Japan’s defense. Japanese policymakers point to drastic cuts in the U.S. defense budget and perceptions of dwindling American resolve under the Obama Administration. Japanese trepidation on these two issues could lead Tokyo to increase its military forces and security role, perhaps more independently of the United States. South Korea would likely be dismissive of such Japanese concerns, but Seoul has not yet articulated its vision of a unified Korea. This reticence is worrisome and could fuel Japanese and U.S. anxieties over Korean intentions. For all of the Park Administration’s focus on unification, it has not defined the characteristics and foreign and security policies of a unified Korea. The lack of detail may be because the Park Administration is still working through details or because publicly defining the parameters of a unified Korea would make all too clear to Pyongyang that it means the absorption of the North. As such, South Korean articulation of the Korean end state would stiffen regime resistance to Park’s trustpolitik and engagement efforts. Just as Korea wants Japanese reassurances and transparency on collective self-defense—which Tokyo has repeatedly provided—Japan will want reciprocal measures from Korea on unification. Unification Support Could Be Conditional Given these concerns, Japanese support for unification would depend heavily on the manner of unification, the status of bilateral relations with Seoul at the time, and the foreign and security policies of a unified Korea. Japanese economic support after unification would depend on whether Tokyo perceived that the status quo was shifting against its national interests. In pre-unification scenarios involving security operations, the Japanese involvement is not guaranteed, particularly since the government would need to convince the Japanese public that Japanese involvement was in the national interest, even in the face of North Korean nuclear threats. For example, Japanese and U.S. officials have contradictory views on whether prior Japanese approval is required to use U.S. forces in Japan for Korean contingencies. In July 2014, Prime Minister Abe told the Diet that “ U .S. Marines cannot rush without first engaging in prior consultation with Japan. Unless Japan allows it, it cannot leave Japan to help Korea .” However, the U.S. State Department affirmed in November 2014 that Washington would automatically deploy American forces in Japan without prior consultations with Tokyo in the case of North Korean provocation or an emergency on the peninsula. Japanese officials have privately commented that, given the current state of strained relations with South Korea, Tokyo may not be inclined to provide either security or economic assistance to Korea during a crisis. The Japanese government could have more difficulty convincing the Japanese public to support a policy of defying North Korean nuclear threats to provide assistance to Seoul. South Korea should
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