chapter  8
The Emperor and the imperial institution in late Sh)wa Japan, 1970–1989
Pages 24

The ‘Nixon shocks’ in the summer of 1971 made that year ‘a landmark in Japanese-US relations, delimiting the honeymoon years of the cold war consensus from the recurring crises and uncertainties’ which lay ahead (Hellmann 1988:364). First, in July, without consulting Prime Minister Sat) in advance, the president announced that he would visit Peking in February 1972. Sat) was stunned by this abrupt signal of a fundamental reorientation in America’s China policy, which Japan had hitherto followed by maintaining diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan). After a speedy reassessment of Japanese foreign policy, it fell to his successor, Tanaka Kakuei, who held office from July 1972 to December 1974, to recognize instead the People’s Republic of China, in September 1972 (Welfield 1988:318-20). As it turned out, Japan took this important step seven years ahead of the United States.