Asia Program

Events

The Japan-U.S. Joint Policy Forum 2009

October 21, 2009 // 3:00pm6:00pm

Speakers: William Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense; Yukio Satoh, Japan's former permanent representative to the United Nations; Shotaro Yachi, Japan's former vice minister of foreign affairs; Ken Jimbo, associate professor, Keio University; Robert Litwak, vice president for programs and director of security studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Charles Ferguson, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; Katsuhisa Furukawa, fellow at the Research Institute for Science and Technology for Society, Japan Science and Technology Agency; Tatsujiro Suzuki, visiting professor at Tokyo University; Barry Posen, Ford Professor of Security Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

On October 21 and 22, the Wilson Center and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation co-sponsored their inaugural Japan-U.S. Joint Policy Forum in Akasaka, Tokyo. On the first night, former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry and Ambassador Yukio Satoh, Japan's former permanent representative to the United Nations, gave the keynote speeches. Perry then joined a dialogue with Japan's former vice minister of foreign affairs, Shotaro Yachi, moderated by Ryuichi Teshima, formerly Washington bureau chief for the NHK, Japan's Broadcasting Corporation. Proceedings on the second day consisted of two panel discussions with a total of six scholars from the United States and Japan exchanging views and answering questions on issues related to disarmament and non-proliferation.

Secretary Perry was one of the four senior U.S. statesmen who in 2007 captured the attention of the world when they penned an article in the Wall Street Journal advocating the elimination of nuclear weapons, and his keynote speech outlined his reasons for advocating movement towards this goal. As a "certified card-carrying Cold Warrior" Perry believed that nuclear weapons served their purpose during the bipolar confrontation of the Cold War, but today, the threat of "loose nukes" in the hands of terrorist organizations make it ironically more likely that a nuclear weapon may be used in a major city. Perry insisted that careful disarmament negotiations between the nuclear powers, initially Russia and the United States and a strengthening of the non-proliferation regime, was the correct path to achieve the goal of zero nuclear weapons. He also stressed that nonproliferation is a goal that will take time to achieve.

In his keynote speech, Ambassador Satoh stressed that any drive towards disarmament must take into account regional concerns and the concerns of U.S. allies. Satoh highlighted China's recent military modernization and noted that the United States and Russia must act cautiously to ensure that China did not seize the opportunity to achieve nuclear parity while Russia and the United States disarmed. Also, Washington needed to reassure its allies that rely on U.S. nuclear deterrence that American security guarantees were still sound.

The first panel discussion on the second day took up the issue of the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence. Ken Jimbo, associate professor at Keio University argued that the United States needed to clarify potential responses to security threats in the Asia Pacific in order to reassure its allies in the region about its commitment to deterrence. Robert Litwak, vice president for programs and director of security studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, dealt with the issue of rogue states, noting that the United States needed to encourage behavior modification in such states, rather than stressing regime change, the approach taken in recent years. Charles Ferguson, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations reminded the audience that nuclear weapons are merely one method of deterrence, and that the United States has other weapons in its arsenal that can be used to deter enemies in lieu of nuclear weapons. All participants agreed that the United States needed to work closely with its allies to reassure them of the credibility of the U.S. deterrent.

The second discussion panel considered the topic of U.S.-Japan cooperation in disarmament efforts. Katsuhisa Furukawa, fellow at the Research Institute for Science and Technology for Society, Japan Science and Technology Agency, stressed that Tokyo needed to work closely with Washington to ensure that disarmament occurred at a pace that would not be destabilizing and that would allow U.S. allies like Japan to find alternatives to nuclear deterrence. Tatsujiro Suzuki, visiting professor at Tokyo University noted that Japan could strengthen the international non-proliferation regimes by both leading by example as a state that eschewed nuclear weapons but maintained a civilian nuclear power program, and by making concrete commitments to establish international systems to account for all fissile material. Barry Posen, Ford Professor of Security Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was more skeptical of the goal of a nuclear free world. Nevertheless, he noted that Japan had an important role to play as an actor that had significant financial leverage over potential proliferators such as Iran.

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