Date of Award

August 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


James B. Steinberg

Second Advisor

Miriam F. Elman


Alliance Politics, China, Deterrence, Japan, Security Studies, US Foreign Policy

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Do changes in US alliance strategy toward Japan affect the US’ ability to succeed in reassuring, deterring, and compelling a rising China? This study contends that when the US pursues a distancing strategy toward from Japan, Japan adopts hedging strategies that may undercut US reassurance, deterrence, and compelling China. When the US pursues increased coordination with Japan, however, Japan increases its support for US policy toward China. Stronger Japanese support for US policy, in turn, strengthens the US’ ability to reassure, deter, and compel China. In making this argument, this study speaks to ongoing policy debates over the US-Japan alliance and supplements the existing scholarship on alliance dynamics by highlighting the independent causal significance of strategy. To evaluate this argument and its alternatives, this study conducts an analysis of changes in the US’ alliance strategy following the end of the Cold War, examining its association with Japanese support for US policy and US success in deterring, reassuring, and compelling China in three key policy domains: The East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and the Korean Peninsula. The study concludes with suggestions for US strategy and policy in the Asia-Pacific.


Open Access