Over the past decade, the US-Japan alliance has been strengthened and subtly but substantively transformed. In response to a range of domestic changes and new international challenges, a relationship that was becoming frayed in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War has been rejuvenated and re-tooled with significant consequences for East Asia’s strategic setting. This article provides a critical analysis of this process with two ends in mind. First, it provides a systematic overview of the changes, their sources and what they mean for the alliance partners and their security interests. It argues that the US-Japan alliance now has two distinct functions, one relating to regional stability and the other focusing on shared global strategic aims. The alliance is in good health, but its continued vitality will require careful management. Second, it assesses the regional consequences of this change and argues that while alliance enhancement has been intended to promote mutual and regional security there is reason to doubt whether the latter goal has been served through the enhancement process.


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pp. 73-98
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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