Monday, February 17, 2014

The Obama “State Visit” Revisited

Just to wrap up a thread that I’d opened here, it looks like President Obama will stay only one night in Tokyo but the two sides will work together to cram the trappings of a full state visit—audience with the emperor and a state banquet hosted by the prime minister—into the time available. That means that there will be no side trip to Hiroshima and/or Nagasaki, the scene of America’s crime against humanity—or does the end justify the means?—which would be awkward, except the Japanese side, including the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has always been a good sport about it.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida telegraphed some such an outcome during his Feb. 7 talks with Secretary of State John Kerry when he stated: “And concerning President Obama’s upcoming visit to Japan, we are inviting the President as state guest. But when the United States makes its decision, the Japanese side will cooperate so that we will be able to make sure that President Obama’s visit to Japan is a great success.” Which is when I lost interest in this small matter except to note that a) in diplomacy, there will usually be a way as long as you obey the law of physics, and b) Japan does not get as worked up about these rivalry issues as much as South Korea or even China does. That is beginning to change on history issues with the Abe administration in charge. But not on matters like this.

The video of the February 7 remarks—no questions from the media—after the meeting between Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kushida’s and US Secretary of State John Kerry got top billing on the State Department website. (The transcript can be found here.)

Now back to work.

No comments: