KeywordsGovernment and Political Science
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AbstractThe post-World War II U.S.-Japan alliance has long been an anchor of the U.S. security role in East Asia. The alliance facilitates the forward deployment of about 36,000 U.S. troops and other U.S. military assets in the Asia-Pacific, thereby undergirding U.S. national security strategy in the region. For Japan, the alliance and the U.S. nuclear umbrella provide maneuvering room in dealing with its neighbors, particularly China and North Korea. U.S.-Japan relations have been adjusting to the Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) landslide victory in the August 30, 2009, elections for the Lower House of Japan's legislature. With the resignation of the DPJ's first prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, the United States must now adjust to the leadership of Naoto Kan, the new premier. While most members of the left-of-center DPJ are broadly supportive of the U.S.-Japan alliance and the general thrust of Japanese foreign policy, in the past the party has questioned and/or voted against several features of the alliance, including base realignment and Japan's financial payments for U.S. forces stationed in Japan. The party has put forward a foreign policy vision that envisions "greater equality" in Japan's relations with the United States, in part through deeper engagement with Asia and a more United Nations oriented diplomacy. The DPJ's victory appears to mark the end of an era in Japan; it was the first time Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was voted out of office. The LDP had ruled Japan virtually uninterrupted since 1955. After the DPJ victory, bilateral tensions arose over the 2006 agreement to relocate the controversial Futenma Marine Air Station to a less densely populated location on Okinawa. The move is to be the first part of a planned realignment of U.S. forces in Asia, designed in part to reduce the footprint of U.S. forces on Okinawa by redeploying 8,000 U.S. Marines and their dependents to new facilities in Guam.
CRS Report for Congress.