INR–NIE files


No. 567
National Intelligence Estimate2



The Probable Future Orientation of Japan4

the problem

To analyze the various factors—both internal and external—which are likely to determine Japan’s future foreign policy; and to assess in the light of these factors Japan’s probable future orientation in the East-West conflict.


We believe that Japan will seek to achieve its national objectives by a pro-Western orientation, at least during the next two or three years.
We believe that the essential conservatism of Japanese society, the strongly entrenched position of conservative political parties and groups, and the weaknesses of major leftist forces, make the continuation of conservative control of Japan almost certain, at least through 1954. If, however, the Liberal Party should lose its present majority position, divisions within the conservatives might weaken the Japanese Government.
We believe that the basic national objectives of Japan will be to rebuild its national strength and to enhance its position in the Far East. Because of Japan’s economic and military deficiencies, [Page 1265] and because Japanese conservatives share a broad identity of interest with the US in containing Communist expansion, progress toward the realization of these objectives will almost certainly require close cooperation with the US, at least during the next two or three years. Even during this period, however, Japan is likely to seek to develop at least economic relations with Communist China and the USSR.
The degree of Japanese cooperation with the US, in both the short and long term, will depend largely on the extent to which the Western alignment not only meets Japan’s needs for security and foreign trade opportunities but also satisfies its expectations for economic and military assistance and for treatment as a sovereign equal. Adverse developments in any of these respects would increase existing pressures for independent courses of action in Asia and make Japan more vulnerable to Communist tactics of conciliation and threat.
As the most probable long-term prospect, we believe that as Japan grows in strength and bargaining power, it will seek to increase its freedom of action in Asia within the framework of a generally pro-Western orientation. Japan will probably attempt to readjust its relations with the US, seeking to eliminate the basing of US troops in Japan and seeking to attain increased influence and leadership in Asian affairs of joint US-Japanese concern. Japan will inevitably attempt to expand economic and political relations with Communist China, and probably with the USSR, to the extent possible without jeopardizing its domestic stability and will seek at the same time to avoid a basic alteration in its pro-Western foreign policy.
If, however, Japan is unable to solve its economic problems, it will be particularly vulnerable to economic and diplomatic pressures from the Soviet Bloc and will be tempted to seize opportunities for closer economic and political relations with the Bloc. Even in this situation a conservative government would seek to avoid courses of action that would be likely to lead to Japan’s absorption into the Bloc. Serious internal pressure in Japan would be more likely to result, at least initially, in a trend toward traditional authoritarian measures rather than in the rise of a pro-Communist regime.

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  1. Files of National Intelligence Estimates, Special Estimates, and Special National Intelligence Estimates, retained by the Directorate for Regional Research, Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
  2. National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) were interdepartmental Reports which presented agreed evaluations of the subjects treated. They were drafted by officers from those agencies represented on the Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC), revised by interdepartmental working groups coordinated by the Office of National Estimates of the CIA, approved by the IAC, and circulated by the CIA to the President, certain cabinet officers, and the NSC.
  3. The section entitled “Conclusions” is printed in full. Omitted are the section entitled “Discussion”, an historical appendix, and five economic appendices.
  4. A note on the cover sheet reads: “The intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Joint Staff participated with the Central Intelligence Agency in the preparation of this estimate. All members of the Intelligence Advisory Committee Concurred in this estimate on 22 May 1952.”