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Dr. James E. Auer, Director

Dr. James E. Auer, Director

James E. Auer is the Director of the Center for U.S.-Japan Studies and Cooperation at the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies.

His Ph.D. in International Relations is from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He served 20 years as a Naval Officer, commanding a frigate homeported in Japan and attending the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Staff College. Dr. Auer also served as the Special Assistant for Japan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for ten years before moving to Nashville. In this capacity, he contributed to the strengthening of the U.S.-Japan alliance by coordinating with the Suzuki Cabinet in its policy of defending 1000-mile sea lanes, as well as working on the negotiations concerning Japan’s FS-X.

After moving to Nashville, Dr. Auer began to research and publish on the relationship between the two nations, taking a firm stance as one of the strongest American anti-revisionists of the 1990s. His view is that the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty is a kind of insurance policy for the two major economic powers in the world. He finds that the alliance played an important role in winning the Cold War, and will be irreplaceable for stability of the region in the future. In addition, Dr. Auer posits that it is necessity that Japan exercise its right of collective self-defense- a right proscribed under current government policy- in order for Japan to fulfill its responsibilities towards worldwide security under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. This view has begun to have an impact on national security policy debates in Japan. His activities at Vanderbilt include teaching for the Departments of Asian Studies and History, as well as research and writing.

Dr. Auer’s Viewpoint

“If Japan determines it can exercise collective self-defense, and if Japanese leaders make the political decision to do so under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, Japan would still be able to refuse to join any specific operation if its political leaders decided that a particular crisis is not in Japan’s national interest. But, in my opinion, the more Japan and the U.S. show their combined resolve to speak softly but to act together firmly to deter aggression and to maintain the freedom of Pacific sea lanes, the more likely result (as was the case with the Soviet Union in the 1980s) would not be military aggression against Taiwan or other potential Chinese aggressive interests such as the Senkaku Islands, but a recognition that the world’s two largest economies are united in purpose.” (The Sankei Shimbun, April 8, 1996)


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