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The United States and Japan have also launched negotiations for a free trade agreement.At the heart of tensions between China and Japan is a long-standing territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, a cluster of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.Despite lingering tensions, relations between Japan and China have stabilized in recent years. While the base provides some economic benefits, such as jobs, residents have repeatedly voiced concerns about accidents and violent crime. Abe, however, has insisted that the relocation happen soon, and some Marines could be transferred in the next few years.In late 2018, Abe traveled to Beijing for a state visit with President Xi Jinping, the first of its kind since 2011. Marines have been stationed in Okinawa Prefecture, which hosts a majority of the approximately fifty-four thousand U. The gang rape of a twelve-year-old girl in 1995 by U. service members galvanized eighty-five thousand residents to protest. Trump has called for allies around the world to shoulder more of the costs of partnerships with the United States, and Japan is no exception. In recent months, he has renewed calls for changes to the alliance, which he described as “unfair.” Determining how much Japan and the United States spend on the alliance is complicated, and there is no widely accepted balance sheet.Japanese leaders, including Abe, have refused talks with North Korea until the issue is resolved, though in 2019 Abe said he was considering a summit with leader Kim Jong-un. Since the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, during which the United States sent aircraft carriers to the region in response to Chinese missile tests, China’s rapid rise has been a top concern for the alliance. President Barack Obama’s administration announced a major strategic shift—the “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia—intended to strengthen military and economic ties with partners in the region, including Japan.In 2010, it surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy, and its growing defense budget and military modernization have prompted worries about its global ambitions. The move was widely seen as a response to China’s growing regional influence, but some experts say it did not do enough to curb Beijing’s assertiveness.At the time, the United States was keen on using the alliance to bolster its strategic presence in East Asia. In the 1970s, as the United States withdrew from Vietnam, Japan began to carve out a larger role within the alliance. The two allies undertook studies on interoperability and launched joint training and exercises.
The early 2000s marked a period of increased defense cooperation.Meanwhile, internal conflicts over issues such as U. military bases on Okinawa and cost-sharing have cast doubts over the long-running partnership.Signed in 1951 alongside the Treaty of San Francisco that formally ended World War II, the U.The two have also continued to work closely on developing ballistic-missile technology, with a 2019 U. Department of Defense report describing Japan as one of the United States’ “strongest missile defense partners” [PDF].“Abe’s efforts to boost Japan’s defense budget and revise its constitution not only show that his country is willing to do more in the alliance,” says Yuki Tatsumi, director of the Stimson Center’s Japan Program, “but it also makes Japan stronger on its own.” The threat from North Korea, which Japan has called its “most serious and pressing,” has exposed limitations [PDF] in the alliance dating back to the mid-1990s, when North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan and withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Against this security backdrop, Yoshida’s government created the Self-Defense Force (SDF) in 1954, despite strong domestic objections based on Article Nine of the postwar constitution, which eschews the maintenance of military forces or the use of those forces to settle international disputes. In 1967, Prime Minister Eisaku Sato established the Three Non-Nuclear Principles—no possession, production, or introduction—in part to allay concerns that the nuclear arms on U. bases in Japan would expose the country to attacks. S.-led coalition to expel Iraq from Kuwait, a force that had been authorized by the UN Security Council.