Photo/IllutrationRichard Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state (Yuko Lanham)

  • Photo/Illustraion

WASHINGTON--Japan should increase defense spending beyond 1 percent of its gross domestic product to deal with the growing threats from China and North Korea, according to a report compiled by prominent foreign policy experts.

The report titled “More Important than Ever: Renewing the U.S.-Japan Alliance for the 21st Century” also warned that the policies and thinking of U.S. President Donald Trump could threaten the Japan-U.S. alliance.

The Center for Strategic & International Studies panel, co-chaired by Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye, released the report on Oct. 3.

Both Armitage and Nye have served in top positions in the U.S. State and Defense departments under Republican and Democratic administrations. They have also co-authored past reports on the state of Japan-U.S. relations and what was needed to improve ties.

The report touches on Trump’s “America First” policy and the doubts he has raised about the need for U.S. forward deployment of its military.

The report said such moves “pose a serious risk to the alliance.”

Referring to the Trump administration’s threats to raise tariffs on automobile imports from Japan, the report states, “While the United States and Japan debate 20th-century tariffs, the 21st-century threats to regional security--particularly from China and North Korea--are growing.”

The panel says it is still important for the United States and Japan to demonstrate strong leadership in Asia and around the world.

One of the report’s proposals to deepen the alliance is to increase the number of military bases in Japan jointly used by the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. military.

It also calls for the SDF and U.S. military to create a “combined joint task force for the western Pacific” to deal with China’s increased maritime advances in those waters. Such a task force would “focus on possible contingencies with China over Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the East China Sea,” the report suggested.

The report also proposes that for “gray zone situations” that have not yet reached a stage of major conflict, the SDF should consider early engagement by the U.S. military rather than trying to handle the situation by itself.

In dealing with the possible threat of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles from North Korea, the report calls for an increase in joint military training involving Japan, the United States and South Korea.

Trump has raised doubts about the need for U.S. military troops based in South Korea as well as joint training exercises. The report said the United States should not use “exercises, troop presence and missile defense” as bargaining chips in negotiations with North Korea.

Armitage and Nye released proposals related to the Japan-U.S. alliance in 2000, 2007 and 2012 that have played a role in changing Japanese policy, such as the revision of its long-held position of not exercising its right of collective self-defense.