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Asia Needs a Strong U.S.-Japan Alliance

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the United States this week highlights the potential of a new age of peace and prosperity in Asia. Under his leadership, Japan is revising its defense policies to become a more robust contributor to security in East Asia, working with partners to ensure that territorial disputes are resolved through the rule of law, and attempting to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. These goals are shared by the United States and should have our full support.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. From a starting point of bitter enemies dealing with the fallout from millions of deaths and immense destruction, the modern U.S.-Japan relationship has blossomed into one of America’s strongest alliances in the world.

Our alliance with Japan is key to a 21st-century Asia free and at peace. There are three pillars to an Asia policy for a new American century.

The first is ensuring that we maintain U.S. and allied defense capabilities that can resist the coercion or domination of Asia by an increasingly assertive and belligerent China. The second is an Asian-Pacific economy governed by free-market principles. And the third is the settling of disputes based on the rule of law, not usurpation of land, military expansionism and conflict. The U.S.-Japan alliance is at the center of all three pillars.

The third pillar of our Asia policy should be ensuring that territorial disputes are settled in accordance with the rule of law and backed up, where necessary, by U.S. security commitments to our allies. Japan has modeled this restrained approach in its handling of Chinese military incursions around the Senkaku Islands. The United States and Japan need to work together to create a free and peaceful Asia where disagreements are settled through diplomacy and law, with the democratic assent of the disputants, not through provocative and ultimately counterproductive actions to expand territorial claims.

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