The Carter Years: Toward a New Global Order

By Richard C. Thornton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Contradiction and Conflict in Asia, 1977-1979

The underlying problem American policymakers faced in Asia was similar in many respects to that confronted in Europe with West Germany. It was how to cope with the rapid rise to power of a major ally -- in this case Japan. The problem was not new in either case but had become urgent of solution in both. Both countries were approaching superpower status, and it could not be assumed -- and was not -- that they would remain contented indefinitely with subordinate rank within the Western alliance.

In Asia, as in Europe, the United States approach was to pursue a sophisticated strategy of attempting to integrate Japan more fully into the American economic and security web, an effort which, if successful, would also lead to a moderation of Japan's rapid economic growth. The Nixon approach had been gradualistic, the Kissingerian preemptive; but neither had succeeded. Although Japan had consented to the formation of a United States-Japan Security Consultative Committee, whose subcommittee on defense cooperation began to meet from July 1976,1 that same year Tokyo established a cap on defense spending at one percent of gross national product. Japan had continued its pattern of strong neomercantilistic growth, limiting attempts at economic and security integration while benefiting handsomely from the protection provided by the American security shield and from the wealth afforded by its market.

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