This book examines the cultural aspects of U.S.-Japan relations during the postwar Occupation and the early years of the Cold War and analyzes their effect on the adoption of democratic values by the Japanese. Takeshi Matsuda finds that the results were mixed: Japan is an electoral democracy but intellectually remains elitist and submissive—in part because of U.S. efforts to reinforce the domestic importance of intellectual elites. The author is especially concerned with the development of American Studies in Japan, and U.S. efforts to foster it. Soft Power and Its Perils brings forward a great deal of new information about the creation and funding of new institutions of educational and cultural exchange.

Takeshi Matsuda is Vice President and Professor of American History at Osaka University of Foreign Studies.



1. Occupation Reform as an American Cultural Offensive

2. The Cold War, “Reverse Course,” and Rise of Nationalism

3. The Making of a “Soft Peace” and Japan’s “Proper Place”

4. John D. Rockefeller 3rd in Tokyo: Cultural Exchange versus Cultural Imperialism

5. The Rockefeller Report: Countering the Communist Menace

6. The U.S. Cultural Offensive and Japanese Intellectuals

7. Making Japanese Pro-American: The 1950 American Studies Seminar in Tokyo

8. The Kyoto American Studies Seminar and American Soft Power

9. Occupation Reform, “Shallow Democracy,” and Consumerism


Appendix A: The State of Scholarship on U.S.-Japan Relations
Appendix B: The Tokyo-Stanford Seminars in American Studies
Appendix C: The Kyoto American Studies Seminars


“Matsuda observes that American policymakers and cultural emissaries have never abandoned their early postwar assumption of moral, cultural, and intellectual superiority; and the Japanese elites whom the United States has so carefully cultivated, in turn, have rarely failed to acquiesce to such cultural hegemony. He is not the only observer to argue that ‘an abiding psychology of dependence on the United States’ has gripped Japan for over six decades now. … Few such critics, however, have developed their argument through such a detailed case study.”—John W. Dower, author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II