This report was produced by a Georgetown graduate student rapporteur and represents a summary of the key insights and discussions from the event “Strategic Dialogue in the Asia-Pacific: China-Japan Relations,” held on November 17, 2020.
Strategic Dialogue in the Asia Pacific: China-Japan Relations
On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, the Asian Studies Program, in partnership with the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues, convened a small group of Japanese and American scholars to discuss the future of regional engagement with China. A select group of graduate students from the Master of Arts in Asian Studies program and graduate students from Japan also participated in this dialogue.
After a wide-ranging discussion, participants concluded that Tokyo and Washington are in sync with each other in acknowledging strategic priorities, interests, and challenges vis-à-vis China. But going forward, the question that Washington (under a new Biden administration) and Tokyo (under the Suga administration) should no longer overlook is what risks and tradeoffs both are willing to take in approaching strategic competition with Beijing. For the time being, this is likely to reach a new level of uncharted territory in the U.S.-Japan alliance, as these difficult conversations will need to become normalized. And as the Indo-Pacific region also transitions to rebuild a post-pandemic order, this will present an opportunity—and perhaps the responsibility—for middle powers and emerging economic powerhouses in the region such as South Korea, Australia, and India to strike a balance on the China challenge, with the United States and Japan taking the helm in leading this decades-long endeavor.