Friday, October 26, 2007

American Democrats Are People Too.. least that is message I gleaned from a recent op-ed co-authored by Robert Orr and Edward Lincoln.

POINT OF VIEW / Japan's elites need a balanced approach to U.S.
The Asahi Shimbun

Last November, as the U.S. Democratic Party was on the verge of gaining a victory in the U.S. Congress, a flurry of activity and concern developed in Tokyo.

Suddenly, many in the Japanese elite political and bureaucratic world realized that after six years of the Bush administration and Republican Congress, the Democrats would be important for them again...
Now I think that the powers that be in the GOJ are fairly aware that Democrats are again a power to be reckoned with in Washington (that little bit of symbolic legislative business involving Democratic Representative Mike Honda of California might have provided a clue). So this op-ed is not exactly breaking new ground in terms of revelations of hidden truths.

I am intrigued, however, by one passage that does reveal something heretofore unknown to me:
The Fukuda government has introduced a proposal that would limit the scope of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's role to supplying fuel and water to allied ships on the high seas looking for terrorist-connected vessels. In addition, it would require the government to gain approval for an extension after one year.

In order to side-step opposition from Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), instead of requiring full Diet support for the extension, the new law would only require Cabinet approval, thus avoiding the prospect of losing in the Upper House, which Minshuto controls...
What? A law requiring only Cabinet approval?

What are these two august members of the Japan Academy talking about?

Anyone heard anything about such a plan?

Honestly, I'm in the dark on this.

1 comment:

Jun Okumura said...

"Current and former Bush administration officials had insisted that Japan extend the Anti-Terrorism Law as it was, and they vilified Minshuto leader Ichiro Ozawa for his audacity in having an alternate vision of the role Japan might play."

That is pretty nutty too.

More to the point, are these gentlemen saying that Japanese bureaucrats have been talking to Republican legislators but not to Democratic ones? That Ambassador Kato has been snubbing Mr. Mondale but sucking up to Mr. Quayle? Or that working with whatever administration is in place is somehow an act of partisanship?

Looking beyond government to the Washington crowd, to give one example that I can be sure of, Fred Bergsten looks like a Democrat in good standing, but he has continued to receive substantial support from the Japanese corporate community throughout the Bush years. (Okay, he heads the "Petersen Institute", so maybe he's not the best of examples.)

I don't know anything about Robert Orr, but Ed Lincoln is a (quite capable) Japan hand. As such, he is probably far more useful to Americans who need people to tell them what's going on over here, rather than to Japanese who need people to tell him what's going on over there.

I've oversimplified things here, and there has no doubt been some tendency to let relations go slack when it loses some of their potency. However, the accusations seem overwrought and agenda-laden, and the lack of understanding of the facts of the issue reinforce that impression.