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Japan and the United States: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, Part III, 1961-2000

June 29, 2012

On June 20, a new National Security Archive publication made over 900 formerly classified documents available. The collection, Japan and the United States: Diplomatic, Security, and Economic Relations, Part III, 1961-2000, delves into America’s recently classified relationship with one of our most important allies. The third of the Archive’s fully-indexed anthologies on Japanese relations, it covers everything from U.S. military presence in Okinawa, to the Japanese economic crisis of the 1990s, through continual challenges on the Korean Peninsula.

Just one of the documents worth reading is a February 1, 1977 memorandum of a conversation between Vice President Walter Mondale and Japanese Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda. The memo memorializes the Carter Administration’s first official meeting with the Japanese premier, and covered such sensitive subjects as Japanese exports, relations with China and Taiwan – and U.S. plans to lower troop levels in South Korea. In regards to Japanese security concerns over fewer U.S. troops in South Korea, the memo stated that the U.S. had “learned the hard way that we do not necessarily contribute to a country’s defense by assuming too much of its defense burden.”

“We have learned the hard way that we do not necessarily contribute to a country’s defense by assuming too much of its defense burden.”

This was an interesting observation to make to the Japanese government, given that 1) the Constitution of Japan was penned primarily by General Douglas MacArthur’s senior officers and severely curtails the abilities of the Japanese military, and 2) that the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security mandates that the United States protect Japan in the event it is ever attacked, ostensibly shouldering the majority of Japan’s defense burdens on to the United States.

Research some of the documents yourself here.

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