After more than a quarter-century of formally close contact, the real relationship of the American and the Japanese peoples is like that of two men observing each other through the flawed glass and distorting mirrors of a fun-house. Their perspectives are strikingly, sometimes absurdly different Our dealings of the last 25 years-one war, a successful occupation, unnumbered seminars, government conferences, student exchanges and an $11 billion yearly trade relationship-seem not to have clarified the view.

This would be tolerable in the cases of many nations less closely involved with one another, or in times less troubled. But Japan is not only the principal U.S. trading partner and a pledged political ally; it is the one great world power-outside the West European complex-which shares with the United States common social aspirations, a strikingly similar urban- technological way of life and an intelligent devotion to the democratic principle. The failure, more plainly, of Americans to see Japan and its people as they really are is coming to affect us badly.

For Japanese-American relations are backing into a crisis, in large part because neither party can perceive the other's position. Trade confrontations have escalated into virtual economic warfare. And politically, on the heels of Okinawa revisionism and vexing questions about Japanese "rearmament," came the July announcement of President Nixon's invitation to Peking. The 180-degree turn in the American attitude toward China, made conspicuously without advice from Tokyo and without informing Tokyo in advance, has dramatized the distorted perspectives as nothing else could.

Where and how do they differ? The View from There, i.e. the United States as the average Japanese sees it, is at least a three-dimensional study. He sees a people whose achievements and energies spell competence. His regard for American technological skill and the essential modernity of things American verges on the superstitious. American politics, as copiously reported in the Japanese press, may seem an unpredictable blend of toughness and indecision, but even among the far Left there is a certain respect for American "fairness" and "democratic principles."

Socially, the American comes on as likeable, with an enviable informality. (Americans visiting Japan after residence in Europe are interested to find that their nationality is no longer a pejorative.) Culturally, the kinetic modernity of modern Japan-songs, movies, TV quiz-shows, billboards, sake vending machines, business management seminars, even the majority of new phrases in its language-expresses itself in American terms. Hemingway, Faulkner and Norman Mailer are nearly as real to Japanese university students as their own Kawabata, Mishima and Kenzaburo Oi.

Thanks to the postwar occupation and their own peculiar reaction to the one military defeat in their history, the Japanese rarely think of the United States as an enemy, past or present-except in the sense of an economic competitor. The ultimate in cities remains New York or, more comfortably, Los Angeles with its Japanese hotels, banks and shopping sections. The ideal vacation is to go to Hawaii. The ideal baseball team to beat is still the U.S. World Series champions.

Thus the image of America, as Viewed from There, is larger than life-size, and that presents a problem. Accustomed to thinking of the United States, variously, as an elder brother, a cornucopia, or an abode of inexhaustible resources, the Japanese find it hard to realize that a certain portion of their own prosperity is coming out of America's hide-and that this is increasingly resented across the Pacific.

There is one more conspicuous blind spot. With a deep inner pride in their own worth, the Japanese tend to assume that their intense scrutiny of American fads, social ferment, economic indicators, and legislative processes is naturally to some extent reciprocated. Of course it is not. The View from Here is cursory and casual. Its limits are accurately suggested by the relatively minuscule coverage of Japan in the daily and weekly U.S. press. To be sure, there is Economic Japan: a clouded but impressive picture of pell-mell, purposeful industry-Sony-Toyopet-Honda- tanker-Mitsubishi. But the "economic miracle" is generally presented as inexplicable, or the effect of "low wages" and "human wave" salesmanship. It still excites a kind of involuntary anger in American visitors to note that phenomena like the great super-trains of the New Tokaido line were designed and produced with no borrowing from Western sources.

Japan's politics and political figures are almost unknown, The same holds true for political parties, inner economic trends-aside from notes on new car exports-or social statistics. Where the Japanese newspaper reader and TV viewer receives a continuing report on the United States, the comparable American reporting on Japan is spasmodic and hence over-dramatized when it appears, e.g. a picture of an isolated student riot in Tokyo, selected by an editor principally for its violence, will probably be all that the average, well-informed American knows about the Japanese university.

About one of the world's liveliest and most sophisticated literatures the American knows nothing, except when one of its major exponents either receives the Nobel prize or commits suicide. He is unaware of the urban ferment in discoveries, ideas and new designs for living going on in Japan- the only country whose mass communication and city civilization are facing precisely the same problems of transport, pollution and so on as his own- barring, of course, the racial one. The quaint Japanese are cracking the technological sound barrier right behind us.

Yet behind the textiles and transistors, the American, so relatively sophisticated about the changing situations of Britons, Italians or Russians, sees in the Japanese the same 25-year old image which American soldiers originally brought back from the occupation days: smiling, polite little people (if on occasion deceitful) who are hard-working but inscrutable, living in a lovely country with a big snow-capped mountain, fragile temples, inept taxi drivers and, of course, geisha. It was a significant commentary on the View of Japan from Here that Time magazine, in an otherwise thoughtful cover story on Japanese business last May, saw fit to illumine its last page with an utterly implausible photograph titled "Businessman Relaxing with Geisha," showing two nude figures in a hot spring bath.

Indeed, the American historical image of Japan is worse. For the myth of the Japanese as a bayonet-wielding soldier, perpetrating the rape of Nanking, somehow was ground into our consciousness through all the "save China" rallies of the thirties and the stored racial prejudice of an earlier era. Japan still bears the marks of an enemy country. Long after the Germans of World War II have resumed their popular status as beer- drinking efficiency experts and shortly after the Chinese hordes who slaughtered Americans on the Yalu in 1951 were transformed into cheerful ping-pong players, the memory of Pearl Harbor somehow remains green.

Japanese travelers in the United States do not help the image much. Business contacts excepted, their social shyness, linguistic failings and over-sensitivity to mistakes in front of foreigners drive them into self- chosen cultural ghettos. Whether in New York, Düsseldorf or Paris, all but the most sophisticated Japanese businessmen head like homing pigeons for their cotes in the local Nippon Club. This voluntary seclusion adds to the idea of a people hopelessly "inscrutable."


If not inscrutable, the Japanese are undeniably unique. Japan is best described as a nation society-a tightly threaded 2,000-year old mesh of human fabric, with an extraordinarily broadly based culture, a low common denominator of artistic tastes and living standards and a talent for narrowing the national energies to certain shared tasks or objectives. It is a meritocracy, where almost every bright boy (and most bright girls) can get to college if he passes the exam. It is a consensus-style democracy, where it is considered bad form for the majority to outvote the minority without compromise. In fact, the Japanese have long achieved of their own free will the kind of society that Marxist ideologues only dream about.

Japan continues to have a recognized Political-Economic-Social Establishment, at a time when from New York to Moscow almost every other Establishment is on the run. The Japanese cult of industry, their strong sense of community, their patience and adaptability to crowded conditions have given them a marvelous cushion against modern technological and cultural shock. The problems that Western man is now desperately trying to solve-how to preserve one's individuality in a society taken over by "group- think," how to develop a social ethic, if not a new morality, strong enough to hold its ground against the pressures of mechanistic progress-the Japanese have been working out for centuries. Like an early commuter who has waited all night for the morning bus, the Japanese is there already.

The Japanese can wax indignant over rising prices, bad housing or faulty sewage systems-and their new consumer movement is formidable-but their resiliency remains prodigious. A U.N. survey recently showed how in all West European countries the incidence of crimes of violence always increased as living standards rose; but in Japan it decreased. In adding his own appreciation of Japan's high social boiling point, a columnist for Tokyo's Asahi wrote: "Given what we have here-the world's highest rise in commodity prices, horrible pollution and environment problems, severe housing difficulties-the people of any Western European country would probably have thrown out their government many times over. . . ."

It is partly this kind of inspired groupiness that made the success of "Japan, Inc." so spectacular. But there is another reason: the protective insulation of Japan over two decades. During this time the country could gather its energies for a leap forward quite as it had in the last years of the Tokugawa period, before the samurai of old Edo had become the technicians of the Meiji Restoration. It might be said that the Japanese, considered as members of the world community, passed with rocket speed from the militarist thirties to the scientific sixties, without ever having really lived through the international turmoil of the forties and fifties. In the light of the changes now being wrought by the post-industrial society and the overturn of methods and thought-patterns that the forties and fifties considered modern, this asset seems considerable.

This is hardly to say that the Japanese missed the quarter-century of history which included war and the A-bomb. But during this time they were isolated from the sense of living in an international community, thanks first to the censorship of the militarist government and, later, the avuncular embrace of MacArthur's occupation.

When Japan's energies were released, she immediately fell into the pursuit of economic gain. With undemanding political leadership and an ultimate guarantee of safety under the American nuclear umbrella, the Japanese felt free to concentrate on being "economic animals," and showed a conspicuous disregard for the sensibilities of both their customers and rival tradesmen in the process.

In so doing they also almost deliberately ignored the political conflicts of the ideologically divided world around them (other than to make considerable economic profit from the war in Korea). Intellectuals, comfortably protected from the invasions and implosions of world communism, continued to denounce the fascism and militarism of the thirties as the prime enemies. The people as a whole, having fallen into a chronically Japanese situation of mass dependency during the U.S. occupation, tended to feel that international politics, pro-American or no, were simply not Japan's concern. This political myopia plagues Japan to this day.

Over the last few years, however, the mood has changed. "Economic animal" is becoming a dirty word. A new generation is emerging-more traveled, more outspoken and, indeed, physically bigger than its elders, thanks largely to the spectacular changes in the Japanese diet. There is little of the obviously revolutionary about this generation in Japan. Although young people are quick to denounce inept bureaucrats, greedy businessmen or excessive ceremony, they are possibly less discontented with the structure of their society than young people anywhere. The new generation is genuinely internationalist-minded, with an almost desperate urge to be thought cosmopolitan. It is also vigorously proud of being Japanese, at least tolerant of the Emperor system and anxious that Japan play its rightful role as a great power.

The problem is how. Japan's current political leadership is hardly inspiring. The Sato government has steadily played cautious international politics, content to follow the U.S. lead in most matters, and conservative to a fault. The Socialists, the major opposition party, are not only committed to a kind of high-buttoned shoe Marxism which flies in the face of Japan's economic reality, but their Mao-first, anti-imperialist foreign policy embarrasses the other opposition parties, including the Communist. No party, statesman or party faction has yet appeared who can either rally both Right and Left behind a new foreign policy or dramatize such a policy to the people over the heads of the party leaders.

The Japanese make decisions by consensus. Until a national consensus has been taken, no really active diplomacy is possible. There are signs that a consensus is in the making, impelled by everyone's rising consciousness of great-power status. Major realignments of the two principal parties, at least, are taking place. But until the country makes up its mind, there will be no movement. Many compare this period with the middle and late thirties, when a similar debate was taking place over whether Japan should continue its militarist course, hold its gains, or retreat.

The current drift of thinking, however, is miles away from militarism. The country, most particularly the younger generation, is still determined that a modern great power need not be a military power. Having had their one losing war, the Japanese do not want even the risk of another. Nor has the American failure in Vietnam been reassuring about the virtues of conventional military power. As the almost desperate recruiting posters of the Self-Defense Forces suggest, it takes a lot to get young Japanese marching. They may be fascinated with the currently popular revival of old war songs and memoirs, but this is no more to be confused with a new militarism than Yukio Mishima's startling hara-kiri suicide. It is no coincidence that the country's number one popular hit song is called Senso wo shiranai kodomotachi-"Children Who Have Never Known War."

The feeling also grows that Japan has too slavishly followed American policy, that Japan alone of the major powers is still practicing bipolar diplomacy in a changed world. This mood has been fueled by the fuss over Okinawa, by the heavy protectionist and rearmament pressure from the United States and, not least of all, by the unilateral China policy of the United States. Not since the sudden flare-up of the 1960 riots against the Japanese-American security treaty has the American-Japanese political relationship been so problematical.

The so-called dialogue which has existed between Japan and America is much overrated. It is, in fact, little more than a series of meetings, seminars and symposia, held by generally the same group of participants-a coterie of U.S. experts on Japan and Japanese experts on America who are well accustomed to hearing each other's views.

Nor have the two governments helped much to clear the view. They have been curiously passive, if for different reasons.

The Japanese Foreign Office is a group of competent professionals who have the misfortune of working without any firm foreign policy to interpret. After the late Premier Shigeru Yoshida laid the foundations for the Japanese-American alliance (while opting out of anything like a military commitment to it), his successor, Hayato Ikeda, went on to further the Japanese economic miracle with a low-posture diplomacy to match his government's self-effacing politics at home. Premier Eisaku Sato has continued this modest stance, partly out of reluctance to exacerbate his domestic problems. Only on economic matters does Japanese diplomacy go into high gear, quick to mobilize in support of the errant businessman. In contrast to modern China, where economic considerations are unfailingly sacrificed to political, Japan's diplomats are instructed to put the economic first.

As a corollary of this, the information effort of the Japanese government is minimal. Even Japan's representation on the U.N. Secretariat is less than half the desired maximum, despite the obvious competence of Japanese civil servants. The Japanese government has yet to develop even a large- scale program for educating students from other Asian countries in Tokyo or, to begin with, teaching them Japanese.

In Southeast Asia, where Japan has a huge economic stake, Japanese businessmen are about as popular as Yankees in Chile, It is a galling fact that the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank, an institution largely dependent on Japan for its success, had to be located in Manila rather than Tokyo because of general anti-Japanese prejudice. (Japanese aid programs tend to be cautious and, in relation to the country's GNP, minimal-another source of resentment.)

Yet with all these handicaps, and despite the emerging national consensus that international communications must be improved, Japan has yet to make a national effort to meet the outside world. The nation will put its best face forward for a 1964 or a 1972 Olympics in Tokyo or Hokkaido, or a 1970 World's Fair in Osaka; everything will be done at such times to assure the happiness of the visitor from Oswego or Indianapolis. But as for presenting the Japanese case in Oswego or Indianapolis, that is a different matter. There is still too much stored ethnic and cultural arrogance within the Japanese and too much visible doubt as to what role he should or could assume in a world outside which is, after all, peopled with foreigners.


By comparison, the American government, like American business and academic interests, has every advantage in presenting the American case to Japan. The basic national sympathy toward Americans is so strong that Japanese criticism of the whole Vietnam involvement, through the last seven years, has been, in a relative sense, mild. And Japanese diplomacy gives the impression of an interested bridge partner, waiting to follow the first good bid from the American side.

Good bids have been hard to find. Although the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is one of the world's largest, it has since the departure of Edwin Reischauer in 1967 largely confined itself to a low posture, of which the most self- effacing Japanese diplomat could be proud. All the visibility comes direct from Washington. The number of U.S. diplomats who speak adequate Japanese is shockingly limited as are the linguists in the U.S. business community. And both groups, not to mention the great bulk of the U.S. press corps, remain largely sealed off from the life around them, for social as well as linguistic reasons.

For all their trust in technology, the Japanese remain an intensely ceremonial people, with an abnormal appreciation for a good or graceful gesture and an abnormal sensitivity to a bad one. Manner is almost as matter to them. They abhor open controversy, except in recognized public bear-baiting sessions like the Diet where it is part of the established order. They dislike litigation, and lawyers occupy an interestingly humble position in their councils. The American businessman who makes decisions and deals after long confrontations between rival teams of lawyers and accountants finds that such forensics often boomerang disastrously.

Despite this obvious Japanese fact of life (which, indeed, General Mac Arthur exploited to the full in a gesture-packed occupation), the executors of American foreign policy have ignored the advantages of the right gesture or the apt courtesy. On the contrary, in recent years they have concentrated on making the relationship with Japan an exercise in open confrontations and public pressures. Even more than most, the Japanese find it hard to understand our penchant for installing the adversary system of justice in diplomacy.

The three crises which have lately arisen between the United States and Japan are symptomatic of this problem: (1) the trade imbalance, with the loud revival of American protectionism; (2) Japanese rearmament and U.S. nuclear defense, originally touched off by the Okinawa reversion movement; (3) the projected new American relationship with China, with the implied downgrading of the U.S.-Japanese alliance. None of them need have reached a crisis point. But in handling all three, the Japanese and the American sense for what is appropriate grew ever further apart-so that the View from Here and the View from There might be from different planets-on the American side, unnecessarily public confrontation politics, on the Japanese side, smouldering, but stubborn resistance and resentment.

The textile controversy first dramatized the sharpness of economic competition between Japan and America, which grows worse almost hourly. Even allowing for President Nixon's new ten percent import surtax, the imbalance of trade between the United States and Japan will this year come close to $2 billion, in Japan's favor. Not since 1965 have accounts been reasonably equal. Japan makes most of its export money to the United States by straight sales, while a good bit of the American export to Japan takes the shape of direct or indirect investment, royalties, patent rights, and so on. Foreign investment in their country is a traditional sore spot with the Japanese, who had the Meiji Restoration, among other things, to forestall it. Japan not only subsidizes its exporters, but fences in foreign investments and imports with an anachronistic web of legal and bureaucratic restrictions unworthy of a great power. While Japanese TV sets, motorcycles, small cars and steel were crashing into the U.S. market, U.S. exporters and investors continued to be cut off from fair competition in Japan. The Americans have just cause for complaint, which the Japanese belatedly recognize.

The Nixon administration set out to solve this problem, however, in the worst possible way. Early in 1969, even before an ambassador had been appointed, the new President sent Secretary of Commerce Stans to Tokyo to give the Japanese government a widely publicized lecture on what would happen if they did not moderate excessive competition with American textile manufacturers.

It is well known in Japan that textiles are far from the most important export to the United States (electronics and automobiles make up 30 percent, textiles barely 10 percent.) It was also widely believed that President Nixon had promised various Southern statesmen to ease competitive pressure on textiles in return for their votes.[i] (The same articles discussing this in the U.S. press were faithfully translated and read in Japan.) As the U.S. government kept publicly emphasizing demands for Japan itself to restrict textile exports to the United States, Japanese indignation went up proportionally. Japanese textile manufacturers have their political lobbies, too, and the somewhat leftist press is always quick to headline any point of confrontation with the Americans. Over the past two and a half years every step in the textile negotiations has been scanned with a magnifying glass on page one of Japanese newspapers.

Meanwhile, more important economic dangers were neglected, more opportunities for negotiation overlooked. On the contrary, when the dollar was suddenly cut loose from gold and the surtax invoked, Washington left little doubt that its principal target was Japan. On no European country ever has the United States publicly used such bludgeoning tactics. On no other country could such tactics have a worse effect. "Never push an adversary into a corner," the late Prime Minister Ikeda was fond of saying, "you give him no room to man?uvre and he becomes desperate."

The problem of Okinawa and its bases showed the same pattern of neglect, irritation and ultimate crisis. It took 20 years of studiously unimaginative U.S. military government to turn the Okinawans from poor relations of Japan, who in the late forties would have welcomed American annexation outright, to the angry irredentists of the nineteen-sixties. Five years too late for it to be a graceful gesture, the United States agreed to give up Okinawa by 1972. But the Administration's sudden decision to leave ratification of the Okinawa Reversion Treaty to the Senate, where the textile lobby might conceivably block it, removed even the traces of goodwill.

The current stipulations about the United States retaining bases, with the furor over poison gas storage on Okinawa, have brought a second wave of agitation against any special future status for Okinawan bases whatsoever. Here, just as with the trade controversy, the Japanese press headlines the slightest news development, while American readers and viewers remained until recently ignorant that there is a controversy at all.

In the wake of this-and just shortly before Mr. Kissinger returned from China-Secretary of Defense Laird made his recent, well-publicized visit to Tokyo. The Secretary may have been careful in his public statements, but both U.S. and Japanese newspaper reports suggested, most forcibly, that his visit was: (1) part of an American campaign to make Japan increase her conventional armaments; and (2) a corollary effort to persuade Japan to develop her own nuclear warfare capability, in case the so-called U.S. nuclear umbrella over Japan suddenly had to be folded, e.g. as a result of SALT commitments.

To the Japanese, the two pressures seemed paradoxical. On the one hand the United States urged them to increase their conventional military forces, designed from the beginning purely as back-up to the American nuclear protective power. Then, in the same breath, it was suggested that this nuclear protection may have to be curtailed. (Meanwhile, some U.S. Congressmen had recently visited Premier Sato to express their concern at the possibility of Japan going "militarist" again.)

From Washington it may have seemed only simple logic that the Secretary of Defense would advise the Japanese to strengthen their own military commitment, now that the United States was phasing out of Okinawa and feeling a general financial pinch about all military commitments overseas. This was, indeed, only a logical continuation of a consistent U.S. effort, begun only five years after MacArthur's anti-war constitution, to have Japan increase its forces.

The View from There is quite different. The Self-Defense Forces in Japan are barely past the status of a public embarrassment. Most Japanese continue to think that a strong economy and a unified society are worth more than numerous divisions. The need for armed forces may be understood by some, but not by many.

Some Japanese commentators even extrapolated the belief that the Laird visit was in fact timed to fit the Kissinger visit to Peking, as a reminder to the Chinese that the United States could still exert military pressure on them, via Japan. However far from the truth this may be, it had an effect on Japanese intellectuals comparable to the popular indignation against the proposed Soviet fleet man?uvres off Shikoku last year.[ii]


The new American relationship with China has brought alive the historic triangle among the three countries, in which the roles of wife and mistress seem to keep switching. Although China's past role in this relationship was more that of a patient than an agent, this can hardly be said today. To many Japanese-right-wing businessmen as well as left-wing editorial writers- China to the west represents a strong and needed counter-attraction to the heavy American magnetic pull eastward. (Russians are not much liked in Japan, and their negative postwar diplomacy toward Japan has yet to help the image.) Many elements are involved-curiosity, a bookish nostalgia for China's classical culture, guilt over the Japanese spoliation of China for many decades, not least of all the fascination of opening a new vast hinterland for Japanese products.

Yet for all the talk of Do-bun do-shu-"Common culture, common race"-the Japanese do not know China well and have only a superficial interest in knowing more. Fewer than 2,000 students are currently studying the Chinese language, far less than those studying Spanish. There is no modern literature about China to compare with the tons of published comment and translated works on Europe and the United States. Japan's basic concern with China is no more than an unsentimental wish to establish some kind of lasting relationship with such a vast and fearful neighbor-but no less, either.

No one responded with more enthusiasm to Chou En-lai's ping-pong diplomacy than the Japanese. Even the Sato government, borne on a groundswell of public opinion, felt it time to change the attitude toward China from the current opportunistic economic relationship, called by the uninhibited dogeza gaiko-"kow-tow diplomacy"-in which Japanese trade representatives and unofficial diplomats regularly make the pilgrimage to Peking, and receive fairly substantial orders after signing declarations denouncing Japanese "militarism," which are then disavowed by the Administration in Tokyo.

Cautiously, Premier Sato's government began to make some overtures. At the same time, Foreign Office spokesmen continued to stress Japan's strong adherence to a joint U.S.-Japanese approach to the China problem; and in particular, regarding Taiwan, where Japan has large business interests.

It was at this point that the Nixon announcement struck with the suddenness of a bucket of cold water. Premier Sato's whole foreign policy toward China, a scaffolding built on the American model, tumbled overnight, as government spokesmen had to admit they had known nothing of the Kissinger visit until the very instant before the President's announcement.[iii]

On the surface, Japanese reaction to the United States overture to China was and is favorable. The current in favor of recognizing China has been running stronger in Japan than in the United States. But underneath ran an undertow of resentment. The Nixon announcement confirmed a long-gathering suspicion that, in any really important Asian diplomacy, the United States would go it alone. Comments ranged from "That proves that there is no Japanese diplomacy" to "In this world, there is no Japan." Trust in the United States has been cracked, and it may never be wholly put together. "Nixon finally freed us," one Japanese friend said to me. "We need never be bound to you again."

As of this writing, the U.S. government has not yet seen fit to make any substantial gesture toward Japan to balance remotely the Peking visit. President Nixon's announcement-made a few days after his surtax declaration- that he would meet Emperor Hirohito's Europe-bound plane in Alaska hardly seems to qualify. It is true that nations and peoples see each other through a glass darkly. But not often in national relationships has there been such a confused view of what is important in such an important relationship.

Some things could be done to make the U.S.-Japanese relationship less distorted.

(1) A major step would be an American motion to have Japan seated as a permanent member of the Security Council, along with communist China, in the realignment of that organ which seems inevitable. Japan is a great power in the sense that some present Council members are no longer. A wish for permanent representation in the Security Council has been growing strong in Japan. Yet, in all the talk about the United States sponsoring mainland Chinese membership, in the United Nations and on the Council, only one or two voices have been raised to consider the Japanese.

(2) A joint standing committee should be established to review the Japanese- American trade relationship and suggest mutually palatable ways of easing strains in it before the next venture into courtroom diplomacy. This would mercifully supplement the current periodic, formal joint Cabinet-level meetings.

(3) The cultural exchange and information conferences, started by Ambassador Reischauer in 1962, should receive heavy support both from government and industry. The work should include regular conferences between editors, which might persuade some Japanese journalists that a consistently negative anti-American attitude is not necessarily good news and might persuade their American counterparts that there is a flesh-and- blood Japan, apart from the "bullet train and geisha suicides."

(4) Both the United States and Japan could profit from a structured interchange of ideas on how to deal with the urban technological revolution. Their problems are astonishingly similar both in their scope and their degree of urgency.

(5) Some further work should be done on the reduction of American bases in and around Japan, and either a clear reaffirmation, a clear restatement, or a clear rejection of the nuclear umbrella principle. Before the Nixon announcement about China, one could have said flatly, "The Japanese will not take to nuclear weapons in the next decade, if at all." Now, there is some doubt. Too many American voices have lately been calling the nuclear umbrella into question.

The Japanese have their own fences to mend. The holier-than-thou attitude of Japanese businessmen about American protectionism ignores their own underbrush of protection at home and the hostile measures taken, until recently, against any foreign investment-not to mention the foot-dragging on yen reëvaluation.

These steps may seem weak and incomplete but they would be the beginning of a coöperation long overdue. For behind the distortions in the View from Here and the View from There is the basic breakdown of an alliance-an alliance which began as a military pact with one very senior and one very junior partner. This is so no longer. Japan is no longer a client state, nor must the United States be forever cast in the role of an understanding protector. On the contrary, these are two great powers, with essentially common objectives, vast resources, and few points of friction, present or foreseeable, that could not be negotiated on equal terms. It is not too late to reconstruct the alliance on new principles, in which an element of military protection can remain, but subordinate to more positive goals of coöperation in technology and education and an improvement of living standards in the whole area of Asia and the Pacific. But if some drastic changes are not made in its shape and functions-and most importantly, in the commitment of both peoples to it-the alliance will soon be dead.

[i] Imports from Japan amount to a total of two percent of U.S. textile production.

[ii] In March 1970, the Soviet government notified Japan that some of its fleet units would be holding firing practice off the coast of Shikoku, as well as certain other areas north of Japan, the following month. Although these man?uvres were probably part of a pattern aimed to exert indirect pressure on China, Moscow completely underestimated the direct Japanese reaction. After Foreign Office protests, the Soviet government agreed to cancel the whole business.

[iii] Japanese recalled, with some irony, that Premier Kiichiro Hiranuma, Japan's prewar pro-Axis leader, bad resigned under similar circumstances, after denouncing the "monstrous complications" of diplomacy, when he was surprised by the announcement of the Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now