Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Special Dialogue on Japan-U.S. Relations, Part 1
- Looking back on postwar Japan-U.S. Relations
Yasushi Watanabe: Professor at Keio University. / 
Sadaaki Numata: Chairman, The English-Speaking Union of Japan and former ambassador to Canada and Pakistan.

December 13, 2022
Watanabe: Based on your involvement in various aspects of Japan-U.S. relations, including interpreting at the meetings between the prime ministers and the presidents, how do you view U.S.-Japan relations today?

Numata: I recall vividly the meeting between Prime Minister Ohira and President Carter on May 2, 1979, which I interpreted. When President Carter expressed the desirability of a more equal relationship between the U.S. and Japan, Prime Minister Ohira responded:
"As I look back over the postwar years, our relationship has gradually but steadily developed from a vertical to a horizontal relationship. In all candor, however, our relationship is not fully equal yet. I also feel, in candor, that there are some aspects in which the Japanese people are not fully aware of the extent of their strength. It is important for our people to have an accurate perception of their own strengths and responsibility so that they can have an influence on a variety of issues in world affairs. I am trying to make them aware, but the change of perception is not as complete, perhaps, as you desire."

As we look back in light of Prime Minister Ohira's statement, the "protector/protected" relationship of the 1950s created in Japan a tendency to presume upon U.S. benevolence as well as antipathy toward dependence on and subordination to the U.S. and a desire for self-reliance and independence. Subsequently, the relationship shifted from "a strong US and a weak Japan" to "a less strong US and an economically powerful Japan," then to "a still strong US and a weakening Japan," and finally to "a more constrained US and a stagnant Japan”. During this period, it was feared in Japan that Japan could be entrapped in U.S. wars such as in Vietnam (fear of entrapment) and also that the U.S. might abandon Japan by shifting its priority elsewhere, for example, to China (fear of abandonment).

When Prime Minister Ohira talked about a "horizontal" relationship, he had in mind engagements with other countries and responsibility-sharing in the international community. From the 1980s to the 2000s, the issue of responsibility-sharing in managing the global economy and tackling international security threats such as the Gulf War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq gradually came to the fore.

In the period from about 2010 until now, U.S. power has come to be considerably constrained. The Taliban has been reinstated in Afghanistan, North Korea's nuclear threat is becoming more and more blatant, and China is bent on strengthening its military power. Despite President Trump's assertion of "America First," the U.S. global leadership has been in decline. With the 2015 revision of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, the division of roles between the JSDF and the U.S. forces, previously contemplated for the contingency of an attack against Japan and for an armed conflict around Japan in the event of a Korean contingency, was expanded to include the JSDF providing logistical support, such as resupply, to the U.S. forces fighting in areas far from Japan, such as the South China Sea and the Middle East. The global significance of the Japan-U.S. alliance thus came to be accentuated. Russia's invasion of Ukraine this year, followed by closer Sino-Russian collaboration, intensified the race among the U.S., China, Russia, and others for control of the international order. Japan, for its part, is called on to respond to the situation in full cognizance of its responsibilities. Work is underway to formulate the new national security strategy including drastic strengthening of the defense capabilities. The question Japan is facing is how it can take a leadership role in tackling global issues such as terrorism, global warming, and protectionism while promoting the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision

Watanabe: From the time when Japan wanted to be equal but still looked up to the U.S. in a vertical mindset, Japan's economic power has declined and it is no longer a threat to the U.S. Also, the U.S. no longer has the power it once had. At the same time, the importance of the relationship with the U.S. is being recognized anew in Japan in the context of the situations surrounding China and Ukraine. I think that the Japan-U.S. relationship, which has tended to be seen in a vertical framework, has gradually become more horizontal and more equal, exactly as mentioned by Prime Minister Ohira.

Whereas we used to think of the Japan-U.S. relationship in terms of “Japan” and “the U.S.”, now there are no major bilateral issues between the two countries. Rather, the question is what Japan and the U.S. can do together or how our two countries, with like-minded countries, should deal with China, Russia, North Korea, and others.

Numata: If we include not only the Japan-U.S. alliance but also relations with like-minded countries, Australia in the Quad and the U.K. are becoming our quasi-allies, and Germany and France are also interested in the Indo-Pacific. At the same time, the question can arise as to how long Japan will continue to rely on the US. Somewhere along the line, some may argue, though I do not share the view, that we should dissolve the Japan-U.S. alliance and defend ourselves on our own. Self-reliant defense may be pursued as an ideal, but if we start talking about it too soon, China or North Korea may see it as a chance to take advantage of, and deterrence may cease to function, which will create huge problems.

In this connection, we must consider what “senshu boei” or "exclusive defense" means in relation to the "counterattack capability" that is now being talked about. It is not clear what we mean by "exclusive defense" or "defense for defense's sake" in English, but the Defense of Japan White Paper of 1981, defined it as follows:

"Defense force shall be used only when there is an armed attack from an opponent, and the mode of defense shall be kept to the minimum necessary for self-defense. The capability to be possessed shall also be kept to the minimum necessary for self-defense. There shall be a passive defense strategy in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution.” How to reconcile this with the "counterattack capability" that is currently talked about is quite a difficult question.

Watanabe: Cyber security is a good example. Exclusive defense would mean that we cannot do anything until we are a cyber-attack is inflicted on us. Given the current security environment, it can no longer be clearly defined. I have the impression that Japanese constitutional scholars tend to think quite strictly, while experts in security and international law are a bit more flexible.

Self-reliant defense is good as a frame of mind, but from a practical standpoint, especially in terms of cost and technology, I think it makes more sense to maintain the alliance with the United States. It is difficult to imagine an ally that could replace the US. Considering the reality of the UN Security Council, the UN first principle is not very convincing either. In other words, there is no Plan B that can replace the Japan-U.S. alliance.

For your part, Mr. Numata, looking back on the Japan-U.S. relationship, do you think that as a whole it is moving in the direction you would like it to go?

Numata: Overall, I think so. As Prime Minister Ohira said, we are becoming aware of the power and responsibility that Japan has, and we have come to think about how we can contribute to the world as a whole. There is a growing awareness of this, though it may not be sufficient yet.

Yasushi Watanabe is a professor at Keio University.
Sadaaki Numata is Chairman, The English-Speaking Union of Japan and a former ambassador to Canada and Pakistan.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

スペシャル対談 日米関係を論じる その1
-- 戦後の日米関係を振り返る
渡辺 靖 慶應義塾大学教授 / 
沼田 貞昭 日本英語交流連盟会長、元駐カナダ、パキスタン大使

2022年 12月 13日


この大平総理の発言を踏まえて振り返ると、1950年代の「保護者・被保護者」関係は、日本で米国に対する「甘え」と同時に、対米依存、対米従属に対する反感と自主独立への願望を生みました。その後、「強い米国と弱い日本 」から「それほど強くない米国と経済力の強い日本」、次いで「まだ強い米国と弱まりつつある日本」、さらには「より制約された米国と低迷を続ける日本」へと変化してきました。この間、日本では、ベトナムなどの米国の戦争に巻き込まれるとの心配(Fear of entrapment)と、米国がたとえば中国を重視して日本を見捨てるのではないかという心配(Fear of abandonment)がありました。


2010年くらいから今までを見ると、アメリカの力はかなり制約されてきている。アフガニスタンではタリバンが復権し、北朝鮮の核の脅威はますます顕在化し、中国は軍事力をますます強化しています。トランプ大統領は「アメリカファースト」と主張したが、アメリカのグローバルな指導力は低下してきました。2015年の日米防衛協力ガイドラインの改定によって、日本有事のほか朝鮮有事を念頭に日本周辺で武力衝突が起きた場合の自衛隊と米軍の役割分担は、南シナ海や中東といった日本から離れた場所で戦う米軍に自衛隊が補給などの後方支援を行うことまで拡大され、日米同盟のグローバルは性質が強調されました。今年のロシアのウクライナ侵攻、それに続く中露の連携などにより、米、中、露等の間の国際秩序をめぐる争いは顕在化し、日本としても責任を自覚して対応することが求められ、目下防衛力の抜本的強化を含む新国家安全保障戦略を策定しつつあります。さらに今は「自由で開かれたインド太平洋(Free and Open Indo-Pacific)」構想を進めると共に、クローバルな課題、テロリズム、地球温暖化、保護主義等に関 して日本はいかにリーターシッフをとって行けるのかが問われています。




その関連で、今話題になっている「反撃力」との関連で、「専守防衛」とは何かということを考えなければいけないと思う。「専守防衛」とは英語でdefense for defense’s sakeと言っても意味がはっきりしませんが、1981年の防衛白書では、「相手から武力攻撃を受けたとき初めて防衛力を行使し、その態様も自衛のための必要最小限にとどめ、また保持する防衛力も自衛のための必要最小限のものに限るなど、憲法の精神にのっとった受動的な防衛戦略」となっています。これと今言われている「反撃力」をどうやって両立させるのかはなかなか難しい問題だと思う。





沼田貞昭は日本英語交流連盟会長、元駐カナダ、パキスタン大使。本稿で言及している外務省現役時代の経験については、政策研究大学院大学学術研究機関リポジトリー「沼田貞昭オーラルヒストリー(元カナダ大使)」を参照。URL 沼田貞昭オーラルヒストリー
一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Special Dialogue on Japan-U.S. Relations, Part 1
- Looking back on postwar Japan-U.S. Relations