No nation was more deeply affected by America’s rise to world power than Japan. President Franklin Roosevelt’s uncompromising policy of unconditional surrender led to the catastrophic finale of the Asia-Pacific War and the most intrusive international reconstruction of another nation in modern history. Japan in the American Century examines how Japan, with its deeply conservative heritage, responded to the imposition of a new liberal order.
The price Japan paid to end the occupation was a cold war alliance with the United States that ensured America’s dominance in the region. Still traumatized by its wartime experience, Japan developed a grand strategy of dependence on U.S. security guarantees so that the nation could concentrate on economic growth. Yet from the start, despite American expectations, Japan reworked the American reforms to fit its own circumstances and cultural preferences, fashioning distinctively Japanese variations on capitalism, democracy, and social institutions.
Today, with the postwar world order in retreat, Japan is undergoing a sea change in its foreign policy, returning to an activist, independent role in global politics not seen since 1945. Distilling a lifetime of work on Japan and the United States, Kenneth Pyle offers a thoughtful history of the two nations’ relationship at a time when the character of that alliance is changing. Japan has begun to pull free from the constraints established after World War II, with repercussions for its relations with the United States and its role in Asian geopolitics.
A brilliant, elegantly written work destined to become one of the essential books on United States–Japan relations. It reflects Pyle’s broad knowledge and lifelong effort to bring coherence to the grand strategy of the United States since its rise as a dominant power in Asia and the consequences of that strategy for both nations.
This is a fine book, intelligent and necessary. Pyle, a distinguished historian of modern Japan, writes in a subtle and supple way, with an unerring sense of balance. His careful linking of the unconditional surrender demand by the U.S. to the character of the Japanese postwar settlement is fresh and provocative. I hope those who make American policy toward Japan read what he has to say.
In a book that devotes equal space to the view from Japan and the U.S., [Pyle] shows equal discernment in recounting the ways in which each country came to collide and then cohabit with the other over the last hundred years. On each side Pyle uncovers things missed by a regiment of prior historians.
- 472 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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