Transpacific Evolution from Confrontation to Cooperation: US-East Asian Relations in the Ebb and Flow of the Cold War

Title: 1321 | Transpacific Evolution from Confrontation to Cooperation: US-East Asian Relations in the Ebb and Flow of the Cold War
Area: Border Crossing and Inter-Area
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Fumitaka Cho, Rikkyo University, Japan (organizer, presenter)
Zhongtian Han, The George Washington University, United States (presenter)
Risa Nakayama, Wako University, Japan (presenter)
Khue Do, Harvard-Yenching Institute, United States (chair, discussant)


This panel aims to explore the dynamics in US-East Asian relations from the 1960s through the 1970s. In the former decade, East Asia was largely overshadowed by the Cold War, which centered on the US-Sino rivalry. Military historian Zhongtian Han will address the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1962, exploring how a Chinese local context of Fujian province intersected US Cold War strategy to produce great repercussions in East Asia. The following decade, which witnessed a significant ease of Cold War confrontation, marked a watershed: US-East Asian relations assumed closeness and multidimensionality. The core of their relations was the US-Japanese partnership, which was reinforced by the US decision to return Okinawa to Japan. Cultural historian Risa Nakayama’s survey of TV programs created by the US authority in Okinawa will provide a novel explanation of how the US strived culturally to fulfill the Okinawa reversion without a hitch. Toward the end of the 1970s, not only diplomatic relations but also social relations between the US and Japan came to shape their partnership. Transnational historian Fumitaka Cho will seek to examine such aspects specifically concerning the Indochinese refugee crisis and the Japanese dolphin killing. The refugee crisis, as diplomatic historian Haran Choi will argue, led the nations concerned to the institution of a significant regional cooperative framework in which Asia-Pacific foreign ministers would assemble from ASEAN countries, the US, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Thus, this panel will offer fresh perspectives on transpacific reconfiguration from multiple vantage points through four distinctive approaches.

Panel Abstracts:
Save Refugees and Dolphins: Emergence of a Global Consciousness and US-Japanese Relations, 1977-1980
My presentation examines how the transnational awareness, which was increasingly held among people in the 1970s, caused US-Japanese relations to assume a global and multi-faceted significance, specifically in regard to the Indochinese refugee crisis and the Japanese dolphin killing. The massive exodus of refugees from the Indochina Peninsula in the late 1970s caused a cross-border crisis with worldwide repercussions. Initially, Americans denounced the Japanese for their apparent indifference to the plight of refugees. By the end of the 1970s, however, Japan gradually became more aware of the need to contribute to alleviating the dire situation. At various venues, Tokyo and Washington collaborated in forging a global coalition to ease the crisis. The global consciousness directed people’s compassion, not only to the refugees but also to certain animals. The 1970s’ international society experienced a tide of environmental movements. In the late 1970s, a series of dolphin killings by Japanese fishermen was widely reported, arousing a worldwide outcry, particularly from American citizens. Not only were government officials involved in the collaboration and conflict mentioned above, but also politicians, activists, NGOs, the media, and even ordinary citizens. My presentation thus seeks to reveal the intersection between US-Japanese diplomatic and social relations in the 1970s. Furthermore, by examining how the US and Japan dealt with the two aforementioned cases, my presentation offers a prism through which one can capture the sea change in the perception of the world and the character of international life itself during this period.

China's War Preparation in Fujian and the U.S. Response During the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1962
From February to October 1962, China mobilized about 500,000 troops in the southeast area and accumulated sufficient materials to support the operation of these forces for half a year. This is the largest mobilization effort of China since the end of the Korean War. This paper studies China’s mobilization and war preparation from the perspective of Fujian province. Due to Fujian’s geographical proximity to Jinmen (Quemoy) and Taiwan, it was the designated theatre of operation against enemy landings in 1962, and therefore it had become a focus for the mobilization efforts. This paper will discuss three aspects of war preparation in Fujian. First, administrative structure, including the relations between central, provincial, and local authorities, as well as the relations between military and civilian authorities. Second, logistics and communication. The insufficiency of logistical and communication facilities in Fujian had been one of the most serious bottlenecks for modern military operations in the theatre, including in 1962. Third, the paper will explore key personalities and personnel policy of the Fujian theatre in 1962, which is essential to understand the strategic and operational effectiveness of the theatre during the crisis. This paper will also discuss the U.S. response to Chinese war preparation. How did the U.S. perceive China’s war preparation efforts? Did the Chinese preparedness convince the U.S. to de-escalate the crisis? Overall, this paper will enrich our understanding about an important but under-studied episode of the Cold War in East Asia.

The Deprivatization of Electric Power Business on the Offshore Islands of Okinawa Broadcasted on TV in the early 1970s
During the 27 year U.S. rule of Okinawa from 1945 to 1972, the US military government and the US Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR), which replaced the military government in 1950, used audiovisual media as part of its educational and public relations activities. When TV broadcasting began around 1960, USCAR started to air its own regular programs to disseminate its policies and achievements. The United States’ aim was to govern Okinawa smoothly by garnering the local residents’ understanding for their occupation policies through these activities. USCAR continued to produce TV programs after the reversion of Okinawa was agreed to by the US and Japan, for it had as an objective to psychologically prepare Okinawans for the reversion through TV programming. When Ryukyu Electric Power Corporation (REPC), one of USCAR’s public corporations, succeeded the electric power business of the offshore islands of Okinawa around 1971 and 1972, right before the reversion, the Audio-Visual Division of USCAR produced special TV programs about it. It is said that the system of electric power business in Okinawa under US rule was totally different from that of Japan. Then what did it mean to transfer the local business to USCAR-owned corporation in the early 1970s? Did the TV programs on the transfer help Okinawans to prepare for the reversion? This paper examines electric power circumstances in Okinawa in relation to REPC and what was featured in the special TV programs, and attempts to answer the questions above.

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