These two books seek to demystify Japan's foreign policy behavior. Samuels has done a masterly job of relating Tokyo's grand strategy to international relations theory. Japan's defeat in World War II set the stage for the Japanese to rethink their policies, but the spirit of pacifism and antimilitarism was never as binding as many foreigners thought it was. According to Samuels, the end of the Cold War forced Japanese strategic thinkers to deal with four new threats: the rise of China, a miscreant North Korea, the possibility of abandonment by the United States, and the relative decline of the Japanese economy. One way or another, the Japanese have had to come up with new policies -- and in the process they have also had to form new connections.
The symposium volume edited by Berger, Mochizuki, and Tsuchiyama is organized around the view that Japan is going through a process of adopting new international roles. The authors of the chapters are a mixture of American Japan specialists and Japanese scholars. The theme of several of the chapters is that Japan's renunciation of war had a degree of popular appeal, but it could under certain conditions also conflict with the Japanese desire to participate in UN peacekeeping operations. Other significant chapters include Berger's analysis of "the politics of memory," in which Berger describes how the East Asian states have different memories of divisive historical events, and Mochizuki's important and illuminating chapter on dealing with a rising China.