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Research Questions

  1. How can the United States best cooperate with Japan on improving cybersecurity?
  2. What is the best model for enhancing the health of the cyber ecosystem?
  3. Is there a threshold beyond which a cyberattack on an ally would occasion a kinetic response under the U.S.—Japan Mutual Security Treaty?
  4. What steps should the United States and Japan take to bolster Southeast Asian nations' defense capabilities?
  5. Why is Japan interested in playing a greater role in regional security affairs today, and what steps are available as it seeks to assist Southeast Asian states?
  6. How far can trilateral U.S.–Japan–Australia cooperation go?

Defending the U.S. and Japanese homelands, protecting and maintaining a safe and secure online environment, and ensuring that territorial and maritime disputes are resolved peacefully in an orderly process free from coercion represent some of the most important aims of the U.S.–Japan alliance. In 2015, Washington and Tokyo issued new defense guidelines to guide their security cooperation in support of these goals. The new guidelines expanded the areas of applicability of the alliance to include threats not limited to situations in areas surrounding Japan (SIAS-J), thus going beyond a limit that appeared in the 1997 U.S.–Japan Revised Defense Guidelines. The new guidelines also expand allied defense cooperation to include the increasingly important domains of space and cyberspace. To better understand the rapidly changing and deepening cooperation between the United States and Japan, as well as the prospects for the future evolution of their partnership (including with regional states in South and Southeast Asia, as well as Oceania), the RAND Corporation commissioned a series of papers by leading experts and hosted a two-day conference in Santa Monica, California, in March 2016. The findings of those efforts illuminate important options for continuing to tighten alliance cooperation and suggest prospective pathways forward as the two countries look to respond collectively to the rise of China, a more aggressive Russia, and an increasingly risk-acceptant and provocative North Korea.

Key Findings

Experts Shared Six Papers at the Conference

  • Chapter 2: Martin Libicki of RAND notes that Japan has significantly improved its commercial cybersecurity over the past decade and does not require substantial U.S. assistance. Intelligence cooperation should be multilateralized to provide information to all potential victims of cyberattack.
  • Chapter 3: Keio University's Motohiro Tsuchiya argues that balancing civil liberties concerns with the imperative of protecting vulnerable networks and critical infrastructure remains a task for the nation's political leaders.
  • Chapter 4: Yurie Ito, the executive director of CyberGreen, describes how her organization focuses on cybersecurity through the lens of public health. CyberGreen links computer emergency response teams in the Asia-Pacific together to provide insights on global cyber threats and develop metrics for the health of the cyber ecosystem.
  • Chapter 5: Roger Cliff of the Atlantic Council explores assistance and capacity-building options for the United States and Japan with respect to Southeast Asia, including counterterrorism, counterpiracy, and helping to ensure continued democratic development and security.
  • Chapter 6: Ken Jimbo of Keio University argues that enhancing the capabilities of regional militaries to resist coercion and demand the peaceful settlement of territorial disputes through international law should be the focus of Japan and the United States.
  • Chapter 7: Yuki Tatsumi of the Henry L. Stimson Center explores the growing bilateral and trilateral cooperation among the United States, Japan, and Australia. The three sides cooperate on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and joint defense industrial development appears set to take off.

This research was sponsored by the Government of Japan and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This report is part of the RAND conference proceeding series. RAND conference proceedings present a collection of papers delivered at a conference or a summary of the conference.

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