Monday, November 17, 2008

Japan worried about Obama?

Ayako Doi writes of the Japanese response to Obama's election:

Surfing Japanese news Web sites for commentaries on the Obama victory from a key U.S. ally, I was taken aback by the skeptical, even negative, tone that prevailed...

...The most astounding article appeared in Sentaku, a monthly magazine with a reputation for objectivity and solid analysis. Writing in anticipation of an Obama victory, the magazine raised most of the same charges the Republicans had leveled against the Democratic candidate, including Obama's associations with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former Weather Underground leader William Ayers and "communist and socialist professors." It called him "the most dubious character in history to occupy the White House." Criticizing Obama's foreign policy statements as "abstract" and "strings of empty words such as 'consultation' and 'cooperation,' " the article concluded that under Obama, the United States would lose its position of global leadership and drag the world into "enormous chaos."

Although she says Japan has now begun to warm up to Obama, she discusses some reasons for the initial skepticism:

...Then there's the issue of anti-Americanism...the main cause of the current round of America-bashing is no doubt the Bush administration's opening to North Korea... is disturbing that no senior politician, journalist or scholar in Japan has had the courage to say that it is in the country's interest to go along with the U.S.-backed six-party talks to put a halt to Pyongyang's nuclear program and integrate North Korea into the community of nations -- or that a "solution" to the abduction problem is likely to be found only in that context.From the Washington Post here.

Perhaps Japan should just leave the six-party talks and solve the abduction issue on its own. The rest of the world will continue, though Uncle Sam may be slightly discomforted because it could not suck funds for any agreement from Japan.

Oh, wait! Japan knew---at least unofficially---about the kidnappings 25 or more years ago. At least Japanese citizens did. The government did nothing then, but now wants to play hardball with someone else's balls. As always.

Japan will not have any choice in the matter of dealing with the next U.S. president. One hopes Obama takes a fresh look at the relationship and does not simply accept the standard "The Japan/US relationship is the most important in the world" nonsense.

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