"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] The Report of the Bush Administration on the Strategic Framework for the Asian Pacific Rim

[Date] April 19, 1990
[Source] Nichibei kankei shiryo-shu 1945-97, pp.1173-1185. A Strategic Framework for the Asian Pacific Rim: Looking toward the 21st Century: The President's Report on the U.S. Military Presence in East Asia (S. Hrg. 101-880) (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990).
[Full text]

A Strategic Framework for the Asian Pacific Rim: Looking Toward the 21st Century

The President's Report on the U.S. Military Presence in East Asia

Table of Contents





Regional Peacetime Objectives:

Regional Wartime Objectives:

Operational Mission Capabilities:


The Strategic Plan:

Managing the Cost Sharing Issue:



Cost Sharing:

U.S.-Republic of Korea Consultations:


U.S.-Japan Consultations:








The United States remains a Pacific power with wide-ranging interests in East Asia, a region whose global importance continues to grow each year. We have invested heavily in the region since the Second World War in political, military, and economic terms, assisting in the development of democratic, market-oriented governments. We have active mutual security agreements with Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia, and have established non-treaty security relationships with several other countries. Economically, the region has surpassed Europe as America's largest trading partner, and the margin of difference continues to grow (Fig. 1).

In fact, our success over the years, globally as well as in the Pacific Rim, has been a key contribution to the evolution of the new politico-military conditions that now require us to review our forward-based defense posture.

Within the East Asian and Pacific region, traditional threat perceptions are changing. In Asia, unlike NATO, a region-wide consensus has never existed about the threat posed by the Soviet Union or about other sources of regional instability. However, since our forward deployments have been most commonly justified as a deterrent to Soviet expansionism, our presence in the region is now seen as less relevant in light of domestic changes within the USSR and prospects for U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations. Moreover, nationalist sentiment is on the rise in a number of prosperous Asian nations. Leaders in these countries must contend with influential public opinion that views continued U.S. military presence on their soil as an affront to their sovereignty.

Clearly, important U.S. domestic considerations also must be taken into account. Significant reductions in the defense budget, generated by domestic perceptions of a diminished Soviet threat as well as by fiscal pressures, are probable. At the same time, it is appropriate to expect our prosperous Asian allies - Japan and Korea - to assume greater responsibility for their own defense and, by so doing, to contribute more directly to the stability of the region.

In response to the requirement contained in the FY 1990 Defense Authorization Act, this report discusses specific ways our Asian allies can increase their participation in regional stability and how we can reduce and restructure our military presence in East Asia. Using the specific questions raised in the legislation as a broad framework, this report outlines the rationale for a continued military presence in the Asia-Pacific region over the next decade.

Based on our national security objectives and our projections of regional conditions, we conclude that abrupt and major changes in our security posture would be destabilizing. Nonetheless, adjustments to our forward deployed force structure can and should be made to accommodate changing global, regional and domestic realities. The report lays out the parameters for force restructuring and reductions in the Asia-Pacific region over the next decade. Within these parameters, it will be the responsibility of the principal military commanders involved to organize their forces to accomplish the missions and objectives we identify.



The 1990's will be a decade of transition in the Asia-Pacific region. Political volatility and turbulence will characterize key countries - China, the Soviet Union, North Korea, Cambodia and the Philippines to name a few. Political uncertainties are exacerbated by the major changes in generational leadership that will occur, such as in China, North Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. Intensified economic competition within the region and with the United States will increasingly complicate security relationships. Moscow will undoubtedly be a more active player in the Asian diplomatic arena as it seeks to further mend ties with Beijing and obtain financial and technological aid from Japan and South Korea. Overall, for the United States, the decade will present opportunities, and important challenges: maintaining our security arrangements; meeting stiff technological and economic competition; containing Soviet influence; and managing, with fewer resources, the process of change.

The Soviet Union is conducting unilateral force reductions that should reduce Moscow's capability to conduct a limited ground offensive against the PRC, thereby mitigating an impediment to better relations. The U.S.S.R. is also clearly reducing its modest force posture in Southeast. Asia by withdrawing some aircraft and ships from Cam Ranh Bay. In the Soviet Far East Military District which fronts Japan, however, Soviet capabilities still appear to far exceed those needed for defense (Fig. 4). However, at least in the short term, Soviet modernization programs, particularly air and naval, ensure a continued threat to our interests, and allies, and forces in Northeast Asia.

Soviet preoccupation with events in Eastern Europe has not detracted from Soviet interest in Asia, as demonstrated by Premier Ryzhkov's February 1990 tour of the region. Moscow's attention amd{sic} initiative will most likely increase as Gorbachev's proposed 1991 visit to Japan approaches. The issue of the Northern Territories remains the single greatest obstacle to an improved Soviet-Japanese relationship.

The U.S.-Japan relationship remains the critical linchpin of our Asian security strategy. The relationship, however, could be further strained during the decade by persistent trade problems and charges of unfair competition. Japan will seek a greater role in international decision making, principally in the economic arena, but also on political issues in which Tokyo has special interests - particularly Asian issues. As Japan extends its regional economic influence, latent regional concerns may resurface. Increases in Japanese military strength undertaken to compensate for declining U.S. capabilities in the region could prove worrisome to regional nations, especially if they perceive Japan is acting independent of the U.S.-Japan security relationship.

The Korean Peninsula will remain one of the world's potential military flashpoints. The North has retained its reunification objectives, devoting an extraordinary percentage of its national wealth and maintaining a favorable military balance with over a million men under arms, at the expense of the welfare of its citizens (Fig. 5). It belligerently defies the international trend towards freedom and democracy witnessed elsewhere. North and South Korea will continue to engage in competing military modernization programs, with the Soviet Union remaining the primary source of sophisticated weaponry for Pyongyang. While Seoul is economically capable of matching Pyongyang's military buildup, the defense budget must now compete with other programs in South Korea's fledgling democracy. A decision by Pyongyang to pursue a nuclear weapons capability would be extremely destabilizing. Uncertainty surrounds the North Korean succession issue, which could increase the prospects for unpredictable behavior - including the use of military force. Despite these compelling reasons for continued concern, progress is possible toward either peaceful reunification or a reduction in tensions by implementing a series of confidence building measures.

Chinese political dynamics will likely be volatile as Deng Xiaoping passes from the scene

and various factions contend for control. While specific policies toward Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam will remain of concern throughout the decade, Beijing's strategy calls for a "peaceful international environment" and trade with market-oriented countries such as Japan and South Korea. However, some older generation leaders, more doctrinaire in outlook, appear willing to return to more isolationist policies of "self-reliance," especially now that orthodox ideology is once again dominant in Chinese decision making circles. Elements of the current leadership are also willing to retreat from reforms achieved over the past ten years to maintain internal control.

In Southeast Asia, the outlook for continued growth and stability is generally good, with some notable exceptions. A lasting resolution to the Cambodian problem continues to be problematic. Vietnam has instituted significant economic reforms, but not political reforms, and is in the midst of major generational leadership changes of uncertain outcome. While it is making active efforts to strengthen its ties to non-communist governments, it is unclear whether Hanoi is abandoning its longstanding goal of enforcing hegemony over Indochina.

Other longstanding regional problems with destabilizing potential persist. Unresolved territorial issues include the Spratly and Paracel Islands and Taiwan. Racial and ethnic tensions in multi-racial nations could warrant extra-regional attention. Historical enmity between various Asian states will remain a factor in the development of intra-regional relations. Growing prominence of new regional powers, such as India, is leading to regional anxiety. Proliferation of modern weaponry and missile technology could turn minor disputes into conflicts of major concern. Destabilizing arms sales and technology transfer, both to and from the region, will continue. Finally, illegal narcotics trafficking will pose a major problem.


Despite the decade of change that we foresee, our regional interests in Asia will remain similar to those we have pursued in the past: protecting the United States from attack; supporting our global deterrence policy; preserving our political and economic access; maintaining the balance of power to prevent the rise of any regional hegemony; strengthening the Western orientation of the Asian nations; fostering the growth of democracy and human rights; deterring nuclear proliferation; and ensuring freedom of navigation. The principal elements of our Asian strategy - forward deployed forces, overseas bases, and bilateral security arrangements - will remain valid and essential to maintaining regional stability, deterring aggression, and preserving U.S. interests.

We do not bear this role and retain these forward forces only because we are concerned over the vacuum which would be created if we were no longer there, although that is a source of concern. Nor are we merely motivated by altruism. Simply, we must play this role because our military presence sets the stage for our economic involvement in this region. With a total two-way transPacific trade exceeding 300 billion dollars annually, 50 percent more than our transAtlantic trade, it is in our own best interest to help preserve peace and stability.

In the changing global and regional environment of the 1990's, superpower confrontation should diminish. In Asia, which has always been an economy of force theater for U.S. military operations (Fig. 6), the size, disposition, and rationale for our forward deployed forces will be increasingly scrutinized. Nevertheless, in spite of a real and/or perceived reduction of the Soviet threat, what has previously been a traditional aspect of our military presence in the region - the role of regional balancer, honest broker, and ultimate security guarantor - will assume greater relative importance to stability. Over the next decade, as a new global order takes shape, our forward presence will continue to be the region's irreplaceable balancing wheel.

No other power is currently able or acceptable to play such a role, and a U.S. reluctance to continue in this role would be inherently destabilizing. A diminution of U.S. commitment to regional stability, whether perceived or real, would create a security vacuum that other major players would be tempted or compelled to fill. Such a scenario would likely produce a regional arms race and a climate of confrontation. Our policies - political, economic, and military - should evolve to avoid such a possibility and to support our unique and central stabilizing role.

Throughout the Pacific, our security presence moderates the actions of second-tier states with expansionist regional aspirations. By concentrating on the stabilizing aspects of our regional presence, we not only legitimize that presence, but also provide a rationale for increased cost sharing contributions to regional security by our friends/allies. This, in turn, helps temper traditional suspicions and friction between regional parties.

While our presence cannot guarantee the absence of conflict in the region, it can work to localize and minimize hostilities while providing us necessary diplomatic leverage for conflict resolution. In the regional milieu of the 1990's, this is a U.S. military role which will be understood, endorsed, and supported by virtually all the major regional players.

A changing regional security environment, however, requires us to fine tune our security objectives, both regionally and bilaterally. We will need to restructure our Asian-based forces to fit more accurately the most likely security contingencies of the 1990's.



Given these national interests and security objectives, it is essential to position ourselves now to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our goals in the next decade must be to deal with the realities of constrained defense budgets and a changing threat environment while maintaining our resolve to meet American commitments. In this context, we believe that our forward presence in the Asia-Pacific region will remain critical to deterring war, supporting our regional and bilateral objectives, and performing our military missions. The volatility and uniqueness of the East Asian environment - where the strategic changes in Europe are not mirrored - combined with existing U.S. economy of force, make major force reductions in the Pacific unwise. The 6.3 percent of our total force forward deployed in the Pacific: ensures a rapid and flexible response capability; enables significant economy of force by reducing the number of U.S. units required and allowing allies to share in defense costs; provides an effective logistics base; and demonstrates to our allies and potential enemies a visible U.S. commitment. Consequently, deployment patterns of our forces should remain much as they are.

However we elect to retain our forward deployed presence, U.S. nuclear umbrella will remain a critical element. In large measure, it has been our nuclear commitment that has slowed nuclear proliferation in the area. Movement away from this commitment would have disastrous effects and could destabilize the entire region.

The Strategic Plan:

A continued, substantial air and naval presence in East Asia is required, but measured reductions of ground and some air forces in Korea, Japan and the Philippines can take place. In the Republic of Korea, while not acting precipitously, and always taking into account the military balance on the peninsula, we will begin to draw down ground presence and modify command structures so as to transition from a leading to a supporting role for U.S. forces. In addition to ground force restructuring, some reduction in our Air Force presence may also be in order, as ROK Air Force capabilities improve. Regardless of the scope of our force reductions, we will continue to encourage the Koreans to increase their defense spending - not only to compensate for our reductions, but also to increase their contribution to the cost of our remaining in-country presence.

In Japan, beyond some personnel reductions, we envision little change in current deployment patterns - particularly our forces based at Misawa which serve as a deterrent against the Soviet Union; our key logistics hub at Yokota Air Base which supports global and regional contingencies; and our naval facilities at Yokosuka which possess the best naval repair facilities in the western Pacific and act as a naval force multiplier. However, we will continue to press for Japanese force improvements designed to meet our agreed roles and missions concepts, and increased cost sharing.

In Southeast Asia, our projections are clouded by a variety of uncertainties, including the outcome of the Philippine base negotiations, the unsettled Cambodian situation, and the economic and political growth of the ASEAN countries. We will attempt to retain our basing rights in the Philippines, recognizing that our prospects are uncertain. Prudence requires us to explore alternative arrangements - redeployment to U.S. bases elsewhere in Asia and the Pacific, complemented by expanded access agreements such as those we are currently pursuing with Singapore. While such expanded access arrangements do not offer as much capability as permanent bases, they could advance the objectives of spreading the burden of defense cooperation and ensuring our continued presence in the region.

As we look to the future, it is clear that the best approach will require a combination of caution and innovation in order to adjust to regional changes while preserving the required degree of U.S. presence. We believe that a phased approach, capable of responding to global and regional reactions, is the soundest means of accomplishing our strategy. The plan outlined below is designed to meet rapidly changing strategic circumstances, the concerns of friends and allies, and budget realities. Accordingly, a U.S. national security review process will be conducted at the end of each phase to determine how best to proceed with the following phase. Country-specific objectives and force adjustments are outlined in succeeding sections; but in broad terms, we envision the following:

PHASE I - 1-3 YEARS: Thin out the existing force structure and begin rearranging security relationships

- Over the next three years, the Department of Defense will, in a balanced and measured way, restructure and reduce its forces in the region without jeopardizing its ability to meet its security commitments. Adjustments in our combat forces will be minimal. As an interim goal, our overall force total of 135,000 forward deployed in Asia will be reduced by 14,000 to 15,000 personnel.

PHASE II - 3-5 YEARS: Reduce and reorganize the force structure

- During this phase, proportionally greater reductions in combat forces will be undertaken incrementally to ensure that potential adversaries do not misread our deterrent capability and intentions.

PHASE III - 5-10 YEARS: Further reduce forces and stabilize at a somewhat lower level as circumstances permit

- Continue modest cuts beyond Phase II reductions, as appropriate given existing circumstances.

This general strategy should remain flexible so that it can be modified according to regional responses, particularly from nations where we presently maintain forward deployed forces. Since the vast bulk of these forces in Asia are located in Northeast Asia where the greatest threat exists (North Korea and the USSR), and our security relationships with Korea and Japan are the most complex, we must pay special attention to the nature and timing of changes that we propose there.

Managing the Cost Sharing Issue:

In the area of cost sharing, we expect increasing assistance from our allies. Increased cost sharing is attainable if we proceed on a steady upward slope with phased goals. The best chance of success in obtaining sizable increases is with proposals made with a definite rationale that can be argued logically in the capitals of those allies, primarily Japan and the Republic of Korea, who are in the best economic position to assume additional responsibilities and increase the share of defense costs they bear.

We must avoid the temptation to "decree" that certain levels of Gross National Product or other specific criteria are a "fair share" of the defense cost sharing. Arithmetic formulas for increases based solely on the premise that there are significant trade imbalances or simply that a specific ally "should do more because it has the money" will likely be met with stiff resistance because such approaches can be viewed as challenges to national sovereignty. It will be more productive to demonstrate a clear need and appeal to our allies' sense of national responsibility. A clear definition of the relative roles and missions assured by the United States and particular allies has proven most productive in the past and has the greatest prospect for success over the next decade.

We will work closely with the allies to identify increased responsibilities that can be assumed from the U.S. A key way for the allies to do more is to accept greater responsibility for combined operations, thereby reducing the requirement for part of the U.S. infrastructure associated with the performance of these responsibilities. The Koreans, for example, have already agreed to increase their responsibility in international bodies associated with maintaining the truce, and the Japanese have agreed to provide the U.S. increased space in selected control centers to increase interoperability of the two nations' forces.

Having identified areas where the allies can participate more fully in their own defense, we must work closely with them to ensure they develop the force structure necessary to support their increased role. Since major changes in military forces and increased acquisition of hardware are not achieved overnight, we must be patient yet continue to encourage them to improve their capabilities.

In the interim, both Japan and South Korea can contribute more financially to ease the U.S. burden for mutual defense. We will continue to work with the Japanese and Koreans to pursue specific areas for increased cost sharing. We are also seeking increased commitments from the Japanese for greater contributions to costs involved in maintaining a U.S. forward presence in Japan. Additional initiatives are outlined in the country-specific discussions below.




It is in the U.S. interest to maintain a forward deployed presence in Japan over the longterm for two reasons: the geostrategic location of bases and the cost effectiveness of our presence compared to anywhere else.

While leaving the exact nature of our force structure to the military commanders, in general we see a continued, substantial air and naval presence in Japan, but with possibly measured reductions of ground and some support air forces, particularly in Okinawa. On mainland Japan, we envision little change in current deployment patterns. We will maintain USAF forces at Misawa and a forward-deployed carrier at Yokosuka. We will rationalize use of our bases and facilities on Okinawa with the aim of returning property to improve civil-military relations.

Nevertheless, over the next decade our bilateral relationship will continue to be buffeted by trade disputes, a stubborn trade deficit and fears over the loss of technological competitiveness. Additionally, domestic political constituencies in Japan will continue to challenge the need for and merits of the U.S.-Japan security relationship. Moreover, from the U.S. side, there will be considerable domestic pressure to reduce U.S. presence in Japan unless Japan funds this presence to the maximum appropriate extent.

Key elements of our strategy in Japan are to:

- reduce as possible our force level in Japan while maintaining essential bases which enable us to provide regional stability and deterrence in Northeast Asia;

- continue to encourage Japan to increase its territorial defense capabilities and enhance its ability to defend its sea lanes out to a distance of 1,000 nautical miles, while at the same time discouraging any destabilizing development of a power projection capability;

- engage Japan even more closely in our political efforts with Western allies to maintain stability in key regions of the world, while encouraging Japan's support for regional adjustments, including increased financial support of U.S. forces operating from Japan;

- stress the importance of maintaining interoperability in our military weapons systems by encouraging maximum procurement from the U.S., increasing technology flowback, and discouraging the development of non-complementary systems; and

- increase political-military dialogue and revitalize the security consultative process.

Phase I-1 to 3 Years:

Based upon decisions made by the Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC) on how he wishes to configure his forces, we will reduce the level of our military presence in Japan in an incremental way while seeking increased Japanese support for our remaining forces.

Specific actions include:

- personnel reductions of about some 5,000-6,000, including possible reductions in Okinawa;

- the return to the GOJ of excess facilities, particularly those in Okinawa, through already established procedures.

Phase II-3 to 5 Years:

Contingent upon our allies assuming more responsibilities, and the preservation of regional stability, we will pursue additional efficiencies and reductions.

The Japan Self-Defense Force will be encouraged to improve the quality, but not necessarily quantity, of its force structure through the procurement of advanced weapons systems, improved sustainability, and improved command and control and logistics infrastructure.

Phase III-5 to 10 Years:

Depending upon the state of East-West relations, we could begin to make further reductions in our force presence. U.S. deterrent capabilities in Japan - a homeported aircraft carrier, strategic lift aircraft, and postured Air Force strike assets - will remain to fulfill our regional and global missions and to honor our treaty commitments.

U.S.-Janan{sic} Consultations:

Since U.S. forces in Japan have a regional mission in addition to aiding the defense of Japan, it is extremely difficult to identify the direct costs associated with only the defense of Japan. Japan's contribution has continued to increase over the years (Fig. 7). Because Tokyo now pays approximately 35 to 40 percent of the total costs associated with the U.S. presence in Japan, the case could be made that Tokyo is already paying the direct cost of deploying U.S. forces for its defense. However, because Japan accrues significant benefits from U.S. security efforts regionally and, to a great extent, globally, it is appropriate for the U.S. to seek additional cost sharing.

During Secretary Cheney's February 1990 trip, the GOJ acknowledged its need to do more toward assuming increased host nation support. It is difficult, however, to predict the means and timetable.

During Secretary Cheney's trip, Tokyo expressed appreciation for our close consultations to date. Japan views its security as being guaranteed by U.S. naval forces and Korean security as guaranteed by U.S. ground forces. Marked changes to these forces will impact on Japanese psychology.

A near-term reduction of some 5,000-6,000 personnel in U.S. Forces, Japan is acceptable to Tokyo if the bulk of the cuts are ground or other support units.

Efforts to consolidate facilities and areas on Okinawa are proceeding through the bilateral Facilities Adjustment Panel (FAP) process. The FAP has identified all areas of concern and the U.S. and Japan are acting to resolve them as quickly as possible. Although U.S. forces in Okinawa have the strong support of the national government in Tokyo, local political pressures are taken into consideration by the FAP.