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Theater Missile Defense as China Policy:
A Japanese Strategy of Prudent Risk Management

Masahiro Matsumura

Associate Professor
St. Andrew's University

 

In the post-cold war geostrategic environment, Japan's national security establishment increasingly needs to fine-tune its responses in terms of three objectives: management of the U.S.-Japan alliance, strategy toward China, and non-nuclear policy. At this juncture, Japan's theater missile defense (TMD) must be seen as a major policy instrument whose application to national security policy would optimally combine these three strategic imperatives. This study focuses on TMD as a primary component of the stick against China, designed to send effective signals through power and influence based on strength, and proposes Japan's sequential execution of three TMD policy packages in response to scenarios of geostrategic evolution in Northeast Asia.

Analytically, this study first examines implications for Japan's TMD policy of the power struggle among the Chinese leaders, and prescribes specific responses so as to cope with the Chinese mainstream realists and the conservative hardliners or to encourage the progressive moderates. Next the study discusses Japan's bargaining strategy for specific terms and execution sequence in cooperating and coordinating TMD policies between the United States and Japan in the context of the bilateral politics of high-technology.

The policy proposed will take full advantage of TMD's defensive function without generating nuclear strategic instability.