Pyle, Kenneth B. 1936-

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Pyle, Kenneth B. 1936-


Born April 20, 1936, in Bellefonte, PA; married Anne Hamilton Henszey, December 22, 1960; children: William Henszey and Anne Hamilton. Education: Harvard College, A.B. (magna cum laude), 1958; Johns Hopkins University, Ph.D., 1965. Special work in Japanese studies at Stanford University, 1960-61, and the Stanford Center for Japanese Studies in Tokyo (currently the Inter-University Center for Japanese Studies), 1961-64.


Home—Seattle, WA. Office—Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Box 353650, Seattle, WA 98195-3650. E-mail—[email protected].


Historian, educator, and writer. University of Washington, Seattle, assistant, 1965-69, associate professor of history, 1969-75, Henry M. Jackson Professor of History and Asian Studies, 1975—, chairman of Japanese and Korean Studies, 1972-78 and 1991-95, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, director, 1978-88, Institute for Comparative and Foreign Area Studies, acting director, 1975. Visiting associate professor of history at Yale University, 1969-70; visiting lecturer in history at Stanford University, 1964-65; distinguished lecturer at the Association of Asian Studies, 1988. Consultant on international studies curricula to the dean of arts and sciences for the University of Arizona, 1979, and to the provost of the University of Pittsburgh, 1986; consultant to the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce, 1984-85. National Bureau of Asian Research, founding president, 1989-99.

Chair of various organizations, including the American Historical Association Committee on the John K. Fairbank Prize, 1974-77; Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, 1992-95, vice-chair, 1989-92; American Adviosry Committee of the Japan Foundation, 1996-1999, member, 1989-99. Served on various boards of directors, including the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, 1981-88; Seattle Committee on Foreign Relations, 1982-88; Seattle World Affairs Council, 1983-1988; and the board of governors of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, 1983—.

Northeast Asia Regional Council of the Association for Asian Studies, elected member, 1975-78; SSRC-ACLS Joint Committee on Japanese Studies, member of the selection committee for the International Doctoral Research Fellowship Program for Asia, 1975-76, member, 1977-80; Inter-University Committee for Japanese Language Studies in Tokyo, governing board member, 1977; Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs, member of the founding committee, 1980; Project on Japan Political Economy Research Committee, member of the executive committee, 1982-88; Council on Foreign Relations, elected member, 1992—; Japan-America Student Conference, member of the national advisory committee, 1992—; Pacific Council on International Policy, founding member, 1995.


Social Science Research Council-American Council of Learned Societies (SSRC-ACLS) fellowships, 1970-71, 1972-73, 1977, 1983-84; Fulbright-Hays faculty research fellowship, 1970-71; National Defense Foreign Language fellowships, 1960-61, 1963-64; Ford Foundation fellowship, 1961-64; Walter Hines Page fellowship in International Relations, Johns Hopkins, 1958-60; Marshal S. Kates Prize in History, Phillips Academy, 1954; Yoshida Shigeru Memorial Foundation Prize, 1991; Order of the Rising Sun, Japan, 1999, for contributions to scholarship and cultural exchange; Henry M. Jackson award for distinguished public service, 2000.


The New Generation in Meiji Japan: Problems of Cultural Identity, 1885-1895, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1969.

The Making of Modern Japan, Heath (Lexington, MA), 1978, 2nd edition, 1996.

(Editor) The Trade Crisis: How Will Japan Respond?, Society for Japanese Studies (Seattle, WA), 1987.

The Japanese Question: Power and Purpose in a New Era, AEI Press (Washington, DC), 1992, 2nd edition, 1996.

(Editor, with Donald C. Hellmann) From APEC to Xanadu: Creating a Viable Community in the Post-Cold War Pacific, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1997.

Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to books, including Power, Economics, and National Security, edited by Henry Bienen, Westview Press, 1992; Power and Deterrence, U.S. Institute of Peace, 1992; Pacific Century: The Emergence of Modern Asia, edited by Mark Borthwick, Westview Press, 1992; Japan's Emerging Global Role, edited by Danny Unger and Paul Blackburn, Lynne Riener Publishers, 1993; Japan, NAFTA, and Europe, edited by T. David Mason and Abdul M. Turay, St. Martin's Press, 1994; Southeast Asian Security in the New Millennium, edited by Richard J. Ellings and Sheldon Simon, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1996; A Vision of a New Liberalism? Critical Essays on Murakami's Anti-classical Analysis, edited by Kozo Yamamura, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1997; Asia-Pacific in the New World Order, edited by Anthony McGrew and Christopher Brook, Routledge, 1998; Modern Japanese Thought, edited by Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998; Meiji Japan: Political, Economic, and Social History, 1868-1912, Volume 4, edited by Peter Kornicki, Routledge, 1998; A Century's Journey: How the Major Powers Shaped the World, edited by Robert Pastor, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1999; Korea's Future and the Great Powers, edited by Nicholas Eberstadt and Richard Ellings, University of Washington Press, 2001; Strategic Asia: Power and Purpose, 2001-2002, edited by Richard J. Ellings and Aaron Friedberg, National Bureau of Asian Research, 2002.

Contributor to periodicals and professional journals, including Harvard International Review, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Current History, National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) Analysis, Asia Policy, Occasional Papers of the Woodrow Wilson Center, Asia Perspectives, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, International House of Japan Bulletin, American Enterprise, Seattle Weekly, Journal of Asian Studies, and the Journal of Japanese Studies. Founding editor of the Journal of Japanese Studies, 1974-86, associate editor, 1986—; corresponding member of the editorial advisory board for Modern Asia Studies, 1985-91.

Pyle's books have been translated into Korean, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, and Chinese.


Kenneth B. Pyle is a historian whose primary interest is both modern Japan and its history. In the early 1990s, Pyle examined the possibility of Japan returning to the world stage as an international power in his book The Japanese Question: Power and Purpose in a New Era. Published in 1992 with a second edition published in 1996, the book examines how the Japanese government's policies have evolved since World War II and the ongoing relationship between Japan and the United States. For example, the author points out how the Japanese government has been essentially deferential to the United States since World War II, unwilling to oppose U.S. policies or be associated with any anti-U.S. movement or group. However, a growing segment of the Japanese population is becoming dissatisfied with such a subservient and hands-off approach to international affairs.

The author begins by examining the question of a resurgent Japan and looks at its postwar national purpose with a focus on the Yoshida Doctrine, which has essentially banned sending Japanese forces abroad. The author then outlines how a growing group of leaders has begun to oppose the Yoshida Doctrine as Japan strives toward increasing economic success. Pyle also writes about competing views concerning Japan's purposes on the international stage and about a neoconservative agenda and other evolving political beliefs. In addition, Pyle discusses specific leaders in Japan and their outlook towards Japan's future.

"The author is that rare scholar at home in the fields of Japanese history and contemporary policy analysis of that country's leadership," wrote Michael A. Barnhart in Pacific Affairs. "As such, he is particularly well qualified to offer this brief yet provocative study of Japan's search for a national purpose." Writing in the Journal of International Affairs, Terry Bennett Muckleroy called this examination of Japan in terms of foreign policy issues "a legitimate inquiry into Japan's power and purpose in light of the evolution of the new world order."

In his 2007 book Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose, the author provides insight into the history of Japan and its society beginning with the 1868 Meiji Restoration. However, the author pays special attention to Japan in the twenty-first century as a rising international power. Among his chief interests are questions concerning the country's motivations after more than fifty years of national pacifism and semi-isolationism. "Kenneth Pyle, the dean of American Japan hands, has written this book at a critical juncture in Asian international relations," wrote Dan Blumenthal in the National Review. "Tokyo is intensely debating its strategic future, as its neighbors and its key ally in Washington watch with interest and some apprehension.

One of the primary enigmas of Japan is how a society so strongly based on tradition has moved toward a radical departure from its historical past. To examine this modern turn of events, the author turns his sights to a previous example when an elite cadre of young samurai overturned the established feudal state. "The new leaders had seen how the Western powers had forced China to open its ports and accept unequal treaties and resolved to cope with the imperialist Western challenge," wrote Leonard Boasberg in a review of Japan Rising on the PopMatters Web site. "Seeing the impotence of the old system, they recognized that the military strength of the Western powers was founded in industrial and technological strength." As a result, a new social system and political system began to emerge in Japan.

According to the author, since this time, Japan has not adhered to a single social, economic, or political principle but has, rather, changed with the times, operating on the foundation of "jisei," or what works best given whatever the current conditions demand. The author goes on to look at Japan's economic revival in the twenty-first century after a downward period during the later 1990s. He also examines the new leadership in Japan that has turned from the Yoshida Doctrine, which banned sending military forces overseas.

"Where Japan Rising is particularly valuable … is in presenting a clear, broad-brush account of how the nation has responded to changes in the international order over the past century and a half," wrote Henry Hilton on the Japan Today Web site. Hilton went on to comment in the same review: "Japan Rising, with its thesis that external realities on the state have been the catalyst for major domestic shifts, is an important historical work that should quickly gain a wide readership." Other reviewers also had high praise for the book. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author offers "an interesting thesis, backed by a strong historical narrative." Referring to Japan Rising as a "fine new book about Japan's foreign-policy stance," a contributor to the Economist went on to call it "an admirably balanced history too, able to see the Japanese point of view about the hypocrisy of the European and American imperialists, especially in the first half of the 20th century."



Booklist, August, 1992, Mary Carroll, review of The Japanese Question: Power and Purpose in a New Era, p. 1992.

Books, September 1, 2007, Leonard Boasberg, "Why the Enigmatic Japanese Do What They Do," review of Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose, p. 10.

Economist, March 31, 2007, "Paths of Power; Japan," review of Japan Rising, p. 94.

Foreign Affairs, March 1, 2007, Michael J. Green, "Japan Is Back: Why Tokyo's New Assertiveness Is Good for Washington," review of Japan Rising, p. 142.

Harvard Business Review, June, 2007, Andrew O'Connell, review of Japan Rising, p. 34.

International Affairs, January, 1993, Gerald Segal, review of The Japanese Question, p. 180.

Japan Quarterly, October-December, 1993, Watanabe Morio, review of The Japanese Question, p. 462.

Journal of Asian Studies, February, 1993, Chalmers Johnson, review of The Japanese Question, p. 172.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2007, review of Japan Rising, p. 66.

National Review, May 14, 2007, Dan Blumenthal, "Japan Again," review of Japan Rising, p. 45.

Pacific Affairs, summer, 1993, Michael A. Barnhart, review of The Japanese Question, p. 276.

Times Literary Supplement, July 6, 2007, Warren I. Cohen, "Yen Rules," review of Japan Rising, p. 30.

UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal, fall, 1992, David Desmond, review of The Japanese Question.

World Politics, July, 1988, review of The Trade Crisis: How Will Japan Respond?, p. 517.


Japan Today, (December 6, 2007), Henry Hilton, review of Japan Rising.

National Bureau of Asian Research Web site, (December 6, 2007), profile of author.

Pacific Council on International Policy Web site, (December 6, 2007), profile of author.

PopMatters, (December 6, 2007), Leonard Boasberg, review of Japan Rising.

University of Washington Department of History Web site, (December 6, 2007), faculty profile of author.

University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies Web site, (December 6, 2007), faculty profile of author.