chapter  40
Japanese Foreign Policy and its Problems
Pages 12

By 1971 the world was clearly changing: Canada and Italy recognised the People’s Republic of China, while the barbarities and failures of the war in Vietnam lowered the United States in popular esteem and reduced confidence in its military power. Henry Kissinger’s first overture to China produced a diplomatic revolution, and the Sino-Soviet split indicated that the military alliance between Peking and Moscow was virtually at an end. After these dramatic changes the Japanese soon saw that the rapprochement between Peking and Washington would increase their diplomatic freedom. In contrast, the crumbling of American military supremacy, and the emergence of economic rivalries between Washington and Tokyo, threatened the long-standing friendship between Japan and the United States. In particular, the development of a large Japanese trade surplus with America and the activities of wellorganised pressure groups in both countries produced acrimonious textile negotiations. In 1971 Japan had a $2,517 million surplus in trade with the United States. This provoked an American import surcharge of 10 percent and measures aimed at forcing up the value of the yen.5 This temporary harshness in mutual exchanges suggested that in economic and diplomatic policy America was now less sympathetic to Japan. But, in fact, the continuing commitment of both Washington and Tokyo to mutual friendship soon repaired the ragged edges of their relations. Confidence in America had been weakened, however, and could never be restored to the simple certainties of the 1960s.