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Satoru Mori

From Japan’s perspective, US leadership legitimacy depends not only on the reaffirmation of existing treaty commitments and the level of actual military presence, but also on the extent to which the United States is willing to take on the risks and costs of enforcing shared rules and norms in the region and beyond. During the Obama administration, the United States enhanced its forward military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region to deter aggression, but refrained from directly deterring China’s paramilitary unilateral actions in the South China Sea. The United States thus was seen to exhibit a more hegemonic style of leadership that involved selective and shared rule enforcement rather than its more traditional primacy-based leadership role characterized by greater US responsibility in underwriting the rules and norms that underpin the region’s liberal order.