On a recent trip to the Pacific, US Defense Secretary James Mattis reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to guard Japan against foreign threats. Both the US and Japan have interests in the South China Sea. Geopolitical expert George Friedman has written extensively about this shared interest in This Week in Geopolitics (subscribe here for free).
However, overlapping interests are not the same as identical interests. The US and Japan both want to protect sea lanes in the Pacific. But the motivations driving each country’s national strategy differ. Japan’s greater dependency on imports across sea lanes and proximity to China make events in the South China Sea a greater threat for Japan than the US.