Normalization with China: A Comparative Study of U.S. and Japanese Processes

Normalization with China: A Comparative Study of U.S. and Japanese Processes

Normalization with China: A Comparative Study of U.S. and Japanese Processes

Normalization with China: A Comparative Study of U.S. and Japanese Processes

Excerpt

The main purpose of this study is to arrive at a better understanding of the foreign policies of the United States and Japan. The normalization of relations of the two countries with the People's Republic of China offers a challenging case to compare the basic assumptions of the foreign policies of the two countries and the decision-making process involved.

Starting from a closely coordinated position to contain the spread of communism in Asia, the United States and Japan gradually moved away from their rigid stance to seek rapprochement with China. The fact that the United States and Japan followed a parallel course in the 1970s does not imply that they had a common strategy or that they shared a basic approach toward China. To begin with, Japan had established economic and cultural ties with China but had refrained from moving further because of its political security relations with the United States. For Japan, the China issue was intimately connected to the question of alignment with the United States. To the United States, China was part of the global security issue and, therefore, was closely linked to U.S. strategic rivalry with the Soviet Union. The fact that normalization was brought into the open by the unilateral action of President Richard Nixon greatly strained ensuing relations between the United States and Japan.

For both the United States and Japan, normalization with China was a highly divisive issue in domestic politics. While sustained pressure in the United States came from the rightist pro-Nationalist groups, that in Japan was exerted by the leftist pro-China organizations. Behind the respective groups were systematic maneuvers by the Nationalists and the Communists to turn political developments to their favor. The present study does not deal with the Chinese part in the normalization process. The perceptions, policies, and decisions on the part of China in dealing with the rapprochement and normalization with the United States and Japan would be fascinating to examine. It would certainly add much to the understanding of the U.S.-Japan-China relations of the 1960s and 1970s.

There is no doubt that President Nixon's initiative in seeking rapprochement with Beijing provided the greatest impetus to induce the structural change in world politics from cold war bipolar to complex multipolar power relations. Undoubtedly, there were developments in the United States as well as in Japan that were leading toward closer contact with the People's Republic. Without Nixon's bold stroke of leadership, however, the necessary changes would have taken much longer to arrive, and Asia might have undergone a much longer period of unrest and . . .

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