Monday, February 15, 2010

A Right And Proper Military

Over at Twisting Flowers, Ethan Chua has a meditation upon the uproar over Colonel Nakazawa Takeshi's seeming mockery of Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio last Wednesday in a speech at the opening ceremony for a joint U.S. Forces Japan / Self Defense Forces exercise. Colonel Nakazawa supposedly said that the Japan-U.S. alliance...
"...cannot be maintained by diplomacy or political rhetoric. Least of all can it be maintained by the words ‘trust me.'"
The colonel has received a written reprimand for these remarks, which are clearly in reference to the assurance to "Trust me" that the Prime Minister reportedly gave to President Barack Obama last year on finding a replacement site for the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station on Okinawa.

A written reprimand, no matter how strictly worded or damaging to Nakazawa's record, seems hardly sufficient. By disparaging one of the phrases that has become indelibly associated with the Prime Minister, Nakazawa clearly indicated his ultimate loyalty is not with the civilian leadership of his country. Instead, it seems he posited some higher power as giving him he right to mock, however indirectly, the PM. Whether that entity is the Alliance, the U.S. military or the defense of Japan is irrelevant - that Nakazawa should have thought that his service put him in the position of criticizing the Prime Minister is unbelievable. That he should have done so seemingly in the presence of U.S. military officers at a public ceremony is unforgivable.

It is a measure of the Democratic Party of Japan's dangerous intellectual disengagement from military matters that this matter is being allowed to be swept under the rug without a vigorous public debate. Though many are drawing parallels between Nakazawa's remarks and the Tamogami affair, Tamogami's firing was done in the glare of camera lights, over what was, in the grander scheme, a difference of opinion about history. Nakazawa's transgression is being quickly papered over, despite its begging the question as to whom Colonel Nakazawa felt he owed his ultimate loyalty.

Since the incident occured as a part of a joint SDF-USFJ exercise, the U.S. Ambassador and the Commander of USFJ would be full in their rights to go to Defense Minister Kitazawa Toshimi and explain to him that the U.S. takes insubordination very seriously -- and that a military with officers who do not see themselves as fundamentally loyal to their own government is of no use to the U.S. as an ally.

Later - It seems that the Defense Minister is suitably furious at Colonel Nakazawa's remarks.

Now the trick is to find out from whence this morning's English language version of The Asahi Shimbun could derive this gem of a paragraph:
Kitazawa said Nakazawa's remark represented "an extremely dangerous thought" that could lead to a coup.


Jan Moren said...

Isn't that just the usual lead-footed translation that tries to preserve the wording and literal meaning at the expense of any grace of language or accuracy of intent?

It's in the same vein where some offending individual "should seriously reflect on their actions" or similar; it may be a sharp rebuke in Japanese, but ends up as a hamhanded expression of helpless inaction when translated directly.

Anonymous said...

"Instead, it seems he posited some higher power as giving him he right to mock, however indirectly, the PM."

I think the Asahi editorial made it perfectly clear what the "higher power" in question would be-at least in this guy's worldview.