Saturday, December 05, 2009

Nose still intact

Mizuho Fukushima, who threatened to pull the SDP out of the ruling coalition, apparently succeeded (so far) in delaying any acceptance of the Futenma deal. Hataoyama has certainly resisted the US demand to move "expeditiously" to resolve the dispute (i.e. do what the US government wants).

The threat left Hatoyama squeezed between domestic political imperatives and U.S. expectations -- a spectacle U.S. officials are not accustomed to seeing in Japan.

Daniel Sneider, a Japan expert at Stanford University, said the United States has yet to really take into account the significance of the political changes wrought by the August election. "Domestic politics matter in Japan now in a way that they didn't... "Do elections and domestic politics influence foreign policy in the United States? ... Now they do in Japan, too." Washington Post.

It's a bit baffling why this should be so confusing to the US, but obviously it is. It's probably only the first of many disagreements between the two countries if the DPJ can hang on to power. Sometime in the future we'll get to see just how much of a world view Japan and the US share. Decades of both the US and Japan living in some sort of dream world that the Japanese swap of security responsibility for market access won't likely result in another 60 year affair after it ends.

Perhaps William Overholt* said it best:

As the 21st century began, the United States decided to bet its entire position in Asia on the alliance with Japan... all of American history, the United States has never before made such a bet anywhere in the world, with the arguable exception of the bet on Britain in WWII...

...Rarely in world history has such a power made such a consequential bet.

What I left out of the above was that the US was placing it's bet on the "...increasingly right-wing leadership that wants to rebuild national morale by reengineering a failed vision of the first half of the 20th century rather than through an inspiring view of the future."

That bunch is gone and now the US has to be worried that it bet wrong and seems to have come up with no other alternative other than to try to push Japan back to the old ways---to hell with what the Japanese people think. Why should it care, it never really had to before.**

*Asia, America, and the Transformation of Geopolitics, page 103 of the Cambridge University Press Ed.

**11 December: Of course it is not the job of the US government to worry about what the Japanese public thinks unless it becomes a threat to policy.

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