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Japan Deepens Defense Cooperation With US

Rising concern about China’s foreign policy plans continues to reshape the political geometry in Asia.  Japan’s announcement that it is reducing limits on arms exports is yet another sign that Japan is moving toward a more assertive regional role in closer cooperation with the US.

Japan has been steadily if cautiously raising its defense and political profile in Asia in response to what it sees as China’s rising threat.  For the new generation of Asian leaders outside China, Japan’s World War Two role is fading rapidly into the distant past. The rise of China makes Japan seems less threatening to many countries in the region who once worried that Tokyo would seek to re-establish regional dominance.  Today, Japan looks more like a benign and defensive ally and a check on China than like a threat on its own.

The rise of China is paradoxically unleashing Japan to play a wider regional role — even as concern about that rise drives Japan toward closer cooperation with the US.  The balance of power in Asia looks increasingly secure.

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