On January 9, Sasakawa USA hosted Dr. Ken Jimbo, Associate Professor at Keio University, and Sayuri Romei, Associate Fellow for Security and Foreign Affairs at Sasakawa USA, for a policy lunch discussion on “Asia’s Nuclear Challenge: North Korea, China, and the Role of Extended Deterrence.” The discussion was moderated by Sasakawa USA CEO Ambassador James Zumwalt.
In his presentation, Dr. Jimbo described 2017 as a game changing year in Asian security, explaining that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has led to questions of alliance decoupling and the stability-instability paradox playing out in East Asia. In addition to discussing U.S. policy towards Northeast Asia and U.S. extended deterrence strategy, Dr. Jimbo also addressed North Korea’s nuclear strategy of decoupling the U.S. and its allies, and the impact of the U.S.’s evolving nuclear policy on China’s own nuclear policy. According to Dr. Jimbo, constant reaffirmation and exercises to convey U.S. commitment to its allies are essential in order to improve U.S. extended deterrence towards adversaries and to assure allies.
Romei commented on the steps needed to continue deterring North Korea and other U.S. adversaries, and emphasized the need for a shared definition of strategic stability between U.S. and Northeast Asian countries. She also commented on Dr. Jimbo’s suggestion that Japan support any decision to place tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea, explaining that this would be a good idea if that decision were made, but it is not a good idea in the first place to bring tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea.
During the discussion with participants, the question of why DPRK changed its posture to dialogue with South Korea arose. Dr. Jimbo explained that since North Korea is not interested in talking about nuclear weapons and ICBM, the dialogue isn’t about denuclearization. Other questions were raised concerning North Korea’s ultimate goal, whether it be “blackmail” to decouple the U.S. and South Korea, or deterrence, and concerning prospects for Japan developing its own nuclear weapons. Dr. Jimbo suggested that North Korea’s goals are a moving target and constantly changing, and that Japan should refrain from developing its own nuclear weapons.