Thursday, February 25, 2010

Japan-US Alliance at Filmsy

I promised to write more about the January Alliance Manager’s conclave. Some of you thought that last time  “ohohhooooh” was overused. So, above, I am letting you see the Alliance Managers sing for themselves.

I believe Mr.Armtiage is saying

I'm a freak bitch, baby
I want your love and
I want your revenge
I want your love
I don't wanna be friends
I want your ugly
I want your disease
I want your everything
As long as it’s free

And free it was, so who should be complaining. All the official participants got free lodging at The Willard, one of Washington's more pricey hotels. For the "young leaders" it must have been the first time to sleep on clean sheets since Mom changed them. Excellent cookies, I should add. But I was very disappointed by the house brands at pre-dinner bar. The Japanese are clearly cutting back.

Never mind. The Pacific Forum had its annual fundraising and ambassadorial sale on February 23rd. Joe Nye again gave the keynote speech. Guess last year didn’t work out so well. So give generously or we will have to suffer cheap liquor and no hors d'oeuvres next year as well. And maybe the rumors the Managers have been spreading that the current Ambassador to Japan Roos is in over is head might get some traction.

The Alliance Mangers main message at the day-long public conference was that they had been deceived. Not once did they expect the DPJ to change Japanese foreign policy or to stick to its campaign promises.  Simply put, they did not believe that any sensible government would forsake their advice. The new American administration hadn't, so why should the Japanese?

The highlight of the day was the tag-team presentation by Richard Armitage and Yukio Okamoto. Although Okamoto seemed a bit pained to have share his space with Armitage, he did not seem to mind sharing the same viewpoints and he laughed at Armitage's jokes.

Armitage confessed that he and others did not see this [a Hatoyama government] coming; he was truly surprised at the extent of the DPJ victory. He said the DPJ (rarely did he get the letters or their order correct) spoke a different language  and that he didn't first pick up on it. They simply had a different view on deturrance (misspelling to match pronunciation); spoke a difference language; and had a different thought process than he and his friends had.

No kidding.

But no worries, Armitage felt that due to the hard work of his friend Yukio, Hatoyama and members of his government were learning.  It will just going to take a bit more time to complete their education on the importance of the Alliance, to instill a sense of threat, and to keep the commitment on realignment of US forces. There was no moment of reflection that their assumptions on regional security and its defenders might be faulty. In fact, they only discussed expectations and their disappointment that these were not met.

To Armitage, Japan, "she," has simply lost her way and is trying to distract the US from its defense with "sweet words." The task ahead was simply one of getting to know what is in the "hearts of the leadership of the DPJ" and explaining the facts of life in terms that they will understand. Speak their language. Armitage concluded that to accomplish this, they [the Alliance Managers] need to "get back on the bicycle and ride."

They really do have the disease.

Hitoshi Tanaka of the JCIE, no liberal and long-tasked with Gaijin-handling, was so exasperated by Armitage that he got up and emotionally declared, that the "US was underestimating the depths of the changes in [Armitage] assume that everything will go back to the norm--maybe you are wrong!"

The public programs of the Japan-US Security Seminar were funded by the nationalist conservative Tokyo Foundation. They proudly showed off their ties with to the more conservative DPJ members. The morning program was a discussion of the Challenges Facing the New DPJ Government (the video can be found at the link). Again, the theme was the DPJ was having a hard time shifting from campaign mode to governing. And it was the job of people like them to teach them.

During the Qs and As Larry Niksch of CRS asked the why there was not an effort to educate the Japanese people on what the Marines are there to do on Okinawa.Basically, he wanted to know if the Marines were really still relevant there. No real answer was given.

The filmmaker Annabel Park asked a polite question about the environment and the dugongs and “why was the site selected” while her fiancée filmed everything (see HERE and HERE). Okamoto mumbled it was a logical choice as the runway could be retractable because it was only white sand in the bay (odd, as everyone else says it is a coral reef).

Finally, haunting the room and approaching every senior Japanese speaker and American policy official, as Chris Nelson pointed out (the poor bastard, he said), was Patrick Braden. He is one of the fathers of a child abducted to Japan by her mother. He is trying convince Japan to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and to prod them to allow him to see his daughter. Japan is the only G7 country not to do so. Okamoto, the foreign policy guru, claimed to have never heard of the issue.


  1. Our Man has a bicycle and he frequently gets on it to ride. No doubt Mr Armitage would approve. Does he also have an exercise bike? If so, we in the People's Republic of Abiko would benefit from his instruction. Has he perchance released an exercise video? That would be ideal for burning off excess calories from free lunches.

  2. I commend Ourmani for his thoughtful and family-friendly response regarding the bicycle.

    It was unexpected...and I admit I am a bit disappointed.

  3. Fear not madam, Our Man uses his bike purely for trips out on the town when he is too pissed to drive. Yes, what could be more family friendly?


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