Japan and the United States from Kennedy to Clinton

New National Security Archive Publication Makes Available 900 Formerly Classified Documents – Published on The National Security Archive, Electronic Briefing Book No. 382, by Robert A. Wampler, PhD, June 20, 2012.

Washington, D.C., June 20, 2012 –The National Security Archive announces the publication of its latest digital compilation of declassified records on U.S. ties with a critically important global partner – Japan. The new collection, Japan and the United States: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, Part III, 1961-2000,   

(It) includes the most recent U.S. government releases covering a broad spectrum of issues and events in the bilateral relationship, and providing essential content for understanding the current global economic crisis as well as recent geopolitical developments in East Asia and the Pacific Rim.

Japan and the United States is the Archive’s third, fully-indexed anthology on the subject, and is available through the academic publisher ProQuest. Marking its publication, the Archive is today posting a selection of presidential and Cabinet-level records from the set that reflect the key strategic, defense and economic aspects of the relationship. The Archive obtained the documents in the collection through the Freedom of Information Act and original archival research. Among the highlights of the posting:

  • Memoranda of conversation between Bush and Kaifu during the opening months of the first Gulf War crisis, as Bush pressed the Japanese leader to consider not just financial support, but an eventual role for Japan’s military. As Bush warned Kaifu, “In Congress there are always people trying to blame Japan, Germany or somebody else. They see us spending large amounts of money and sending fine young people to the Middle East, where they might be in harm’s way.” While he understood this feeling, Bush also stressed that he didn’t “want any scapegoats,” and would make it clear to the American people that “Japan is trying very hard to do its part.” (Documents 3,4,5 and 6)
  • New documents on wide-ranging secret bilateral security talks at the end of the Carter and Clinton administrations, as the two powers met on a regular basis to trade viewpoints on the full spectrum of common security concerns and the management of the defense alliance, as well as the political situation in both countries. For example, in 1979, Nicholas Platt, the Asia expert on Carter’s National Security Council, candidly observed to his Japanese counterparts (likely with an eye to reassuring them) that he had seen a marked change in the President’s attitude: “He has been through a period of intense introspection. He is much more forceful. In contrasting him to just after he left Seoul, he is more positive, rested, etc.” (Documents 1, 2, 12 and 13)
  • Briefing memoranda for Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin on the U.S. strategy and goals for tackling the Japanese and Asian economic crisis in the 1990s. These documents detail the ongoing efforts the Clinton administration made to press Japan to adopt the necessary policies to head off what one document called a worst-case “black hole” scenario that could lead to a recession or years of no economic growth in Japan, weaken the world economy, harm U.S. trade interests, increase protectionist pressures and roil financial markets. (Documents 7,8,9 and 10)

… (full text and Documents 1 to 13).

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