Seminar by Oriana Skylar Mastro: “Japan’s Approach to Deterrence: Implications for Deterrence in the Taiwan Strait” | Center for Southeast Asian Studies Kyoto University


Seminar by Oriana Skylar Mastro: “Japan’s Approach to Deterrence: Implications for Deterrence in the Taiwan Strait”

Title: Japan’s Approach to Deterrence: Implications for Deterrence in the Taiwan Strait

Speaker Bio:
Oriana Skylar Mastro is a Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Courtesy Assistant Professor of Political Science at Stanford University where her research focuses on Chinese military and security policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, war termination, and coercive diplomacy. She is also a Non-Resident Scholar, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She was previously an assistant professor of security studies at Georgetown University. Mastro continues to serve in the United States Air Force Reserve for which she currently works at the Pentagon as Deputy Director of Reserve Global China Strategy. For her contributions to U.S. strategy in Asia, she won the Individual Reservist of the Year Award in 2016 (CGO) and 2022 (FGO). She has published widely, including in International Security, Security Studies, Foreign Affairs, Journal of Strategic Studies, The Washington Quarterly, the Economist and the New York Times. Her most recent book, Upstart: How China Became a Great Power (Oxford University Press, 2024), evaluates China’s approach to competition. Her book, The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime (Cornell University Press, 2019), won the 2020 American Political Science Association International Security Section Best Book by an Untenured Faculty Member. She holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University. Her publications and other commentary can be found at and on twitter @osmastro.

Project Summary:
What role would Japan play in strengthening the power balance in the Taiwan Strait compared to China? What strategic risks would Japan face if China took Taiwan? Mastro explores the pivotal role Japan could play in the defense of Taiwan and the broader implications for regional security. Despite widespread global consensus on the importance of Taiwan’s defense, the options for strengthening deterrence are mostly long-term. She proposes that Japan has the potential to immediately change the dynamics if it pursues the right modernization priorities and declaratory policies. She analyzes five key areas: the potential aggregation of military forces that could level the playing field with China; the strategic use of Japanese military facilities to mitigate geographic vulnerabilities faced by the US; an assessment of Japan’s current and future military capabilities and plans for modernization; understanding Japanese thinking on the conditions under which Japan would engage in a conflict over Taiwan; and the public and political constraints affecting Japan’s defensive posture. She finds that Tokyo could contribute significantly to a military effort to deny China the ability to take Taiwan by force. Mastro will discuss these initial findings and provide a clearer understanding of Japan’s potential contributions to deterring China in the region.

Tomoko Takahashi is an Assistant Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Kyoto University. In the field of International Relations, she studies international institutions from the perspective of states, and especially focuses on China and the Global South. She holds a PhD from the University of Tokyo.