The United States and Japan approach a changing relationship. Japan wants the continued nuclear guarantee of the United States but is restive at the protracted American control of Okinawa and the irksome problems arising from American military bases in Japan. The natural desire of a leading industrial nation for a more "independent" foreign policy, including what is vaguely expressed as "autonomous defense," appears to be steadily growing. At the same time, the United States, under a new Administration and in a post-Viet Nam period, can be expected to reassess its responsibilities overseas, particularly in Asia. The simultaneous meeting in Japan of these forces for change could, if the gears mesh smoothly, produce a healthy transition toward a sounder, more mutually responsive Japanese-American relationship. On the other hand, misunderstandings or misplaced expectations on either or both sides could block such a happy result and damage the interests of both countries.
There is a timetable. In June 1970, when the security treaty becomes subject to notice of intent to terminate, political action is threatened by the Left. A goal for the opposition and a deadline for the government, 1970 symbolizes Japan's most important and most discussed foreign policy issue today. In essence it is the problem of Japan's security. To understand it, one should look at Japan's current "mood," its effort in self-defense, the security treaty itself and the problem of Okinawa.
The year 1968 marked the 100th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Emperor Meiji. The Japanese take pride in the achievements of the Meiji era but in spirit seem somewhat closer to the pleasures of the long Tokugawa peace than to the militancy of the Meiji period which followed. In fact, an all-pervading "peace mood" is the strongest element in the state of the Japanese mind today. The Japanese "peace constitution," which in its Article 9 prohibits the maintenance of "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential," is today supported almost unanimously by the Japanese people (91 percent in
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