The post-Cold War stability of Asia depends on the effectiveness of the U.S.-Japan alliance -- and the critical but troubling question to ask is whether this strained relationship will be up to the challenge. A distinguished Japanese journalist, Funabashi analyzes the problems of the alliance by dissecting four case studies: friction over economic and trade matters, responses to the North Korean nuclear weapons program, American bases in Okinawa and the aftermath of the rape of a Japanese schoolgirl there, and the challenge posed by China after its 1996 missile firing near Taiwan. The result is a lively, in-depth account of the operations of two governments with quite distinct styles. Based on extensive interviews and careful archival readings, Funabashi brings to life the personalities of the officials involved. The result is first-class diplomatic history told through human interactions.