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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): Japan and the United States: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, 1977–1992

About this Collection

Japan and the United States: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, Part II: 1977–1992 is the most important compilation of documents publicly available on relations between the United States and Japan during the Carter, Reagan and Bush I presidencies. This was the period when the Cold War drew to a close and U.S. policy-makers strove to develop a new global strategy. Incorporating the latest U.S. government releases, obtained largely through the Freedom of Information Act, this collection significantly enriches the historical record. White House, State Department, Pentagon, Commerce Department, CIA and other documents, virtually all of them previously classified, cover all the major issues from this critical period, including high-level diplomatic, military and economic relations.

Topics covered in detail include summit meetings during all three presidential administrations, U.S. objectives in major trade negotiations on such items as automobiles and semiconductors, the Structural Dialogue talks on trade, U.S. efforts to guide Japanese defense policy, and the impact of the first Persian Gulf conflict on U.S.-Japan relations. The collection also incorporates new material from 1960-1976 released since the publication of Japan and the United States: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, 1960-1976.

Research Value of the Collection

Japan and the United States, Part II: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, 1977–1992 continues the documentation of U.S.-Japan relations begun with a previous set, Japan and the United States: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, 1960–1976. It is concerned with an era of profound changes in the Japan-U.S. relationship and in global politics. Having weathered the "Nixon Shocks" of the early 1970s, which reshaped the dynamics of the Cold War and profoundly affected international economic relations, and then the scandals which brought down leaders in both nations, Nixon by Watergate and Tanaka by Lockheed, leaders in Washington and Tokyo found little respite as the new diplomatic currents set in motion by Nixon and Kissinger continued to buffet the alliance. Meanwhile, new challenges, embodied in the Iranian revolution, the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the return of Cold War tensions following the brief lull of détente, arose. The renewed Cold War brought heightened attention to the security relationship between Washington and Tokyo, even as increased trade competition and tension between the two nations threatened to undermine political support for the alliance. The fall of the Soviet regime and the end of the Cold War created further tests for the alliance, as leaders in both countries sought an updated "vision" to guide diplomacy and to provide a new rationale for the alliance. Ideas about a "New World Order" or a unique American "unipolar moment" would soon run aground on new regional and non-state based threats, as well as the return of a long-time Cold War adversary—North Korea—to challenge stability and peace.

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 Carter, Reagan and first Bush presidencies