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The relationship between the United States and Japan is torn by contrary impulses. We face each other across the Pacific as friends and allies, as the two most powerful economies in the world--and as suspicious rivals. Americans admire the industry of the Japanese, but we resent the huge trade deficit that has developed between us, due to what we consider to be unfair trad The relationship between the United States and Japan is torn by contrary impulses. We face each other across the Pacific as friends and allies, as the two most powerful economies in the world--and as suspicious rivals. Americans admire the industry of the Japanese, but we resent the huge trade deficit that has developed between us, due to what we consider to be unfair trade practices and "unlevel playing fields." Now, in Altered States, historian Michael Schaller strips away the stereotypes and misinformation clouding American perceptions of Japan, providing the historical background that helps us make sense of this important relationship. Here is an eye-opening history of U.S.-Japan relations from the end of World War II to the present, revealing its rich depths and startling complexities. Perhaps Schaller's most startling revelation is that modern Japan is what we made it--that most of what we criticize in Japan's behavior today stems directly from U.S. policy in the 1950s. Indeed, as the book shows, for seven years after the end of the war, our occupational forces exerted enormous influence over the shape and direction of Japan's economic future. Stunned by the Communist victory in China and the outbreak of war in Korea, and fearful that Japan might form ties with Mao's China, the U.S. encouraged the rapid development of the Japanese economy, protecting the huge industrial conglomerates and creating new bureaucracies to direct growth. Thus Japan's government-guided, export-driven economy was nurtured by our own policy. Moreover, the United States fretted about Japan's economic weakness--that they would become dependent on us--and sought to expand Tokyo's access to markets in the very areas it had just tried to conquer, the old Co Prosperity Sphere. Schaller documents how, as the Cold War deepened throughout the 1950s, Washington showered money on what it saw as the keystone of the eastern shore of Asia, working assiduously to expand the Japanese economy and, in fact, worrying intensely over the American trade surplus. Fear of Japanese instability ran so deep that Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson approved secret financial help to Japanese conservative politicians, some of whom had been accused of war crimes against Americans. Then came the 1960s, and the surplus faded into a deficit. The book reveals how Washington's involvement in Vietnam provided the Japanese government with political cover for quietly pursuing a more independent course. Even in the 1970s, however, with America's one time ward turned into an economic powerhouse, the Nixon administration failed to pay much attention to Tokyo. Schaller shows that Kissinger openly preferred the more charismatic company of Zhou Enlai to that of Japanese technocrats, while economics bored him. The United States almost missed the fact that Japan had developed into a country that could say no, and very loudly. Michael Schaller has won widespread acclaim for his earlier books on U. S. relations with Asia. His fearless judgments, his fluid pen, his depth of knowledge and research have all lifted him to the front rank of historians writing today. In Altered States, he illuminates the most important, and troubled, relationship in the world in a work certain to cement his reputation.


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The relationship between the United States and Japan is torn by contrary impulses. We face each other across the Pacific as friends and allies, as the two most powerful economies in the world--and as suspicious rivals. Americans admire the industry of the Japanese, but we resent the huge trade deficit that has developed between us, due to what we consider to be unfair trad The relationship between the United States and Japan is torn by contrary impulses. We face each other across the Pacific as friends and allies, as the two most powerful economies in the world--and as suspicious rivals. Americans admire the industry of the Japanese, but we resent the huge trade deficit that has developed between us, due to what we consider to be unfair trade practices and "unlevel playing fields." Now, in Altered States, historian Michael Schaller strips away the stereotypes and misinformation clouding American perceptions of Japan, providing the historical background that helps us make sense of this important relationship. Here is an eye-opening history of U.S.-Japan relations from the end of World War II to the present, revealing its rich depths and startling complexities. Perhaps Schaller's most startling revelation is that modern Japan is what we made it--that most of what we criticize in Japan's behavior today stems directly from U.S. policy in the 1950s. Indeed, as the book shows, for seven years after the end of the war, our occupational forces exerted enormous influence over the shape and direction of Japan's economic future. Stunned by the Communist victory in China and the outbreak of war in Korea, and fearful that Japan might form ties with Mao's China, the U.S. encouraged the rapid development of the Japanese economy, protecting the huge industrial conglomerates and creating new bureaucracies to direct growth. Thus Japan's government-guided, export-driven economy was nurtured by our own policy. Moreover, the United States fretted about Japan's economic weakness--that they would become dependent on us--and sought to expand Tokyo's access to markets in the very areas it had just tried to conquer, the old Co Prosperity Sphere. Schaller documents how, as the Cold War deepened throughout the 1950s, Washington showered money on what it saw as the keystone of the eastern shore of Asia, working assiduously to expand the Japanese economy and, in fact, worrying intensely over the American trade surplus. Fear of Japanese instability ran so deep that Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson approved secret financial help to Japanese conservative politicians, some of whom had been accused of war crimes against Americans. Then came the 1960s, and the surplus faded into a deficit. The book reveals how Washington's involvement in Vietnam provided the Japanese government with political cover for quietly pursuing a more independent course. Even in the 1970s, however, with America's one time ward turned into an economic powerhouse, the Nixon administration failed to pay much attention to Tokyo. Schaller shows that Kissinger openly preferred the more charismatic company of Zhou Enlai to that of Japanese technocrats, while economics bored him. The United States almost missed the fact that Japan had developed into a country that could say no, and very loudly. Michael Schaller has won widespread acclaim for his earlier books on U. S. relations with Asia. His fearless judgments, his fluid pen, his depth of knowledge and research have all lifted him to the front rank of historians writing today. In Altered States, he illuminates the most important, and troubled, relationship in the world in a work certain to cement his reputation.

31 review for Altered States: The United States and Japan Since the Occupation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Delanceyplace Place

    In war, while the battles are the thing most historians focus on, it is the aftermath of the war that ends up having equal or greater importance to history, and most historians completely neglect that aspect of the story. This book is the story of the rebuilding of Japan after World War II. (Contrary to popular opinion, it is a story in which General Douglas MacArthur plays only a small role.) Did you know (I didn't) that the mindset that led to the Vietnam war was more about preserving non-commu In war, while the battles are the thing most historians focus on, it is the aftermath of the war that ends up having equal or greater importance to history, and most historians completely neglect that aspect of the story. This book is the story of the rebuilding of Japan after World War II. (Contrary to popular opinion, it is a story in which General Douglas MacArthur plays only a small role.) Did you know (I didn't) that the mindset that led to the Vietnam war was more about preserving non-communist trading partners for Japan after World War II than any concern that communism would arrive, a la the domino theory, on America's shores. It turns out Japan's post-war economy was anemic, and all efforts to boost it were failing. There was a nascent communist movement within Japan, and the largest and most natural trading partners for Japan were China and the Soviet Union. Therefore, U.S. policymakers believed they had to preserve non-communist trading partners for Japan or it would inevitably fall under the sway of Communist China and thus all of Asia would be communist. The best and perhaps only logical candidate for this non-communist trading bloc was Indochina, which thus became of paramount strategic importance to the U.S. The irony here is the thing that finally pulled Japan out of its economic slump was America's Korean War, to which Japan became a major supplier. Click to read an excerpt: http://delanceyplace.com/view-archive...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Well-researched. Some interesting new revelations about American-Japanese relations (to me at least). However, the writing style is dry and academic. Synthesis is missing from this book. Mostly this is a write-up of Schaller's research which is from primary (mostly US government documents) and secondary written sources (some biographies, occasionally his own books). He did not interview anyone for this book himself, as far as I can tell from his citations. This read more like a wikipedia article Well-researched. Some interesting new revelations about American-Japanese relations (to me at least). However, the writing style is dry and academic. Synthesis is missing from this book. Mostly this is a write-up of Schaller's research which is from primary (mostly US government documents) and secondary written sources (some biographies, occasionally his own books). He did not interview anyone for this book himself, as far as I can tell from his citations. This read more like a wikipedia article than a McCullough epic, mostly because the actors were two-dimensional. Again this books mostly describes what happened to the Japanese-American relationship post-occupation; unfortunately it leaves out the who and why?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Arnab

  4. 5 out of 5

    Blair

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pedro

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anh Nguyen

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

  8. 4 out of 5

    hoffnarr

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erwin

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paligap

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pawel_k

  12. 5 out of 5

    Boghean George

  13. 4 out of 5

    William

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bert

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dennis McCrea

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lee

  19. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Azhar

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Azeem Ahmad

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ian Martin

  24. 4 out of 5

    Richard Troth

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kay Card

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lu

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ronan Oldroyd

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gábor

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kaerber

  31. 5 out of 5

    John Rose

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