The U.S.-Japan Alliance and Taiwan

Key information

3:30 pm to 5:00 pm
SWLT, Paul Webley Wing, Senate House, SOAS

About this event

In April 2021, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden made global headlines when they jointly “underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”—the first such reference in a summit-level statement since both governments switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in the 1970s. Amidst a rapidly changing regional balance of power and with the Biden administration asserting that U.S. allies would “take action” if Beijing seeks “to use force to disrupt the status quo,” this talk will examine the historical evolution of Japanese perspectives on the U.S.-Japan security alliance’s and the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ (SDF) potential roles in a “Taiwan contingency.” Though Tokyo’s nuanced positions and policies are often neglected in the U.S.-centric academic literature and policy discourse, Japan is a critical front-line player. Its choices are today—and will inevitably remain—crucial variables affecting cross-strait deterrence, U.S. options, and how things may play out if deterrence fails.

“This talk will be based primarily on the speaker’s July 2022 article in the peer-reviewed journal Asia Policy:: The US-Japan Alliance and Taiwan (PDF)

Speaker's biography

Prof. Adam P. Liff (Indiana University)

Prof. Adam P. Liff is an Associate Professor of East Asian International Relations at Indiana University's Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, where he also serves as the Founding Director of the 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative and the founding organizer of the "East Asia and the World" Speaker Series. In addition to his role at Indiana University, he is a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and an Associate-in-Research at Harvard University's Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.

His research focuses on critical issues related to international security and contemporary foreign policy challenges in the Asia-Pacific, with a special emphasis on the politics and evolution of Japan's foreign (especially security) policy and the U.S.-Japan alliance, Japan-U.S.-China relations, and U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy. His current research projects include analyses of the post-Abe evolution of Japan's defense policy and the U.S.-Japan alliance, the past, present, and future of Japan-Taiwan relations, and Japan and other major U.S. treaty allies' positions and evolving policies regarding Taiwan.