Thursday, April 29, 2010

Question: On Japan -

Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC
April 28, 2010

: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- I’m wondering if you have anything further on Assistant Secretary Campbell’s talks there. Specifically on Futenma, are the two sides getting any closer together? And have we actually received a Japanese plan now for Futenma? I know in the past, you talked about them floating ideas. Are we still in the ideas stage or is there actually a plan that’s being discussed?

MR. CROWLEY: I think we’re still in the consultation stage.

QUESTION: And is there any way of saying whether the two sides are coming any closer together?

MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t characterize it at this point.

QUESTION: You wouldn’t characterize it as saying that they’re coming together? Because I think the bottom line here is that we’ve been left with a distinct impression that you want it to remain in the consultations phase forever.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t think that’s true. I mean, we understand the impact that our operations have in the region. We also understand the benefits in terms of --

QUESTION: But isn’t it --

MR. CROWLEY: -- regional security and Japanese security. We both seek an arrangement that is operationally viable and politically sustainable, and that remains the subject of our ongoing consultation with the Japanese Government.

QUESTION: Right, but isn’t your position that something that is sustainable and – or was it something sustainable and politically viable?

MR. CROWLEY: And viable.

QUESTION: Right. Isn’t your position that the current arrangement is exactly that? Isn’t that still your position and that there’s been (inaudible) changes?

MR. CROWLEY: We have not changed our view on the existing agreement, but we continue our consultations which (inaudible) --

QUESTION: All right. Which means that you’ve gotten nowhere?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would --

QUESTION: You’re not any – you’re not any – this issue has still not been resolved; you’re exactly where you were a year ago --

MR. CROWLEY: Well --

QUESTION: -- or whenever the new government came; correct?

MR. CROWLEY: We continue our consultations with Japan. I don’t think – to Andy’s question, I don’t think we’ve arrived at where Japan has offered its final understanding. They promised to do that in May, but that’s one of the reasons why Kurt Campbell remains – or is in Tokyo as we speak. All right – no, I’m sorry, he’s left Tokyo and he’s on his way back – but why he stopped in Tokyo yesterday and today.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dissing Hatoyama

An odd thing popped up in Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s E-mail Magazine last week.

In writing about his participation in the Nuclear Security Summit, Hatoyama said,
I gave the keynote speech at the working dinner hosted by President Barack Obama of the United States. 
In the speech, I made four concrete proposals: (1) establish an integrated support center within this year to contribute to the strengthening of nuclear security in Asian countries, (2) establish technologies related to measurement and detection of nuclear material and nuclear forensics with more precise and accurate capabilities through cooperation with the United States within three years and share these technologies with other countries, (3) contribute human and financial resources to IAEA nuclear security programs, and (4) host an international conference of the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) this year in Japan. 
Now the substance of the speech was not strange. It was reasonable and helpful, even established mechanisms toward further establishing an Asian regional security architecture the Alliance Managers want. The Prime Minister's proposals were part of Japan’s National Statement at the Summit.

What stunned me was that he gave the KEYNOTE SPEECH at the Summit’s working dinner.

Huh? That was the first time I heard of this. 

It was mentioned nowhere in the U.S. press or in any of the Summit briefings. A text of the speech was not on the Summit website, the Japanese Foreign Ministry's website, or Kantei. When a senior official at the Japanese Embassy was asked about the speech, he said he had not heard about it.

Something as important as a keynote from the only country that suffered a nuclear attack and America's "most important ally" should have made news. The Embassy not only should know about it, but also should have been flogging it all over town. The US should have been grateful for the support.

Now you might be thinking Hatoyama made the whole thing up. He did not. Both Kyodo and NHK gave passing mention of the speech.

So what happened here? It appears that the Obama Administration has abandoned both Hatoyama and the rhetoric of Japan being its most important alliance. More important, the Japanese Foreign Ministry did not care. Back home, the Japanese press reveled in this debacle with headlines like: "America gives up on Hatoyama: An idiot round-trips to Washington in a special aircraft" (Shukan Bunshun).

Petty third world despots were treated with more respect than Hatoyama at the Summit.

In part, folks like Malaysian Prime Minister Najib did have better handlers. Najib got audiences with the President, Vice President, Deputy Secretary of State, Treasury Secretary, USTR, and congressional leadership—call Jonathan Winer at APCO Worldwide if you want to make a silk pursue from a sow’s ear as his management of the Malaysia account was nothing less than magnificent. OK, rumor has it that it cost $25 million. (If true, why the heck did not CSIS use part of its share to have at least sodas at its event.)

Yet, what the Japanese Embassy pays Hogan & Hartsen for its lobbying and public affairs is not small change. Could it be that the contract was not renewed? Worse, has the DPJ not found a replacement?

In “Japan’s Lost Opportunity,” an op ed in the International Herald Tribune, CFR’s Shelia Smith joined in the collective condemnation of the Hatoyama government. As one of the two current spokesmodels* for the Alliance Managers (the other being AEI’s Michael Auslin), she chided Hatoyama for missing the opportunity at the Summit “to translate its commitment to disarmament into a premier spot on an emerging global agenda.” Smith’s noted repeatedly that there had been a change in government in Japan, thus slyly hinting that the new leadership was at fault for Japan’s diminishing stature. Nowhere did she say that Japan’s ambivalent, often reticient policy toward proliferation was a legacy of the 50-odd years of LDP rule.

Smith, of course, did not mention, let alone comment on Hatoyama’s Summit keynote in which he did, contrary to what she wrote, bring money and ideas to the problem.

The story here is not that the Prime Minister Hatoyama is as out of touch as he is made out to be as there are those on both sides of the Pacific who want to report that he is.

LATER: Administration sources were surprised to learn that Hatoyama had made a keynote speech. They considered his presentation more of an "intervention," a comment on his national contribution than anything formal. Their focus was on the reprimand by President Obama to the Prime Minister to speed things up and to keep his promise. Again, one wonders if the White House was more sensitive to his political dilemma if they would have been so harsh. Let's be frank, in recent times no U.S. administration has bitch-slapped a Japanese government as hard as this one.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Q. Did Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama have a bilateral meeting with any high level US government officials?

A. Yes, the Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

Q. What is the protocol rank of the Energy Secretary?

A. Protocol: Order of Precedence

The President of the United States
Heads of State/Reigning Royalty

Vice President of the United States
Governors in Their Own State
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Former Presidents of the United States (in order of term, most recent last)
US Ambassadors When at Post
Secretary of State (note that the Secretary of State is above the rest of The Cabinet)
Secretary General of the United Nations
Ambassadors of Foreign Powers
Widows of Former Presidents
Ministers and Envoys of Foreign Powers
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court (in order of appointment, most recent last)
Retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Retired Associate Justices of the Supreme Court

The Cabinet:
- Secretary of the Treasury
- Secretary of Defense
- Attorney General
- Secretary of the Interior
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of Commerce
- Secretary of Labor
- Secretary of Health & Human Services
- Secretary of Housing & Urban Development
- Secretary of Transportation
- Secretary Energy
- Secretary of Education
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs
- Secretary of Homeland Security


This week the last ship from Japan's Antarctic whaling fleet returned home. At the same time the Institute of Cetacean Research for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) issued its Survey Results of the Fifth Voyage (2009/10), part of the "Second Phase of the Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPAII)".

The report and the press release outline how their lethal scientific research was hindered by the harassment of the Sea Shepherd. As the report notes, they had to resort to visual surveys to complete their work.

As the Asahi Shimbun reported on April 13th, Shigetoshi Nishiwaki, chief of the whaling expedition, observed that although their survey work was obstructed, they "learned through a visual survey that the population of humpback whales is recovering."

No English-language report by Japanese newspapers notes this startling admission that non-lethal survey work produced a significant research result. In fact, the official report of the survey notes that for most types of whales the populations appear to be increasing.

Last month, whale researchers from the Australian-led Southern Ocean Research Partnership, returned from their first expedition to the Antarctic. Their purpose was to show that non-lethal methods of research were effective in determining whale numbers, what they eat, how they move between food patches and how they travel to and from their breeding grounds in the central Pacific.

I am sure the Australians appreciated the confirmation of their research methodology from the Japanese.

Call me

He looked back from the elevator. The Japanese reporters’ gaggle was still blocking the hallway. He was clearly weary of the repeated questioning of the reaction to the Hatoyama Administration's proposals.

But now the camera's were off and the questions had been parried. He gave the current standard that the US was waiting for a concrete proposal and one that reflected the wishes of the Japanese people. I suspect he found the basement of CSIS as stifling as everyone else.

Away from the reporters, he tried to catch the eye of his old friend and former business partner. He shouted “Mike, Mike,” and then raised his hand to his ear gesturing as if it were a telephone handset while saying “Call Me.” Then he disappeared into the elevator.

There you have it, the Obama Administration’s Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Kurt Campbell had just asked the Bush Administration’s Japan National Security Council Japan manager and CSIS Toyota Japan Chair Michael Green to call him.

No wonder the Hatoyama Administration is failing so miserably. They have no friends in Washington. The same old Alliance Managers are consulting with the same old Alliance Managers. These men still wallow in the illusions and money created by generations of gaijin handlers. Their believed their select Japanese friends that the US and Japan were moving toward a working military Alliance. 

Stripped of their gaijin handling intermediaries, the Managers are adrift when confronted with the reality that the Japanese are not keen on the Alliance or the United States. In an understated essay, Weston Konishi (who of course cannot find a permanent position in Washington) found that US-Japan relations were not "as rosy" as they are said to be. His analysis of public opinion data finds "Barring a removal of Marines outside of Japan, it is reasonable to assume that the United States will take a PR hit in Japan no matter what course is taken on Futenma, furtherweakening America’s standing amongst the Japanese public."

Adding to the confusion, is the added reality that American Alliance Managers have few skills in understanding or working with Japanese who actually act Japanese, as do Mr. Hatoyama and his populist followers.

The result seems to be a constant, condescending assault on Japanese sensibilities. American impatience has manifested itself as bullying and punishing the Hatoyama government. A new strategy is emerging, which is simply to embarrass publicly the prime minister, whether by denying him a private meeting with the President or leaking the following to the most-read writer in the Washington Post--the gossip columist Al Kamen:
By far the biggest loser of the extravaganza was the hapless and (in the opinion of some Obama administration officials) increasingly loopy Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. He reportedly requested but got no bilat. The only consolation prize was that he got an "unofficial" meeting during Monday night's working dinner. Maybe somewhere between the main course and dessert?

A rich man's son, Hatoyama has impressed Obama administration officials with his unreliability on a major issue dividing Japan and the United States: the future of a Marine Corps air station in Okinawa. Hatoyama promised Obama twice that he'd solve the issue. According to a long-standing agreement with Japan, the Futenma air base is supposed to be moved to an isolated part of Okinawa. (It now sits in the middle of a city of more than 80,000.)

But Hatoyama's party, the Democratic Party of Japan, said it wanted to reexamine the agreement and to propose a different plan. It is supposed to do that by May. So far, nothing has come in over the transom. Uh, Yukio, you're supposed to be an ally, remember? Saved you countless billions with that expensive U.S. nuclear umbrella? Still buy Toyotas and such?

Meanwhile, who did give Hatoyama some love at the nuclear summit? Hu did. Yes, China's president met privately with the Japanese prime minister on Monday.

For whatever reasons, by intent or ignorance, the Obama Administration Alliance Managers are feeding into the forces that wish to discredit and destabilize the Hatoyama Administration. Whether members of the DPJ's Seven Magistrates or the ultra-right spin off of the LDP, The Sunrise Party, they are old onsen friends of the American Alliances managers.

It is indeed as Lady Gaga sings in Bad Romance: 'Cause you're a criminal; As long as your mine; I want your love...

N.B.: In case you are wondering, Mike Green and Kurt Campbell were together again in the basement conference room of CSIS scoring points with their next clients, the Malaysians. Once an Alliance Manager, you can become an expert on any Asian country. The new Malaysian government has hired expensive advocates in Washington. One result was the Prime Minister meeting with Obama, another a lunch with Congressional leadership, and a perfunctory conference at CSIS. Grateful for the fresh cash and the smell of more, Green showed off his old friend now the Assistant Secretary to a sleepy group of maybe 30 people interested in US-Malaysian relations. It was not the usual CSIS crowd, too many people only marginally employed. But it must have made money for CSIS as there was no food or drink, no substance, no coherence, and no handouts. To be sure, it is hard in these situations to judge if this was mismanagement, cheapness, or just condescension to the audience.