Japanese leaders have already begun internalizing key lessons from Ukraine. As shown in a triad (PDF) of strategic (PDF) documents (PDF) released last December, Tokyo is ramping up spending on munition stocks, maintenance, and base hardening and readiness, as well as making new investments across all domains. But despite this, Japanese officials are silent on whether they are preparing for a short conflict or a long one. This matters because, as the Ukrainian war demonstrates, a protracted struggle could require different plans from the ones Japan is possibly making.
Any conflict involving China and the United States is unlikely to be a short one. For Japan to participate effectively in any East China Sea conflict—even in its own defense—Japanese forces should take six key lessons from the current fight in Ukraine: prepare for a protracted conflict; ensure an adequate logistics posture; be ready for active combat; assist the broader fight; use unmanned capabilities; and sustain the will to fight. Addressing these issues can help Japan—and the alliance—become better prepared to rapidly respond in support of U.S. operational timelines.…
The remainder of this commentary is available at warontherocks.com.
Jeffrey W. Hornung is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and adjunct professor at Georgetown University.
This commentary originally appeared on War on the Rocks on June 21, 2023. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.