Date of Graduation

Fall 2021


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

John Rose


This thesis examines the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty and its future considering the recent developments in the international security environment. The 2018 National Defense Strategy brought back an emphasis on Great Power Competition, fundamentally transforming the role of U.S. alliances to address new challenges. In the 2021 budget, the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) has prioritized the People’s Republic of China as the number one pacing threat to theUnited States, drastically shifting international focus away from the Middle East and towards East Asia. In conjunction with funding new capabilities through the PDI, the U.S. will need to conceive new legal doctrines to govern how it competes in this new strategic environment. The rise of gray zone activities, competition that occurs in between the traditional binary of war and peace, has elevated the significance of the laws governing military operations. China in particular has been refining its gray zone capabilities in the East and South China Seas, creating new military, political, and economic challenges for the U.S. and Japan. Addressing these challenges will be critical in managing conflict, deterring adversaries, and establishing nuclear stability in the Indo-Pacific.


Japan, international law, Okinotori, gray zone, long-range strike, use of force, freedom of navigation

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies | International Relations | Legal Theory


© Clayton T. Russo

Open Access