The Clash: A History of U.S.--Japan Relations

Walter LaFeber, Author
Walter LaFeber, Author W. W. Norton & Company $29.95 (508p) ISBN 978-0-393-03950-4
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 508 pages - 978-0-393-31837-1
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Unless the U.S. and Japan change their historic attitudes toward each other and the rest of Asia, conflicts between the two nations are bound to continue, predicts LaFeber, professor of history at Cornell University and author of several books on U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. needs to accept that Asia is not its Western frontier and that it is not the nation's ""manifest destiny"" to make it so. Instead, argues LaFeber, America should diminish its role in Asia. But given the temptations of those vast markets, he concludes that this is not likely. Japan, he notes, must maintain its social and political order against ""new technologies and foreign financial power that threatens to engulf that centuries-old order,"" as well as insure safeguards on its military, among other things. But in neither case, writes LaFeber, ""does the historical record promise an easy new relationship to replace the old."" Propelling the tensions between Japan and the U.S. today are deeply rooted cultural differences, each country's distinctive form of capitalism and the competition for Asian markets, especially the formidable Chinese market. In his penetrating study, LaFeber analyzes both nations' policies since 1853, when Commodore Perry ""opened"" Japan to the West. His history of the two lands makes a significant contribution to the field. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Sept.)
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