Convergence and Divergence: US and Japanese Strategic Perceptions


As the Biden Administration begins to grapple with foreign policy challenges in Asia, the Center for the National Interest has launched a project examining the underlying assumptions and performance of the US-Japan security alliance.  More than six decades after the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, Japan’s technologically advanced economy, democratic government, and hosting of 50,000 US soldiers make it America’s leading partner in crafting an effective Asia policy.  But the economic and military rise of China and other shifting regional dynamics pose new historic challenges to the alliance a generation after the end of the Cold War.  This raises basic questions about the utility and functionality of the US-Japan bargain.  

In the first of two panel events on this topic entitled, “Convergence and Divergence: US and Japanese Strategic Perceptions,” the Center for the National Interest hosted three experts from the US and Japan to discuss American and Japanese perceptions of their interests, Asian security challenges, and each other on February 8, 2021:

  • Mike Mochizuki holds the Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Dr. Mochizuki was director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies from 2001 to 2005. He co-directs the “Memory and Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific” research and policy project of the Sigur Center. Previously, he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was also Co-Director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Policy at RAND and has taught at the University of Southern California and Yale University. 
  • Yoshihide Soeya is Professor Emeritus of political science and international relations at the Faculty of Law of Keio University. He served as the Director of the Institute of East Asian Studies of the same university for six years until September 2013, and as the Director of its Center for Contemporary Korean Studies for five years until March 2016. Dr. Soeya was a Japan Scholar of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. from September 2013 to January 2014, and a Korea Foundation Fellow affiliated with the ASAN Institute in Seoul in March-May 2014.
  • Michael Auslin is the Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. A historian by training, he specializes in US policy in Asia and geopolitical issues in the Indo-Pacific region. He is the author of six books, including Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific and the best-selling The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region. Previously, he was an associate professor of history at Yale University, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo.

  • Paul Heer, a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for the National Interest and a former National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, moderated the discussion.