Fellow AI blogger and the chair of our editorial committee Francis Fukuyama has shared some thoughts on the unfolding situation in East Asia. He may be overestimating the fiscal limits on American power in the region—we still seem able to run up large bills on our credit cards—but his understanding of the crucial role of Japan is right on the money.
The American-led international system that emerged after World War II involved the outsourcing of German and Japanese sovereignty to other powers. In Germany’s case, it went to two multilateral organizations, the European Union and NATO, in which Germany remains firmly embedded. In Japan’s case, sovereignty was outsourced to the US alone under the Security Treaty. The persistence of the historical issues has prevented the emergence of a broader multilateral framework to act as a backstop to American power; yet this is exactly what is needed today. There is an opportunity to fill in the G-zero world with new structures not invented in Washington, but that will take leadership and foresight from Japan and Asia more broadly.
Read the whole thing. In the 1980s people used to talk about Japan almost the way they talk about China today—as the inexorably rising power that would shape the future of the world. These days, people sometimes make the opposite error and think about the rise of Asia without taking Japan into account. Frank gets it; Japan’s choices will do far more to shape Asia and the world than most foreign policy commentators understand.