Joseph Nye on the U.S.-Japan Alliance and Transnational Threats


Joseph Nye, Harvard University International Relations professor and coiner of the term “soft power,” has an interesting article on RealClearWorld asking “Will the U.S.-Japan Alliance Survive?
Nye addresses various challenges to the U.S.-Japan alliance and makes a compelling case for its enduring importance.
The entire article is worth a read, but the part I find most interesting is Nye’s discussion of transnational threats – and Japan’s relative strengths in these areas. Nye says that

Although some Japanese complain about the unequal nature of the alliance’s security components, owing to the limits that Japan has accepted on the use of force, in these new areas, Japan is a stronger partner. Japan’s overseas development assistance in places ranging from Africa to Afghanistan, its participation in global health projects, its support of the United Nations, its naval participation in anti-piracy operations, and its research and development on energy efficiency place it at the forefront in dealing with the new transnational challenges.

This point hits the mark, and highlights the possibility that cooperation on transnational threats like global poverty and the need for new sources of energy may provide the best opportunity for the world’s major stakeholders to develop the institutions and arrangements necessary to achieve a new power equilibrium in today’s increasingly nonpolar world.
Formidable military power or not, Japan has a lot to offer on these kinds of “soft power” issues.
— Ben Katcher


9 comments on “Joseph Nye on the U.S.-Japan Alliance and Transnational Threats

  1. nicky says:

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  2. Jessica Ong says:

    Wig Wag,
    I hadn’t heard about Frank McCourt. Thank you so much for mentioning this great man. I was in the Stuyvesant High School class of 1974. In my junior year Mr. McCourt was my Creative Writing/English teacher. All I can say is that the man was loved by every one of his students. A kinder more gentle person you will never meet.
    He used to regale us with stories of his life growing up in Ireland. His brother Malachy had a radio show on WBAI in New York that all of us listened to.
    When Angela’s Ashes came out and then later, Tis and Teacher Man none of his old students were surprised. The only thing that surprised us was how long it took for this lovely man to get the recognition he deserved.
    I live in New Jersey and I would like to go to the memorial service but haven’t been able to find information about when it will be on the internet. If you come across the information, Wig Wag, please post it.
    One of the reasons I read the Washington Note even though I never post comments myself is that the people who comment are so well rounded that they seem to know a little bit about everything.
    I also wanted to mention that your discussions with Paul Norheim about literature are highly enjoyable. Please keep them up.
    Thank you again for remembering Frank McCourt.


  3. Dirk says:

    I’m curious what his/your thoughts are on the impending elections which will, in all likelihood, finally dump the LDP from power. His party cohorts tried to dump him in a no-confidence vote yesterday, but failed, in an attempt to get a more palatable successor prior to elections. But the writing is on the wall, the opposition Democrats are the likely new governing party.
    In a way, Japan is finally achieving the political and social maturity that Mexico achieved after dumping the PRI from power. Sure, there are major differences but the point being that each dumped peaceful one party rule. Mexico is descending into ever more chaos going from the Left(PRI) to the Right(PAN) because of a multitude of reasons.
    Will Japan, going from Right(LDP) to the Left(Democrats) also suffer upheaval?


  4. JohnH says:

    Off topic, but I couldn’t resist: an illustration of the Israeli government’s “use of [modern media] is provided by a story which appeared in the Israeli daily Haaretz, almost two weeks before the election.”
    Ha’artez noted these included: “Organizing demonstrations in front of Iranian consulates worldwide, staging mock stonings and hangings in public, and launching a massive media campaign against Iran – these are just some of the steps Israeli diplomats have been told to take in the coming weeks. The goal, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official, is “to show the world that Iran is not a Western democracy” in the run-up to the country’s presidential election on June 12.”
    “About a week ago, the head of the ministry’s Task Force on Isolating Iran sent a classified telegram to all Israeli embassies and consulates, titled “Activities in the Run-up to Iran’s Presidential Election.” It detailed things Israeli representatives should do before, during and after the election.”
    Could it be that a number of unnamed Western blogs and media outlets were more than happy to join in the Israeli propaganda effort?


  5. ... says:

    even better johnh! i wonder whether ben will get back to you on this…..


  6. JohnH says:

    Ben, do you think energy security plays any role at all in US-Japan relations? If so, why didn’t Nye talk about it at all?
    As you know, Japan is almost totally dependent on imports to provide oil and gas. With Indonesian production declining, Japan becomes increasingly dependent on the Middle East. So, beside the nuclear umbrella, isn’t Japan dependent on the umbrella of the US liberalized trading system along with the fleets in the Indian and Pacific Oceans to guarantee supply? And how does Japan feel about the US insisting on keeping Iranian supply off the market, thereby increasing world energy costs? Why should China have access to Central Asian gas via pipeline and Japan not have unrestricted access to Iranian gas? Could this become a source of tension? Why or why not?
    And finally, is there some reason these concerns don’t merit public discussion by American foreign policy experts?


  7. WigWag says:

    Off Topic
    “My father and mother should have stayed in New York where they met and married where I was born. Instead they returned to Ireland when I was four, my brother Malachy, three, the twins, Oliver and Eugene, barely one and my sister, Margaret, dead and gone.
    When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.
    People everywhere brag and wimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless, loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years.
    Above all-we were wet.
    Out in the Atlantic great sheats of rain gathered to drift slowly up the River Shannon and settle forever in Limerick. The rain dampened the city from the Feast of the Circumcision to New Year’s Eve. It created a cacophony of hacking coughs, bronchial rattles, asthmatic wheezes, consumptive croaks. It turned noses into fountains, lungs into bacterial sponges. It provoked cures galore; to ease the catarrh you boiled onions in milk blackened with pepper; for the congested passages you made a paste of boiled flour and nettles, wrapped it in a rag and slapped it, sizzling on the chest.
    From October to April the walls of Limerick glistened with the damp. Clothes never dried: tweed and coats housed living things, sometimes sprouted vegetations. In pubs, steam rose from the damp bodies and garments to be inhaled with cigarette and pipe smoke laced with stale fumes of spilled stout and whiskey and tinged with the odor of piss wafting n from the outdoor jakes where many a man puked up his week’s wages.
    The rain drove us into the church-our refuge, our strength, our only dry place. At Mass, Benediction, novenas, we huddled in great damp clumps, dozing through priest drone, while steam rose again from our clothes to mingle with the sweetness of incense, flowers and candles.
    Limerick gained a reputation for piety, but we knew it was only the rain.”
    Angela’s Ashes (1996)
    Frank McCourt
    August 19, 1930-July 19, 2009
    Rest in peace.


  8. Erik says:

    Can you please fix the image placement on this
    blog so that the quoted paragraphs are clearly
    separated from The Washington Note’s commentary? I
    think the images are destroying the “quote
    indentation” signifying what is quoted.
    If there isn’t any such indentation, could you
    please put horizontal lines above and below the
    quote, or a vertical line on the left side?


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