Published Work

Recent publications

December 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC (December 7, 2012) – Over the past two decades, countries around the globe have become increasingly dependent on outer space for civil, military, and commercial purposes. Yet recent events in space have threatened its peaceful use, including provocative satellite shootings and the ever-growing threat of space debris. Moreover, new entrants to the once-exclusive group of space-faring nations present a challenge to existing space powers, bringing divergent views about the appropriate use of space.

2012 East-West Center Japan Studies Fellow, Crystal Pryor argued that Japan—as the United States’ primary security partner in the Pacific, a top collaborator in space technology, and a significant space power in in its own right—has a unique opportunity to work together with the US to protect the global commons of space. This opportunity is enhanced by the recent revisions in Japan’s legal and government-level approaches to space, industry’s growing interest in space technology, and the United States’ recent “pivot to Asia.” Japan, if it can seize the strategic initiative, can play a key role in space security relations in the region. However, if Japan doesn’t clarify its space strategy soon, she argued, it may be passed over for countries with a more cohesive understanding of the role space plays in their national security policy.

Serving as a discussant, Dr. James Clay Moltz, a Space Security and Northeast Asia Security expert from the Naval Postgraduate School, provided regional context for Pryor's presentation.

December 7, 2012

Crystal Pryor, Japan Studies Visiting Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington, explains that "Japan must continue to advance its own strategic vision for space, and with the United States as a foundational partner, make good on its commitment to peaceful international cooperation."

April 2, 2016

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has been able to reorient his country’s security policy. The defense budget has been increasing since 2013, for the first time in a decade. The ban on arms exports has been loosened, allowing Japan to export defense items and technologies for the first time in 40 years. And, Abe pushed a set of controversial bills through the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-controlled Diet to enact changes in Japan’s security posture in 2015, despite widespread public opposition. The legislation came into effect this week.
Despite this reorientation, there remain real domestic constraints on Abe’s vision of “proactive pacifism.” Nevertheless, Abe must be careful of overreach, both regarding constitutional revision and what he promises Japan’s allies. Rather than pursuing more changes, the prime minister should stop while he is ahead and focus on institutionalizing the changes he has already made.

April 2016

Recent changes to Japan’s ‘Three Principles on Arms Exports’ relax controls held tightly for decades. Crystal Pryor reviews the revisions while pointing out an important gap in Japan’s munitions regulations.

 November 24, 2015

A look at Japan’s new Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency and its recent Defense Technology Symposium.

Domestic interests and “strategic benefits” in Australia-Japan submarine deal

January 27, 2016

(With Llewelyn Hughes) Prime Minister Abe Shinzo continues to lead Japan’s effort to sell subs to Australia, pushing the Soryu-class submarines in his Dec. 18, 2015 meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Securing the contract to supply Australia with replacements for its submarine fleet would be a stunning victory for Japan, advancing the Japanese defense industry’s international competitiveness after decades of isolation under an arms export ban, and deepening Japan and Australia’s defense links.

February 28, 2018

This roundtable captures unique views about the (dis)utility of nuclear weapons. Two commentators, Crystal Pryor and Eric Gomez, argue that Roehrig may place too much emphasis on nuclear forces. Pryor questions whether the benefits of the U.S. nuclear umbrella outweigh the costs. She accepts Roehrig’s argument that U.S. nuclear threats lack credibility in the context of extended deterrence. Yet Pryor challenges the notion that U.S. nuclear forces reassure officials in Seoul or Tokyo. She points to many other factors that keep both of these countries nonnuclear, including international norms, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and American coercive pressure. Moreover, the maintenance of the U.S. nuclear umbrella is dangerous, Pryor argues, because it raises the risk of catastrophe due to miscalculation. She therefore concludes that the United States should consider eliminating the nuclear dimension from its alliances with Japan and South Korea. Both the United States and its allies might be better off if they downplayed the role of nuclear weapons in their alliance relationships.

©2017 by Crystal Pryor