Altered States: The United States and Japan since the Occupation

By Michael Schaller | Go to book overview

7
JAPANESE-AMERICAN POLITICAL RELATIONS, 1954-58

IN the five years following Yoshida's resignation, economic and security ties with the United States remained Japan's magnetic north. At the same time, Tokyo's more nationalistically inclined leaders struck out in directions that occasionally unnerved Washington. Aside from questions over China and Southeast Asia, disputes over the pace of rearmament, the terms of the security treaty, and Japan's efforts to improve ties with its Communist neighbors aroused American fears of ideological adultery.

In 1954-55, the Japanese economy began an era of sustained economic growth that surpassed 10 percent annually for the next fifteen years. By 1971, real wages had tripled as compared to 1953. At the time, of course, no one predicted the pace and duration of this expansion. Through 1960, discontent at being tethered to an unequal security treaty surged almost as dramatically as Japanese exports to the United States. Yoshida's successors initiated tentative steps toward a more balanced foreign policy without jeopardizing the benefits of the existing alliance. They discovered that even modest initiatives to improve relations with the Communist bloc elicited rebukes from Washington.

The Eisenhower administration barely tolerated Tokyo's effort to reach a peace settlement with Moscow, discouraged most moves toward Beijing, and balked at revising the security treaty. Only after 1958, when Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke ended Japan's modest dalliance with the Communist bloc, did Eisenhower and Dulles agree to renegotiate the military pact. To their dismay, the revised security treaty aroused strident opposition within Japan that threatened the foundation of the Pacific alliance.

On December 10, 1954, the new prime minister, Hatoyama Ichiro responded to Soviet calls for improved relations by declaring that "Japan

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