Courtesy Reuters

Our Dialogue with Japan

The rioting crowds that clamored at the gates of the Japanese Diet building in May and June and the throngs of Zengakuren students who snake-danced wildly down the streets of Tokyo and swarmed over Hagerty's car at Haneda Airport have given pause to many persons in both the United States and Japan. . . . Never since the end of the war has the gap in understanding between Americans and Japanese been wider than over this incident. . . .

All this reveals a weakness of communication between the Western democracies and opposition elements in Japan. Though the latter include the most fervent supporters of peace and democracy, their thinking is so far removed from that of their counterparts in the West that sometimes no real dialogue is possible. On top of the ever-present language barrier stands an even higher barrier of unspoken assumptions that make true understanding difficult.

THESE quotations are from "The Broken Dialogue with Japan," an article which I wrote for the October 1960 issue of this review. There I pointed out that the disturbances might be seen by some as "a sign of the growing gap between the party in power and its opponents, of rising tension and violence that can only end in leftist revolution or a Fascistic suppression of the opposition." I also noted that "an unfriendly Japan or even a strictly neutralist Japan might well mean the inevitable withdrawal of the American defense line to the mid-Pacific." My own conclusions, however, were more optimistic. I did not foresee a break in the defense relationship between the two countries and predicted that "Japan's practical politics will probably continue on its remarkably level course." I am glad to say that this hopeful prognosis seems fully justified today. The present article will report on what has happened in our "dialogue" in the interval, during which time I served as Ambassador to Japan.


Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda, who succeeded Kishi in July 1960, was a statesman of rare wisdom. He realized that the Japanese people

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