FOREIGN OFFICE FILES FOR JAPAN AND THE FAR EAST
Series Two: British Foreign Office Files for Post-War Japan, 1952-1980
(Public Record Office Classes FO 371 and FCO 21)
Part 5: Complete Files for 1963-1965
(PRO Class FO 371/170743-170800, 175999-176054 &181067-181112)
"These British archives provide invaluable analyses of Japan's social, economic and political development, and fully document her changing relations with Britain and the Commonwealth."
Dr Gordon Daniels, Reader in Modern History University of Sheffield
and President of the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists
Providing the complete run of all available Foreign Office files for Japan for the years 1963 to 1965, Part 5 of this series offers scholars the opportunity to chart Japanese events during a period of rapid social, economic and political development. Following on from the previous four parts of this series, which covered crucial period of Japans history from the end of the Allied Occupation in 1952 to 1962, this instalment focuses on three years in which the seeds of earlier policies began to produce tangible and impressive results. It was during these years that Japan truly established herself as a dominant global economic power, overtaking the leading European nations in economic growth and in many areas of industrial production. In 1964 Japan became a member of the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, further signalling her arrival as a major global economic force.
It was however, also a period of increased world instability with many areas potential of crisis; a number of the most serious such as China, Korea, Laos and Vietnam, located in Asia. These aspects of the cold war, played out within striking distance of Japan, were a source of constant worry both to Japan and her western allies. However, despite the doubts of those who recalled the militaristic and authoritarian nature of Japan's pre-war and war-time regimes, 1963 found Japan a self-assured and increasingly prosperous nation, firmly wedded to the western powers and the democratic ideal. This adoption of western political principles was not slavishly modelled on a western, specifically American, model but was tempered with many traditional Japanese political institutions (most notably the retention of the Emperor as head of state) and whilst Japan remained a firm ally of the United States, by the mid-1960s she had the confidence to pursue her own policies when necessary. Nowhere is this more visible than in Japans dealings with the Peoples Republic of China, with whom successive Japanese administrations continued to develop economic ties. Although full diplomatic links with the People's Republic were not established until 1972, the signing of a five year trade memorandum in November 1962 ushered in a period of trade and 'semi-official' relations between the two nations, which culminated in the opening of a Chinese trade mission in Japan the following year.
Another expression of Japans rising self-confidence and a potent symbol of her post-war rehabilitation, was the staging of the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. As well as giving Japan an enormous world profile, the games were used as an opportunity to undertake a number of large scale capital projects, the most famous being the laying of a new railway line between Tokyo and Osaka. It is telling that the 'Bullet train' which ran on this line was the fastest and most advanced service of its kind in the world.
Internally the period 1963-1965 witnessed a relative stability in Japan's political affairs following the turbulent events of 1960. Throughout the entire 1960's the country was governed by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party under the premiership of Hayato Ikeda, and following his resignation in November 1964, Eisaku Sato. Ever rising standards of living staved of the worst of any latent political extremism and insured the continuation of the LDP government well into the 1990's.
These files cover all the major events effecting Japan during a critical time in world history. Through the views and interpretation of highly trained British diplomats and consular officials, they serve to detail how Japan developed politically, economically, socially and globally, providing a unique primary source for researchers and scholars. Key Files include:
- Annual Reviews for the years 1962, 1963 and 1964
- Weekly political reports and Internal political situation
- Japan's Foreign policy
- Political and commercial relations between Japan and various other countries including China, USSR, USA, UK and France
- Economic situation
- Visits to Japan by foreign politicians
- Visits by Japanese politicians to other countries
- The 1964 Olympic Games
- Defence and the armed forces
Study of these documents will help illuminate not only how Japan came to be one of the dominant global economies, but also how her relations developed with her regional neighbours, trading partners and allies. Particular emphasis is placed on Japan's dealings with Britain, the Commonwealth and the United States of America.