Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Is It Not A Humiliating Day?

There were the ruling coalition talking heads on the evening news, declaiming, "How can they be so irresponsible? Why will they not even consider this bill so vital to our nation's interests?"

How can they not consider it? How can could you in good conscience pass it with such unseemly haste?

Japan Lower House OKs Navy Mission
Associated Press

By MARI YAMAGUCHI – TOKYO — Japan's lower house of parliament approved a resumption of the country's anti-terrorism naval mission in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday, defying opposition lawmakers who had forced a halt in the operation.

The legislation, which now goes to the upper house, would limit Japanese ships to refueling and supplying water to ships used in monitoring and inspecting vessels suspected of links to terrorism or arms smuggling.

Japanese warships had refueled vessels the U.S.-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, but withdrew on Nov. 1 when the opposition blocked an extension of the operation, saying it violated Japan's pacifist constitution.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's ruling Liberal Democratic Party argued that Japan would be shirking its responsibilities as a leading nation if it left the mission halted indefinitely. The United States also has been pushing for a resumption.

"How can Japan be the only one to drop out when our fight against terrorism is only half way through and other countries are cooperating?" asked LDP lawmaker Yasutoshi Nishimura during the debate leading up to the vote.

The move came ahead of Fukuda's visit to Washington later this week, where he is expected to offer assurances to President Bush about Japan's support of U.S. foreign policy...

Has there ever been a time since the Occupation, or even during it, where either House of the Diet passed a bill for display only, one that has absolutely no chance of passage in the other House, one whose sole purpose is to make it possible for the the prime minister of Japan travel to Washington with a glittering, useless bauble to present to the American president?

Laws, treaties, private agreements...these have been brought to Washington as omiyage before.

But a transparently false pledge of Japan's loyalty and steadfastness...has this ever happened?

Or do the bearers of this half-law really believe that having committed Japan to the refueling mission in direct White House negotiations with the American president, they will extort a House of Councillors vote approving this bill?

Baaah! So much for the "Let's wait until 60% of the population approves of dispatch before proceeding" plan!

Later - Let me make it clear: the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements are a fantastic deal for both sides. The refueling mission is a cheap and easy way for Japan to participate in the worldwide struggle to contain terrorism. It is the misuse of the House of Representatives as a means to provide atmospherics for the summit meeting in Washington that upsets. Diet session and debate should never be sold for such a low price.


Anonymous said...

Wait - are just you being necessarily brief in your comment at the end or do you actually mean to imply that this "worldwide struggle to contain terrorism" both exists and is something that Japan needs to be a part of?

Rather than representing either a betrayal of the constitution or a good deal for Japan, the refueling debate seems largely irrelevant given that Japan has had troops on the ground in occupied Iraq for several years. This is why I completely trivialised the issue when I wrote about it. I also prefer to leave the serious analysis to people who do a better job like yourself. I'm still a little perturbed by the end of this article though...

MTC said...

tokyology -

It is in Japan's interests to receive the stamp of approval from the United States for being a fully paid-up member of the League Against Terror.

If Japan can do so without firing a shot or putting its own servicemen and servicewomen in the line of fire, super.

Come January 20, 2009 Japan will probably have to adopt a new strategy. Maybe it will be left alone to live according to a normal person's understanding of the constitution. Maybe it will be forced to develop an even more twisted set of interpretations.

Until that time, Japan, along with the rest of the planet, can and probably should do little else but hold its breath and wait this thing out.