Altered States: The United States and Japan since the Occupation

By Michael Schaller | Go to book overview
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11
THE UNITED STATES, JAPAN, AND THE VIETNAM WAR, 1964-68

THE Vietnam War, fought, in part, for and from Japan, had nearly as dramatic an impact on Japanese-American relations as the Korean conflict did. In addition to its military and political consequences, the war hastened Japan's emergence as a global economic power. Japan's role as a logistic base and tacit ally in the war revived a massive anti-American protest movement, compelled the Johnson administration to make numerous concessions on issues such as trade, China, and Okinawa, and contributed to a dramatic transformation in the relationship between the two allies.

On the eve of the escalation of the Vietnam War, almost no one in Washington or Tokyo predicted its impact on the Pacific allies. Early in 1964, when the Department of State prepared an interagency appraisal of "The Future of Japan," it speculated that over the next decade Japan would become increasingly "strong, confident and nationalistic." Pro-Western conservatives were likely to retain control, "possibly alternating power" after 1970 with "socialist governments of considerably more moderate hue than today's Japan Socialist Party." America could live with these changes and "indeed benefit from them."

Developments since 1960, the Department stressed, "proved the soundness of our policies." The Kennedy administration's trade and security initiatives promoted "moderating trends on the left" and a more socially conscious attitude within the LDP. With "discreet encouragement," Japan might even agree to take a more active role in promoting regional security. Nevertheless, the "prime requirement of a healthy course of developments in Japan" remained the "rate of growth of Japan's foreign trade." Japan would cooperate on issues such as China, Okinawa, and

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