De profundis clamavi ad te Domine!
"From the depths I call out to thee, oh My Lord!"
Yesterday, Former U.S. National Security Advisor Samuel "Sandy" Berger died at the age of 70. None of the Japanese language obituaries of him mention Berger's having been awarded last month the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun, the nation's highest award for non-Japanese (Link), a fact that CNN, in its obituary, did not fail to mention. (Link)
Berger's award was peculiar in at least three ways. First because he has never been portrayed in the popular media as a particularly special friend of Japan, or as someone openly associated with the careful management of the Tokyo-Washington political relationship. Second because of his infamous and shameful attempt to walk out of the U.S. National Archives with original copies of government documents hidden in his pants -- an incident so bizarre it would normally disqualify someone from receiving a major award. Thirdly because he was a token Democrat in an otherwise staunchly Republican list of American awardees announced on November 2.
Who were the other Americans (5 of the 12 awardees were Americans) receiving the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun this Autumn? Hold on to your hats (and possibly your hearts):
Richard ArmitageThe first three would be on anyone's list of The Usual Suspects list of Establishment Friends of Japan. They were all going to get the Grand Cordon eventually.
The last name, however, should have been the source of screams of disbelief. "DONALD RUMSFELD!?!" Co-concoctor of the now 11 year old Iraq War? A figure so divisive and disgraced U.S. Republicans will not touch him?
Need anyone be reminded that Donald Rumsfeld was U.S. Secretary of Defense when a gaggle of joy-riding Republican donors crashed a U.S. nuclear-power submarine into a training vessel of a Japanese high school, sinking the ship killing five teachers and four students? That he refused to send a high-ranking Defense Department official to apologize to the families and the Japanese nation after the accident? And that he repeatedly said "No" to requests that just out of simple decency he stop the practice of allowing civilians to handle and operate U.S. weapons platforms and systems? (Link)
That guy gets a Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun? Who submitted the recommendation?
And no, that former Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro himself did not leave his golf game after hearing the first reports of the Ehime Maru Accident, a show of detachment and contempt that forced the hated Mori's resignation and his replacement by Koizumi Jun'ichiro, does not make Donald Rumsfeld's being gonged any the less appalling.