Peter Ennis and I rarely agree on anything. Most of the time he is right and I am wrong.
He has been inordinately kind in not reminding me of this.
Nevertheless, I will test fate once again and say that his most recent Japan Dispatch post on the results of the Nago City mayoral election overstates the significance of the reelection of Nago City mayor Inamine Susumu.(Link)
Ennis is right in insisting that Mayor Inamine can throw roadblocks in the way of the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) at Henoko. However, he underestimates the misery the national government can and will inflict upon Nago City in retaliation. A hopped up Abe Shinzo and Company (to see how hopped up Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party are, check out the video reports from this weekend's LDP party Congress, like this one), having failed in their charm offensive toward Nago voters, no longer have to play nice.
A steady, dull, thudding march toward the on-schedule opening of the new U.S. Marines air station at Henoko is crucial to Abe's dual programs as regards the Japan-U.S. alliance:
1) rely on the U.S. to provide crucial military capabilities to fill in for current voids in Japan's capacity to defend itself and its interests (the Self Defense Forces being unable to even do the minimum: defend Japan's territories)
2) drive the U.S. policy makers and the Japan-U.S. relationship managers to tears with his single-minded provocations of South Korea, China, the non-Yomiuri Shimbun news media (Abe appoints Watanabe Tsuneo the chairman of the advisory commission on the special secrets law?!? -- Link), the anti-nuclear movement, the education establishment and, in one way or another, just about everybody else.
Prime Minister Abe will demand consistent, demonstrable progress on the FRF. As long as the bulldozers, dredges and cranes are in motion at Henoko, the U.S. Marines and the Pentagon will continue to provide Abe with military and political cover. If the machines slow down or halt, Abe will be stuck with strict limits on his freedom to be Abe -- and there is nothing Abe wants to be more than himself.
So Inamine-san and Nago City voters, enjoy the victory party. Cherish it as a fond, wistful memory to tide you through the storm that is about to hit you.
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