Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The World Is Coming to an End at the End of the World

All the peoples of the planet talk to us--never to you.

Trust not in what you can do for yourselves but in what we tell you to do for yourselves.

Ignore our overuse of the conditional--please.

The future is crystal clear. The past, however, is cloudy and has be left to professional historians.

There has never been a more dangerous moment than the one you are in right now.

The Japanese constitution is a prison into which you have locked your minds.

There are 300 million Americans in addition to ourselves. Ignore them.

POINT OF VIEW/ Kurt Campbell and Michael Green: Ozawa's bravado may damage Japan for years
The Asahi Shimbun

It appears that Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) leader Ichiro Ozawa is determined to force a crisis with the government over the counterterrorism bill. This comes as a disappointment to those Americans who remember him as a stalwart defender of the U.S.-Japan alliance from his days as deputy chief Cabinet secretary almost two decades ago.

However, it does not come as a surprise to those who know his single-minded determination to deal a body blow to the Liberal Democratic Party today. We are told that Ozawa has decided that any political damage done to U.S.-Japan relationship will be forgotten in a few years when there could be a Democratic administration in Washington and--he hopes--in Japan, too. We fear that assumption is flawed and hope Ozawa will reconsider his stance and find a creative and workable compromise with the government. It will not be as easy to recover the reputations of Minshuto and Japan as Ozawa may think.

Many in Minshuto believe that pulling Maritime Self Defense Force ships out of the coalition will only do damage to the "Bush-Abe" relationship. After all, both leaders are under assault at home and the Iraq war is polarizing American public opinion. However, the bill that Ozawa wants to kill authorizes the deployment of ships for the effort in Afghanistan and has nothing to do with Iraq. And support for the effort in Afghanistan enjoys broad bipartisan support in the United States.

If Japan pulls out suddenly from the coalition against the Taliban and al-Qaida, this will lead to inevitable and unfortunate questions for the next administration--whether Republican or Democrat--about Japan's reliability as an ally.

Nor would the damage to Japan's national interest stop with the bilateral U.S.-Japan relationship. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have both been clear that they highly value the MSDF contribution to the war against terror in their region.

The Indian government has been keen to strengthen strategic ties with Japan and welcomes the MSDF presence in the Indian Ocean. In the Gulf states, the MSDF and air and ground deployments have also been well received and many leaders in those countries want to see even more Japanese military and diplomatic presence to help bring stability at a time when Iraq's future is uncertain and China is attempting to increase its access and influence in this rich oil-producing region.

The basis of Japan's relationship with all these countries is diplomatic and economic, but Japan's readiness to show the flag is viewed across South and Southwest Asia as a metric for how serious Tokyo really is as a strategic player in that region.

Then there is the impact on other members of the coalition. Canada is taking casualties on the ground in Afghanistan. Australia, South Korea and New Zealand all have troops and aid workers in harm's way. NATO is there. These are the major democracies that have made a commitment in Afghanistan because their leaders see this as a battle between civilization and terror. These are also nations that have supported a more active role for Japan in Asia and globally.

Whether or not Japan stands with them in Afghanistan will inevitably have an impact on how they assess Japan's future leadership in arenas such as the Group of Eight, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the U.N. Security Council. If Ozawa succeeds in blocking the counterterrorism legislation and Minshuto comes to power some day, what would a Minshuto prime minister say to Stephen Harper of Canada or the Australian prime minister, whether it is John Howard or Labor leader Kevin Rudd?

Would a Minshuto prime minister be able to say that Japan stands firmly with those countries in the war on terror? Would they be able to make the claim that Japan is ready to play a larger role in the international community? And how does Japan's ambassador to the United Nations explain that Japan is ready to take the leadership responsibilities of a permanent U.N. Security Council member the day after the counterterrorism law is killed and Japanese ships pull out of the coalition effort?

North Korea's view of a Minshuto decision to block the counterterrorism law is easier to predict. Alliances are not judged in one region alone, but globally. And North Korea saw a clear signal in Japan's decision to dispatch the MSDF to the Indian Ocean that the U.S.-Japan alliance is stronger than it realized precisely because it is a global alliance.

But if that alliance deflates or drifts because of a withdrawal from the coalition, Pyongyang will be delighted. Pity the diplomats who have to try to negotiate with Pyongyang about the abductee issue after that...
No, no, no, no, no and finally no.

Being America's grinning delivery boy is the prison, gentlemen. Ozawa Ichirō and millions of his countrymen and women want their liberty back.

Liberty, gentlemen, not freedom. Freedom is the absence of rules, the absence of responsibilities. Liberty is the right to lead a life according one's own ethical and moral principles, without interference of a higher power.

Under liberty, one finds peace, security and personal consolation through helping others. Sometimes to sow and reap. Sometimes to fight.

Always according to the dictates of one's own conscience.

The terms of the Indian Ocean deployment were dictated to Koizumi Jun'ichirō and the Japanese people by Osama Bin Laden and Kim Jong Il.

Six winters and six summers ago.

Now they are being dictated to Japan's second largest party by Washington.

Give the Japanese people a chance...or at least credit them with the ability to think something through.

By themselves.

For themselves.


Anonymous said...


Jun Okumura said...

Don't worry, Shisaku. If it's not in the Japanese language version, only gaijin, and nutsos like me, will be reading it.

Anonymous said...

Nutsos? I think you better check, the article was first in the Japanese edition in Japanese.