Ok, and so the Obama Administration has begun the process of treating Japan like Great Britain and like a normal nation. It is about to nominate for ambassador to Japan a presidential crony and big money fundraiser--just like the traditional emissaries to the Court of St. James or France or Italy or Bermuda.
Tokyo is now like any other "glamourous" posting. A politically savvy First Friend will guide the "relationship" with parties and chamber of commerce meetings. Out of the hands of a small coterie of managers, American diplomacy with Japan will strive to treat Japan like all the other G-7 countries. No more specially trained diplomats like we send to trouble spots and Third World countries.
Japan has finally arrived, and finally, almost like a second chance, it is the 1950s:
U.S. ambassadors do more than-talk to foreign ministers. They are also public-relations men with a whole nation for a client. They make speeches, inspect public works, judge flower shows, organize charities. They talk to labor leaders, opposition politicians, businessmen. And while they talk, they listen. For the other side of their job is to be the U.S.'s eyes & ears. On their reading of tempers and political moods Washington bases much of its timing and many of its decisions. [Time Magazine, December 1951]
But somehow I don't think that Japan's elites and America's Japan managers are too happy. Exotic Japan cannot be understood by a personable, loyal confidante. There are special circumstances for Japan that allow it to keep out foreign investment, inhibit foreign imports, deny asylum to refugees, continue child porn, refuse to sign the Genocide Convention or the Hague Treaty on child abduction, and allow it to celebrate the lives of its worst war criminals in the middle of its capital. Would an average American understand this?
Again, I do not know how Tokyo is reacting. I can only guess from what the newspapers are saying. And that reaction is tepid and guarded. My one good resource for these sorts of answers "defriended" me six months ago, today. It was a bit like that Burger King promotion: you got a Whopper if you defriended ten of your "friends" from Facebook. In other words, you were worth 1/10 of a fast food hamburger.
And this is probably how MOFA and the rest of Japan's elites feel for not being special any more.