Reconceptualising the Asia-Pacific Order: Japan’s Response to Strategic Uncertainties in the Era of Trump


Abstract


This article examines how the perceived US unreliability, especially under the Trump administration, is influencing the security policy behaviour of Japan – one of America’s core allies in the Asia-Pacific. By applying Kuik’s conceptualisation of hedging, the article explores Tokyo’s responses to two major strategic uncertainties in the Asia-Pacific. These are associated, on the one hand, with the sustainability of the US security commitments, and, on the other, with future Chinese intentions, especially in the realm of maritime security. The article also assesses the impact of uncertainties on Japan’s conceptualisation of Asia-Pacific strategic order in the Trump era. The article argues that the Trump-generated strategic uncertainties have intensified Japan’s long-standing concerns about the durability of America’s regional engagements thereby magnifying Japan’s China anxieties. This has stimulated Japan’s rethinking of Asia-Pacific strategic order. While Japan now appears to have reluctantly accepted the prospect of a diminished American role in the region, or of a ‘post-US’ regional order, it has steadily resisted to consider a more prominent Chinese role in the evolving order.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i20398573v4n1p153

Keywords: Strategic uncertainty; hedging; Japan; United States; China.

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