Wednesday, November 18, 2009

There's Less to U.S.-Japanese Frictions than Meets the Eye

From The Call, a little perspective on Japan-U.S. relations as things heat up around troops realignment. It got out there a little more slowly than I’d hoped because of unavoidable circumstances that I won’t go into here, but it’s not as if it’s already dated, so there you are.

Here’s an earlier piece if you want to know what our thoughts were on the outlook immediately after the DPJ victory. What’s striking to me is that on both issues (refueling operations, Futenma), the Hatoyama Cabinet has been consistently sending mixed signals that add to the problems. I think that I see this elsewhere, and it’s usually a bad thing. If Hatoyama is not careful, the media and hence the voting public will begin dealing with him as a continuation of the recent string of ineffectual prime ministers.


Mark said...

WHAT? You mean all that talk of chenji was for naught? I'm shocked, SHOCKED! After the fourteen hundred million Japanese prime minsters after World War II who promised to chenji Japan and failed, I felt for sure that Hatoyama would be The One. Eh, oh well. As I'm sure you will admit, it's not like the LDP did whatever America wanted. Three cheers for no chenji!

PaxAmericana said...

That was an interesting piece about the LDP and the Guam deal.

By the way, to what do you attribute the mixed signals from the Hatoyama Cabinet? Could it be that they just honestly want more debate about things that have been done behind closed doors?

William Bogaty said...

Maybe you have commented on this in the past and I've missed it, but what's not clear to me is why this is a big deal issue for (1) the US gov't, or (2) various talking heads/newswriters. (I think I understand why it is or was a big deal for DPJ.) Hard to imagine that Futenma really is the pivotal issue that we ought to be focussing on in US/Japan relations (though it trumps the angle of Obama's bow to the Emperor). Any thoughts on that?

Anonymous said...

(1) the US gov't,

Because they panicked. The kuuki in Washington was that the Hatoyama government was going to shit all over the U.S.-Japan alliance. So people like Gates and Clinton made statements designed to ensure that the DPJ would fall into line. Futenma, as the obvious outstanding issue that needed to be resolved, became the focus of this hard line. That and the current assistant secretary of state for east Asia is the relocation plans major architect.

(2) various talking heads/newswriters.

Because the big swinging talking heads who focus on Japan in Washington are pissed that all of their contacts in the LDP are no longer in positions of power, so they are quite happy to cast doubt on the viability of the Hatoyama government. And the press, of course, has no ideas of their own. Given that Okinawa is the "linchpin" of one of America's most important alliances, you'd think you would have some reporting about Okinawan perspectives, or even maybe an American reporter stationed there, but no. For that we have Al-Jazeera: