There would appear to be little good news to be found in Japanese economic performance over the last 10 years. But in fact there is some good news to be found in Japan’s longer economic slowdown: better relations with the United States.

Since at least the mid-1970s, U.S.-Japan relations have been characterized by repeated clashes in the areas of trade, foreign investment, economic regulation, and security cooperation, even as the two countries have shown deepening mutual interests in each of them.

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