The PM sat down for a little talk yesterday afternoon at 13:25 with the folks from the Asahi Shimbun and Kyōdō Tsūshin regarding his upcoming trip to the U. S. of A.
When asked about how he intends to deal with that comfort women problem that everyone seems to be talking about, the Prime Minister revealed this terrifying (if you are a P.R. person, that is) message management strategy:
「すでに大統領には電話で私の考え方を伝えた。記者から質問が出れば答える」。確かに３日に大統領に電話して「おわびと表明している」と説明し、大統領も「信じている」と応じた。これをもって、首脳会談では慰安婦問題は封印する構えだ。訪米時の記者対応でも外交記者に広く開かれた記者会見の場は設けられていない。Wow, that's a surefire media strategy--one worthy of the early Bush years.
"I have already explained to the President by telephone my way of thinking. If a question comes from a journalist, I will respond." The PM did indeed call the President on the 3rd, explaining to him that "I have expressed my apologies" and the President responded, "I believe you!"
Aside from the unintentional homoerotic vibe of the passage ("I have already apologized." "I believe you!") is there an authority with less credibility in terms of what he perceives to be true or not than George W. Bush? A man who can do the impossible, look into Vladimir Putin's soul? (The guy's ex-KGB--what "soul" could he possible have?) Mr. "Brownie, You're Doin' a Heck of Job"; Lord "Medals of Freedom for Everyone Involved with the Peace in Iraq"; His Majesty "I am the Decider"--the producer of oral flatulence that never quite makes it across the threshold of faith into the parlor of fact.
Then there is the other fantastic P.R. plan: let the little people of the press just stuff it.
With this in hand, I am poised to put a seal on the Comfort Women Problem at the summit. While I will be interacting with reporters during my trip to the United States, there is no wide open press conference for foreign press that has been set up.
While I know why your press officers would be following the grandmotherly advice route ("If you haven't got anything nice to say, then don't say anything") you are making your first and possibly last visit to Washington as Prime Minister. This winter, moreover, a heady contretemps erupted over things you purportedly said or did not say. In the maelstrom your surrogates and hangers-on accused a U.S. Representative of being a front for anti-Japanese agitprop by Chinese and Korean agents.
With all of this water so recently under the bridge, if you are adamant that you are not going to be making any effort to actively engage the Washington Press Corps--please don't whine when the Powers Out There perceive you to be retreating into a hermit crab defense--and gosh darn, don't be surprised if people don't like you.
Think of who your host is, the man who is in the aggregate the least popular U.S. President in the history of the Universe.
[Note to the too-tight-shorts crowd--one of the reasons Japan has had to be pressured into issuing apologies so many times is that Japan is not Germany--and I mean that in a positive way.
Japan has no strong regional forums like the EU and NATO around to melt into, no continent-spanning trans-national groupings to negate its exceptionalism on daily basis.
The relatively broad, unfettered autonomy Japan enjoys has a price.
Of course, there is the "real, official, sincere apologies" reason too.]
And all this come waaaaay before the "foreign as opposed to who?" quibble one can have over the nationality of the journalists at a press conference being held in Washington DC or at Camp David.