RELEASE: U.S. and Japan Should Strengthen Their Alliance as 2021 Brings New Leadership to Both Countries, CAP Column Says

Washington, D.C. — As 2021 brings new leadership in both the United States and Japan, the two nations should strengthen their alliance to advance shared interests in Asia and beyond, according to a new column from the Center for American Progress.

The U.S.-Japan alliance remains a key pillar of America’s strategy in Asia, but it faces several key challenges, including the damaging legacy of the Trump administration. Japan suffered millions of dollars in economic damage as a result of President Donald Trump’s reckless trade war with China. President Trump also reportedly threatened to withdraw U.S. troops from Japan unless it agreed to increase payments by $8 billion—more than four times the current amount—for expenses to host American military forces. And his withdrawal of U.S. leadership from international agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal unnerved Japanese leaders.

“The U.S.-Japan alliance can play a key role in addressing some of the serious challenges the two countries face in Asia and beyond in 2021,” said Michael Fuchs, senior fellow at CAP. “They will need to get to work quickly to address China’s destabilizing behavior in Asia, North Korea’s growing stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, and other regional and global issues.”

While these actions undermined the alliance, the column outlines five priorities that can help make the U.S.-Japan alliance as effective as possible in advancing shared interests:

  • The United States and Japan should work together to bolster global health and the pandemic response.
  • The two nations must take bolder steps to address climate change such as scrapping their long-standing fossil fuel-centered energy partnership and creating a partnership to drive clean energy transformations.
  • The United States must clarify its China policy and consult with Japan when devising a new approach so the two allies can address the China challenge in a coordinated manner.
  • The United States and Japan must enhance the ability of regional bodies—such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—to address common problems and use those bodies to push back against China’s concerning behavior.
  • The United States, Japan, and South Korea should hold a high-level trilateral meeting to focus on North Korea and continue holding regular consultations to begin outlining a road map for diplomacy with North Korea.

Read the column: “5 Priorities for the U.S.-Japan Alliance in 2021” by Michael Fuchs and Haneul Lee.

For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at  or 202-478-6327.