Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Really Don't Know, OK

David R. Andrews. OK! Now leave me alone.

I have been pestered with a steady stream of questions as to who will be the next U.S. ambassador to Japan. I have no idea, really.

However, I questioned those who questioned me. This process yielded a number of clues which pointed to Mr. Andrews the retired PP&E Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, General Counsel, and Secretary of PepsiCo, Inc. (food and beverage businesses). 

Prior to joining PepsiCo, Inc., Mr. Andrews was a partner in the law firm of McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, LLP from May 2000 to January 2002 and from 1981 to July 1997. From August 1997 to April 2000, he served as the legal advisor to the U.S. Department of State and former Secretary Madeleine Albright. Mr. Andrews has been a director of PG&E Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company since 2000. 

He is also on the board of the Asia Foundation, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He was a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and is a member of the American Arbitration Association National Roster of Arbitrators and Mediators. Mr. Andrews is also a member of the American Law Institute and was a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Environmental Law and the Governing Council of the ABA Section on International Law. Mr. Andrews serves on the advisory boards of a number of academic institutions including the Environmental and Natural Resources Advisory Council of Stanford Law School and the National Advisory Board of the Ecology Law Quarterly of Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley.

All that as well as a First Friend. A more interesting clue, is the anxious activity at the Japanese Embassy on a number of issues that have been long shoved to the side. These are issues of  how Japan is "different" and will not change, ever.

Over the past two weeks, there has been surprisingly positive movement on issues of child pornography, child abduction, and even American POWs of Japan. It is almost as if they are rushing to get off the table some uncomfortable business that would defy explanation to a seasoned American lawyer and arbiter who has direct access to the President.

The Japanese press has even joined in the preparation. Both Nikkei and Mainichi have run stories on the American POWs of Japan and their quest for an apology. The articles (one a commentary by Amb Togo) have hinted that a resolution is near. NHK has contacted a number of parents of children abducted to Japan for a TV special. The Japanese media have never given these issues this much attention. To be sure, these issues are being reported sparingly and coverage is limited to a few news outlets.

I can guess with the best. 

Now, I do know the Japanese press is following Asahi's lead that John Roos is the nominee. He is a Silicon Valley securities lawyer and Obama fundraiser. He has a publicist. The Japanese Embassy is their reporter's source. But, this reporter has been wrong before. He has a penchant for believing his "inside" sources and moulding his stories to their interests. (Ouch you say, well too bad, and rumor has it that his job is on the line.)

No matter who is nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Japan,  it is clear that it is not Harvard Professor Joe Nye. Frankly, he was only a serious contender to Team Armitage whose members tirelessly advocated for him. Tokyo is most likely stunned, as there is another unknown ambassador who can bypass the State and Defense Departments. Even worse, he is unlikely to be familiar with the traditional Japan managers and their rationalizations of Japan's, the G-7 country, behavior.

Thus, the only thing I am certain about is that CSIS's Pacific Forum is going to have a hard time fundraising. 

Check in if you hear anything more. Email works both ways.

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