The Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis (IFPA) has a new report out, "Realigning Priorities: The U.S.-Japan Alliance and the Future of Extended Deterrence" which you can download.
North Korea’s pending missile/rocket launch over Japan and recent U.S.-China maritime skirmishes in the South China Sea remind us that the nature of deterrence and extended deterrence in East Asia is changing. Existential threats are perhaps less serious than during the Cold War, but the number and types of threats have multiplied in the region, and the old symbols of deterrence, such as the U.S. nuclear umbrella, are losing their vitality (and perhaps their relevance to the middle rungs of the conflict escalation ladder that are becoming more important). Extended deterrence in the U.S.-Japan alliance is under pressure because it is more complicated than before, and this challenge comes at a time when America’s and Japan’s security priorities are diverging. Careful attention to this issue is required by both partners.
Our just-released report examines the security picture from Japan’s perspective, discusses the evolving deterrence debates in both countries, and looks at why (and how) Japan might consider new approaches to ensuring its security in the future (including the potential for Japan to develop its own nuclear deterrent). We also explore strategies for U.S. policy makers to conduct the deterrence conversation in ways that strengthen and diversify the allies’ security and political relationships (possibly in partnership with other nations), which can promote stability in the region and reassure Japan as the United States seeks a lower nuclear profile.