Friday, July 31, 2009

No Joy in Mudville

Howls of self-importance and whimpers of disappointment are beginning to bounce around the Washington Japan community.

Next week, there will be an invitation-only, off-the-record briefing by noted Japan scholars for the nominee for the ambassadorship to Japan (there is a good possibility that John Roos will be approved by the Senate by the time of the meeting, thus making him ambassador designate).

Some, if not many, who consider themselves Japan cognizanti were not invited. They will not be happy. And the new Ambassador will not get a full picture of the Japan-interested community or Japan. The Washington Wa has been disturbed.

There are no real surprises on the speakers list other than it is heavy on the dull and light on any discussion of Japanese society, self-image, and war memory. The one difference from the similar briefing for Ambassador Tom Schiffer is that there are actually a few women among the speakers. If I recall correctly, a women got to be a moderator last time because someone complained bitterly. Did you know a few years back that there was a time when women headed the Japan Desks at State, Commerce, USTR, and the CIA?

The meeting is not open to the press and the agenda is closely held. It is better that way because you will be so disappointed to learn how pedestrian it is. The Schiffer briefing actually had a bit more pizazz, and that is not saying much. At least, this time, Mike Green is not the featured lunch speaker.

Let's hope the food is better.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nuclear Strategy

There is an interesting article on the front page of this morning's Asahi Shimbun (July 31, 2009).

It reports that at the June 28th summit between Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and Korean President Lee Myung Bak, Aso asserted that further escalation of the North Korean nuclear issue could encourage stronger calls in Japan for the country to obtain its own nuclear weapons.

Aso apparently brought up this possibility as an example of why China should be more helpful in resolving the problems with North Korea. And in case this veiled threat was not clear, the Asahi quoted a willing Japanese government source as saying "the tone was not that Japan would go nuclear" and the South Koreans did not offer strong objections.

The date of Mr. Aso's remarks caught my attention. Aso's "what if" diplomacy, as the Asahi reporter observed, seemed timed to "take advantage" of the nuclear armament discussions appearing in Tokyo at the time. As you may recall, Amb Ryohei Murata revealed Japan's nuclear "secret" with the U.S. to the Mainichi on June 29th.

Thus, it is highly unlikely that Amb Murata was merely an old man unburdening himself of memories and lies. There was a strategy to his madness, after all.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The world struggles with what to do about Burma and its human rights violations. Currently, the country's ruling generals are holding a Kangaroo court to try Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Japan is doing its part. What exactly it is doing, is subject to some debate.

Ms Suu Kyi faces five years in prison if she is convicted of having violated her house arrest when an American man swam to her lakeside home uninvited. Her lawyers are scheduled to deliver their closing arguments on Tuesday. A verdict is expected in two to three weeks or mid-August.

On August 22nd, shortly after the verdict, the Japanese Embassy in Burma along with the Japan Foundation and fashion designer Junko Koshino will hold a fashion show and dinner at the historic Strand Hotel in Burma's former capital, Yangon.

The show is to highlight Japanese lifestyle and culture. It is part of Tokyo's Japan-Mekong cultural exchange year program.

Most consider Japanese statements Burma to be tepid and actions nonexistent. I do not believe Prime Minister Aso has commented and the official spokesman says that Japan "observes the situation with deep concern, and hopes that democratization in Myanmar will be promoted with participation of all the parties concerned and that international community could give a high regard for a general election in 2010."

The designer featured at the former Imperial Army barracks (The Strand), Junko Koshino, is no stranger to contrasting images. The Osaka-born designer's philosophy is summed up by the word taikyoku, which in Japanese means "extreme opposites."

Later: The Court nows says it will issue its verdict on Friday, July 31st.

Still Later: The Court announced on Friday that it will put off the verdict until August 11th. There will be still time for Ms. Suu Kyi to catch the fashion show.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

It is Not Food

Japanese dolphin meat is toxic. It is not food.

It contains extremely high mercury and methylmercury levels. In fact, levels in dolphins were higher than some of the mercury-tainted seafood tested during the tragic Minamata mercury-pollution disaster of the 1950s.

Dolphins are not fit for human consumption and certainly should not be given to school children. It is simply "toxic waste."

This was the conclusion of two Taiji city assemblymen in 2007 who had toxicology tests done on the dolphin meat sold in local markets. It was also the conclusion of the filmmakers of The Cove that had independent tests conducted.

Nevertheless, dolphins near Taiji, Japan are still rounded up annually and killed to be used in school lunches and local restaurants.

Starting July 31st, The Cove, the award-winning documentary on the Taiji dolphin slaughter, will be shown in commercial movie theaters throughout the United States and Canada. The Arts section of the Sunday July 19th New York Times featured an extensive article on the making of the film. It highlighted the need for a "clandestine operations coordinator" in the film team. As the Times reported:

some of the filming was done at night, with the crew in camouflage and face paint and using military-style thermal cameras to film the fishermen and police officers who were trying to keep them away from the cove. Part of that material has ended up in the film, as has footage shot from unmanned aerial drones and a blimp equipped with a remote-controlled camera.

The newly nominated (6/25/09) U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is David Killion. He is currently the chief legislative adviser to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) on international organizations and the environment. His confirmation hearing is Tuesday, July 28th. Last summer, Mr. Killion as an official representative of Chairman Berman, visited Taiji.

The official movie site complete with the trailer and city openings is HERE.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Roos Hearing

It was a circus. Chris Nelson said it was a love-in. Well, we are both right: everyone loved watching the featured and surprise guests perform at Thursday, July 23rd's morning Senate Foreign Relations Committee Asia ambassadorial nominations hearing.

The Administration clearly wanted the China and Japan ambassadorial nominations done quickly and with no controversy. Thus, the nominations hearing included the nominees for China, Japan, Mongolia, Vanatu/Solomon Islands/Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, and Tajikastan. The Campbell hearing was torture in comparison.

Unannounced, the hearing included extensive laudatory introductions of the must-see nominees: Jon Huntsman and John Roos. Each nominee was also given time to introduce his family present. Huntsman had his very photogenic Chinese adoptee daughter among the five of his seven children present.

Utah Governor Huntsman was introduced by three Republican Senators: McCain, Hatch, and Bennett. This led Committee Chair Kerry to quip, "that this is a good sign that the U.S.-China relationship is above politics..."

The Administration pulled out the stops for Roos. Former Senator Bill Bradley talked glowingly about his "friend" John the Silicon Valley M&A lawyer who he said he had once offered a senior staff position. He also made a point of noting Roos’ “long time” interest in Japan. Bradley was followed by former Ambassadors to Japan Foley and Mondale (Baker sent in a letter) with gracious endorsements. This had been so hurriedly put together that Foley never quite got the nominee's name right--he kept repeating Russo.

With his "creds" established as a serious candidate for Tokyo, Roos followed with very measured presentation using all the appropriate buzz and fuzz words of "cornerstone of our security in Asia" and "important alliance." He even threw in Mansfield’s “bar none” platitude. None of it was memorable nor extraordinary.

Roos does not have much of a TV presence and he looked uncomfortable in front of the cameras, as he appeared a bit creepy and unstable--wild-eyed and bald with a creaky voice.* But the Japanese seem to have a low standard for Western men and he unwittingly fit right in with the stereotype of men that gravitate to underage-looking Japanese women, er, I mean the Land of the Rising Sun.

As Chris Nelson wrote (you don’t get his report!? how do you do your work?!):
** he knows the "strategic alliance" mantras, and has some grasp of the full range of first tier issues;

** he understands the need to be "diplomatic" when asked why the LDP is likely getting trashed in the upcoming election;

** and, perhaps most importantly...that just because few here (or in Tokyo) had ever heard of him before his nomination, he's been an important behind-the-scenes political player for years, and enjoys the full support of Big Guys, starting with the President.
Senator Webb (D-VA) who chaired the Roos component of the hearing was quite deferential to the nominee. This is in contrast to his near-combative style with Kurt Campbell, nominee for assistant secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. Webb asked no tough questions nor mentioned any of the human interest issues as he did with Campbell.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) delighted to be finally on the East Asia Subcommittee of Foreign Relations, did the heavy lifting of assuring Japan that there were way stupider gaijin (we liked in the office how he “spelled out” D-P-J) out there that could have been selected. Webb allowed him a lot of air time.

Thus, no unpleasantness arose and there was no public mention of the many sticky issues in the U.S.-Japan relationship. However, I can assure you that the many questions for the record which were due by the close of business Friday were prickly: issues concerning trade, foreign investment, Futenma, whales, child abduction, human trafficking, and American POWs.

Expectations for Japan are just higher now.

You can watch the hearing and read the testimonies HERE.

*Almost to prove my point, the photo above is courtesy of Nikkei (although Kyodo appears to be taking the credit). It was the only photo I found that seemed to accurately capture his edgy physical image. The eyes are way more intense than the photo shows and the lips thinner.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Yes, I am truly astonished.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) on July 22 announced that spinal columns, a specified risk material for BSE (mad cow), were found for the 12th time since 2006 in boxes of frozen meat imported from the United States.

For those of us* who follow these sorts of things, this is astonishing.

It is not that the SRM was found. Yes, it is odd that there are only a limited number beef exporters to Japan and that they seem to continually, albeit occasionally, to include SRM in their shipments. Nor does it seem even hypocritical for Japan to scrutinize others after the government purposely ignored warnings in 2001 from the EU and UN that the country was at risk for Mad Cow (look up how Kobe beef cows are raised...). Or that it is considered near impossible to get BSE from imported American/Canadian (same herd, btw) beef as it is all under 20 months--most beef sold in American markets is 18 months.

No, what was astonishing is who importer was. It was Creekstone Farms.

Creekstone, a purveyor and slaughterhouse of premium, organic Black Angus beef, has long been a favorite of the Japanese government. When BSE was discover in 2003 in the U.S. herd, the Embassy and Jetro worked quietly with Creekstone to encourage it to push for its own independent testing of individual cattle for BSE (at present you can only test after the poor animal has died). For one, a big contract with Sumisho (a subsidiary of Sumitomo) was at stake; for another, Tokyo was looking for any way to keep the cost of American beef high in Japan.

Luck would have it that the USDA and most cattle ranchers fought Creekstone in court and won. More interesting, Creekstone was not satisfied with the Sumitomo deal and found another distributor, Starzen to handle its exports when they were allowed again in 2005. Starzen is best known for its scandal of mislabeling cheap cuts of beef as expensive ones.

So, my question is: how is it possible that Creekstone, which is probably the most knowledgeable of beef exporters on how to satisfy the Japanese market, included two spinal columns in one box and that the Japanese government inspectors who examined only 28 of the 810 boxes from Creekstone managed to zero in on that one box?

Astonishing isn't it?
It should be noted, that at the beginning of 2009 there were 2.8 million beef cattle in Japan, 94 million in the US, and 13 million in Canada.

Since 2001, there have been 35 confirmed cases of mad cow in Japan (however there have been many "suspected"cases where the inflected cows appear to have been disposed of, but not tested) 3 in the United States, and 17 in Canada. [More Statistics Here]

The LA Times has a story on this Here.
Centers for Disease Control on BSE Here.

Later: Creekstone says the story was misreported. There were no full spinal columns in the boxes, only neck bone parts. Yeah, whatever.

*my family farm was next to a dairy farm and down the road from a slaughterhouse so I have some familiarity with bovines. I was a 4-Her.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Komori on Murata

Finally, to square that circle rightwing journalist and Washington's favorite Japanese guy, Yoshihisa Komori of the Sankei Shimbun added his support to Amb. Ryohei Murata's unburdening himself of the state secret that Japan allowed U.S. ships to carry nuclear weapons through national waters.

I am all for starting a discussion on Japan's relationship with all things nuclear--there have been at least three Japanese governmental studies on the feasibility of possessing nuclear weapons (I will discuss this later)--but I am not comfortable with a clearly orchestrated effort to initiate it. Most good scholars and analysts would be as there is less interest by Murata and his supporters in debate than in creating fear and uncertainty.

Before I discuss this issue a bit more, I want to share with you a translation of Mr. Komori's essay on his "shock" of first learning about the agreement from former Amb. Edwin Reischauer.

Security policy based on lies

SANKEI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly), July 19, 2009

by Yoshihisa Komori, editor-at-large in Washington

"There is a verbal agreement between the governments of Japan and the United States allowing U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons to pass through Japan's territorial waters and to call at Japanese ports."

I still remember hearing these shocking words for the first time from former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin Reischauer at his home in a Boston suburb on one sunny day in May.

The memory of this event was evoked by the recent statements by former Vice-Foreign Minister Ryohei Murata and Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Yukio Hatoyama on the three non-nuclear principles. Both Murata and Hatoyama made their remarks regarding the "introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan" in line with the Reischauer statement of 1981.

The first half of the interview with Reischauer took place at his living room and the latter half in his backyard.

Back then, I was doing research on Japan-U.S. security issues as a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on leave from the Mainichi Shimbun. The interview with Reischauer was primarily part of my research project. I had planned to ask questions without fail about nuclear introduction based on a plan by my superiors and colleagues at the Mainichi Shimbun. Reischauer's reply was surprisingly candid.

"The word 'mochikomi [bringing in]' used on the Japanese side and the word 'introduction' used on the U.S. side means two different things."

Insisting that the two words meant the same thing, the Japanese government declared that passage through Japanese territorial waters and port calls by nuclear-armed U.S. warships would be a violation of the principle of not allowing bringing nuclear weapons into Japan of the three non-nuclear principles.

The U.S. side, on the other hand, insisted that passage through and port calls would not be a violation of the three non-nuclear principles because they would not constitute the introduction of nuclear weapons and therefore they should be exempt from prior consultations between Japan and the United States.

"In English, 'introduction' strictly means the deployment and stockpiling of nuclear weapons on the ground. The Japanese government should explain the difference of the word 'mochikomi' to the general public."

Reischauer even told me that the Japanese government's declaring that nuclear-armed U.S. warships did not pass through Japanese territorial waters or enter Japanese ports, while knowing the difference in the meanings of the words, was tantamount to telling a lie.

The Mainichi Shimbun ran a scoop on this statement under the titles of "Nuclear-armed U.S. warships made port calls in Japan," "Japanese government aware of them," and "Former Ambassador Reischauer reveals." This naturally caused a sensation. The Japanese government was grilled at home and abroad over the fictitious nature of the three non-nuclear principles, but despite Reischauer's statement, it never acknowledged it had lied.

It has been 28 years since then, and former Vice-Foreign Minister Murata has called a lie a lie as an official in the government back then. Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama, too, is likely to press the government to admit the existence of the secret nuclear pact between Japan and the United States, as was pointed out by Reischauer.

I want to welcome the statements by Murata and Hatoyama. I strongly believe the Japanese government should go back and acknowledge the difference in interpretations of "introduction" with the United States. Otherwise, Japan will have to face the foundation of its security policy and challenges that are based on a bunch of lies. Security and defense policies based on lies are unacceptable.

I still cannot forget the sinking feeling similar to despair I had after reporting on the Reischauer statement and confirming the Japanese government's reaction to it. That was because I was made to feel that my studies on Japanese security policy and its objective rested on a pack of lies.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cardinal Rules

Archibald* is now allowed to prowl the garden at will. Last weekend this was not the case. If he dared go out, the father cardinal would start to chirp a shrill alarm. It would be quickly followed by a warning cry by the mother. Their babies were hatching and they were not about to let a cat get near the nest.

They did not know that he has hip condition that makes it impossible for him to jump very high or to walk for long. His backside does not always follow his front and he flops down after a few minutes of movement. He only hesitantly goes out to the garden and is content inside with his many stuffed mice, stick, and myriad bottle caps.

But he is mesmerized by the birds and for the week the baby cardinals hatched we kept him inside. And it was probably a good thing. The fledglings all fell exhausted into my flower beds where they fluttered around under the very very watchful eyes of their parents. None could fly but all were curious. Each eyed me in wonderment as I tied to snap their picture. As you can see above I did a terrible job. Photography is not my medium.

The cardinal chicks were not the only children who unceremoniously fell out of the nest at my household two weeks ago. And like the mother cardinal, all I can do is flutter about, bring some food, and hope that the fledgling will figure out to fly. I hope that I can can plan as well as the cardinals did and find him a safe garden where he can land to grow strong.

*Archibald is a stray with Egyptian Mao spots that we rescued from the animal shelter. His predecessor, Osiris, was a pure-breed Abyssinian who could easily jump over a 7 ft high fence and land directly on his prey in the adjacent garden.

Stealth Fighting

Just in case Congress, Lockheed Martin, and the Embassy of Japan did not get the message that the Obama Administration will NOT approve the continued production of F-22s in order to sell them to Japan, the Pentagon made its position clear this past week.

Just as the new Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Kurt Campbell set off on his first trip to Japan and Asia, the Pentagon worked hard to show that there was no ambiguity in their opposition.

The campaign moved into high gear on Friday, July 10th with the front page of the Washington Post “Premier U.S. Fighter Jet Has Major Shortcomings: F-22's Maintenance Demands Growing.” The Post’s top military affairs reporter wrote: “The United States' top fighter jet, the Lockheed Martin F-22, has recently required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies, pushing its hourly cost of flying to more than $44,000, a far higher figure than for the warplane it replaces.”

On Wednesday, July 15th, Defense Department briefer Geoff Morrell answered press questions regarding the F-22. Among his answers was a clear message to Japan that the Pentagon is “opposed” to further F-22 and sales to Japan:

Q What is the secretary's position for the export version of F-22?

MR. MORRELL: Well, I think we've been over this a couple times, but I'm happy to do it one more time.

Fundamentally, it's illegal right now. There is an amendment, the Obey amendment, which prohibits the sale -- the export of F-22s to anyone. So that would be a matter that would have to be overcome with some sort of legislative remedy.

The secretary's fundamental attitude about the F-22 is that we have enough of them. And -- and I think, you know, if we have enough, I think it's to be determined between other governments who wish to pursue this and see if there's a way that they can deal with perhaps acquiring these in the future.

I don't know that this is something we are advocating. We believe that the F-35 is the aircraft of the future. We believe that is the aircraft that we want to develop in conjunction with our -- with our partners around the world. It's what makes it affordable to all of us, that we do this together. And, frankly, we believe it's the aircraft that best serves joint operations around the world. It can be used by all services -- the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines -- and it can be deployed in a similar way in foreign militaries as well.

So I think that, overall, we believe that where we should be focusing on is a newer, better -- in many respects -- aircraft that we can develop together, reduce the costs collectively. It would be enormously expensive for Japan or other countries to buy the -- to buy an export model of the F-22, money we think could be better spent in developing the F-35 together, and develop a platform that would have interoperability if we were to work together in the future.

So I guess my position on that evolved. So I think we're opposed to an export of the F-22. (Laughter.)

The next day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates in speaking to the Economics Club of Chicago said:

One of the programs the budget would cap is the F-22 fighter jet program. While “a niche silver-bullet solution for one or two potential scenarios,” the fighter is expensive and has limited capabilities when compared to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

And today, Saturday, July 18th the Post capped the week with an editorial, "No More F-22s," against the further purchase of this 5th generation fighter.

Japan does have its supporters for the purchase of the F-22. Foremost, is Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI). In March, he wrote the Japanese ambassador in Washington that the theoretical sale price of F-22s to Japan would be $290 million each if production was continued and ramped up to include exports.

How embarrassing to have a US Senator hawking discounts like Costco for bulk purchases. What possessed the Senator to write the Ambassador a sales letter I do not know. It it has been my experience, however, that when Senator Inouye “writes” something on Japan it tends to be a cut and paste from the talking points prepared by the Japanese Embassy’s lobbyists Hogan & Hartsen.

Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT) sponsored amendment included in the June House National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the export of F-22s specifically to Japan. He claims that “there was not very much input from the government of Japan” in drafting the bill.

And not to be left behind, AEI’s Japan guy Michael Auslin—the younger, stupider, less substantive, uglier Michel Green—wrote a peculiar piece on Wednesday July 15th supporting the continued production of the F-22, "These Fighter Numbers Don’t Add Up." He tried to protect himself from the flack Green got for his Tokyo comments supporting the fighter's sale to Japan, by making not one direct mention of Japan in his essay.

He simply discussed the stealth fighter on its merits and the cost savings of producing “export variants to sell to American allies” (code for Japan). Since when is Misha a military hardware expert and defense commentator? He writes books on cultural relations between the U.S. and Japan. Oooh, he's manning up and talking defspeak.

The Obama Administration feels the F-22 is a waste of money for problematic technology. Resources are needed elsewhere, the conflicts ahead do not require stealth fighter/bombers, and the jobs that might be lost in 40 states could be used more productively. The campaign to save the F-22, therefore, appears to weaken rather than strengthen American defense capabilities. That then leaves the question as to whom would want that.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Confirmation Hearings

Japan and China experts around the Beltway are all giddy tonight.

Next Thursday, the Senate will hold the confirmation hearings for the ambassadorships to China and Japan. The pundits all await the calls from the media. Quotes in the New York Times and the Washington Post are much sought after prizes. But, appearing on the NewsHour With Jim Lehrer is considered akin to attaining Nirvana in Washington's policy metaphysical universe.

My guess is that The NewsHour will select for commentary their usual Japan experts: Mike Green from CSIS and Ayako Doi an independent journalist. And yes, there is no daylight between news and hour.

This hearing was not announced until after 6pm this evening and is not yet on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's website.

Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs on the Foreign Relations Committee Jim Webb (D-VA) will preside at these confirmation hearings to be held next Thursday, July 23, 9:30am at 419 Dirksen . It will be webcast.

Panel One:

Jon Huntsman, PRC

John Roos, Japan

Panel Two:

Jonathan Addleton, Mongolia

Teddy Taylor, Papua New Guinea, Solomons, Vanuatu

Martha Campbell, Marshall Islands

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.

Oh Argentina!

Which is it? Does Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or do the career Foreign Service Officers at State have a droll sense of humor? I suspect the latter, and bully for them.

State's new effort to highlight national holidays leaves a lot of room for mischief. If this isn't satire or irony, then it is just plain foolish. Besides having questions over Argentina's commitment to democracy, there is that sensitive issue the Secretary has with her own husband and his affairs.

On July 9, 2009, Secretary Clinton congratulated Argentina on its Independence Day:
On behalf of the United States, I would like to extend my warm congratulations to the people of Argentina as they celebrate their 193rd Independence Day. Argentina and the United States have a long history of close cooperation. Our shared commitment to the values of democracy and human rights serve as a common ground in advancing the bilateral relationship between our two nations.
One wonders why the gnomes at State could not just stop at congratulating The Bahamas and Canada for their national days in July. Isn't one national day a month enough? Oh, but it is Argentina...and there is a bilateral relationship to advance.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Blow Out the Candle
Today, July 8th is Dr. Michael J. Green's birthday.

While some have celebrated CSIS's Japan Chair Dr. Green's birthday a bit early, I fear I am almost too late, just one minute to midnight.

It appears, however, that he is celebrating in Tokyo where his friends are. As Shisaku has noted, he is busy giving interviews to the Japanese press. Yes, they are tired old interviews with the same tired responses, but Tokyo loves the answers.

His many Japanese friends and clients probably felt assured that he was quick to mention the China threat and Tokyo's need for the F-22 Raptor. After noting* that he did not think China had much political power, he went on to observe:
But China's military buildup worries me. The reason is because the country has significantly increased its capabilities in such fields as satellites, cyberspace, and submarines. The aim is to demonstrate China's presence in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and the East China Sea. The United States should sell F-22 fighter jets to Japan and F-16s to Taiwan to maintain the power balance. It would be better for Japan, the United States, Australia, and India to conduct maritime exercises. There is a need to give the impression that the more China pursues its unclear military buildup, the tighter the solidarity among its neighboring countries will become.
This is what Green's hosts want to hear, but it is a dangerous declaration. Starting last week, there has been a rigorous debate publicly and privately about selling the F-22 to Japan. The answer is NO by the greater majority of government officials and analysts of Asian regional security issues. The discussion started by two CSIS Pacfic Forum newsletters played out on the pages of The Nelson Report and a number of defense-related publications, both open source and classified. All agreed that it was dangerous if not irresponsible to allow Tokyo to use the F-22s as a test of the U.S.-Japan Alliance and to give the Japanese the impression that it was possible and reasonable for them to acquire these advanced strategic aircraft.

In short, Dr. Green, formerly of the Bush Administration's National Security Council and best friends with the new Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Dr. Kurt Campbell, is providing misleading analysis to his Japanese friends. He is setting them up for disappointment, either by design or ignorance.

Thus, the birthday candle only for one.

LATER: *Sorry, but I neglected to note the newspaper citation for the Green interview. It is the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, July 7, 2009, p. 5.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Being Right

In case you doubted me about Ambassador Murata's likely reasons to expose a long-standing secret agreement between the U.S. and Japan, you might want to read the commentary below. As I noted in a previous post, assuring doubt about the U.S. commitment to Japan was his goal.

His friend and co-author of Between Friends, Hisahiko Okazaki, comes to his defense and clarifies what Murata hoped to achieve. It appears that "intellectual integrity" is the new linguist weapon of Japan's conservative nationalists. No more is it "historical truth." Their cause is now about their right to their opinions, no matter how illegal, hurtful, or wrong.

Again, this is a very dangerous tack by those who want to use any means to repeal Article 9 and advance Japan's rearmament. Whether it is pushing the United States on Japanese abductees of the North Koreans or the right to purchase F-22s, these conservatives hope to create a situation of distrust and discord. Like Holocaust deniers, they measure their success by the doubt they instill. Amb Okazaki. It should be noted, Okazaki considers himself a friend of the U.S.; and many believe him.

Later: Amb. Okazaki's essay further aligns itself with the supporters of former Air Self-Defense Force General Toshio Tamogami by welcoming possible prosecution of Amb. Murata for revealing a state secret. Okazaki notes: "If this case is brought to court, the substance of the secret – whether it is indeed a matter that needs to be kept confidential – will be examined. Blowing the whistle on anomalies in the bureaucracy does not violate the confidentiality obligation."

Tamogami and his friends were disappointed that the Diet did not debate his dismissal. They hoped for an airing of "historical truth." Amb. Murata's supporters appear to have hoped for a court case that would blow "the whistle on anomalies in the bureaucracy." In each case, these men were looking for legitimate public venues to air their views. And each seemed like a kamikaze mission where success is measured by its failure--an outrageous act of self-destruction in order sink a battleship or in these cases outrageous acts of career suicide to undermine the U.S.-Japan Alliance.

"Seiron" column: Do not let Murata's good intentions go to waste

SANKEI, July 7, 2009, page 7

By Hisahiko Okazaki, former ambassador to Thailand and Head of the Okazaki Institute

Disappointing follow-up response

When I read former Vice Foreign Minister Ryohei Murata's remarks on the nuclear issue in the newspaper, I was excited and hopeful that there would be new developments on this issue.

Although I have not contacted Mr. Murata, it is obvious that he sacrificed his own interest in making those remarks. Civil servants are obliged to maintain the secrecy of information they obtain in the course of performing their duties, and this rule applies even after retirement. Penalties of up to one year imprisonment can be imposed for violating this rule. It is evident that he chose to take the risk and tell the truth.

While such self-sacrifice is perhaps needed to change the government's rigid position over the years, I am disappointed that nothing has happened after the remarks were made.

Certainly the government is taking a "safe" position to make sure that nobody gets hurt. If the secret agreement [on the U.S. forces bringing nuclear weapons into Japan] does not really exist, there is no secret to keep, so no one has the obligation to keep the secret. Everything will be vanished into oblivion once again. However, such oblivion is only on the part of Japan. This does not hold water at all in the international community because the whole affair is like an ostrich hiding its head in the bush to flee from a hunter.

When I met the late Dr Edwin Reischauer (former U.S. ambassador to Japan), he was not indignant about "Foreign Minister Ohira's explicit promise" but was exasperated by the absurdity of the situation. Furthermore, the meeting [between Reischauer and Ohira in April 1963] has been confirmed by U.S. diplomatic documents subsequently. What I am worried about is that if Japan continues to carry on like this, it will be unable to engage in strategic dialogue with the United States to reinforce the bilateral alliance.

Statement does not breach the confidentiality obligation

In another article I wrote previously for this column, I mentioned that the Japan-U.S. strategic dialogue proposed by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage came to nothing while the U.S.-China strategic dialogue conducted under his successor Robert Zoellick was very successful. The U.S. side showed great enthusiasm for both dialogues, so it is not to blame for the failure of the Japan-U.S. talks.

Many people say that China is now more important for the U.S., so Japan will be abandoned. Such worries are completely unnecessary under the present situation as far as the U.S. side is concerned. Kurt Campbell has said that: "The best way to deal with China is to strengthen U.S. partnership with Japan as much as possible. That is the only option. Without such a foundation, nothing can be accomplished in Asia."

Here, what I am worried about is that Japan, due to its incompetence in strategic dialogue, may not be in a position to respond to the United States' good intentions.

In light of North Korea's nuclear armament, there have been noisy discussions about the effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear umbrella, or the so-called extended deterrence, for Japan. A discussion on nuclear strategy is inevitable between allies when they discuss military strategy. As a matter of fact, NATO's Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) regularly discusses nuclear strategy.

Needless to say, it is also desirable to have a similar venue for consultation and planning between Japan and the U.S. But how can common strategy be discussed when Japan continues to deny even something it once promised?

Whether Mr. Murata's remarks constitute a violation of his confidentiality obligation may be a trivial matter to him, but I think this is not a violation. If this case is brought to court, the substance of the secret – whether it is indeed a matter that needs to be kept confidential – will be examined. Blowing the whistle on anomalies in the bureaucracy does not violate the confidentiality obligation. In this case, the secret agreement has already been disclosed in U.S. diplomatic documents, so unless there are very special or overriding reasons, it does not need to be kept confidential.

Policies that will not tie hands in the future

What I had hoped after the Murata remarks was that the government would stop its temporizing statements soon and revert to intellectual integrity.

With the subsequent advancement in military technology, the impact of this issue on reality has diminished. The issue here is intellectual integrity that forms the foundation of the relationship of trust and strategic dialogue between allies. If Japan engages in honest strategic dialogue now, the conclusion may well be that unless there is a major change in the situation, port calls by U.S. ships carrying nuclear weapons will be unnecessary.

I look forward to a change in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government's position in the future.

In the case of a Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration, I pray that it will break away from the inertia of the LDP era, acknowledge the existence of the international commitment between Ohira and Reischauer, and show its intellectual integrity in creating a new venue for Japan-U.S. strategic consultations.

Soon after the inauguration of the new administration, the mass media will probably try to reconfirm the government positions upheld until now, including the interpretation of the three non-nuclear principles. I hope the DPJ will only say that it will not be bound by the prejudices of the LDP era and will make a comprehensive review as the need arises and not commit itself prematurely. Unless it is able to do so, having a system of two major political parties will be meaningless; and if it succeeds, the DPJ's victory will have historical significance.

Having been liberated from past positions, I hope that people of intellectual integrity, regardless of whether they are rightist or leftist in ideology, will no longer say things like "Japan has the right to collective self-defense but is unable to exercise it."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Love Has No History

Snickering about Gov. Mark Sanford has come to an uneasy end in political Washington. His was an affair that involved passion and love. The Argentine Maria, a 40-something mother of two, was his “soulmate” and “love of his life.” Wow. This was not the usual tawdry encounter for sex and power.

Instead, it echoed some of the Washington’s more discreet and famous love stories: Wendell Willike and Irita Van Doren; Franklin Roosevelt and Lucy Page Mercer (pictured); Robert McNamara and Joan Braden. These lifetime affairs were romantic and special—and kept quiet.

At Washington gatherings I sense a jealousy of sorts for Gov. Sanford’s passionate declarations and desires. Many, especially women, are awed by his ardor. There is disbelief at its possibility. Women like Maria were supposed to be of literature and legend. His affair is old-fashioned, quaint, and heartfelt.

The usual affairs here appear to be either for lust or power. And too many Washington women have compromised themselves by sleeping their way to the middle. I dare not name names, but they do not seem any more successful or happy than those of us who did not pursue this course of advancement.

I am sure many an ordinary DC soccer mom like myself caught her breath when she read Sanford's purloined email that gushed "You are glorious and I hope you really understand that . . . you are special and unique and fabulous." No one ever has or ever will write those words to us.

And thus we found ourselves confronting reality by wiping back a tear when our tween daughter’s Taylor Swift Fearless CD came to That’s the Way I Loved You.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Between What Friends?

Why would a conservative nationalist, former Japanese Foreign Ministry official reveal a purported state secret that could undermine confidence in the US-Japan Alliance and the ruling LDP?

If this is a way to encourage a Japanese debate on nuclear weapons or to convince the US to sell Japan F-22, it is sure misguided. In reality, it is part of a convoluted Rightist strategy to repeal Article 9 and create a military independent of the United States.

On June 29th, former Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Ryohei Murata asserted that there is a secret written accord between the Japanese and U.S. governments under which Japan approves port calls and passage through Japanese territorial waters by U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons. He knows this, because as Administrative Vice Minister, it was his job to explain to the foreign minister the contents of an envelope that briefly outlined the agreement. The foreign minister then briefed the prime minister at his discretion.

A wink, nod, and the back of a napkin, that’s Cold War diplomacy for you.

Murata received the envelope containing the secret document from his predecessor. He said the contents were written in Japanese on a single piece of clerical stationery used in the Foreign Ministry in those days. He made no mention of signatures.

When asked why he is now acknowledging the existence of the secret agreement, Murata indicated that he was disturbed by the lies told in the Diet. "Successive administrative vice foreign ministers have conveyed the contents (of the secret agreement) to successive foreign ministers. But they have said in the Diet that nuclear weapons have not been brought [into Japan]. I think that [secrecy] is inappropriate," Murata said.

More inappropriate are Ambassador Murata’s views on the United States. Yes, ambassador, and it is odd that none of the press reports I have read mention that he was ambassador to the United States 1990-1992 and Germany 1992-94. He is not a fan of Americans and has long expressed these views.

In 1985, he co-authored, Between Friends, a book with two other less than enthusiastic Foreign Ministry supporters of the United States: Hiroshi Kitamura and Hisahiko Okazaki. Kitamura who had numerous posts in the US went on to become ambassador to the UK while Okazaki become ambassador to Thailand and then head of the Okazaki Institute that funded and encouraged all the men and research for the Armitage Report.

Murata wrote, and the others agreed, that Americans are "self-centered" and suffer from a "superiority complex" that makes them always "want to blame their problems on the other guy." He also contended that "it is inevitable for Americans to view with a certain amount of alarm a non-white nation rapidly overtaking them" in economic or technological strength.

In case you think that the Ambassador’s views have softened since 1985, you are mistaken. In a March 2002 article (pp67-69) published by the conservative journal Shokun!, Amb. Murata wrote:

Now with the 21st century starting, what the people of Japan need to do is to think and discuss how their nation can become "an ordinary country." This nation must do this because Japan is still "a country out of the ordinary" in spite of the fact that some 55 years have passed since its defeat in World War II.

Even before the war, Japan had been a country out of the ordinary, though in a different sense, and its defeat in the war brought about a change. But the pendulum of the change swung too far in other direction at that time, turning Japan into a country out of the ordinary in a reversed way. There were two major reasons why that happened.

First, the nation was shocked and shaken up tremendously by its very thorough defeat in the war, which was the first defeat in its history.

Second, the United States successfully emasculated Japan by carrying out large-scale and organized mind-control programs on the people of Japan. For instance, while taking steps to make it look that Japanese themselves chose to do so, the United States pushed on Japan a constitution with provisions that banned itself from having combat capabilities to defend itself -- something unprecedented. The United States asserted all the past acts of Japan were evil in the Tokyo trial [of war criminals] that even had lawyers attending. That was another clever case of effectuating mind-control on people. Censors the United States conducted in various forms, the education system it adopted, and interventions it made in domestic affairs were the additional cases of exercising the mind-control on Japanese people. Indeed, it is impossible to cite all the cases of such mind-control actions here.

Anyway, thus was produced the post-war idiosyncrasy of Japan that can be summarized as follows:

First, Japan has turned into an insensitive country that cannot see whether its rights as a sovereign are infringed or not. It turned into a country that was unable to see its national dignity and pride though it was an independent country.

Second, the people of the nation have come to believe that the exercise of force is something very evil and this thinking has made the nation very cowardly.…

The above along with other statements and memberships (he is an active adviser to the Nippon Foundation and a board member of the Japan Education Regeneration League) places Murata with the likes of Okazaki, Tamogami, and others who are sophisticated strategists working together to use any means to engender mistrust between Japan and the U.S. as well as its neighbors. They want to create the political necessity of aggressive rearmament and an independent, nuclear armed defense force. Murata’s declaration, I believe, must be seen as part of a larger campaign to discredit the U.S.-Japan alliance and the Japanese Constitution.

You can argue that the Japanese people do not agree with their goals or ideas, however, these men do have the ability and resources to create a lot of anxiety and doubt among their fellow citizens as well as Japan's allies and neighbors. These old men measure their success by the discord that they can create--if we allow them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's Astro-Physics

Just when Hawaiians thought it was safe to come out of their bomb shelters, the folks on the continental U.S. were given cause to look skyward.

MIT professor Theodore Postol and David Wright, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), write in this week's Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that the long-range rocket North Korea launched on April 5th could be converted into a ballistic missile that can theoretically hit half the United States with a payload of one ton or more.

The "Unha-2" rocket, which was a disguised form of a ballistic missile is capable of flying over 6,700 kilometer. The rocket could fly even further -- over 10,000 kilometers -- if turned into a missile: "We estimate that it could have a range of 10,000-10,500 kilometers, allowing it to reach Alaska, Hawaii, and roughly half of the lower 48 states."

They end their scientific speculation on a positive note. If key Unha-2's components were acquired from Russia and elsewhere, they further speculate, then North Korea's domestic missile development program may be much more limited than commonly assumed.

Ok, so the Norks have some tough choices ahead: South Dakota or North Dakota or Ohio or...