Evolving Security Architecture and Agenda for Japan-China Cooperation
August 7, 2012
Part II. Security Cooperation in Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula
This paper will discuss security cooperation in the Northeast Asia with a focus on Japan, China, and the Korean Peninsula and implications for Japan-China relations. Security cooperation in Northeast Asia in the era of “power shift” will need to adjust to the changes in the security landscape as a result of the rise of China. In this context, China’s constructive role in the region will be more important. The “Japan-China Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests” (hereinafter, “Mutually Beneficial and Strategic Relationship”) calls on the two countries to “make the utmost efforts for maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia.” 
In Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s visit to China in December 2011, in the light of the 40th anniversary of Japan-PRC diplomatic normalization, Japan proposed six initiatives to further deepen the Mutually Beneficial and Strategic Relationship.  Also, in the light of the death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, PM Noda and Premier Wen Jiabao highlighted the Korean Peninsula as a top priority in Japan-China strategic cooperation. Thus it is the task of Japan to explore ways to collaborate with China in building a more stable security environment in Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula.
In the first section of this paper, the changing security landscape in Northeast Asia is outlined. New regional power dynamics and the economic prosperity shared in Northeast Asia (the “Northeast Asia renaissance”) have changed the security landscape in Northeast Asia, but the region is still vulnerable to lingering security instabilities and challenges. Security risks need to be minimized in order to maximize the fruits of the newfound prosperity in Northeast Asia and beyond. If not managed properly, instability in Northeast Asia not only damages relations in the area but will spill over into Southeast Asia and to the Asia-Pacific and spoil the fruits of the “renaissance.”
The second section will address the security architecture, that is, the institutional structure in Northeast Asia, from Japan’s perspective and examine how the architecture evolved to adapt to the changing security environment and how relations developed with China. The last section will identify agendas for Japan and China on ways to strengthen security cooperation in Northeast Asia to build a more resilient security architecture.
The Changing Northeast Asia Security Landscape: Prosperity and Instability
Since the past decade, the rise of China has changed not only the security landscape of the broader Asia-Pacific region but also the subregion of Northeast Asia (including, geographically, China, the Russian Far East, Mongolia, Japan, the Korean Peninsula, and the Taiwan Strait). In an area of US-Japan dominance in both security and economy since the Cold War to the post-Cold War years, the relative rise of two Asian countries, China and South Korea—China as a great power and South Korea as a middle power—have changed the regional power dynamics and agendas in the region.
Until the 1990s, prior to the rise of China, Northeast Asia was perceived as an area of “stagnation,” a “backyard” to economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific,  but now it is the driver of economic and social development, creating a phenomenon that can be called a “Northeast Asia renaissance.”  Japan enjoys the fruits of this renaissance with its neighbors, China and South Korea, as intertwining economic and social networks deepened in the past decade. This China-South Korea-Japan nexus has manifested in the development of Japan-China-South Korea trilateral cooperation in recent years.
The Northeast Asia renaissance, however, is still vulnerable and can be disrupted by traditional as well as new security concerns and challenges in the region. Traditional security risks from the Cold War years still linger, namely the Taiwan Strait and the Korean Peninsula. The Taiwan Strait still carries inherent tensions but has remained calm in recent years. China and Taiwan have learned to manage their relations in a more peaceful way focusing on economic relations (such as through the Cross-Straits Economic Partnership Agreement).
The Korean Peninsula continues to show instability, however, especially in recent years with North Korean military provocations, as seen in 2010. North Korea’s nuclear weapons development as well as other WMD programs and its resistance to reform and continuing economic stagnation remain as major sources of instability in this region. More recently, the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011 and the succession process to the heir, Kim Jong-un, have added new uncertainties to the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The China challenge, especially over maritime and territorial issues in not only the South China Sea but also in the East China Sea, is another source of uncertainty for its Northeast Asian neighbors, Japan and South Korea. The “China shocks” in 2010 (management of the Senkaku/Diaoyutai and incidents involving the ROK Cheonan ship and Yeonpyeong Island) awoke both neighbors. Accompanying economic growth, disputes over energy resources and fisheries are new challenges confronting the neighboring three countries. Management of the Yellow Sea (West Sea) is a source of friction between China and South Korea and also North Korea, which makes its own claims regarding the Northern Limit Line (NLL).
Evolution of the Security Architecture in Northeast Asia: An Interdependent Multi-Layered Relationship
Have security cooperation mechanisms adapted to the changing security landscape? Yes, somewhat. This section will look at security cooperation through the lens of “security architecture,” that is, the institutional structure of security cooperation mechanisms in Northeast Asia. The security architecture here will be from a Japanese perspective, and this section will examine how institutions evolved and how relations developed with China.
The Tokyo Foundation Asia Security Project analyzes “regional security architecture” based on a three-tiered structure.  The first tier consists of security cooperation mechanisms, such as treaty alliances (military alliances like the US-Asia alliance network) that protect core national interests and national defense. The second tier consists of strategic and functional cooperation mechanisms, dialogues, and task-oriented/action-oriented initiatives (for example, PACOM exercises, SAREX, PSI, ReCAAP, and Six Party Talks). The third tier consists of region-wide cooperation based on rules and charters, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN plus Three (APT), East Asia Summit (EAS), and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Each tier has its own function but is also interrelated with other tiers and functions as part of the whole architecture.
As the Asia-Pacific security architecture evolved in adapting to the changing security environment, this was also the case for the Northeast Asia subregion  . In Northeast Asia, the first tier, which consists of US-Northeast Asia alliances like the US-Japan alliance and the US-ROK alliance, is the most developed and institutionalized with a history of roughly 60 years since the Korean War in the Cold War era. On the “other side” is the PRC-DPRK alliance relationship based on the 1961 PRC-DPRK Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Aid with a military assistance clause, though the nature of the military relationship remains obscure. (The 1961 Soviet [Russia]-DPRK treaty alliance ended formally in 1996 and was replaced by the Russia-DPRK Treaty of Friendship and Good Neighbors in 2000 without a military assistance clause.)
Since the Cold War era, the alliances in Northeast Asia have served to prevent another war on the Korean Peninsula by providing mutual deterrence on both sides. While carrying a fundamental security dilemma, alliances continue to serve that function to provide the basis for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. But it would be simplistic to dismiss the alliances, namely, the US-Japan and US-ROK alliances, as legacies of the Cold War.
Firstly, unlike the PRC-DPRK alliance, the US-Japan and US-ROK alliances now have functions beyond the Korean Peninsula. The US-Japan alliance originally served as a basis for security in the Far East (from the Korean Peninsula to the Taiwan Strait) and has evolved to provide the basis for public goods promoting regional stability in the Asia-Pacific and global security in the post-Cold War years. A major function of the US-Japan alliance is to deter and balance Chinese military expansion as necessary. The US-ROK alliance has also evolved into a “strategic alliance” in recent years (US-ROK Joint Vision, April 2009) to contribute to regional and global security, while its deterrent and defense function is focused on North Korea.
Secondly, unlike the Cold War years, the US-Northeast Asia alliances are now intertwined with the “other side,” namely China, Russia, and North Korea, at the second and third-tiers of the security architecture in Northeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific through strategic and functional cooperation and strategic dialogue and cooperative relations with China, such as the US-China (G2) Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Japan-China strategic dialogue based on the “Mutually Beneficial Relationship based on Common Strategic Interests," and the ROK-PRC “strategic cooperative partnership”(May 2008). In addition to bilaterals, trilaterals have emerged. The Japan-China-South Korea (JCK) trilateral framework has developed in recent years (since 1997 in the ASEAN-plus process, and independent summits since 2008). In parallel, the US-Japan-ROK trilateral framework, which began in the mid-1990s, is exploring new ways to further develop and upgrade cooperation.
Furthermore, the US-Northeast Asia allies and the “other side”—China, Russia, and North Korea—are interconnected at the second-tier in a multilateral format, that is, the Six Party Talks (SPT) to deal with the Korean Peninsula issue and potentially the broader Northeast Asia in general. The SPT is a task-oriented Northeast Asia forum, chaired by Beijing, to deal mainly with the North Korea nuclear issue and more broadly to promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. It also had aims to become a basis for a broader Northeast Asia forum via one of the five subcommittees: NEAPSM (Northeast Asia Peace and Security Mechanism). The Six Party Talks, however, have been deadlocked since the end of 2008 due to North Korean intransigence. Thus, there is no region-wide mechanism at the third-tier in Northeast Asia. In the meantime, when SPT is stalemated, it is often supported by third-tier institutions in the Asia-Pacific, such as the ARF, APT, EAS, and APEC. For example, ARF, which includes North Korea as a member, have served as a forum for informal ministerial meetings of the six parties.
As examined above, alliances from the Cold War era still exist and function in the first tier in the security architecture in Northeast Asia. Security dilemmas exist, and thus there are inherent limits to close defense cooperation. However, it is also true that the Northeast Asia security architecture is no longer a rigid, first-tier centered, “we versus them” Cold War-type structure. Reflecting the changes in the security landscape and the power shift, especially the rise of China, the architecture has evolved to become a more mutually interdependent, intertwined, multi-layered networked structure, somewhat alleviating the security dilemma. Nevertheless, sources of instability and vulnerabilities continue to exist. The next section discusses the ways in which Japan and China can collaborate to strengthen security mechanisms and cooperation in Northeast Asia.
Agendas for Japan-China Cooperation: Four Tasks
As examined in the previous section, the Northeast Asia security architecture is developing and evolving to adapt to new circumstances. In order to better manage security issues in Northeast Asia, rather than jumping to a discussion about building a “security community” that assumes shared rules and norms, building a more resilient “security architecture” and collaborating with China where possible is more realistic in the era of power shift. To this end, this section identifies four areas that Japan and China should address, with a particular focus on the Korean Peninsula. These are the areas in which Japan and China should collaborate with other allies and partners in the region.
In the context of the Tokyo Foundation's Asia Security Project policy report on Japan’s security strategy toward China,  the following can be said regarding security architecture-building in Northeast Asia. While maintaining “deterrence” and “balancing” functions toward China as necessary, Japan should maximize areas of cooperation (“integration”). The following four agendas are areas Japan can explore to maximize cooperation with China to build a more resilient security architecture in Northeast Asia.
Utilize Strategic Dialogues to Alleviate the Security Dilemma
There are inherent limits to close defense cooperation for non-treaty alliance countries. Such is the case for the United States and its Northeast Asia allies—Japan and South Korea—on the one side and China on the other. However, when the two sides share a more interdependent relationship, strategic dialogues are necessary and useful in alleviating insecurities (the security dilemma) on both sides. Strategic dialogue would contribute to confidence building and crisis management on critical issues, and if common strategic interests are defined and shared, it would strengthen the basis for functional cooperation (such as PKOs, counter-piracy, disaster relief, humanitarian operations, and search-and-rescue exercises).
Strategic dialogue frameworks, such as the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, have been established in recent years, and the next step would be to achieve concrete results. Japan and China are moving forward in this direction, based on the Mutually Beneficial and Strategic Relationship. The two countries have agreed to strengthen Japan-China strategic and security dialogue and made incremental steps toward crisis-management-oriented initiatives, such as the recent agreement at the Noda-Wen summit in December 2011 to establish “High-Level Consultation on Maritime Affairs” and agreement in principle on the “Japan-China Maritime Search and Rescue Cooperation.” China and South Korea have also agreed to strategic and defense dialogue as part of the “strategic cooperative partnership” and endeavors to strengthen dialogue, especially after the Cheonan and Yeongpyeong incidents in 2010. Not only North Korea but also maritime and fisheries issues in the Yellow Sea (West Sea) also concern China and South Korea. Japan-China maritime consultations can serve as one model for China and South Korea. In addition to bilaterals, trilateral frameworks, such as the US-Japan-China dialogue, would be steps to strengthen ties between the actors in the architecture. In a foreign policy speech and press conference in December 2011, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba supported the idea of a US-Japan-China strategic dialogue at the track 1.5-level.  As another step, the establishment of a US-China-ROK trilateral strategic dialogue would be effective, especially for Korean Peninsula affairs, as will be addressed below.
Strengthen Crisis Management on the Korean Peninsula
Among security issues in Northeast Asia, the Korean Peninsula remains a top priority. The death of Kim Jong-il makes the peninsula a more critical issue and necessitates high-level of attention. Immediately after the incident, the Noda-Wen summit on December 25, 2011, confirmed that “peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula are the common interests of the two countries,” and both leaders emphasized that “it is important for both countries to maintain close coordination and to calmly and appropriately respond to the new situation following the death of Kim Jong-Il, chairman of the National Defense Commission.” Prime Minister Noda noted China's “important role” in this regard.
The death of Kim Jong-il and the leadership transition have only increased our worries. The collective leadership of party and military cadres (including Jang Seong-taek) have hurried to make the heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, the undisputed leader, but the process is not complete. Kim Jong-un has declared to continue his father’s legacy, the “military-first” policy and “strong and prosperous country by 2012,” which would include nuclear weapons development. Military provocations will not be off the table. While at the same time, economic development is still a far away goal. Thus, on top of regime instability, leadership instability has been added to the list in North Korea.
In this kind of situation, crisis management becomes increasingly important. Crises such as the Cheonan and Yeongpyong incidents in 2010 were nightmares that South Korea and all parties including the United States, China, and Japan want to avoid and prevent. There is a security dilemma between the US-South Korea-Japan and China—an ally of North Korea—and thus there are differences of views in the outlook or end-state of the Korean peninsula: whether China wants to maintain North Korea as a strategic buffer and keep a divided Korea or accept a unified Korea, with a US force presence. Nevertheless, China, the United States, South Korea, and Japan share a strategic interest to maintain stability and avoid war on the Korean peninsula—this is the bottom-line. Thus in this context, strategic dialogues and discussions on crisis management regarding the Korean peninsula should be pursued quietly. It could be done in a bilateral, trilateral, or quadrilateral format. Discussions on several types of crises, such as North Korea military provocations or instability scenarios due to leadership crisis, can be on the agenda. This may be uncomfortable for China officially, but all parties should at least get a grip on what the “other side” is thinking and be prepared as much as possible. Crisis management talks in the second tier would serve to alleviate the dilemma in the first tier in the security architecture.
Maintain and Flexibly Utilize the Six Party Talks Framework
While preparing for negative scenarios through crisis management, cooperation to bring about positive scenarios on the Korean Peninsula should also be made through the Six Party Talks (SPT) framework. The SPT should be utilized to pursue a peaceful resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue to achieve the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and furthermore to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula. These are the goals confirmed in the Japan-China Mutually Beneficial and Strategic Relationship.
Dealing with the North Korea nuclear issue has a long history. In the aftermath of the first nuclear crisis (North Korea’s Yongbyon plutonium program) in the 1990s, it was the United States, Japan, and South Korea that led and managed the North Korea issue through the US-DPRK Agreed Framework and KEDO (Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization). After the framework collapsed due to the second nuclear crisis, China and Russia joined to engage North Korea in the Six Party Talks since 2003. Chaired by Beijing, the Joint Statement of September 19, 2005, was put together to confirm the basic principles and goals of the process: the denuclearization and maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. The process was disrupted by North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, and UN Security Council sanctions, which China supported for the first time, were adopted. Talks resumed and five working groups were established to implement the process in 2007-08.  The SPT process once again became deadlocked after 2008-09. With the post-Kim Jong Il North Korean leadership succession in progress, it could take some time for the talks to resume. Then, what are the next steps?
First, even while North Korea continues to be intransigent, the other five parties should maintain the SPT framework. The SPT is the only forum at the moment that allows for concerned parties in Northeast Asia to work together on the North Korea issue, and the process is still in the early stages, yet to be tested. Even when SPT is not formally in session, two-party, three-party, four-party and five-party talks can and should be conducted to support the SPT process. It is a useful diplomatic tool to form and consolidate a common position for all concerned parties and to send a common message to North Korea to participate in the talks. For the United States, Japan, and South Korea, the SPT is a useful tool to alleviate the security dilemma with China over the Korean Peninsula and lessen the dangers of military escalation. Thus Japan and China, with the other parties, should continue to support to the SPT process, maintain the framework, and flexibly utilize it to induce and engage North Korea.
Second, while maintaining the framework, the concerned parties should continue to prepare the ground for the resumption of talks. The most important condition for the talks is for all parties, including North Korea, to confirm and adhere to the principles and goals of the Joint Statement of September 2005, the core of which is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In this context, it would be a necessary step for North Korea to show visible steps toward stopping its uranium enrichment program for nuclear weapons. If there are no visible steps, the United States, Japan, and South Korea cannot move. China’s role as chairman and mediator becomes important at this stage.
After confirming the Joint Statement principles with action, the next step is the resumption of the implementation process of 2007-08, updated and tailored to the present situation. One point to consider is how to implement the process. The experience of 2007-08 indicates that it is extremely difficult to synchronize all processes of the five working groups.  Thus it may be more realistic and effective if the process is prioritized and focused in the next round. Among the five working groups, priority should be given to the two working groups for denuclearization and economic and energy cooperation, and the US-DPRK normalization and Japan-DPRK normalization groups should be given more flexibility, like North-South Korea relations. Especially regarding Japan-DPRK relations, linking progress on the abductees issue and other human rights concerns to all other issues will not be constructive for the SPT process. If linked directly, the nuclear issue will become hostage to the abductees issue, and the abductees issue will become hostage to the nuclear issue, as seen in recent years. This situation strongly limits Japan’s diplomatic maneuverability. It may be time to tactically delink some issues from the SPT process, and strategically cooperate toward the common goal and principles of the SPT.
Thus, priority should be placed on the working groups for denuclearization and economic and energy cooperation in the next stage of SPT. So as a third step, SPT parties should consider what is possible in this area. How much would North Korea be willing to move toward denuclearization, namely, with the uranium enrichment program? IAEA involvement would be necessary here. What are North Korea’s economic and energy needs? Economic and energy surveys would be necessary, perhaps with the assistance of third parties, such as the United Nations or other international organizations. How much would the other parties cooperate on economic and energy cooperation with North Korea? What would induce North Korea to adhere to the principles of the Joint Statement? With China now taking the main role in economic and energy cooperation with North Korea, what schemes can be explored with other parties? The Fukushima nuclear plant accident and nuclear safety are also new factors to consider when we deal with North Korea. Japan and other parties are very sensitive on this matter.
In addition to negative scenarios, positive future scenarios such as the above need to be discussed by the concerned parties to maintain and flexibly utilize the SPT framework. For China, discussions of negative scenarios may be uncomfortable diplomatically, but its necessity is increasing. By the same token, for the United States, Japan, and South Korea, discussions of positive scenarios, especially talk of economic and energy carrots for North Korea, would be uncomfortable diplomatically when North Korea is intransigent. But if the concerned parties want to induce North Korea to return to the talks and develop the SPT as an institution for security cooperation in Northeast Asia, not only negative but also positive scenarios need to be utilized. Thus, discussions on nuclear non-proliferation and denuclearization, economic and energy cooperation at the Track 2 or Track 1.5 level would indirectly contribute to the SPT process. When progress is made in these areas, it may lead to discussions regarding the fifth working group, NEAPSM. These discussions can be held in Beijing, Tokyo, Washington, Seoul, Moscow, or even Canberra, Ulan Bator, and Geneva—that is, non-SPT member countries and entities that have supported the SPT process or were members of KEDO. Even while SPT is stalemated, therefore, the support base for the SPT can be expanded. In these ways, Japan and China, with other concerned parties, should cooperate, both in negative and positive scenarios, on the Korean Peninsula.
Develop the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Cooperation Framework
Lastly, the Japan-China-South Korea (JCK) trilateral cooperation framework, now with a secretariat in Seoul, should be further developed to boost Northeast Asia cooperation and enhance security. The strength of the JCK framework lies in the non-military area, namely, economic and social community building, but defense and security dialogue (that is, the “Trilateral Defense Dialogue”) should also be explored as mentioned in the JCK Trilateral Cooperation Joint Vision 2020.  In order to promote defense dialogue, China should understand and tacitly accept the roles of the US-ROK and US-Japan alliances, as these institutions are sources of stability and necessary for crisis management and response on the Korean Peninsula. Apart from traditional security areas, non-traditional security cooperation (functional cooperation) should be promoted in such areas as disaster-risk reduction and response, nuclear power safety, and regulation of illegal (and violent) fishing. Fishery incidents, such as those in the Yellow Sea (West Sea) and Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands sour relations between China and South Korea/Japan, and have a negative impact on strategic cooperation.
The JCK framework can also be utilized to contribute to the Six Party Talks. Among other trilaterals, it is another caucus within the SPT. The JCK trilateral, as confirmed in the JCK Joint Vision 2020 shares the view that a “denuclearized Korean Peninsula would greatly contribute to enduring peace, security and economic prosperity in Northeast Asia. In this regard, we will continue to make concerted efforts to realize the goals outlined in the September 19, 2005, Joint Statement through the process of the Six-Party Talks.” In this regard, JCK could focus on “economic prosperity” in Northeast Asia and conduct studies on a positive future for North Korea in the context of Northeast Asia economic and energy cooperation and provide input to the SPT process. Implications for the China-South Korea-Japan FTA plan should also be considered.
 Japan-China Joint Press Statement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Premier Wen Jiabao, April 11, 2007; Japan-China Joint Statement on Comprehensive Promotion of Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and President Hu Jintao, May 7, 2008, MOFA.
 Japan-PRC Summit Meeting (Summary), December 25, 2011, MOFA.
 See for example, Gilbert Rozman, Northeast Asia’s Stunted Regionalism: Bilateral Distrust in the Shadow of Globalization (Cambridge University Press, 2004)
 On the “Northeast Asia renaissance,” see Yasuyo Sakata, “Northeast Asia Regional Security Cooperation and Designing the Architecture,” Chapter 4 in Ken Jimbo and the Tokyo Foundation Asia Security Project, ed., Security Architecture in the Asia-Pacific: Three-Tiered Approach to Regional Security (Tokyo: Nihon Hyoronsha, 2011), pp. 75-80 (in Japanese).
 The Tokyo Foundation Asia Security Project, "Policy Report: The Asia Pacific Security Architecture," August 2010, www.tkfd.or.jp/research/project/news.php?id=632
 For further analysis, see Sakata, “Northeast Asia Regional Security Cooperation and Designing the Architecture,” Chapter 4 in Jimbo and Tokyo Foundation Asia Security Project, Security Architecture in the Asia-Pacific (2011), pp. 80-94 (in Japanese).
 The Tokyo Foundation Asia Security Project, Policy Proposal, Japan’s Security Strategy Toward China: Integration, Balancing and Deterrence in the Era of Power Shift (October 2011), www.tokyofoundation.org/en/articles/2011/china-strategy.
 Speech by Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba at the Japan National Press Club, “Japan’s Prosperity Depends on Its Ties to the Asia-Pacific,” December 14, 2011, MOFA.
 The five working groups (WG) are denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, normalization of US-DPRK relations, normalization of Japan-DPRK relations, economy and energy cooperation, and the Northeast Asia Peace and Security Mechanism (NEAPSM). Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement, February 13, 2007, Second Phase Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement, October 3, 2007, MOFA.
 Regarding the SPT debacle, see Yasuyo Sakata, “Korea and the Japan-U.S. Alliance: A Japanese Perspective,” Chapter Six in Takashi Inoguchi, G. John Ikenberry, and Yoichiro Sato, eds., The U.S.-Japan Security Alliance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 99-103.
 Japan-ROK-China Trilateral Summit, Trilateral Cooperation Vision 2020, May 30, 2010, MOFA.