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Japan's Response to the Gorbachev Era, 1985-1991

Japan's Response to the Gorbachev Era, 1985-1991: A Rising Superpower Views a Declining One

Gilbert Rozman
Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 386
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    Japan's Response to the Gorbachev Era, 1985-1991
    Book Description:

    Gorbachev's transformation of both Soviet socialism and the Cold War world atmosphere kindled a far-reaching debate in Japan. Would Japan at last free itself of its secondary postwar standing? Would a new Soviet system and world order soon be established? Gilbert Rozman argues in Japan's Response to the Gorbachev Era, that Japanese perceptions of the Soviet Union are distinctive and are helpful for understanding what will become an influential worldview. Focusing on diverse opinion leaders and the relationship between the Japanese media, policy-making, and public opinion, Rozman shows how long-standing negative images of Soviet socialism and militarism have been reconsidered since the mid-1980s. His analysis treats burning issues such as the Northern Territories dispute, the Soviet commitment to reform, and the Soviet-American relationship. It also sheds light on Japanese views of Soviet history, modernization, and national character. Such views reveal some of the building blocks for the emergent Japanese worldview.

    Originally published in 1992.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6241-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chronology
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Part One: The Contemporary Background

    • CHAPTER ONE The Japanese Worldview
      (pp. 3-19)

      How did Japanese perceptions of the Soviet Union change during the first six years of the Gorbachev era? How did the Japanese people—both the opinion shapers and the public—respond to the tumultuous developments unleashed by Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies inside the Soviet Union and in international affairs? Through answers to these questions one can trace the evolution of Soviet-Japanese bilateral relations and, even more, can uncover clues about the incipient worldview of the new Japanese superpower. A confident Japan in the fluid international environment of the 1990s differs significantly from a cautious Japan in the polarized atmosphere of Soviet-American...

    • CHAPTER TWO The Foreign Policy Establishment
      (pp. 20-43)

      The actors involved in foreign policy decision making in Japan are largely familiar, but their functions are not necessarily those assumed elsewhere. With a focus on Soviet policy in the Gorbachev era, one can identify the role of successive prime ministers, the interplay of factions in the ruling party, the competition within the bureaucracy, the influence of various types of Sovietologists and international relations experts serving in official positions or as advisers to the government, and the relevance of the opposition parties. Together these actors form the core of the foreign policy establishment in Japan.

      The next two chapters look...

    • CHAPTER THREE The Spectrum of Political Debate
      (pp. 44-56)

      In the first decades of the postwar era it was customary to divide Japanese into two sharply opposed forces on the left and the right. In views of the Soviet Union and socialism, polarization was pronounced for more than a decade and only gradually receded through the 1960s and 1970s. Many gradations along a continuum are now needed to appreciate Japan’s diversity, and even these need to be reconsidered as the end of the cold war is playing havoc with traditional distinctions.

      The right is now divided among those who continue to see the Soviet Union as the principal enemy,...

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Information Society
      (pp. 57-70)

      There are three recognized major national newspapers in Japan: theAsabi shimbun,theYomiuri shimbun,and theMainichi shimbun.Large numbers of high school as well as university graduates read them, and in a society with an extraordinary level of mass educational achievement this provides for a remarkably homogeneous distribution of information on politics. The fact that all of the papers have a national constituency (five to ten million readers), that they are similar in format and intellectual level, that they have evening as well as morning editions, and that many intellectuals read two or three of them daily,¹ adds...

  6. Part Two: A Chronology of Changing Perceptions

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Historical Background
      (pp. 73-97)

      Russian-Japanese contacts can be traced back almost three hundred years. The Gorbachev era marks one of the infrequent periods of intense activity and reexamination that punctuate the long periods of resistance by one side to the other and of little momentum in bilateral relations. Japanese have not welcomed Russia as a neighbor, have avoided normal neighborly contacts, and have expressed suspicions about Russia’s intentions. Even when Russia has inspired the Japanese people as a world center, this has not led to good-neighbor feelings. In reacting to the new developments of the Gorbachev era, the Japanese are influenced by this long...

    • CHAPTER SIX The First Cycle, 1985–1987
      (pp. 98-107)

      In 1983 a flurry of international speculation that Yuri Andropov was a new-style leader and perhaps even a reformer left some Japanese wondering what all the fuss was about. When Gorbachev came to office, the same question reappeared with greater intensity. First Japanese responded by looking at the world reaction, then they looked inward to try to understand their own sentiments. While during Andropov’s brief tenure and, even in foreign policy, during the Chernenko year in office, tiny boomlets arose from time to time among Western Soviet-watchers, nothing of the sort occurred in Japan. On the one side, hope springs...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Second Cycle, 1987–1989
      (pp. 108-135)

      In the fall of 1987 Japanese-Soviet relations were at a standstill, while the debate on perestroika limped along with neither side able to prove its point convincingly. Because Gorbachev’s approach kept growing bolder, the left of center felt that its view that the leadership was determined to achieve genuine reforms was more correct, while the worsening state of the Soviet economy reaffirmed the pessimism of the right that nothing substantial would come from the reforms. After a short lull in the debate, a second cycle of discussion commenced. Again international events roused the Japanese to reexamine their thinking. The INF...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Third Cycle, 1989–1991
      (pp. 136-170)

      Once convinced of the deterioration of the Soviet Union, the Japanese people found new reasons in 1989 and 1990 to doubt the viability of socialism on a large scale. From the middle of 1989, world events first in China and then in Eastern Europe sent shockwaves through Japan. West Europeans, enthusiastic about bridging the Berlin Wall, could rejoice. Americans, preoccupied with human rights gains and military cutbacks, could feel vindicated. What was less clear was how Japanese would react. At last, they could look over the horizon to a new era, but in order to do so they needed to...

  7. Part Three: The Building Blocks for Perceptions

    • CHAPTER NINE Views of the Russian Heritage
      (pp. 173-186)

      Popular accounts in the 1980s settled on the deep recesses of Russian history to explain Soviet expansionist foreign policy. Amateur historians took their turns at tracing the psychological continuity of the Russian outlook on the world. Applications of this analysis reappeared in farflung contexts, for example, in Arai Hirokazu’s doubtful response, after the signing of the INF treaty, to American cooperation with the Soviet Union. He said that we must be wary of illusions. Relaxation of tensions based on activating Soviet society may take generations. The tradition of a closed society, in which the people’s will is not reflected, has...

    • CHAPTER TEN Views of Soviet Development
      (pp. 187-208)

      With their catch-up psychology dating from the 1860s, the Japanese weigh success in economic development heavily in their judgment of another country and its people. At times they have also been attracted to promises of social justice combined with rapid growth. Especially troubled in the 1920s and again in the immediate postwar decade by lingering poverty and inequality in their own country, many Japanese envisioned Soviet socialism as an alternative path with some promising features. But since the 1960s this motivation has rapidly disappeared. The main stimulus for studying development of Soviet history is now clearly to understand that country’s...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Views of Soviet Society
      (pp. 209-223)

      Marxist-Leninist social class approaches, antithetical totalitarian approaches, and ethnographic approaches have come and gone in Japanese writings, leaving remarkably little insight into the attitudes of the Soviet people. They have proven to be largely deductive or ill-informed about contemporary social change. Recently, general sociological, social psychological, and modernization approaches have been introducing new terms of discourse. The state of Soviet studies is changing quickly. In the Gorbachev era a new sociology of the Soviet Union is emerging in Japan, even if the discipline itself has so far had little to do with this advance.

      The Social Class Approach.The social...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Views of Soviet Politics and New Thinking
      (pp. 224-242)
      Mayumi Itoh

      In this chapter I draw both on my interviews in late 1986 with nearly one hundred Japanese Sovietologists and international affairs experts or officials and on Japanese publications of the following years to identify responses to Gorbachev-era political reforms and to new approaches to foreign affairs. The stages of Japanese responses and some of the ongoing debates have already been traced in part 2. Here I expand on the reasoning found among different segments of the political spectrum as views about the Soviet capability to change became less pessimistic over the six-year period. The evidence reveals a mixture of views;...

  8. Part Four: The Soviet Debate and Japan’s Future

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Patterns of Perceptions
      (pp. 245-302)

      Despite past accusations from the extremes of the political spectrum, there is no indication that restricted or distorted information accounts, to any notable extent, for current Japanese images of Soviet socialism. In the first half of the 1980s, information may often have seemed one-sided, for example, excluding the human dimension of Soviet life, but even then it was possible for the alert reader to fill in many of the gaps. Increasingly in the Gorbachev era, Japanese sources have expanded their coverage, offering ample factual material and thoughtful interpretations to permit informed judgments. One-sidedness faded as the middle of the spectrum...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Strategy toward the Soviet Union
      (pp. 271-302)

      Since agreeing to the resumption of diplomatic relations in 1956, Japanese have shown persistence and patience in waiting for conditions that would bring full normalization, including a peace treaty, to Soviet relations. With firm American military support, Japanese have felt secure. With superior rates of economic growth and increasing economic ties to the Asia-Pacific region, they have felt that time is on their side. With the Kremlin’s increasing diplomatic isolation and ineptitude in appealing to Asians and especially to the Japanese public, there seemed to be little reason for Tokyo to take the initiative. In 1985 the Japanese strategy remained...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN An Early Look at the Japanese Superpower
      (pp. 303-329)

      Soviet superpower status is fragile. It has lasted for almost a half a century, based on military superiority on much of the Eurasian land mass along with ideological and political comradeship among Communist parties. The disintegrating Soviet economy can no longer bear the burden of high-technology military advances, and the nation’s interparty networks have largely collapsed. Its long-term prospects are bleak, although its current military machine is still formidable. Japanese superpower status is hidden. The “Land of the Rising Sun” has preferred to wield its influence below the horizon, unobtrusively letting its vast financial resources shape regional and global policy....

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 330-334)

    The timing of the “cherry blossom” summit of April 16–19, 1991 was definitely not ideal. Tokyo’s fragile blossoms had already fallen a week earlier, and on the eve of his visit, Mikhail Gorbachev found that his precarious position was weakening further, with a move to oust him as general secretary by Party hardliners and a call for his resignation as Soviet president from Boris Yeltsin. As a result of the Persian Gulf War during the winter, both Soviet-American and Japanese-American relations had been strained, reducing the international trust that could contribute to compromise. In the late winter, many Soviet...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 335-364)
  11. Index
    (pp. 365-376)