Monday, July 13, 2009

Bully the Translator

Mike Green's July 7th interview with the Nihon Keizai Shimbun left the blogsphere and entered the rarefied atmosphere of the Asia policy cognoscenti on July 9th with a mention in the influential Nelson Report.

His statement that the U.S. should sell F-22s to Japan and F-15s to Taiwan left a few of his friends in Washington wondering. Both moves are potentially destabilizing to the region.

Green tried damage control in the Nelson Report on the 10th, with Mr. Nelson offering an apology for Mike having been mistranslated and misquoted. As Mike wrote in:
I assume you are referring to a Nikkei interview I did that was translated by the US Embassy in Tokyo. The interview was not about the F-22 per se and the editors garbled some of what I said. My position on this is not much different from Paul Giarra's.

We should have had a frank and detailed bilateral assessment with the JASDF of the tactical air threat and the shared capabilities and force structures we need to deal with China's rapid expansion of advanced fighter aircraft in the region. In that dialogue, we should have looked at all available options for Japan, including the F-22.

The outcome of the dialogue may very well have been that the F-22 is too expensive, too complicated, and too difficult for Japan to sustain. But we should not have started the dialogue by saying 'NO' on the F-22.

That is a far cry different from arguing that the United States 'must' sell the F-22 to Japan. You can quote this.
Why we need a "dialogue" when the answer is going to be the same as before the dialogue--NO--I don't understand. I guess there might be some economic benefit to the wining and dining and whoring that goes with the dialogue. Seems like a time waster to me and most women, however.

Anyway, it was a petty and nasty gesture to cover himself by blaming the hardworking U.S. Embassy translators. And strangely, like many Japanese, he believed that no one would go back to check the original Japanese.

The Monday, July 13th Nelson Report, proved otherwise. Nelson wrote:
However, Green said, he did not flat-out recommend "yes", as the newspaper originally reported.

Fair enough, running Mike's rebuttal we ended up leaving an impression that the excellent and invaluable US Embassy translation service in Tokyo may have messed this one up.

Not so!

We are reliably assured by two fluent Loyal Readers that they have compared the Japanese original with the English translation done by the Embassy ("should sell")...and, they say, Bill Brooks' Embassy service is 100% accurate to what appeared in the Tokyo press.

As to the original conversation, we will take Mike's word for what he says he meant.
Ok, but remember Mike was likely in Tokyo at the time meeting with clients, some for CSIS and some for his consulting company StratAsia. One does not care much what Mike says about anything regarding what the Obama Administration should or should not do. He is after all a Republican from a discredited regime.

However, his business partner was Kurt Campbell who is now assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. In fact, Campbell's bio is still up on StratAisa's website on the "Our Team" page.

The real question, therefore, is how much does Dr. Campbell share his friend's views on this issue and communicate them to Dr. Green.

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