A key pillar of US diplomacy in Asia is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Under the Trump administration, this alliance was largely neglected; in fact, a formal US ambassador to ASEAN was never confirmed. However, re-establishing strong links with ASEAN countries will be crucial for the continued presence of the US in Asia; this includes ties with Japan.
However, since the past two decades, with the advent of a rising China and the increasingly securitized world, the political discourse in Japan with regards to its role in this new world has been increasingly contested, at times by highly opposite perspectives, on the nature of security and defence of modern Japan. Two recent strategic challenges underpin this highly contestable debate within Japan: China’s rise and the wavering of the American commitment to protect Japan from external belligerence in Trump’s era.