Thesis Title

Japanese Theater Missile Defense: Impact on North East Asia

Date of Graduation

Spring 2005


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

C. Walton


In the peak of the Cold War rival super powers ensured the stability of North East Asia. The United States recognized the growing geo-strategic value of Japan and its possible role within a missile defense architecture. At the end of the Cold War the United States and Japan reevaluated their alliance. Growing regional threats, specifically a long-term threat from China, and more immediately, North Korea emerged. The White House urged Japan to buy a U.S. theater missile defense system (TMD) that would minimize the coercive role that ballistic missiles play in Chinese and North Korean diplomacy. Additionally, TMD was viewed as an alliance builder and tool to counterbalance China’s desire to regain its hegemonic status. The United States and japan conducted studies to evaluate Japan’s missile defense requirements. Internal opposition surfaced in Japan over the constitutionality of collective self-defense, operational joint doctrines, and Japan’s role as a U.S. ally. Washington and Tokyo witnessed numerous ballistic missile launches from China and North Korea, which galvanized the need for TMD. Chinese and North Korean leaders have not favored the deployment of a TMD system. Both countries known that their geopolitical aspirations are obstructed by the America’s predominance in North East Asia. This thesis examines American and Japanese involvement in TMD. It details why Japan elected to purchase a TMD system and how the alliance structure has been strengthened. It also examines the growth of the threat from China and North Korea. Finally, it will present an overview of ballistic missile systems and TMD defenses.


ballistic-missile defense-Japan, U.S.-Japan relations, ballistic missile defense-China, Chinese grand strategy, ballistic missile defense-North Korea

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Justin M. Sinclair