Debt of Honor
Debt of Honor is a novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 by Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy
Thomas Leo "Tom" Clancy, Jr. is an American author, best known for his technically detailed espionage, military science, and techno thriller storylines set during and in the aftermath of the Cold War, along with video games on which he did not work, but which bear his name for licensing and...

. It is a continuation of the series featuring his character Jack Ryan. In this installment, Ryan has become the National Security Advisor when the Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese government (controlled by a group of corporate tycoons known as the Zaibatsu
is a Japanese term referring to industrial and financial business conglomerates in the Empire of Japan, whose influence and size allowed for control over significant parts of the Japanese economy from the Meiji period until the end of World War II.-Terminology:...

) goes to war with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. One of the sub-plots in this novel (on occupying the Siberian "Northern Resource Area"
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

) would later form part of the main plot of Clancy's later novel The Bear and the Dragon
The Bear and the Dragon
The Bear and the Dragon is a political thriller novel by Tom Clancy featuring Jack Ryan. It was published in 2000.-Plot introduction:In the book Jack Ryan is President of the United States. After Russia discovers oil fields rivaling those of the Persian Gulf in Siberia and gold deposits just as...


Plot summary

In New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

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

Meanwhile, in East Tennessee
East Tennessee
East Tennessee is a name given to approximately the eastern third of the U.S. state of Tennessee, one of the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee defined in state law. East Tennessee consists of 33 counties, 30 located within the Eastern Time Zone and three counties in the Central Time Zone, namely...

, a car accident involving two Japanese-made cars results in the deaths of six people. The accident involves the design failures and safety flaws in the fuel tanks of both cars; these revelations stir long-standing resentment against Japan's protectionist trade policies. Trade negotiations between the U.S. and Japan grind to a halt, and Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 passes a law enabling the U.S. to mirror the trade practices of the countries from which it imports goods. The bill is immediately used to replicate Japan's non-tariff barriers, cutting off the U.S. export markets upon which Japan's economy depends.

Facing an economic crisis, Japan's corporate cabal
A cabal is a group of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views and/or interests in a church, state, or other community, often by intrigue...

 decides to take military action against the U.S. Along with China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 and India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Japan plots to curtail the U.S. presence in the Pacific and reestablish the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was a concept created and promulgated during the Shōwa era by the government and military of the Empire of Japan. It represented the desire to create a self-sufficient "bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers"...

. In the wake of these developments, Jack Ryan
Jack Ryan
Jack Ryan may refer to:*Jack Ryan , a fictional character in a series of novels by Tom Clancy*Jack Ryan , former candidate for United States Senator from Illinois and ex-husband of actress Jeri Ryan...

 is recruited as National Security Advisor
National Security Advisor
A National Security Advisor serves as the chief advisor to a national government on matters of security. He or she is not usually a member of the Cabinet but is usually a member of various military or security councils....

 by President Roger Durling. CIA officers John Clark and Domingo "Ding" Chavez are sent to Japan, covered
Non-official cover
Non-official cover is a term used in espionage, particularly by national intelligence services, for agents or operatives who assume covert roles in organizations without ties to the government for which they work. Such agents or operatives are typically abbreviated in espionage lingo as a NOC...

 as Russian reporters. Their mission is to reactivate a former KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 spy network, pretending to be Russian spies for this purpose, in order to gain intelligence.

Japan launches the first phase of its assault, sending units from the Self-Defense Forces to occupy the Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands , is a commonwealth in political union with the United States, occupying a strategic region of the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines...

, specifically Saipan
Saipan is the largest island of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands , a chain of 15 tropical islands belonging to the Marianas archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean with a total area of . The 2000 census population was 62,392...

 and Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

. The invasion, conducted with commercial airliners, is virtually bloodless. Meanwhile, during a joint military exercise, Japanese ships "accidentally" launch torpedoes at the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

’s Pacific Fleet
United States Pacific Fleet
The United States Pacific Fleet is a Pacific Ocean theater-level component command of the United States Navy that provides naval resources under the operational control of the United States Pacific Command. Its home port is at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii. It is commanded by Admiral Patrick M...

 at the conclusion of a joint U.S.-Japan naval exercise, destroying two submarines and crippling two aircraft carriers. This drastically reduces the U.S. capability to project power into the western Pacific.

An immediate retaliation is forestalled by the second phase of the Japanese offensive: an economic attack. Even as the military offensive begins, the Japanese engineer the collapse of the U.S. stock market by hiring a programmer in an exchange firm to insert a logic bomb
Logic bomb
A logic bomb is a piece of code intentionally inserted into a software system that will set off a malicious function when specified conditions are met...

 into the system, which ends up deleting all trade records. The Japanese also attempt to assassinate the chairman of the Federal Reserve, but their target survives the attempt with a broken back. With a massive economic crisis and subsequent mass panic, the Japanese hope that America will be too distracted to quickly respond to Japan's military actions.

Japan immediately sues for peace, offering international talks and seemingly free elections in the Marianas in attempt to delay a U.S. response. Negotiators secretly reveal to the U.S. that Japan has obtained nuclear ballistic missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

 capability. The oligarchs, led by Yamata, believe that offers of negotiation and the nuclear deterrent, defended by a seemingly impregnable AWACS system, will cause the U.S. to concede Japan's advantage. With two of America's twelve carriers disabled, and the rest pinned down by international crises elsewhere, Ryan has few resources with which to defend American interests.

Despite his typical focus on military issues, Ryan advises President Durling that the economic crisis must be dealt with first. Ryan also realizes that Japan's deletion of trade records could prove to be an advantage in responding to the economic threat. He engineers a "do-over", where all of the transactions on the day of the mass deletion are ignored, and all assets are restored to their state at the start of business that day. George Winston's computer wizards help implement the plan. Accompanied by a presidential address to the nation and behind-the-scenes bullying of investment banks, the plan is a success: America's economy is restored with only minor disruption.

Ryan then turns his attention to eliminating Japan's AWACS system, through a series of "accidents" using widely dispersed U.S. assets. Stationed near the end of a runway, Clark and Chavez blind incoming Japanese pilots with a laser, causing the planes to crash on landing. This is followed by B-2 Spirit
B-2 Spirit
The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is an American heavy bomber with low observable stealth technology designed to penetrate dense anti-aircraft defenses and deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. The bomber has a crew of two and can drop up to eighty -class JDAM GPS-guided bombs, or sixteen ...

 attacks that destroy the Japanese nuclear-missile range. Clark and Chavez work with U.S. special-operations assets to assassinate most members of the ruling cabal. Finally, they rescue Japan's moderate former Prime Minister. Meanwhile, Admiral Robby Jackson leads the liberation of the Marianas, which is accomplished with little bloodshed. Cornered, the current Prime Minister resigns, ceding power to his predecessor. Yamata is arrested, and the new Japanese government accepts America's generous offer of status quo ante.

Throughout the book, President Durling has faced another, less important political crisis: his Vice President, Ed Kealty
Ed Kealty
In the Jack Ryan series of novels by Tom Clancy, Edward "Ed" Kealty was Roger Durling's Vice President.In the novel Debt of Honor, Kealty was serving as a Senator from New England, before being appointed Vice-President following the resignation of President J. Robert Fowler ...

, is forced to resign after being accused of drugging and raping a former member of his staff. With the crisis over, President Durling nominates Ryan as vice president during a joint session of Congress. However, an embittered Japan Air Lines pilot -- driven mad by the deaths of his son and brother during the previous conflict -- flies his Boeing 747
Boeing 747
The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first wide-body ever produced...

 directly into the U.S. Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

 during the proceedings. Nearly the entire presidential line of succession
United States presidential line of succession
The United States presidential line of succession defines who may become or act as President of the United States upon the incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office of a sitting president or a president-elect.- Current order :This is a list of the current presidential line of...

 is eliminated; Ryan, who had just been confirmed as vice president moments before, narrowly escapes the attack and is immediately sworn in as president.


In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tom Clancy commented on CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

about the very close similarity between the events in the novel and those attacks.
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