Friday, March 26, 2010

Ticking Down on Okinawa

Just one more day to go -- if we are to put any stock in Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio's inexplicable self-appointed deadline of "the end of March" for his government to come up with its proposal on the transfer of the functions of the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to another location.

Somehow in the first weeks of this year Hatoyama felt the urge, after granting himself in December last year an additional six months to come up with a mutually agreable alternative to the Henoko site, to lop two months off of his own extension. I suppose a premature sense of self-assuredness arose when Shimoji Mikio, the People's New Party's MP from Okinawa, made a land-based Camp Schwab plan the centerpiece of his party's proposals. Hatoyama and his circle came to what seems a gleeful and somewhat premature conclusion that come-what-may, the government can force the inside-the-boundaries-of Camp-Schwab-land-based-solution on all the recalcitrant parties, including the United States military.

Faith in the default option, while not entirely misplaced, looks a lot less reasonable than it did a few weeks ago.

We shall see whether the Wavering One has anything at all on the table come the April day of fools.


Anonymous said...

Well, you are going to love this:

I don't know if wavering is quite strong enough! It is bad enough when one minister contradicts another one but are from two parties....but the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister......

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael, Talk about strong leadership: "Hatoyama backpedals on coming up with Futemma plan by the end of May".

There is no legal basis on which the Japanese government needs to come up with a solution for Futenma by the end of May either.

What Inexplicable Self-Appointed Deadline?

TOKYO, March 29 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama backpedaled Monday on his earlier promise to come up with a government plan for the relocation of a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa Prefecture by the end of March, saying that his government is not legally bound by it.

"There is no legal basis on which we must come up with a government plan this month," Hatoyama told reporters, while saying that he wants to come up with a plan "soon" to negotiate with the United States.

Japan is exploring alternatives to an existing plan to relocate the Futemma Air Station within the southernmost prefecture and Hatoyama has said the government will settle the matter by the end of May.

Martin F said...

He has never said "end of March" has he? Sounds like AP/Kyodo/someone else made a mistake. End of May has been the mantra since last fall.

This is the Japanese "way" of making decisions, calling it "wavering" shows little understanding of the beauty of the process ;) unless you like waves.

What I don't like is how the US/Pentagon/someone else thinks they should be in charge of Japanese foreign policy.

MTC said...

Martin -

Go to Google News. Search sangatsu, made ni and matomeru.

He most certainly did promise it.

As for the cultural aspect, no. In poll after poll, conducted by news organizations antagonistic and sympathetic, the responses of the voters have been emphatic and unitary: this guy is indecisive, unforgivably so.

sigma1 -

I am assuming the title you are quoting said "March" not "May."

Martin J Frid said...

Kyodo puts March in brackets meaning it wasn't what he said. The only deadline has been "end of May" at least since December 2009.

MTC said...

Mr. Frid -

Please trust me on this one. The quotation marks are indicative of an actual quote.

See today's news bit from Nihon Terebi:

If the PM had not declared his wish to "settle on a basic government plan during the month of March" he would not be now saying, "Oh、being one or two days late is not a big deal."

Martin J Frid said...

You are right, now I found the quote from Friday, and the TV interview of course also confirms your point.