The U.S.-Japan-ROK Strategic Triangle and Maritime Security

Building Capacity in Northeast Asia and in the Broader Indo-Pacific Region

A Trilateral Dialogue Workshop

June 12, 2015

Washington, D.C.

As a key element of its research project, "The U.S.-Japan-ROK Strategic Triangle and Maritime Security: Building Capacity in Northeast Asia and in the Broader Indo-Pacific Region," IFPA convened a high-level trilateral workshop in Washington, D.C., on June 12, 2015. Held at the offices of and in cooperation with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the meeting drew together some fifty senior officials and subject matter experts from the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, including U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Ambassador David Shear, Japanese Vice Minister of Defense for International Affairs Hideshi Tokuchi, and ROK Ambassador for National Security Affairs Dr. Chung Min Lee. Click on the links to the right for a full list of attendees and an annotated agenda.

Workshop presentations and discussions focused on the current status of U.S.-Japan-ROK trilateral relations and the likelihood that maritime cooperation could help move it forward; the approach of all three countries to a range of plausible crisis scenarios (such as a flood of refugees at sea) in the Northeast Asian maritime zone; the degree to which the three allies share convergent (if not common) views regarding Chinese maritime pressure in the East and South China Seas (including Beijing’s extensive land reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands); their various responses to China’s emergence as a maritime power of consequence in the Indo-Pacific region as a whole; the extent to which Japan and the ROK are likely and able to coordinate more fully with United States (and each other) on out-of-area maritime security missions well beyond Northeast Asia; and, in this specific context, the opportunities that exist for Tokyo, Seoul, and Washington to work more closely together in building up the maritime capabilities of key countries in South and Southeast Asia as a way to improve coastal security, reduce the risks of miscalculation among regional rivals, and enhance maritime domain awareness along critical sea lines of communication. Workshop participants also discussed the possibility that trilateral cooperation on maritime security might open the door to closer cooperation in other security sectors (such as cyber security, missile defense, and the use of space) where the potential benefits of such collaboration appear quite high. In a similar vein, they considered as well how successful cooperation at the trilateral level could contribute to more serious efforts at wider multilateral cooperation on security issues in the Asia-Pacific, helping to build over time a regional security architecture better able to cope with the full range of traditional and non-traditional risks and challenges to stability that are likely to arise in this strategically vital region in the years ahead.

On June 17, 2016, IFPA held a second trilateral workshop in support of this project in cooperation with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the U.S. Naval War College, details of which will be posted here after the workshop. Later in 2016, a final project report will be published and posted on this website summarizing key findings and policy recommendations from both workshops and from additional project research conducted over a two-year period by the IFPA staff.