Japan: Talking Past Each Other

After 38 years of partnership, an odd couple feels the strain

It would be difficult to imagine a more unlikely partnership than the U.S.Japanese alliance. One nation is ancient and culturally homogeneous, crowded onto an archipelago at the edge of Asia. The other is an ethnic melting pot, with European roots, that spreads across a continent. Both are troubled by memories of a global war that inaugurated the nuclear age, terribly and personally for each. Still, over the past three decades the U.S. and Japan have managed to forge what U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo Mike Mansfield calls "the most important single bilateral...

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