American Political and Cultural Perspectives on Japan
From Perry to Obama
By (author) John H. Miller
Publication date:02 April 2014
Length of book:184 pages
American Political and Cultural Perspectives on Japan: From Perry to Obama is an historical survey of how Americans have viewed Japan during the past 160 years. It encompasses the diplomatic, political, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of the relationship, with an emphasis on changing American images, myths, and stereotypes of Japan and the Japanese. It begins with the American “opening” of Japan in the 1850s and 1860s. Subsequent chapters explore American attitudes toward Japan during the Gilded Age, the early 1900s, the 1920s, the 1930s, and the Pacific War. The second part of the book, organized round the theme of the postwar Japanese-American partnership, covers the Occupation, the 1960s, the troubled 1970s and1980s, and the post-Cold War decades down to the Obama presidency. The conclusion offers some predictions about how Americans are likely to view Japan in the future.
Miller provides an accessible yet sophisticated historical survey that focuses on American views and interpretations of Japan from the mid-19th century to the present. In the first half of his study, entitled ‘Acquaintances,’ he analyzes the initial 100 years of the bilateral-relationship, from the ‘opening’ of Japan by Admiral Perry's Black Ships in the mid-1850s through the Gilded Age of the 1890s and onward through the tumultuous years of WWI and WWII. US views of Japan and the Japanese at this point alternated between a romanticized fascination to a war-induced repulsion and demonization. In the second section of his work, entitled ‘Partners,’ Miller addresses the postwar partnership from the American-led occupation through Japan's high growth years of the 1950s and 1960s, the bitter bilateral trade disputes of the 1970s and 1980s, and ultimately Japan's significant economic challenges in the post-Cold War era up to the Obama administration. Despite a nuanced and realistic assessment of the US's Asian ally, Miller predicts that popular American views will continue to be influenced and occasionally inflamed by culturally laden mythology rather than political realism. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels.