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Home > Books & Journals > Book Review Last Updated: 14:22 03/09/2007
Book Review #35: August 5, 2002

"U.S.-Japan Relations in a Changing World"

edited by Steven K. Vogel

Reviewed by Takahiro Miyao (GLOCOM)

Title: U.S.-Japan Relations in a Changing World
Editor: Steven K. Vogel
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
Date/Time: 2002
Pages: English text 286 pages (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-8157-0629-4


This volume is a product of the U.S.-Japan 21st Century Project, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty on September 8, 1951. The content of this volume is neatly summarized by the editor, Steven K. Vogel, in terms of three patterns that will break and five patterns that will continue in the next ten years or so.

First, the breaks follow:
1) U.S.-Japan relations will be less stable.
2) Security relations will be more contentious.
3) Economic relations will be less contentious.

Second, the following five trends will continue or even accelerate:
1) Japanese foreign policy will become more independent from the U.S.
2) Bilateral relations will become more embedded in multilateral relationships.
3) Bilateral relations will become more pluralistic.
4) The U.S.-Japan agenda will expand.
5) Military power will decline in utility.

The author concludes that "if U.S. and Japanese leaders better understand the new challenges they face at the beginning of the twenty-first century, then they will be that much better able to cope with these challenges." But this is indeed a big "if," and many people wonder whether the current U.S.and Japanese administrations really understand these challenges in the first place.

The following is from the publisher's website:

"U.S.-Japan Relations in a Changing World" edited by Steven K. Vogel

September 2001 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the San Francisco Treaty, formally ending the Second World War. In signing this treaty, Japan fundamentally transformed its position on the world stage. It established itself in the vanguard of the burgeoning cold war bulwark against the Soviet Union and its communist satellites, and wed itself to the United States through economic, political, and security ties that persist today. The half century since the establishment of the San Francisco system has seen highs and lows in the relations between the two countries, continuing even into the current war on terrorism.

This new book evaluates the changing relationship between the two great powers, providing in-depth analysis on a variety of topics. It scrutinizes the historical context, providing the reader with predictive tools for understanding events as they unfold. Instead of looking at the U.S.-Japan relationship one issue at a time, this book examines specific trends and then analyzes how these trends affect the relationship as a whole.

This innovative approach allows the reader to view several perspectives simultaneously, and it compels the contributors to assemble clear causal arguments that detail what each factor can and cannot explain. The result is a cogent and convincing appraisal of the status and future of U.S.-Japan relations after fifty years of peaceful coexistence.

Contributors include: Laurie Freeman (University of California, Santa Barbara), Michael Green (Director of Asian Affairs, National Security Council), William Grimes (Boston University), Keith Nitta (University of California, Berkeley), Adam Posen (Institute for International Economics), Leonard Schoppa (University of Virginia), Amy Searight (Northwestern University), Steven Vogel (University of California, Berkeley), and John Zysman (University of California, Berkeley).

Steven Vogel is associate professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of Freer Markets, More Rules: Regulatory Reform in the Advanced Industrial Countries (Cornell University Press, 1996).

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