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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): Japan and the United States: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, 1961-2000

About this Collection

This National Security Archive collection, which supplements the first two sets on U.S.-Japan relations with the very latest declassified records, spans the years from Kennedy to Clinton.  As with the earlier sets, it covers a wide spectrum of issues and events in the bilateral relationship during the last four decades of the twentieth century. These materials are also important resources for understanding the current global economic crisis and recent geopolitical developments in East Asia and the Pacific Rim. 

Containing nearly 900 documents, the set draws upon the most up-to-date releases from the Ford, Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidential libraries, as well as once-classified materials from the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA and other agencies obtained through hundreds of Freedom of Information Act requests. Among the key documents shedding new light on critical issues such as negotiations over the return of Okinawa, bilateral military relations in the wake of détente and the opening to China, security challenges on the Korean Peninsula, and the Asian economic crisis at the end of the twentieth century, are memoranda of conversation between Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush and their Japanese counterparts, detailed reports on meetings of the Security Consultative Committee, and briefing books prepared for Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin’s meetings with Japanese Finance Ministry officials.

Research Value of the Collection

Japan and the United States: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, Part III, 1961-2000, building on the foundation created by the first two National Security Archive collections on Japan, provides new documents to help researchers understand four decades in the history of one of the United States’ most important bilateral relationships. During and after the Cold War, the alliance between Washington and Tokyo underwent profound tests and changes. These years witnessed efforts throughout the period to adjust the defense relationship to a changing international stage marked by the Vietnam War, détente, the opening to China, a renewed Cold War and its sudden end under Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and the search for a new strategic rationale for the alliance in the face of the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of China, and the deepening of security concerns on the Korean Peninsula due to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. On the economic stage, the growing concerns in the U.S. about the rising trade imbalance with Japan from Nixon on, summed up by claims that Japan was now “Number 1,” gave way to concerns in the U.S. about the future economic growth and stability of Japan and the wider Asian region following the sharp financial downturns of the 1990s, which ushered in the Asian Economic Crisis. A better grasp of the previously classified record underlying this history is essential for scholars seeking to understand the events and dynamics that provided the foundation for the current global economic crisis and recent geopolitical and strategic developments in East Asia and the Pacific Rim.

This collection, gathered from the major agencies concerned with the management of U.S.-Japan relations, will permit scholars to refer directly to primary documents of central importance in researching these events and issues, including, but not limited to, policy reviews; internal assessments of various aspects of Japan's foreign, military and economic policies; and intelligence reports; as well as memoranda of conversation and diplomatic cables that provide an intimate view of the dynamics of the U.S.-Japan relationship. Thus, the documents will be of great relevance to scholars in a variety of fields, including:

  • U.S.-Japan relations
  • Japan studies
  • U.S.-Asia policy
  • East Asia area studies
  • Security studies
  • International relations
  • International economic policy
  • U.S. policy making
  • The Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton presidencies