• How to Make Sense of Japan’s Delicate Balance Between Russia and Ukraine

    Showing solidarity with other G7 countries following Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, Japan imposed sanctions on Russia—albeit reluctantly. The Ukraine crisis occurred amid Japan's efforts to reinvigorate Japan-Russia relations in the hope of solving the long-standing territorial dispute over the Northern territories (the Kuril Islands in Russian). Subsequently, maintaining Japan’s balance between other G7 countries and Russia became one of the main challenges for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

    While Japan felt obliged to support the international community and to impose sanctions, the geopolitical dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region forced it to take a conciliatory approach to Russia. This delicate balance resulted in Japan’s symbolic sanctions and in different narratives promoted at home and in Ukraine.

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  • Stronger than Ever but More Challenged than Ever: The US-Japan Alliance in the Trump-Abe Era

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    In the current uncertain and challenging international political environment, the US-Japan alliance has never been stronger or more important than it is now; yet it has never faced as many challenges and hurdles than it does today. Under President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the alliance is steadfast and unwavering. But global instability, renewed geopolitical competition, flashpoints like the Korean Peninsula, and China’s growing strategic footprint and uncertain role in the global order threaten the stability of the Asia-Pacific – and with it—the US-Japan alliance. This new US-Japan Joint Policy Report 2018, released in conjunction with the Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR) and the National Defense University, explores the dynamic relationship between Washington, DC and Tokyo and the future of the US-Japan alliance. Stronger than Ever but More Challenged than Ever: The US-Japan Alliance in the Trump-Abe Era examines the relationship over seven chapters focused on: The Alliance Today; The Evolving International Order; The International Order in the Asia-Pacific Region; Japan, the Alliance, and the Regional Order; Trump and the Alliance; Abe and the Alliance; and Making the Alliance Work. It offers concrete analysis and outlines policy recommendations for decision makers in the United States and Japan as both countries work to uphold the international order, ensure stability in the Asia-Pacific, and reaffirm their commitment to the alliance.

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  • Murky Waters: Maritime Security in the East and South China Seas

    What is the state of play in the East and South China Seas, and what might be the future of maritime rules and norms in the region? To answer these questions, the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security convened several experts for a public panel discussion on March 30, 2018. With panelists representing Asian, European, and American perspectives, the panel reflected the mission of the Scowcroft Center’s burgeoning Asia program—bridging the Atlantic and Pacific policymaking communities to build trans-Atlantic-Pacific partnerships and confront common challenges.

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  • A Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy

    In November 2017, when President Trump visited Japan, Prime Minister Abe and President Trump agreed to work together to promote peace and prosperity in the region by developing the Indo-Pacific as free and open. In addition, particularly after President Trump gave a speech at the APEC CEO Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, on November 10th, the concept of a "free and open Indo-Pacific" moved squarely into the spotlight and became a priority for policy makers of the United States and Japan. The two countries are about to initiate the process of elaborating this concept, and much work lies ahead, including how to coordinate their focus and approach, how to divide their roles, and how to conduct outreach to allies and partners.

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  • Gopalaswamy Quoted in iNews on New Competitors in the Space Race: India, Japan, and China

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  • TRADE IN ACTION November 10

    Tusk Trade Tile
    This week’s news has been dominated by President Trump’s trip to Asia

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  • TRADE IN ACTION November 6

    Japan Trade Tile
    The Bank of England is expecting that up to 75,000 jobs could be lost in financial services following Britain’s departure from the EU. 

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  • Trump Goes to Asia: An Opportunity to Assert US Leadership

    On his first full business day as president, Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral trade agreement with eleven other Asia-Pacific nations that was viewed as a pillar of US commitment to Asia.

    At the height of a nuclear crisis with North Korea, he instructed his advisers to pull the United States out of a free-trade pact with South Korea, a longtime US ally.

    Further, he ratcheted up the rhetoric with Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s mercurial leader, who conducted missile and nuclear tests in defiance of international condemnation.

    Compare these actions with his eagerness to engage Asian leaders. Even before he assumed office, Trump met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He has also hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, met South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan o-cha, and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Thuc at the White House. In addition, Trump had “a very friendly” phone call with the Philippines controversial leader Rodrigo Duterte who has been accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.

    Trump’s actions and rhetoric have left the region feeling uneasy. By rejecting TPP, he removed a key pillar of Obama’s “rebalance” toward Asia, but has yet to articulate his own Asia strategy.

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  • TRADE IN ACTION October 30

    Last Friday, just shortly before President Donald Trump arrives in Beijing in early November, the Commerce Department hit imports of Chinese aluminum foil with preliminary anti-dumping duties, ranging from 97 percent to more than 162 percent. 

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  • A Strategy for Dealing with North Korea

    Former US undersecretary of state, R. Nicholas Burns, discusses US options, the importance of Chinese pressure, and lessons learned from the Iran nuclear crisis

    New sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on September 11 in response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test are “not significant enough,” according to R. Nicholas Burns, an Atlantic Council board member who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

    Sanctions must be part of a “patient long-term strategy” that includes deterrence, working closely with allies, and negotiations, said Burns, laying out the United States’ options for dealing with the North Korean crisis. 

    Capping a summer marked by defiant intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un dramatically escalated the crisis on September 3 by successfully testing a miniaturized hydrogen bomb that is capable of being placed on an ICBM. On September 15, North Korea launched a missile over Japan—it's second such act in just over two weeks. The test was in defiance of a fresh round of sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on North Korea earlier in September. 

    As the third-highest-ranking official at the State Department from 2005 to 2008, Burns was the lead US negotiator on Iran’s nuclear program. Drawing on that experience, he emphasized the need for a multilateral approach to defuse the North Korean crisis. China, he said, would be a critical player in such an approach.

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