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Leveraging Northeast Asian Allies: While a great deal of attention has focused on renewing strategic ties with allies around the South China Sea, such as the Philippines, US allies in Northeast Asia—Japan and South Korea—remain vital to maintaining peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, said two Asian security experts during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. Japan remains one of Asia's most preeminent economic and military powers, said Michael Auslin, an American Enterprise Institute scholar on June 19 during the AEI-sponsored event. If Japan wishes, it could become a leader in regional security, he said. It has retained key military capabilities, such as submarines; invested in tankers and airborne early warning platforms; and is building its largest helicopter carrier, said Auslin. South Korea has steadily modernized its military forces, but has deficiencies in three important areas, said Angelo State University's Bruce Bechtol. It possesses only 10 C-130 aircraft—as many as the US Marine Corps, he noted. It needs more command, control, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tools, he said. Plus, it requires modern missile defenses beyond its PAC-2 systems to defend its urban centers, he said. (AEI webpage of event with video)