Such a provision was a good idea when Japan was politically, economically, and militarily weak, but it was justified by Japan's weakness. Today, Japan is
not weak. Japanese citizens must live with the reality that a foreign power can send military forces to Japan at will, without their having a say in the
matter. If we want the Japanese to assume the role of an equal partner, they must have greater input on what happens on their own soil.
* * *
Like Japan, the United States has benefitted greatly from the bilateral relationship. Changing times however have made the treaty a dangerous anachronism
for America. While the notion of defending Japan's Home Islands during the Cold War was clearly in the American interest, today the United States risks
being drawn into territorial disputes in which it has no clear national interest, with an ally unprepared for war.
The alliance shackles the United States to a total commitment of Japan's defense. This was appropriate when the primary adversary was the Soviet Union, and
to a lesser extent North Korea and China. Today, however, America risks conflict over longstanding territorial grievances in Asia. Japan has territorial
disputes with most of its neighbors, several of which are nuclear armed (China, Russia) and some, awkwardly, are key American allies (South Korea, Taiwan.)
One need look no farther than the current crisis over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands to see a situation where America might be dragged into a conflict. Very
few Americans see the Senkaku dispute as America's problem.
The alliance also risks drawing America into conflict alongside a Japanese ally that is unprepared to do its share of the fighting. Japan's self-defense
forces, while well equipped and trained, are crippled by a lack of offensive weapons and doctrine. Japanese forces know only the defense; offense-minded
American forces would be obliged to assume responsibility for the offense in any conflict. The idea of America counter-attacking China or some other Asian
country over a handful of tiny islands is ludicrous, but here we are.
There is also the issue of the fundamental unfairness of the alliance to the American people. Should America be compelled to defend Japan for an indefinite
period without reciprocity? Even Luxembourg is bound to defend American territory if the latter invokes Article 5 of the NATO charter. The inclusion of
Japan under the American nuclear umbrella adds to the uneasiness and raises the question: Is it fair to the American people to ask them to risk trading
Seattle for Shanghai because Japan believes itself too principled to own nuclear weapons?
After the Cold War, the alliance sputtered along until the rise of China made it the de facto potential adversary. The problem is, while it is
generally agreed that China is a potential adversary, it is not openly hostile to Japan and America to the extent that the Soviet Union and Maoist
China were. In fact, Chinese and Japanese strategic interests, particularly concerning trade and reliance on freedom of the seas, are often very similar.
China is Japan's number one trading partner, and Japan is China's third, after Hong Kong. The economies of both countries rely heavily on one another. Now,
what happens when the alliance views China through its outdated lens? China is not the Soviet Union. China is something new. An obsolete alliance and its
engendering strategic outlook cannot be allowed to drive Japanese or American strategy.