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international relations Japan-related research

JPOSS #7 “Third Party Coercion and Gray Zone Conflicts: Assessing the East China Sea, 2008-2014”

The seventh session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on November 12, 2020. Phillip Y. Lipscy (University of Toronto) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Ayumi Teraoka (Princeton) presented an overview of her paper, “Third Party Coercion and Gray Zone Conflicts: Assessing U. S. Foreign Policy over the East China Sea, 2008-2014.” In her presentation, Teraoka explored an interesting puzzle in international security–that is, why the United States failed in its dual deterrence strategy to designed to dissuade China and Japan from engaging in escalatory behavior during the East China Sea Dispute (2008-2014). Using qualitative evidence gathered through process-tracing, she calls into question the conventional wisdom on the efficacy of dual deterrence in gray zone conflicts. Teraoka draws on her in-depth case study research to illustrate that dual deterrence in the gray zone conflict requires the third-party to act decisively and issue early threats and assurances against revisionist actions. Moreover, her findings offer valuable insights about the degree to which the U. S. can effectively deter conflict between China and its allies in Asia.

Discussant comments were offered by Tim Crawford (Boston College) and  Mike Mochizuki (George Washington University). The discussion raised interesting questions about the nature of gray zone conflicts and how states can navigate them using deterrence strategies with a particular focus on territorial disputes involving Japan. The discussants and the audience also offered many constructive suggestions on the framing of the argument, research methods, and possible future directions of the research.

This event attracted around thirty-five participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: http://jposs.org/