Thursday, June 03, 2010

I spent a lot of the day reading about the resignation of Yukio Hatoyama and various opinions of whose fault it was:

1) Hatoyama's. He should have handled Futenma and the US better, plus he got money from his mother instead of some half-crooked company.

2) The US: Parts of the US gov't were confused and worried about the DPJ's attempt to move Japan .0001mm away on security issues which would have destroyed the most-important-bilateral-relationship-in-the-world-bar-none, as well as have resulted in the collapse of human civilization. These expert managers wanted the policies of their old and trusted Freedom-Fighters in the LDP to continue forever.

3) Nobel Laureate Barack Obama, who was not up to speed on the most-important-bilateral-relationship-in-the-world-bar-none, and whose meaning of the word "change" as far as Japan policy goes appears to have been restricted to "(ex)change George Bush for me." Nobel-man Obama has been a little tied up lately anyway, since he shockingly discovered that the company that was responsible for a major environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was not as responsible as it could have been at stopping it. He is now making angry faces, clenching his jaw, and has become so outraged as to have uttered the stinging expletive "damn."

4) The MSM: Goes without saying. The media is always responsible for everything everywhere.

5) The citizens of this fine land themselves, the least likely culprits.

6) All of the above.

I must rule out "all of the above," even though it seems reasonable. I must rule it out for I read somewhere on the Internet that if we say that, it means everyone is guilty and if we say everyone is guilty it means that no one is guilty. Perhaps due to cultural differences, I am unable to figure out exactly how that works or what it means, so I will focus on the group that has received the least attention: The folks of Japan.

I am not so sure how important the Futenma issue really was to anyone in the mainland. There are polls around that show that most Japanese wanted the Futenma mess solved by relocating the base outside Okinawa, but nobody seems to want those bases, with their lower-than-the-average-compared-to-Japanese-citizens crime rates, near their homes. They simply want and expect the US to defend Japan until hell freezes over because that's the way things have always been, and to do so under "tightened discipline" (perhaps chained to a table when off-duty) at a distance. Besides, Japan is a peace country and Japanese should not have to fight a war for Japan should one come.* And some have called Hatoyama indecisive and loopy**.

I am looking at this from the perspective that citizens of a democracy are over the long term, allowing for normal miscalculations***, voting for politicians and policies that they agree with. So I figure that after 65 years of democracy [Edited: We can't call the Occupation era democracy. Let's say 50-odd years] when folks keep electing politicians who continue the same policies, that they are voting for what they really want. I don't recall Futenma or the so-called alliance**** being a major issue during the election last fall, so I'd guess most outside of Okinawa did not especially object to the status quo. In the US we want low/no taxes, free government programs, wars fought mostly by lesser-well-off citizens and paid for by foreigners. In Japan, we want the US to provide a military and a foreign policy cover and to have little contact with the troops unless we can pawn them off on a poorer prefecture inhabited by Okinawans.

The good thing is, according to some theories, the US may not get what it wants now as there might be some reluctance on the part of the government to follow through on the Henko move. Okinawans ain't gonna just give in because Hatoyama is gone. And Naoto Kan is said to be sort of stubborn. He is also said to be more "practical" in foreign policy, which I take to mean more likely to do what Uncle Sam wants. But maybe, just maybe, this will get folks to think a little more deeply about this "alliance." It obviously isn't going to come from the US side without a swift kick.

*I don't get a chance to ask Japanese acquaintances this as often as I would like. In fact, I think I have only asked it once: If there is a war and an American soldier is killed fighting for Japan, what would you say to the mother and father of that soldier when they ask you "Why did my son (or daughter) die fighting for Japan?"

**I am using the Washington Post's Al Kamen's definition of loopy: "...oddly detached from reality."

***See G.W. Bush, the man who accepted Abe's "apology" about the Japanese Imperial Army's forced recruitment of sex slaves in WW2 which Abe claimed never really happened, but apologized for in spite of the fact that he claimed it never happened and had been claiming for years that it never happened. Sorry, I didn't understand it either. Ask Boy George or Abe.

****Describing the relationship as an alliance was first done in a communique when PM Suzuki visited the White House in 1981 and it was not well-received in Japan. The phrase US-Japan Alliance was not used in an official document until 1995. See AMPO's Troubled 50th: Hatoyama's aborted rebellion, Okinawa's Mounting Resistance and the US Japan Relationship. (Under Treaty? Alliance? about 1/3 down the page.)

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