US Covert Action in Cold War Japan : The Politics of Cultivating Conservative Elites and its Consequences

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-617
Number of pages25
Journal / PublicationJournal of Contemporary Asia
Issue number4
Online published26 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


This article examines the role of the US covert action in establishing and perpetuating the political dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan during the Cold War. The study sheds light on the modalities of the US intelligence community's involvement in the Japanese political process, evaluates the effectiveness and consequences of this intervention and seeks to place it in a broader comparative perspective. The timing of the most intense phase of US covert intervention in Japan’s political process is important, occurring during the tumultuous first decade after the US-led occupation when conservative dominance was uncertain. The paper’s central argument is that, nevertheless, the US intelligence community’s contribution to establishing and stabilising LDP rule cannot be considered in isolation from other important endogenous factors, most notably Japanese political actors. It is therefore necessary to explore the role of conservative elites who actively and eagerly engaged with the US intelligence community in pursuit of their own political and economic interests. The relationship between the US intelligence community and Japanese conservatives helped reinforce Japan’s status as a one-party LDP-ruled, junior ally of Washington.

Research Area(s)

  • Cold War, covert action, Central Intelligence Agency, US–Japan relations, Liberal Democratic Party, conservative elites