Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting to "No"

Oh for a screen capture of that map!

Bugger NHK for putting up online only the intro and the signoff of their flagship 7 o'clock news program, rather than the whole program -- even if it would be only for one day!

As it is I only could watch the ominous intro of the flag of the People's Republic of China blending into images of China's most threatening new military hardware, including the reconstructed Varyag aircraft carrier... a report on President Barack Obama's visit to Australia and the announcement of a rotating deployment of up to 2,500 Marines to Darwin.

After the report from Australia on the summit meeting, the speech before the parliament and the visit to Darwin, announcer Takeda Shin'ichi walked over to the big wall of screens for the analysis portion of the segment. "So why Darwin, Australia?" he began.

On the big screen was an image of East Asia, with ripples spreading out from the contours of China. "Here is a map," he continued, "of the ranges of Chinese missiles. As you can see inside the limits is most of Japan, including Okinawa. Guam is also inside the range of the missiles."

"But here," he interjected, pointing at northern Australia, "is still outside the range of China's missiles. And here is Darwin," he said, pointing to the city.

Now there is nothing particularly new in the information NHK provided. However, it was the first time in memory that the 7 o'clock evening newscast, Japan's most watched news program, explicitly sought to undermine the 2006 Japan-U.S. Roadmap for Realignment of U.S. Marines forces. Though the thought was unstated, the clear inference from the presentation was that the fraught move of some of the Marines currently based on Okinawa to Guam and the construction of a replacement facility for Futenma in the town of Henoko were vain endeavors, since the redeployed forces would still be in Chinese missile range. While U.S. military planners may deny that the Darwin deployment is specifically tied to Chinese missile capabilities, that mattered little to the NHK producers.

Now, the Japanese public is about as far from stupid as one can get. If NHK puts up a map with Okinawa and Guam inside the range of Chinese missiles, and hears about the U.S. semi-basing Marines outside the range of the missiles, the public will ask, "Then what the heck are we doing knocking heads with the Okinawans over the construction of the Henoko base and what-is-more paying through the nose for a partial move of Marines to Guam, when the strategic vulnerability of these forces remains the same?"

One could be cautioned that one should not read too much into a single news broadcast. Still, when NHK's News 7 uses a sledgehammer to present a particular viewpoint on the deployment of U.S. Marines to Australia, it indicates a change is in the offing over the seemingly neverending merry-go-round over Futenma-to-Henoko -- that it is not just that the redeployment of forces is damned unfair to the Okinawans but that the redeployment might also be pointless.

A pivotal first step in the public sphere in the direction of "let us put an end to this farce."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Certainly seems that something is afoot. I understand there was a 'sensitive' meeting last week between DPJ kokkai MPs about what to "do with the Americans" on Futenma. Perhaps there is some realization that once the environmental report is back, there will be few more if any diplomatic and political fig leaves left to hide behind.