Japan is traditionally viewed as a weak military power. When considered in light of Barry Posen's Command of the Commons model, Japan can be seen as a major power and of particular significance to East Asia. Japan has a “regional” command of the commons. In other words, Japan is predominant in the air, sea and space in East Asia and can use those areas at will against opponents. Japan's command of the commons rests on the power of its navy, which is one of the world's most modern and powerful, and its air force, which is competitive. From a regional perspective there is no competitor aside from the United States, which is an ally. Much of Japan's military power rests on the American alliance which provides technology and complimentary forces. This paper's contention has important policy implications. If Japan is powerful, then the United States should work to more closely integrate its military operations with those of Japan in order to leverage Japanese strength. Chinese reaction to date has not been strong, which indicates that China may be less concerned about increases in material Japanese power than is commonly supposed.
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