Opportunities and Challenges in the U.S.-Japan Alliance

NBR and the U.S.-Japan Research Institute (USJI) convened a discussion on “Opportunities and Challenges in the U.S.-Japan Alliance” on September 3, 2014, in Washington, D.C. This event was part of USJI’s “USJI Week” and featured insights from senior security and international relations experts, including Michael J. Green, (Center for Strategic and International Studies; Georgetown University), Hiroshi Nakanishi (Kyoto University), and Abraham M. Denmark (NBR). The discussion examined the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S.-Japan alliance and identify the steps policymakers in Tokyo and Washington should take to further strengthen this essential relationship.

Featured Speakers

Michael J. Green, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University

Hiroshi Nakanishi, Kyoto University

Abraham M. Denmark, The National Bureau of Asian Research

Speaker Bios

Michael J. Green, is senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and an associate professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He served on the staff of the National Security Council (NSC) from 2001 through 2005, first as director for Asian affairs, with responsibility for Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, and then as special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director for Asia, with responsibility for East Asia and South Asia. Before joining the NSC staff, he was senior fellow for East Asian security at the Council on Foreign Relations, director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center and the Foreign Policy Institute, and an assistant professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses, and senior adviser on Asia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He also worked in Japan on the staff of a member of the National Diet.

Dr. Green is also currently a nonresident fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, and a distinguished scholar at the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation in Tokyo. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Strategy Group, the America Australia Leadership Dialogue, the advisory board of the Center for a New American Security, and the editorial boards of the Washington Quarterly and the Journal of Unification Studies in Korea. He is also an associate of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Dr. Green has authored numerous books and articles on East Asian security. His current research includes a book project on the history of U.S. strategy in Asia; a survey of elite views of norms, power, and regional institutions in Asia; and a monograph on Japanese strategic culture. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from SAIS and did additional graduate and postgraduate research at Tokyo University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Kenyon College with highest honors. He holds a black belt in Iaido (sword) and has won international prizes on the great highland bagpipe.

Hiroshi Nakanishi received MA from Kyoto University in political science and studied in the doctor course of the History Department at the University of Chicago. In 1991 he became associate professor in Kyoto University and professor in 2002. His major interests are historical development of theories on international order and system, international history of the 20th century and historical development and current practices of Japanese foreign and security policy. His major publications include: Kokusaiseiji-toha Nanika (Chuokoronshinsha, 2003, Yomiuri-Yoshino Sakuzo prize winner), Rekishi-no Shikkoku-wo Koete- Nicchukankeishi-no Shin Shiten (2010, co-edited with Michihiko Kobayashi) and Kokusaiseijigaku (Yuhikaku, 2013, co-authored with Atushi Ishida and Masayuki Tadokoro).

Abraham M. Denmark is Vice President for Political and Security Affairs at NBR. Mr. Denmark has significant experience both inside and outside government. He previously worked as a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and served in the Pentagon as Country Director for China Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mr. Denmark is widely published, having authored several book chapters and reports on U.S. strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region and the global commons. He has been featured in major media outlets in the United States and Asia, including NPR, the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, Time, and the New York Times.

Mr. Denmark also serves as Senior Advisor at the CNA Corporation and is on the Advisory Council of the Emerging Science and Technology Policy Centre. He is a member of the National Committee on United States–China Relations, the U.S. Naval Institute, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He has received several awards and was named a 21st Century Leader by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. Mr. Denmark holds an MA in International Security from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and received a BA in History with Honors from the University of Northern Colorado. He has also studied at China’s Foreign Affairs University and Peking University.

Background on the Issues

Since becoming Prime Minister, Abe Shinzo has sought to lead Japan in a major effort to reform Japan’s approach to national security and to demonstrate a renewed commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance. Yet uncertainties over impending revisions to the U.S.-Japan defense guidelines, Japan’s ability to develop and implement a legal framework to enable collective self-defense, the ultimate success of Abe’s economic reforms, and Japan’s ability to complete negotiations on TPP remain potential impediments to Abe’s ambitions.


U.S.-Japan Research Institute (USJI)