Debt of Honor

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Debt of Honor (1994) is a novel by Tom Clancy. It is a continuation of the series featuring his character Jack Ryan. In this installment, Ryan has become the National Security Advisor when the Japanese government (controlled by a group of corporate tycoons known as the Zaibatsu) goes to war with the United States. One of the sub-plots in this novel (on occupying the Siberian "Northern Resource Area") would later form part of the main plot of Clancy's later novel The Bear and the Dragon.

Plot summary

In New York City, Japanese industrialist Raizo Yamata completes the purchase of a controlling interest in the Columbus Group of mutual funds from founder/Chairman George Winston, who is now in a position to retire. Yamata-san then flies to Saipan—where, many years ago, his parents had jumped off a cliff with many other Japanese when U.S. armed forces conquered the island—to buy a large tract of land. On this land and on a mountainous tract in the Japanese Home Islands, Yamata plans to build hardened silos to hold Russian-made satellite-launching vehicles that had originally been designed as ICBM's, carrying payloads made to Yamata's specifications.

On Interstate 40 in Eastern Tennessee, a car accident involving a tractor-trailer and two Japanese-made cars results in the deaths of six people: two adults, two teenagers, a toddler, and an infant. The accident involves the failure of the fuel tanks in both Japanese cars, which causes a conflagration. It is revealed that the Japanese-made fuel tanks had been manufactured below proper safety standards, which caused them to fail. This stirs long-standing resentments stemming from Japan's protectionist trade policies, and trade negotiations with Japan grind to a halt.

As this plan is formulated, Jack Ryan, a private citizen after the events of The Sum of All Fears, is recruited as National Security Advisor by President Roger Durling. CIA officers John Clark and Domingo "Ding" Chavez are sent to Japan, covered as Russian reporters. Their mission is to reactivate a former KGB spy network, pretending to be Russian spies for this purpose, in order to gain economic intelligence. The Japanese intelligence agents are not idle, either: they have corrupted one of the U.S. trade negotiators with promises of a lucrative consulting job after he resigns.

Increasing tensions with Japan cause Congress to pass the Trade Reform Act, enabling the United States to mirror the trade practices of the countries that it imports goods from. The bill is immediately used to replicate Japan's non-tariff barriers, and cuts off the export U.S. markets that Japan's economy depends upon: as U.S. inspectors carefully examine cars aboard incoming cargo ships, a line of ships waits offshore. Facing an economic crisis, the corporate oligarchs presented as the true rulers of Japan decide to take military action to safeguard the Japanese economy. Along with China and India, the plan involves curtailing the American presence in the Pacific in an effort to reestablish the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, which includes a later possible Chinese-Japanese invasion of Siberia to secure its extensive resources.

The Japanese plan has three major components. First, units of Japan's Self-Defense Forces occupy the Mariana Islands, specifically Saipan and Guam. The invasion, conducted with commercial airliners, is virtually bloodless. Meanwhile, during a joint military exercise, Japanese ships "accidentally" launch torpedoes at two of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers and two submarines at the conclusion of a joint U.S.-Japan naval exercise, destroying both submarines and crippling the carriers. This drastically reduces the U.S. capability to project power into the western Pacific.

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