Keystone
The American Occupation of Okinawa and U.S.-Japanese Relations
American History - Military History
6.125 x 9.25, 288 pp.
15 b&w photos., 3 maps.
Pub Date: 12/01/2000
Foreign Relations and the Presidency
  cloth
Price:        $34.95

978-0-89096-969-4
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Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Keystone

The American Occupation of Okinawa and U.S.-Japanese Relations

By Nicholas Evan Sarantakes

In the mid1990s, Okinawa became the focal point of a major crisis in U.S.Japanese relations. During this diplomatic incident many Americans were surprised to learn that the United States had military bases on this island. In fact, the United States had ruled Okinawa and its surrounding islands as a colony in everything but name from 1945 to 1972. The island had been the strategic keystone of the American postwar base system of double containment in the Pacific and the only spot in that chain that American officials insisted on governing under the legal cover of “residual sovereignty.”

Why had the United States insisted on administering an entire province of a country that it otherwise called an ally? And why did the Americans return Okinawa when they did? In this thoroughly researched, carefully argued work, Nicholas Evan Sarantakes argues that policy makers in Washington worried that the Japanese might return to their aggressive and expansionistic prewar foreign policies after the occupation of Japan ended. Even after it was abundantly clear that Japan posed no threat to its neighbors, the United States insisted on retaining the island, fearing that Japan might adopt a policy of neutrality during the Cold War.

Sarantakes uses recently declassified documents to examine America's larger strategic purposes during this period. The story he tells includes soldiers fighting in combat, mobs rioting, diplomats navigating the dangerous waters of power, and clever politicians on both sides of the indigocolored Pacific taking highrisk gambles. In telling this tale, he brings our attention to an episode in American foreign relations that has been taken for granted for half a century.

Nicholas Evan Sarantakes is a professor at the U.S. Air Force’s Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

What Readers Are Saying:

“It is an important story to be told for those who are interested in U.S. diplomacy in general and in U.S.-Japanese relations in particular, and Sarantakes’ book, based upon extensive research, is worth reading.” --Peace & Change

“Sarantakes provides a balanced account of events. His detailed treatment of Japanese and Okinawan domestic politics is one of the strongest aspects of the book. The domestic environment is a perspective often neglected in strategic histories of the Cold War. Meticulously researched and adeptly written, Keystone is a highly readable volume illuminating a little understood or appreciated aspect of contemporary international relations. It will surely appeal to both general readers and specialists of Asian-Pacific security affairs alike.” --Comparative Strategy Vol. 22(1)

“Writing in a lively, often anecdotal style, Sarantakes has produced what is likely to be the definitive work on the subject. The book richly conveys the flavor of the periods covered, including some of the absurdities and pathos of a military bastion of venereal disease, and military-civilian ‘incidents.’...attractive, with good use of maps, photographs, and an ingeniously designed cover. The documentation is impressive–Sarantakes draws well on the resources of presidential libraries and the National Archives. Primarily a military-diplomatic history, but Sarantakes effectively weaves in the domestic political, cultural, and social dimensions of the American occupation of Okinawa after the Second World War. Sarantakes provides a balanced account of events. His detailed treatment of Japanese and Okinawa domestic politics si one of the strongest aspects of the book. he domestic environment is a perspective often neglected in strategic histories of the Cold War. Meticulously researched and adeptly written, Keystone is a highly readable volume illuminating a little understood or appreciated aspect of contemporary international relations. It will surely appeal to both general readers and specialists of Asian-Pacific security affairs alike.” --Comparative Strategy

“This well-written and informative book detailing the American occupation of Okinawa from 1945 to 1972 is also helpful in gaining a better perspective on the present-day U.S. military situation on the island.” --Marine Corps Gazette

Nicholas Even Sarantakes tells this story, based on extensive archival research, in clear, well-rendered prose. His book is a valuable addition to the body of scholarship on Japanese-American relations and to the work on policy formulation within the United States.” — The Journal of American History, June 2002“Sarantakes brings to life the voice of Foreign Service officers, both famous and obscure; skillfully quoting their long-shelved cables and reports. Keystone is a good basic reference book for readers interested in postwar U.S.–Japanese relations, as well as Okinawa specialists. But it is Sarantakes’ sympathetic portrayal of State’s efforts to put the past behind and rekindle U.S.–Japanese relations that makes this an essential book for anyone interested in diplomacy.” --Foreign Service Journal

“He deftly handles complex issues of diplomacy and security, making them accessible to the interested public, as well as to those with academic focus in this area. The issues which he investigates are well illustrated, the portraits of the key figures well drawn, but most importantly, he allows the novice in Japanese government and politics to follow the developments with understanding.” --Pennsylvania History

“Sarantakes traces with considerable skill the gradual erosion of the military’s position. . . . While the book traces the larger contours of the story, it also contains valuable information and penetrating sketches of a series of secondary figures on the American side. . . . the careful analysis of the interplay between the secondary characters and the presidents whom they served is one of the many strengths of this solid study.” --The International History Review

“With all the attention given recently to the presence of US troops on Okinawa, it is surprising that there has been no book on the role of Okinawa in postwar Japanese-US relations. Sarantakes (history, Texas A&M) has filled this important lacuna with a fine study of the history of US control of Okinawa from its capture in 1945 to its reversion to Japan in 1972. . . . Recommended for undergraduate and graduate libraries and for all those interested in Japanese-American relations and US foreign policy in Asia.” --Choice

“. . . a thought-provoking case study of the American occupation of Okinawa from 1945 to the island’s formal return to Japanese sovereignty in 1972. . . . briskly written and engaging . . .” --Naval War College Review

Keystone opens up a new window through which we can glimpse yet another aspect of U.S. grand strategy in the postwar era. It is an excellent and informative book.” --American Diplomacy

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