Friday, December 11, 2009

Progress, Imperial Style, with Ozawa Ichiro

Talk about terrible optics.

Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Ozawa Ichiro travels to China (ever notice nobody calls it "the PRC" anymore?) with 600+ persons in tow, including 146 members of the Diet, one day after the governments of the United States and Japan call off talks on the Futenma situation (let us not call it a "problem" or a "crisis", shall we? Moving Futenma Marine Corps Air Station has been a 12-year odyssey of procrastination). The sight of Ozawa and Hu Jintao on the armchairs in Beijing is sure to drive the U.S. Asian policy community even further into crisis mode.

[By the way, New York Times International Herald Tribune columnist Roger Cohen, who is not a regular in these parts, nevertheless has published a pretty fair-minded opinion piece on the new political reality in this blessed land.]

Then again, Ozawa is such a farsighted political player he probably stage-managed the breakdown in talks with the U.S. as an oseibo for his Chinese hosts, confident that he can patch matters up with the Yanks later. He may have already selected the Christmas gift the officials of Japan will be giving their American counterparts this year.

In the same way you can trust in the DPRK regime going back on its promises, you can trust in Ozawa's having a plan - a crafty, opaque and unnecessarily infuriating plan -- but a plan, nevertheless.

He is that good at his game.

Later - For a historical perspective on Ozawa's mass pilgrimages to The Country At The Center Of The World, please check out Professor Joshua Fogel's charts of Nara and Heian Era embassies to the Tang and the Muromachi Era embassies to the Ming, brought to us by the the Japan history blog Frog in A Well.)


Anonymous said...


Note that the NYT/IHT has finally delineated between their op-eds, noting which paper they were published in. They added, after my prodding I believe, "A version of this article appeared in print on December 11, 2009, in The International Herald Tribune."

-- Col. S.

MTC said...

Col. S --

Thank you for pointing out my incorrect affiliation.