Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who to Believe

There is a persistent belief in Washington that the old, familiar ties with Japan's security policy community still matter. With few ties within the DPJ, the Alliance Managers trust that their conservative DPJ friends will overcome the party's resistance to continuing the US-Japan security relationship as is. Unfortunately, it is unclear how powerful these allies in the DPJ are.

Former security guru, Seiji Maehara is now Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister. He is tasked with being the "top salesperson" for international purchases of the Shinkansen technology. The other well-known security expert, Akihisa Nagashima, is Parliamentary Secretary to the Defense Ministry. Reports circulating in Washington that the Defense and Foreign ministers fought over retaining him were untrue. Neither wanted him on their team.

It is not that there is much teamwork in the DPJ. Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has indicated that the Futenma issue must be solved by the end of this year, while Hatoyama retorted that they are not at the stage of being able to come up with a decision by the year-end.

On TV program Monday morning (11/30/09) with the LDP's Shigeru Ishiba, Akihisa Nagashima indicated that members of the government
mostly share a view that moving the facility outside Okinawa or Japan is realistically difficult to achieve.

''It is easy to say, 'Move it outside the prefecture or outside the country,' but realistically difficult -- that is a view mostly shared by the government,'' Nagashima reportedly said.

At a press conference later that day, however, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said he does not think that such a view is necessarily shared within the government.

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