Managing an Alliance: The Politics of U.S.-Japanese Relations

Managing an Alliance: The Politics of U.S.-Japanese Relations

Managing an Alliance: The Politics of U.S.-Japanese Relations

Managing an Alliance: The Politics of U.S.-Japanese Relations

Excerpt

JAPAN'S ECONOMIC expansion since 1945 is one of the remarkable and least expected success stories of the past thirty years. A related success story, the U.S.-Japanese alliance, has likewise exceeded the hopes of most participants and observers. Just as Japan's shattered industries and demoralized population seemed unlikely sources of an economic miracle, the prospects for a close, mutually beneficial relationship between two bitter wartime enemies were not exactly encouraging. Yet such a relationship emerged and has persisted. Japanese leaders found the United States to be a dependable and generally beneficent patron as they built new policies founded on cooperative relations with the nations of the West. For American leaders, Japan proved to be a vital geographical link in the Pacific network of defenses, as well as a loyal ally willing to follow the American lead in international policy.

Achieving and maintaining such a partnership has required sustained effort by leaders and officials on both sides of the Pacific, because of the ever-present potential for serious misunderstanding and disagreement. Deep divisions within Japan about the virtue of the American connection fueled a severe crisis in 1960 when the bilateral security treaty was revised. A decade later, just as a similar crisis was being avoided by agreement on returning Okinawa to Japanese control, the two countries became engaged in a bitter three-year dispute over textiles. And before this was resolved, the alliance was further shaken when the United States made its surprise opening to China in July 1971 and when President Nixon suspended the dollar's convertibility into gold a month later and imposed a temporary surcharge on imports. As the imbalance in trade--a major target of Nixon's economic measures--grew to $4 billion in Japan's favor in 1972, Japanese-American tension continued. But . . .

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