the capability to detect and track low-flying, high-speed, low-observable anti-ship missile targets in heavy-clutter environments. Aegis Baseline J7 is the Japanese equivalent for the current Aegis Baseline 9/BMD 5.1 standard.”

Moreover, “the ships will also be able to fire the SM-3 Block IIA missile currently being jointly developed by the United States and Japan for ballistic missile defense, while the northeast Asian country has also been flagged as a potential customer for the SM-6 missile developed for use against air, surface and some types of ballistic missile targets.”

Incredibly, Japanse officials haven’t just been working closely with the US to strengthen the military relations between the two countries, they’ve also reportedly been making a focused effort to increase their funding to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a well-known intergovernmental military coalition, from 1% to 2%.  

“Defense spending informally capped at 1 percent was acceptable to conservatives back in the 1970s, but things have changed, both in terms of the security situation surrounding Japan and other nations’ spending,” explained Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University, while speaking to reporters about the matter.

“The imminent threat to Japan comes from North Korea, which has nuclear weapons and plenty of missiles capable of hitting targets in Japan, but the bigger danger is China,” added the university professor.