TOKYO | A nervous Japanese government is trying to figure out how American security policies will change under a Donald Trump administration.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to meet with Mr. Trump Nov. 17 in New York in a bid to undo some recent political fallout. In September Mr. Abe met with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but pointedly did not meet with Mr. Trump.
After the surprise result, the Japanese Foreign Ministry has been scrambling to make amends with Mr. Trump, who will soon be in charge of Tokyo’s most important ally and security patron.
During the campaign, the New York real estate mogul ran on a foreign policy of “America First,” based on economic nationalism. He was critical of Japan and other allies for not doing enough to pay for U.S. security.
“We need to ensure that foreign markets in Japan and France and Germany and Saudi Arabia are as open to our products as our country is to theirs,” he said in one campaign speech.
A transition team official said Mr. Trump regards U.S.-Japan relations as strategically important. But Mr. Trump will also seek to have Tokyo pay more to support the alliance. Japan provides around $1.8 billion annually to support 54,000 U.S. military personnel located at 85 facilities in Japan.
Tokyo is paying nearly $20 billion more to rebuild military facilities and help move Marines to Guam.
The Pentagon pays more than $5 billion annually for its forces in Japan, but a Defense Department official could not provide an estimate of the overall U.S. costs of defending Japan. The costs are difficult to gauge because they are spread out among the services, like the Japan-headquartered 7th Fleet, that provide security for more than just Japan.
Additionally, Mr. Trump’s plans for a major U.S. military buildup, starting with an additional $500 billion added to defense spending, will indirectly help Japan’s defense, the transition official said.
Mr. Trump’s transition website also said modernizing the aging U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal will be a major priority of his administration.
Japan’s government, faced with several North Korean nuclear tests and long-range missile development, has grown leery of U.S. nuclear security guarantees and is said by Pentagon officials to be quietly considering its own future nuclear arsenal. Publicly, Mr. Abe and other Japanese officials say they reject the nuclear weapons option.
Robert D. Eldridge, a Japan-based expert and former defense official, said Tokyo appears divided on Mr. Trump’s demands.
Conservatives were excited that the prospect of cuts in U.S. support or the closing of bases might spur Japan to develop greater military capabilities and more independent defense policies. Japan leftists view Mr. Trump’s demands as an opportunity to push Tokyo to oust U.S. military forces and bases, especially on the island of Okinawa.
Mr. Eldridge, a political adviser to U.S. Marines on Okinawa from 2009 to 2015, says that even though Japan is contributing billions of dollars to the defense bill, the U.S. security envelope is extremely valuable and is not reflected fully in Tokyo’s costs.
“How do you put a price on a Marine corporal who is willing to give his life to defend Japan?” Mr. Eldridge said. “All costs are not reflected in what is paid. Japan is actually paying so little for the greatest military in the world.”
Mr. Abe, one of Japan’s longest-serving prime ministers, is said to be looking at other ways to reduce U.S. costs by consolidating bases and other cost-cutting measures, he said. The Financial Times reported Monday that Japanese officials were contacting former U.S. officials in Washington in a bid to identify Mr. Trump’s Japan advisers.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a key Trump national security adviser, visited Japan in October. An adviser to Mr. Trump said Wednesday that the president-elect would reaffirm the bilateral alliance in his meeting with Mr. Abe, despite the campaign rhetoric, according to the Reuters news agency. One Japanese specialist on U.S. relations said the two men may even be able to generate some “good chemistry.”
“Both tend to decide and act based on intuition,” Takushoku University Professor Takashi Kawakami told the news service, “and both are pragmatists who put their countries’ interests first.”
Securing ‘The Internet of Things’
The Department of Homeland Security issued a report this week outlining ways the Internet of Things can be made more secure.
The Internet of Things, or IoT, includes millions of networked devices ranging from video cameras to television digital video recorders all connected to the internet. Unlike computers and handheld devices, most IoT devices lack security and can be easily hacked.
Evidence surfaced last month of a major IoT hack of the domain name service company Dyn, which suffered a multiple-wave cyberattack that temporarily shut down its servers during a massive denial-of-service attack through the IoT. Scores of major companies were affected by the disruption. Computer security experts say unknown hackers used a network of hijacked devices in automated attacks involving possibly hundreds of thousands of devices.
“Network-connected devices are becoming ubiquitous and even essential to many aspects of day-to-day life, from fitness trackers to pacemakers to cars to the control systems that deliver clean water and power to our homes,” the DHS said in a report outlining steps to take to secure remote devices. “While the benefits of the IoT are undeniable, so too is the reality that security is not keeping up with the pace of innovation.”
The department added: “Our nation cannot afford a generation of IoT devices deployed with little consideration for security. The consequences are too high given the potential for harm to our critical infrastructure, our personal privacy and our economy.”
Report hits Obama’s Asia pivot
President Obama’s signature policy toward the Asia, the Indian and Pacific oceans, known as the Asia rebalance, is coming under fire from a bipartisan congressional China commission.
The annual report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, published Wednesday, said the initiative lacked financial support and marked a tactical but not strategic shift in policy.
The report says the Obama administration heavily weighted its security rebalance effort to diplomatic and trade elements, like the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, as a key element of the rebalance. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to reject U.S. participation in the TPP as unfairly impacting the American economy.
“U.S. government statements have tied the rebalance strategy to the upholding of the ‘liberal, rules-based international order’ in the Asia-Pacific, viewing the preservation of this order as broadly aligning with U.S. interests,” the report states. “It represents a tactical adjustment rather than a strategic shift in U.S. policy, seeking to maintain U.S. commitments to the region in an area of new challenges to these interests.”
The report says China has expressed a “deeply negative perception overall” to the rebalance. The rebalance at one time was called the Asia “pivot.”
“China has also expressed support for alternative regional security and economic frameworks, pursued coercive actions against neighboring countries in violation of its international commitments, and sought to promote its own free trade agreements (FTAs) since the rebalance began,” the report says.
The rebalance calls for moving 60 percent of American naval forces to Asia by 2020, a process that began under the George W. Bush administration. The most modern systems are being dispatched to the region, including the new Ford-class aircraft carrier, a Virginia-class attack submarine, Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers, Aegis battle management-equipped warships, the littoral combat ship, B-2 bombers, F-22 and F-35 fighters and torpedo-armed P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.
Other elements include bolstering forces on the Pacific island of Guam, where 5,000 Marines from Japan will be redeployed, and where the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile systems is based. B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers also have been rotationally based there.
Also, a second Amphibious Ready Group of three ships and 2,500 Marines will be deployed in Japan by 2019.
Under the rebalance, the Obama administration has expanded deployments, access, security assistance and military engagement in the Asia-Pacific and worked to transform traditional bilateral alliance-based approaches to security into a regional security network, the report said.
Criticism of the administration’s defense budget cuts for undermining the rebalance were cut out of a late draft and not included in the final report.
The draft report said, “Competing global priorities, defense budget cuts and budget uncertainty beyond the current two-year agreement have undermined full realization of the [rebalance] strategy’s security component.”
The final report called for the Navy to conduct more frequent freedom-of-navigation operations in the region to challenge Chinese maritime territorial claims to international waters.
After a period of several years when the Navy did not conduct a single naval passage near disputed islands in the South China Sea, the Navy resumed the sail-bys last year. Only three have been done in the past two years, however.
• Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter at @BillGertz.
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