Hugging and Hedging
Japanese Grand Strategy in the Twenty-First Century
NARUSHIGE MICHISHITA AND RICHARD J. SAMUELS
After decades of accepting US supremacy in Asia as the foundation of its foreign and security policies, finding the right distance between the United States and China is the most important strategic choice facing Japan today. “Getting it just right” with these two powers will require both military and economic readjustments. There is a great deal at stake in Tokyo’s recalculation. Japan, China, and the United States are, after all, the three largest economies in the world, together accounting for nearly 40 percent of global production. Each has a deep—and deepening—stake in the other two. The United States and Japan are China’s top two trade partners. The United States and China are Japan’s top two trade partners. And Japan and China are the top two US trade partners outside of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In security terms, the United States remains the world’s only hyperpower, but China’s rapid (if opaque) military modernization is shifting regional dynamics. For its part, Japan annually spends over $50 billion on defense, no trivial sum despite its self-imposed cap on spending at 1 percent of GDP. Japan has an impressive navy and air force and has openly debated possessing strike capabilities. Even the nuclear option reportedly has been discussed among members of the National Diet.1 In short, each of the three is a bona fide current or potential “great power”—namely, each has the ability to exert its economic, military, cultural, and diplomatic influence on a global scale in ways that could alter the regional and global balances.