In fact, the Clinton administration's badgering of Japan is boomeranging. The prominent novelist and parliamentarian Shintaro Ishihara has just published a new book declaring that Japan is becoming "America's financial slave." Pro-U.S. members of the Japanese Diet, such as Shingo Nishimura, explained to me that U.S. attempts to tell Japan how to run its economy are becoming harder to swallow. They also have noticed that the United States is paying more attention to China than to Japan. Nishimura calls the Clinton administration "a Cabinet of stockbrokers." As a result, members of the Democratic Party, led by parliamentarian Yukio Hatoyama, are calling for a more independent Japan, one that dispenses with the U.S. military and seeks to decrease its economic dependence on the United States.
This may not be entirely unrealistic. One hope harbored by Japanese politicians is that the European Union's new single currency will provide an alternative to buying U.S. dollars, which has helped to fund the U.S. national debt. Already, government agencies are studying the prospect of shifting Japanese assets toward Europe.
Obviously, Japan and the United States have too much invested to go down separate paths. But the U.S. attempt to mold Japan into a mirror image of itself says more about American insecurities than Japanese ones. The one thing that could send Japan into crisis would be to follow U.S. injunctions about globalization. Instead of engaging in arrogant American triumphalism, which is stirring up nationalistic sentiments in Japan, Clinton should realize that the U.S. needs Japan as much as Japan needs the U.S.