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Japan in the American Century

Japan in the American Century

Kenneth B. Pyle

ISBN 9780674983649

Publication date: 10/15/2018

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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.

    —Ezra F. Vogel, author of Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China


  • Kenneth B. Pyle is Henry M. Jackson Professor Emeritus of History and International Studies at the University of Washington and the author of Japan Rising (“Outstanding,” The Economist) and the classic textbook The Making of Modern Japan. He was for many years director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. The founding president of the National Bureau of Asian Research, Pyle received the Order of the Rising Sun, Japan’s most prestigious honor, and created the Journal of Japanese Studies, the most important journal in the field.

Book Details

  • 472 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press