Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Land, This Earth, These Words Unspoken

"Hatoyama-san. I am sorry. I come without a fixed plan to reduce America's carbon emissions, thus abdicating my country's natural role as the leader in the fight against anthropogenic climate change, the greatest threat facing us all. I have no plan to free our countries from petroleum dependency, thus guaranteeing that we will continue to bankroll the petroleum tyrannies which have grown in number over the last decade, swallowing up once-promising elected democracies.

I come asking for your help in regards Iran and Afghanistan whilst saying in nothing in public about America's role in the creation of the problems posed by these states. I will not openly recognize the unfairness of pressing allies to help out in reining in Iran when it was the CIA that overthrew the elected government of Iran, installing a puppet monarch -- or in pacifying Afghanistan, when it was the U.S. that armed and arranged for the training of the anti-Soviet forces that were to transmogrify into Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

I am not going to apologize, of course, for my country's having seemingly learned nothing from Japan's real estate/equity markets bubble. I certainly will not apologize for Americans having harangued the Japanese government for failing to to prevent the Bubble or for not responding with proper speed and sufficient scale to stop an overall economic collapse. I will also not pay tribute to the Japanese policy makers who managed to keep unemployment in Japan low during the worst parts of the so-called Lost Decade when I and my team have allowed unemployment to soar past 10% in just one year.

I am also sorry that I will be making oblique, negative references to your proposition that Japan needs to relocate its central foreign policy axis to a point in between China and the United States without ever mentioning the shadow cast on U.S.-China relations by the immense store of U.S. Treasuries and other dollar assets China has piled up over the last six years, effectively bankrolling America's wars, tax cuts and fiscal profligacy.

As a Pacific islander, I should express a greater sympathy for the burdens placed by both your government and mine on the people of Okinawa. I will not say anything, however, that could annoy my military commanders or interfere with their schedules. "

"Dear Obama-san. I too am sorry.

I came into power without actually having thought through what my goals are. I do have a long list of things-to-do in my party's manifesto, much of which I have a real chance of enacting due to the immense parliamentary majority I enjoy. However, if you ask me what the five main goals are for my tenure, I would respond with a quintet of platitudes.

My country has a crashing birth rate, is deeply in debt and faces a rapidly growing army of retirees. I have no idea how to respond to these worsening problems. Enacting the policies listed my party's manifesto will likely exacerbate my country's already staggering fiscal crisis.

I will promise you all kinds of international economic contributions in lieu of sending Japanese into harm's way. There is no realistic means, however, for me to finance all of my pledges to you and keep my promises to my voters. You do not need to guess who it is I will shortchange.

As the father myself and in honor of your two young daughters, I should pledge that Japan will do its utmost to join with the international community in wiping out the twin scourges of child pornography and child abduction. I will offer vague promises of action, maybe.

You have come so far and I have nothing of substance to give you. I wish that I could tell you that will be around for a long time, so you can rely on me to make up later for having nothing for you now. However, I hired an idiot as the accountant for my political funding organization, who then engaged in activities that I have, in Diet session, said look criminal to me. Given Japanese law I am likely to lose my premiership and might even be forced to give up my Diet seat."

"We should apologize to both our peoples for pretending that there is much of anything we can do about the threat posed by North Korea except engaging in humiliating and pointless on-off negotiations, continuously refining missile defense and maintaining the threat of a nuclear attack on North Korea, should the least thing happen to Japan."

"We should. But we won't, will we?"

"No, because saying so would expose the inconsistency between our stated faith in dialogue, our wishes for a world free of nuclear weapons and our peoples' desires for closure -- and the dogged presence in North Korea of a dirt-poor regime insensitive to anything but the threat of ultimate annihilation."

"But surely the people of our countries can understand the necessity of being inconsistent?"

"Yours probably can but not mine."

Image: Kohauchiwa kaede (Acer sieboldianum) and kuromatsu (Pinus thunbergii) on Mutsuishiyama, Okutama Township, Tokyo Metropolitan District. November 3, 2007. Image credit: MTC.


Katie said...

That was a very difficult (as in upsetting) read. Don't get me wrong, it's an incredibly evocative expression of this woe-laden Friday's just that it shows what a gigantic workload Hatoyama and Obama have on their plates. Not that I'm feeling sympathy for them - they both need to finally face up to upsetting their respective opposition. Putting it off is only making their supporters anxious and doubtful.

David H. said...

We mustn't forget that many of these problems have been "inherited" from past administrations, so in a way both these fellows are victims. It's not fair of us to expect any real progress any time soon.

ZI said...

"As a Pacific islander, I should express a greater sympathy for the burdens placed by both your government and mine on the people of Okinawa. "

I have a question, why is the base issue so important?
Japan is not the only traditional ally of the US which has important US facilities on its soil.
There're huge bases in Germany with more than 50 thousands troops and they don't cause any problem.
So why Japan's different? What's so special about Okinawa? Why is the Japanese public so sensitive to the issue?

string said...
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