The Alliance Dilemma: A Stronger Japan and Regional Stability
Cha, Victor D
This paper is an attempt to explain the United States's puzzling silence on Japan's potential development of autonomous strike capability. I argue that this is due to the U.S.'s fear of entrapment vis-à-vis Japan, which is the first time in the history of the U.S.-Japan alliance that the United States has ever had this type of fear. In particular, the United States fears the risk of entrapment into insecurity spiral in Northeast Asia caused by Japan's more proactive security policies, including its development of autonomous strike capability, as well as Japan's assertive actions over controversial history issues such as prime ministers' visits to Yasukuni Shrine. After introducing previous alliance theories on how a state responds to the risk of entrapment, I develop a theory that before a state chooses either a distancing strategy --moving away from the ally-- or an adhesion strategy --moving closer to the ally-- in order to avoid entrapment, it first engages in a strategy of inaction or what I call a "waffling strategy". The United States has yet to decide its official stance on Japan's development of autonomous strike capability, and the ongoing silence on this issue proves the proposed theory.
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