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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How US-Japan relations originated

Today we were thinking about Japan..

Thinking about US-Japan relations, particularly in economics/finance..

Thinking about how it got to be that our once brutal enemy during WWII, a nation we dropped two atomic bombs upon is now the 2nd largest foreign holder of US debt after China (The Fed holds more US debt than anyone which is why we can never default even if we wanted to)..

And more specific, we were thinking about the origins of the relationship between the two nations, a story most really don't know much about with any detail..
~ Commodore Matthew Perry

Once upon a time, you have two nations..

One was a constantly expanding nation that believed very much on open trade and the the notion perfected during all the Indian Wars that what you can't acquire with words and smiles, you take with force, or threat of..

The other was a small island nation very content with the exception of China and Holland, not to trade with anyone and keep itself nestled in from the world.  It had lived that way for 300 years and was content even though it lacked many raw materials to continue that way...

The open trading nation didn't like this..  There were big profits to be made and no little racially inferior island nation (that's how the West looked upon Asian people) was going to be allowed to prevent this..
A few attempts had been made previously (1837, 1846 and 1849) including the inclusion of a warship armed with 72 cannons to scare and arm-twist the small non-trading nation into compliance.  The open trade nation came back with tail between their legs failing in their goal.

So it was decided, if first one does not succeed, to try, try again!  And if one warship isn't enough to bully a people who want to be left alone into submission, then a fleet of warships was needed.

So a squadron of battleships under the command of a Commodore named Perry in 1853 sailed to the other side of the world with the goal of forcing open that little nation to trade once and for all, by negotiation or by violence.

The island nation wasn't interested opening their borders even with the squadron bearing down so Perry shelled some buildings at one of their harbors, then came back a year later with 2 full squadrons to ensure a trade treaty was signed.
The bigger bully got what it wanted, the smaller nation was forced to capitulate and everyone lived happily ever after...

Of course that's not true..

Within a span of only 50 years, Japan modernized all aspects of nation including shredding thousands of years of its culture to fit into the West to the point most Japanese have no real identity to their past..

And militarily became so strong and formidable in munitions and modern strategy, they defeated the Russians in 1903, forcing them to surrender territory

This humiliation especially to what was perceived a racially inferior foe sparked mass riots throughout Russia the following year.
~ Statue of Perry in Rhode Isl.

And less than 40 years after that victory over Russia, the Japanese pretty much dominated most of the Pacific Ocean and ultimately attacked Pearl Harbor after getting tired of so-called 'neutral' US subtly sabotaging Japan's ability to get fuel and access to rubber.

It seems like ancient history when Commodore Perry forced Japan to surrender its autonomy but the math shows its not...

Pearl Harbor (1941) - Japan's borders forced open (1853) equals..

1941 - 1853 =  88 years
 Then of course Japan was defeated by the US and left in tatters by 1945.

And economically as of 2014 as we said before, Japan holds more US debt than any foreign nation other than China-- more than $1 Trillion

2014 - 1945 =  69 years

And thanks to our open border policies, foreign individuals and corporations combined just about own as much of America than the totality of Americans themselves..
Kind of a perverted poetic justice..

Makes one wonder different things, like what if the US just minded its own G-D business and not try to meddle in Japan like it does every nation on this earth?

Would some nation ultimately have forced itself to open Japan or would the nation have been left alone?

And what if we didn't spend all those years and all that money rebuilding its infrastructure after WWII, would be better off, worse or still an in economic outsourcing rut?
And which nation(s) 60 to 80 years from now will be in positions of world power and which ones will be taking the backseat on the world stage?

Will it be Brazil?  India?  Russia?

And will there ever come a time our economy is capable of lending again; to be holding onto another's debt as they threaten default like the good ole days?

The motto is really to let sleeping bears or tigers lay, unless you are a nation of incredible hubris, possess a really big um.. "stick" in your hand and speaking softly isn't doing the trick..