The Kishida Visit and U.S.-Japan Defense Relations: Creating a More Stable Asia?

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with President Biden in Washington, D.C. last Friday, January 13th. The joint statement issued by the two nations on that date carried further the overall strengthening of the U.S-Japan alliance and Japan’s security policies that have been underway for several years. This has included a significant unprecedented increase in Japanese defense spending, Tokyo’s decision to acquire counter-strike capabilities against China, and overall greater U.S.-Japan defense coordination and integration. Although clearly intended to counter-balance rising Chinese regional power and a nuclear-armed North Korea, these developments pose several critical questions for the future stability of Asia. Are Tokyo and Washington now entirely on the same page regarding the handling of China, or do they still differ in potentially major ways? What do the changes in the alliance and Japan’s defense posture portend for a possible future Taiwan conflict? Do these changes strike the right overall balance between deterring and reassuring Beijing regarding Taiwan and other potential regional hotspots? What additional developments, if any, regarding the US-Japan alliance should take place to create a more stable regional security environment? Join us in addressing these questions with Mike Mochizuki, Japan-US Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute; Yuki Tatsumi, Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the Japan Program at the Stimson Center; and Tobias Harris, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Michael Swaine, Senior Fellow at the Quincy Institute’s East Asia Program, will moderate.


Mike Mochizuki

Mike Mochizuki is the Japan-US Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute. He co-directs the “Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific” project of the Sigur Center. Professor Mochizuki was Associate Dean for Academic Programs at the Elliott School from 2010 to 2014 and Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies from 2001 to 2005. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. His recent books include Memory, Identity, and Commemorations of World War II: Anniversary Politics in Asia Pacific (co-editor and co-author, 2018); Energy Security in Asia and Eurasia (co-editor and co-author, 2017); Nuclear Debates in Asia: The Role of Geopolitics and Domestic Processes (co-editor and author, 2016); The Okinawa Question: Futenma, the US-Japan Alliance, and Regional Security (co-editor and author, 2013). He has published articles in such journals as The American Interest, Asia Pacific Review, Foreign Affairs, International Security, Japan Quarterly, Journal of Strategic Studies, Nonproliferation Review, Survival, and Washington Quarterly. He is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Allies and Rivals: the U.S.-Japan Alliance and the Rise of China.

Yuki Tatsumi

Yuki Tatsumi is a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the Japan Program at the Stimson Center. Before joining Stimson, Tatsumi worked as a research associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and as the special assistant for political affairs at the Embassy of Japan in Washington. Tatsumi’s most recent publications include Balancing Between Nuclear Deterrence and Disarmament: Views from the Next Generation (ed.; Stimson Center, 2018) Lost in Translation? U.S. Defense Innovation and Northeast Asia (Stimson Center, 2017). She is also the editor of four earlier volumes of the Views from the Next Generation series: Peacebuilding and Japan (Stimson Center, 2017), Japan as a Peace Enabler (Stimson Center, 2016), Japan’s Global Diplomacy (Stimson Center, 2015), and Japan’s Foreign Policy Challenges in East Asia (Stimson Center, 2014). She is a recipient of the 2009 Yasuhiro Nakasone Incentive Award. In 2012 she was awarded the Letter of Appreciation from the Ministry of National Policy of Japan for her contribution in advancing mutual understanding between the United States and Japan. A native of Tokyo, Tatsumi holds a B.A. in liberal arts from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan and an M.A. in international economics and Asian studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

Tobias Harris

Tobias Harris is Deputy Director and a Senior Fellow in the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He is an expert on Japanese politics and foreign policy, East Asian trade and security issues, and US Asia policy. His first book, The Iconoclast: Shinzō Abe And The New Japan, was published by Hurst in 2020. His articles have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, and the Nikkei Asia, and he regularly provides commentary for print and broadcast media worldwide. Prior to joining GMF, Tobias was senior fellow for Asia at the Center for American Progress, where he managed CAP’s coverage of Asia policy. From 2013 to 2021, he was a political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence, the political risk arm of Teneo, a strategic advisory firm, where he covered Japan and the Korean peninsula. From 2014 to 2020, he was also economy, trade, and business fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA. Tobias holds an M.Phil in international relations from the University of Cambridge, and he received his bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. He has conducted graduate research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in 2011-2012 he was a Fulbright scholar at the Institute for Social Science at the University of Tokyo.

Michael Swaine (Moderator)

Michael D. Swaine, a Senior Research Fellow at QI’s East Asia program, is one of the most prominent American scholars of Chinese security studies. He comes to QI from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he worked for nearly twenty years as a senior fellow specializing in Chinese defense and foreign policy, U.S.-China relations, and East Asian international relations. Swaine served as a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. Swaine has authored and edited more than a dozen books and monographs, including Remaining Aligned on the Challenges Facing Taiwan (with Ryo Sahashi; 2019), Conflict and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Strategic Net Assessment (with Nicholas Eberstadt et al; 2015) and many journal articles and book chapters. Swaine is directing, along with Iain Johnston of Harvard University, a multi-year crisis prevention project with Chinese partners. He also advises the U.S. government on Asian security issues. Swaine received his doctorate in government from Harvard University and his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University.