I was reading an editorial published in the Boston Globe this morning.
Japan's jujitsu leaderAs I read this, I found myself ever more surprised that someone on the editorial board at the Boston Globe really cared about the Japan-U.S. relationship and had kept up on Japanese politics and newsworthy events.
TEXTBOOKS TELL us that the Japanese manage but cannot lead. Their leaders avoid conflict, favoring consensus and cooperation. They conspire, but do not inspire. And, while there have been many powerful shoguns, it has been ages since Japan produced the equivalent of a Churchill or a de Gaulle.
But Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who is visiting Washington this week in a valedictory tour, breaks the mold.
Koizumi was hardly a major force in Japanese politics when he became prime minister in 2001. Once in office, moreover, he never received lavish praise from the media, which commonly referred to him as selfish, single-minded, and bull-headed. Even former prime minister Yoshiro Mori muttered that his protégé was ``a weirdo."
But these characteristics endeared him to the public, and Koizumi achieved something none of his predecessors had: broad popular support. He appealed to the good sense of voters, convincing them to reject the profligacy of his own liberal Democratic Party. He purged the party of the machine politicians who had been feeding at the public trough and won an unprecedented victory last September.
But he also did much more. After 9/11, Koizumi defied constitutional restraints that many of his predecessors had used as an excuse to avoid entanglement in international security affairs; he sent Japanese naval tankers to the Indian Ocean to support US and British forces operating in Afghanistan. Soon thereafter he went even further, putting Japanese boots on Iraqi soil during wartime. In so doing, Koizumi transformed the US-Japan alliance into one with global reach -- without generating any of the opposition that earlier would have paralyzed Japanese political life.
"Boy," I though to myself, "somebody in Boston really knows his stuff."
I then glanced to the tail end of the op-ed, sighed, and shrugged my shoulders.
What had I been thinking? Of course the op-ed was not composed by somebody on the payroll of the Boston Globe. What member of the Boston Globe's editorial board would know diddly about Japan?
Of course the informed and level-headed piece was the handiwork of this miscreant.
P.S. I am sure that Mori Yoshiro has called Koizumi many, many things-- but "weirdo"? The characterization of Koizumi as a "weirdo" that sticks in the mind is Tanaka Makiko's summation of the choices available in the 1998 LDP elections when Kajiyama Seiroku and the eventual winner Obuchi Keizo faced off against Koizumi:
"Gunjin, Bonjin, Henjin"
"Militarist, Simpleton and Weirdo"
A trio of remarkably young ultrarightists entertain the crowds on a Sunday morning
Shinjuku, Tokyo. June 25, 2006
Shinjuku, Tokyo. June 25, 2006
P. P. S. Lest anyone misunderstand, MTC's current relationship with Professor Samuels is classified as "Decidedly Non-Hostile".