THE UNITED STATES AND JAPAN by Edwin O. Reisehauer

THE UNITED STATES AND JAPAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Author of the excellent short history of Japan -- Japan Past and Present (Knopf -- 1946), and a professor at Harvard, here expands his historical approach to encompass an informed and dispassionate analysis of the Japanese people, government, political, social and economic aspects of their life and philosophy, and the factors bearing upon relations with the United States, the occupation, and the revolutionary reforms now in process of being tested. Japan he feels is an essential factor in the balance of power in a divided world. Her inevitably slow economic recovery (he explores the basic reasons for this) makes her an ideological battleground of Asia, and the alternatives to success of our policy in Japan are not pleasant to consider. For the responsibility is ours; the sham facade of the Far Eastern Commission is torn aside; the barren soil for democracy is revealed. Demilitarization -- a viable economy a democratic government, this is the three point program. Is it possible of realization? To this end, he presents a quick survey of the successive contacts with the West, the shifting phases of Japan's relations with the United States, the basic economic and social framework of Japanese life, -- physical realities, psychology, postwar record, all receive due consideration. The miracle of Japan's prewar industrialization against odds is analyzed; its future revival explored; the elements in Japanese character studied in their bearing on the subject. Japan is going through a period of change and conflict, intensified by superimposed and radical changes of occupation. He feels that only those reforms that are rooted in prewar trends will last; the others are superficial front, whether it be demilitarization, dismemberment of empire, political reforms, educational reforms, social reforms, labor reforms. We have an exaggerated idea of our achievements. Only time and the direction of the shift (now definitely again conservative) will determine. On the whole, a soundly reasoned piece of scholarship. Not easy reading, but rewardingly informative, and large in scope.

Pub Date: July 14th, 1950
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press