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How did the US-Japan Security Treaty shape Japan’s foreign relations?

The US-Japan Security Treaty significantly shaped Japan's foreign relations by aligning it closely with the United States and the Western bloc.

The US-Japan Security Treaty, signed in 1951 and revised in 1960, was a pivotal factor in shaping Japan's foreign relations in the post-World War II era. The treaty was a product of the Cold War, and it effectively aligned Japan with the United States and the Western bloc against the Soviet Union and its allies. This alignment had profound implications for Japan's foreign relations, as it dictated the country's diplomatic, economic, and security policies for decades to come.

The treaty committed the United States to defend Japan in the event of an armed attack, which allowed Japan to maintain a minimalist defence policy. This policy, known as the 'Yoshida Doctrine' after then Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, enabled Japan to focus its resources on economic recovery and growth. As a result, Japan became an economic powerhouse and a key ally of the United States in Asia. This close alignment with the United States also influenced Japan's relations with other countries. For instance, Japan often supported US positions in international forums and was generally cautious in its relations with countries that were not aligned with the United States.

The treaty also shaped Japan's relations with its Asian neighbours. The presence of US military bases in Japan was a source of tension with countries such as China and North Korea, which viewed them as a threat. At the same time, Japan's reliance on US security guarantees limited its ability to pursue independent diplomatic initiatives in the region. This was evident in Japan's cautious approach to normalising relations with China in the 1970s and its reluctance to engage with North Korea.

In conclusion, the US-Japan Security Treaty has been a defining factor in Japan's foreign relations. It aligned Japan closely with the United States and the Western bloc, influenced its economic and security policies, and shaped its relations with its Asian neighbours. Despite occasional tensions and debates over the treaty, it remains a cornerstone of Japan's foreign policy.

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