Okita, Saburo
June 1979
Foreign Affairs;Summer79, Vol. 57 Issue 5, p1090
This article examines concerns over the difficulties that have arisen in U.S.-Japanese economic relations, and the need for both countries to assess the significance of a new course taken by China and the role that each should play in relation to China, as of June 1979. Returning in more detail to the causes of irritation of the U.S. with Japan, starting with the issue of large balance-of-payments surplus of Japan. Undoubtedly, the size of that surplus does reflect in part the policies of successive Japanese governments, designed to meet the sense of vulnerability and need to build up foreign exchange. The second major category of American irritants toward Japan is of course partly economic but also heavily strategic in its implications. The complaint that Japanese expenditures are too low and that the security of Japan is too dependent on the American taxpayer sometimes leads to an argument that the economic performance of Japan has been as strong as it has been in large part because of the absence of a significant defense burden. The third category of irritations identified relates to present and future competition in high-technology industries, and the issue of whether such industries are being unfairly subsidized in Japan. It would be unfortunate for both the U.S. and Japan if the two countries were to drift apart because of continuing conflicts over economic issues. If the previously mentioned economic irritations between the two countries continue, they may damage the underlying political, social and security relationship as well.


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