Altered States: The United States and Japan since the Occupation

By Michael Schaller | Go to book overview

10
THE NEW FRONTIER IN THE PACIFIC

THE three years that followed the security treaty crisis proved unusually convivial. Chastened by the upheaval of 1960, President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Ikeda Hayato shifted the focus of bilateral relations away from military issues and back toward trade, a subject in which both sides perceived mutual advantage. Like Eisenhower, Kennedy believed that increasing economic interdependence would link Japan more firmly to the Western alliance. And, like his mentor, Yoshida Shigeru, Ikeda recognized that only the United States could provide the outlet for trade expansion on which Japan's export-oriented economy and conservative hegemony depended. The appointment of an exceptionally able ambassador to Tokyo, Edwin O. Reischauer, improved contacts between both countries. Disagreements over China, Okinawa, and trade continued during the early 1960s, but Washington and Tokyo contained them without harming the alliance.

Although Eisenhower had feared the treaty crisis would become a major issue in the presidential election, Ikeda's quick restoration of order removed Japan from American headlines. Democratic candidates linked the treaty riots to a general malaise attributed to Eisenhower-Nixon foreign policy, including the U-2 shootdown, Paris summit failure, Cuban Revolution, and "missile gap." Harvard Professor Edwin O. Reischauer set the standard for informed criticism in an article he published in the influential journal Foreign Affairs. The "dean" of America's academic Japan experts complained that the Eisenhower administration's handling of the security treaty, its emphasis on Japan as a military ally, and its close tie to Kishi had alienated the bulk of otherwise friendly Japanese. It was a grave mistake to dismiss Japanese anger with America as a Communist plot.

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