Japan and the World since 1868

Barnhart, Michael A.
Date published: 
March 1995

Japan's position as a major power in international affairs is recent, but the changes it has gone through during even so short a time have been immense. How to account for its progress from prudence, through folly, to present success is the enquiry at the core of Michael Barnhart's new study. He provides a masterly account of the domestic pressures that often helped shape foreign policy, as well as an evaluation of the changing world order itself. One of the book's central themes is the absence of a sustained national consensus in Japan's foreign-policy making, particularly before - but also after - 1945. The international environment for Japan from 1960 to the early 1990s was a tranquil one, in stark contrast to every prior period, but the end of the Cold War order has renewed divisions and acrimony in the debate over the country's proper role in the world. It may be that the history foreign relations before those halcyon decades will have more contemporary usefulness than is commonly supposed or may be desired.