THE ISSUE OF HUMAN VALUES IN US-JAPAN RELATIONS: A RAPIDLY CHANGING REALITY AT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PACIFIC
Mejia, Alexander A.
The bilateral relation between the US and Japan during the second half of the past century was managed in unorthodox and symbiotic ways, after being conceived in a unique setting at the end of World War II. After the boom and bust of the Japanese economy during the 1980s and 1990s the economic relation changed priorities and has seen a new type of financial, commercial and political interaction that rapidly evolved during the last decade. In addition, in recent years the security alliance has been affected by the political and electoral climate in Japan, and presents new paradigms as the assistance of the US military is no longer welcome with the same embrace of the previous decades. While economic issues and changes in the diplomatic relation have added tension to the stability of the ties between Washington and Tokyo, perhaps the most important shift has occurred in the human values spirited by the Japanese in recent years.Since 2009, the six-decade status-quo in the relation between these two nations is evolving even more rapidly. The long-term partnership between the US and Japan was threatened by changes in the Japanese electoral arena, with the advent of the weak Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to the Office of the Prime Minister, after more than 50 years of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) rule. The last two years we have seen challenges to the security alliance and Tokyo is perceived as reviewing the basic assumptions of the diplomatic relation. Contrary to what several media outlets have reported in the past, this thesis argues that these challenges are only temporary and that the shared vision that supported the partnership between Japan and the US is still in place.The method followed in implementing this research includes description and analysis of the historical background, US-Japan relation bibliographic analysis, Japanese government publications and opinion polls, and a particular focus on the evolution of the Japanese behavior and belief during these decades, in order to explain the transformation of the behavior of the Japanese society while they rebuilt their country from the ashes of the war.The second half of the 20th Century and the first decade of this new century are observed in this thesis from the vantage point of a Westerner living and working in Japan. The aim of this paper is to hopefully contribute to the debate on the issue of changing human values in Japan and its effect in the future of the nation.
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