This book is the English translation of a recent biography of Sakata Michita, one of Japan’s leading, yet unassuming, politicians in the postwar era, who was even considered a serious contender for the premiership. While he did not become prime minister himself, he did serve as Justice Minister, Education Minister, Welfare Minister, Defense Minister, and Speaker of the House of Representatives. What’s more, he served an incredible seventeen uninterrupted terms as a member of the Lower House, from 1946-1990, one of the longest in Japanese history. Sakata was appointed Director General of the Japan Defense Agency (i.e., Minister of Defense) in December 1974 during a challenging time in U.S.-Japan relations in the wake of the resignations of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei, for separate scandals. As Japan’s only ally, the relationship with the United States was crucial for the latter country, and it was up to Sakata to manage alliance relations during this period. He was not a security expert, yet used his political experience, studious nature, sincerity, and likeability among his staff, subordinates, colleagues, and personnel to make a lasting impression on his nation’s forces, and on Japan’s alliance partner. He succeeded in developing the first-ever National Defense Program Outline and the Basic Defense Force Concept among other initiatives during the crisis-filled 1970s. Furthermore, he developed a close policy dialogue with the United States which eventually led to the original U.S.-Japan Guidelines for Defense Cooperation. He did all this despite being a novice in defense matters. Furthermore, he is the longest consecutive serving defense minister in Japanese history, taking highly principled stances during his time.
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About the Author
Robert D. Eldridge is former associate professor of Japanese political and diplomatic history at Osaka University.
Graham B. Leonard earned a PhD in international public policy from Osaka University.
Table of ContentsChapter 1: The Arrival of Director General Sakata
Chapter 2: Sakata’s “Study Group Considering Defense Issues”
Chapter 3: A Ploy during Diet Arguments
Chapter 4: The Change in Public Opinion on Defense
Chapter 5: The Sakata–Schlesinger Talks
Chapter 6: Schlesinger’s Dismissal and Return to Japan
Chapter 7: How SDF Personnel Were Seen
Chapter 8: The Basic Defense Force Concept: A New Defense Philosophy
Chapter 9: The Landmark Defense White Paper
Chapter 10: Innovations in Defense Policy: The “National Defense Program Guidelines” and the National Defense Council
Chapter 11: The MiG-25 Incident
Chapter 12: The Lockheed Scandal and False Accusations
Chapter 13: Watching the Intraparty Conflict
Chapter 14: Sakata Michita after His Term as Director General