Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lest Threats Be Thought Idle

It is not a stalling tactic or a demonstration of a single man's lack of decisiveness. It is not an example of perfidy or strategic ignorance. It is not an example of Fukushima Mizuho's mesmerizing powers of persuasion.

It is what in poker is referred to as a call.
Japan needs more time for decision on US base
Associated Press

By SHINO YUASA (AP) TOKYO — Japan needs several more months to decide on the relocation of a major U.S. military base on the southern island of Okinawa, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Tuesday, a delay likely to frustrate Washington.

The U.S. had hoped for a resolution by year-end, but Hatoyama said a hasty decision would be irresponsible.

Okinawa residents complain about base-related noise, pollution and crime, and many want the airfield closed and its functions moved off the island entirely.

A 2006 reorganization plan, made under the previous conservative government, was aimed at lightening the load on Okinawa, which hosts more than half the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan under a security pact forged after World War II.
After describing in ominous tones the threat of a breakdown of Japan-U.S. relations should Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio deviate from the path laid down by the previous regime and disgraced former Vice Minister Moriya Takemasa, those who warned of an apocalypse need to hope that hellfire and brimstone rain down forthwith upon the Japanese government's head.

So far, the responses have been less than infernal.

In Washington, the U.S. Marine Corps commandant said Japan's decision to delay the relocation of the U.S. military base was unfortunate.

Gen. James Conway told reporters Tuesday that moving forward on the base movement is "absolutely vital to the defense that we provide for the entire region."

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley offered a more muted response, saying President Barack Obama's administration was willing to give Japan a little more time to deal with what he calls a complex issue. But he said talks would not be indefinite.
No, of course not. The Democratic Party of Japan never said that it wanted indefinite talks. The DPJ wants Futenma moved just as much as anyone.

What the DPJ asked for was a review together with the United States of a plan that had languished in limbo for 12 years, unenforceable by the very party that drew it up.

Which begs the question: who in the U.S. Administration made the decision to test the DPJ's willingness to bet the whole Japan-U.S. relationship on the DPJ's promise to review the building of a heliport off the coast of Henoko?

Because whoever that was, he or she has miscalculated. The DPJ did not fold. Believe the DPJ policy unrealistic, call it airy-fairy, the party leadership has held its ground.

From the 2009 DPJ Manifesto:


"We promise to propose revisions to the Status of Forces Agreement and will furthermore address the realignment of U.S. Forces, the role-and-placement of American military bases and other matters from the point of view that a rethink may be in order."
Whether or not one may believe the move of the elements of the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to a new base to be constructed over a coral reef off of Camp Schwab in Henoko City is a good idea; a bad idea but the best we can do; an unkept promise to the United States government; or a betrayal of the Okinawan people, one needed to at least understand that if the DPJ were to include the pledge in its manifesto and then win a smashing victory at the polls, the party was going to do its damnedest to deliver on its promise.

It is a measure of the cynicism of the views of those monitoring the political speech of this blessed land that Washington was not informed of the DPJ's sincere commitment to the promises it was making to the electorate.


wataru said...

Once again on this issue, you are completely correct and righteous. This kind of argument needs to be heard far more widely, both in Japan and in the US.

Yoshi said...

Wow. Common sense on Futenma.