US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact

US/Japan Mutual Defense PactUS/Japan Mutual Defense Pact


On September 8th the United States quietly extended its nuclear umbrella to its former Pacific rival. In doing so, it also soothed the nerves of Japan’s neighbors about a remilitarized Japan appearing on the world scene. In exchange, Japan played host to America’s forward presence in Asia. Japan effectively became an unsinkable aircraft carrier for both the Vietnam and Korean wars. Obviously, US reliance on Japanese products during the ensuing conflicts greatly aided Japan’s economic recovery and eventual economic might.

Time: Early War
Side: US
Ops: 4
Removed after event: Yes


It doesn’t take very long for a USSR player to learn that Japan is not a very communist-friendly country.  Given that you’ll never get Japan anyway, this card is usually just a free 4 Ops card, though it can be rather annoying if you’re trying to use those 4 Ops to take over some other Asia battleground!  Of course, if the US has already taken Japan for some reason, then it is a truly free 4 Ops card because you were never going to coup or realign Japan anyway.

The two interactions worth noting: if you have Asia Scoring/Korean War (or know that Asia Scoring/Korean War is going to be triggered this turn), it is obviously to your advantage to hold onto US/Japan until after those are played.  I have had situations where the US player is forced to score a Asia Domination for me on his final Action Round because he thought I would play US/Japan for him.

There is one situation where you might try to defy the Defense Pact: if US/Japan is discarded on Turn 3, Asia Scoring has yet to come out, and Japan remains at 1/0, it may be worthwhile to steal a Asia Domination by taking Japan with the China card.  After all, if Japan gets you Domination (or denies it to the US), then it’s worth a total of 6VP (4 for Domination, 1 for battleground, and 1 for adjacency).  There’s about a 50/50 chance that you’ll lose it all when US/Japan comes back out somewhere in Turns 7-10, but 6VP is a pretty big chunk of VP…

As a footnote, if you’re teaching the game to a new USSR player, you should absolutely advise him of the existence of this card, lest he be forced this lesson the hard way like so many other Soviet Premiers (including yours truly).


Unless the USSR has actually taken over Japan—a very rare occurrence—this is never worth playing for the event.  Even if you need Japan, you can just play it for Ops and put 3 into Japan and 1 somewhere else.  And if you don’t need Japan, you can usually just play it for Ops elsewhere, content in the knowledge that most USSR players won’t ever dare play into Japan.

On Turns 1-2, the Ops are probably more important elsewhere than Japan.  But on Turn 3 you should use 3 of the Ops to take Japan and 1 Op elsewhere, to prevent the play described above.  All in all, it is a card you’d much rather have in the USSR hand.  Depending on where Asia Scoring is in the deck, though, you can’t just wait for US/Japan forever: if US control of Japan is what determines Domination, it is better to waste 3 Ops than lose 5VP…

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8 Responses to US/Japan Mutual Defense Pact

  1. ddddddd says:

    “If US control of Japan is what determines Domination, it is better to waste 3 Ops than lose 5VP…”

    Sage advice. As the US I almost *never* want to pay up the 3 Ops to control Japan before I’ve seen USJMDA come up, but this has led me (more than once) to cede Asia Domination whilst I wait for the card to come up for one of us. Quite simply, I am just loathe to pay the Ops into Japan using some other card and then have a smug Soviet player cash in on 4 free Ops on his next go…

  2. Viljanen says:

    Of course, in order to take Japan with China card, USSR need influence in South Korea. I think it’s a very good early war move for the Soviets to add 1 or 2 influence to SK even if they are not planning to take it over as it forces US to react and add more influence there which means they also risk more in the eventual Korean war.

  3. DeDaan says:

    Yes, I completely agree. Especially because at the start of the game a Russian victory in the Korean War is worth only 1 IP, so probably you will have to put in 2 more anyway (unless the US took South Korea before of course). The other advantage of putting IP in South Korea is to reach Taiwan. Then, the Russians are able to try to prevent US from taking Taiwan. This has got two advantages. Formosan Resolution will be no danger anymore and the US has got 1 modifier less when rolling for the Korean War.

  4. Viljanen says:

    Personally, I don’t think Taiwan is worth taking for the USSR. Given a normal early game situation where US can’t get access to Pakistan and India, South Korea is much better use for those IPs. If you can get both Koreas, India and Pakistan as USSR, the US can’t beat you in battlegrounds. At that point you have to start looking for the countries in Indochina to get the upper hand in the number of countries for domination. If you can’t get to Indochina before the US lock it up you probably can’t beat them in number of countries even with Taiwan.

  5. Steve says:

    Played it with UN Intervention after winning Korean War as USSR…really changed the game…Had three countries in Asia that were practically untouchable.

  6. Dorba says:

    Is it ever worth it to play this card as the Soviets as an AR6 play, and put the 3 influence into Japan itself? The possibility of losing Japan forever is a significant risk that forces US counterplay, potentially disrupting their AR7 play. Japan can then be taken the AR1 next turn with the China card if there is no US response.
    Admittedly, this is expensive, at 9 ops for a single country with several easy counterplays, but it does force a response from a US player, and can even swing domination in a very unexpected way.

    • Al Sadius says:

      The only situation where that strikes me as logical is one where you know he’s holding Asia scoring, and he’s banking on you playing US-Japan to swing Domination somehow. And even then, you’d only put 2 ops into Japan to break control, and use the other 2 elsewhere. If the scoring card isn’t coming up immediately, I don’t see how that’s putting enough relevant pressure on to justify the ops.

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