Showing posts with label US-Japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US-Japan. Show all posts

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Open for business

Peace Partners
I have long said that the solution to Futenma is two words:
The Philippines.

Actually, two locations are whispered in Washington: Subic Bay, The Philippines and Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.

The effort to relocate the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to somewhere on Okinawa is sliding into 15 years.  Most of the delay has been under a LDP-led government. The DPJ came to power in 2009 hoping to end the stalemate by moving the base off the island. American patience soon wore thin, especially as the time drew closer to deploy the accident-prone Osprey to Futenma.

Futenma, smack in the middle of a city, is an accident waiting to happen. With the Ospreys, it is an accident pretty near guaranteed. It is a mystery to me as why common sense does not take over from so-called force structure and contingency planning. Does the Marine Corps want a disaster to happen?

Anyway, what both the LDP and the DPJ have in common is their understanding that moving Futenma within Okinawa is not politically viable. The DPJ was inadvertently more honest in suggesting that the Marines simply leave. For both the LDP and now the DPJ, the strategy is to delay until the U.S. realized on its own that it had to reduce its presence in the prefecture.

And Japan's political leaders must have thought that they were winning this war of wills, when the U.S. announced its plan to move many of the Marines on Okinawa to Guam. But as USG analysts have pointed out, Guam does not have the infrastructure to support such a massive population increase. Or as the U.S. Congress' only Soka Gakkai member, Hank Johnson (D-GA) worried, Guam might "tip over and capsize" due to overpopulation.

Hatoyama's questioning of the Futenma relocation agreement finally impressed upon American policymakers, long enamored (blinded by love) with the seemingly pro-defense LDP, that the current situation was untenable. Forcing the Japanese to build another base on Okinawa had political consequences not just for the Japanese, but the U.S. as well. Thus, quietly, both Japan and the U.S. have looked for other locations in the Asia-Pacific to host U.S. military facilities.

It appears that Vietnam has been Japan's favorite. This summer Japan participated for the first time in the U.S. Navy's Pacific Partnership --the annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian assistance and disaster relief endeavors, aimed at strengthening regional partnerships in Southeast Asia--by sending a medical ship to Vietnam. Over the weekend, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan signed with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung a Strategic Partnership between Japan and Viet Nam for Peace and Prosperity in Asia to develop rare earth elements, build nuclear power plants, and improve Viet Nam's infrastructure.

Viet Nam's Cam Ranh Bay is strategically located near key shipping lanes in the South China Sea and is close to the potentially oil-rich Spratlys and Paracel islands. The Spratlys are claimed by Vietnam, China, Malaysia, the Philipines, Brunei and Taiwan. The Paracels are claimed by Vietnam and China.

This weekend the Vietnamese Prime Minister announced that his country was willing to service foreign navies at Cam Ranh Bay. The Russians would furbish part of the naval facility and open it for business.

Now, let's see how The Philippines reacts.

But enough from me, let the news speak for itself:

Vietnam to reopen Cam Ranh Bay to foreign fleets: PM
AFP 10/31/10

Vietnam plans to reopen to foreign navies the Cam Ranh Bay port facility formerly used by both the US and Russia, the prime minister said Saturday after a summit dominated by China's territorial disputes.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung addresses the closing ceremony of the 17th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Hanoi. Vietnam plans to reopen to foreign navies the Cam Ranh Bay port facility formerly used by both the US and Russia, the prime minister said Saturday after a summit dominated by China's territorial disputes.

"In the centre of the Cam Ranh port complex Vietnam will stand ready to provide services to the naval ships from all countries including submarines when they need our services," Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in response to a reporter's question, at the close of the East Asia Summit.

Countries will pay for services at the facility which will be developed with Russian assistance, Dung said.

The base in southern Vietnam was used by the United States navy during the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975. The Soviet Union and then Russia later used the facility, until Russia withdrew several years ago.

Vietnam and the US, which restored diplomatic ties 15 years ago, are both concerned about China's growing military might and assertiveness in the South China Sea.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Vietnam Saturday that Hanoi and Washington are "broadening our security exchanges".

On Saturday the US and Russia were formally invited as members of the East Asia Summit in what analysts say is a blow to Chinese attempts to diminish US influence in the region.

With its core the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), EAS also includes Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

$h*! My Vice President Says

The Japanese think the dust up in the Senkaku/Daioyus is all about them. After arresting a drunken Chinese trawler captain fishing in disputed territorial waters of the East China Sea, delaying his release, and mumbling something about legal procedures, Tokyo caught the wrath of Beijing. An alcohol fueled mishap quickly escalated into a test of international diplomacy.

Meetings were canceled, words exchanged, and critical trade curtailed. The U.S. restated its commitment to defend Japan’s administered territories and the Secretary of State called the South China Sea a “national interest.” Southeast Asians recoiled at China’s aggressive territorial expansion through historical “fact” in face of Japan’s de facto possession.

Most interesting was the September 21st “unannounced” embargo of rare earth elements (REE) not just to Japan, but also to Europe and the U.S. Withholding REEs to Japan would have been effective enough as the Japanese process and refine most of REEs used worldwide in hi-tech products. The U.S. military is said to be 100% dependent on Chinese REEs, and by implication Japan. Widening the “non” embargo on October 18th to the other major industrialized powers was simply punctuation.

In a word, China’s actions did not just affect Japan. And the target of Beijing’s ire also may not have been simply Tokyo. The Chinese fisherman’s encounter with the Japanese Coast Guard created a pretext for probing the boundaries of American commitment to Asia. Whether the lesson was one to be learned among the factions in Beijing or Washington remains unclear.

Thus, it is not surprising that the “non” embargo ended just prior to U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s ministerial with Japan's Foreign Minister Maehara in Honolulu, and in advance of her "surprise" meeting with China's State Councilor Dai Bingguo on Hainan Island.

More to the point, Japan may not be solely responsible for ’triggering China’s shrill reaction. On September 19th, 12 days after trawler captain was jailed, Vice President Joe Biden said the most unusual of things. He locked U.S. China policy to Japan’s. Although, what he said should not have been taken as a statement of policy, its context and the rhetoric leading up to his statement could suggest that it was.

The Vice President, as a favor to his longtime friend Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) was the keynote speaker at the U.S.-Japan Council’s inaugural conference, Shaping the Future of US-Japan Relations. Inouye’s wife heads the organization and the Senator is on the board of councilors. The Council is to cultivate and activate Japanese Americans to be supportive of Japan and Japanese policies. Formed during the Aso Administration, it is unclear if the Council is closer to the conservative LDP or the more moderate DPJ.

It is the result of thinking in Tokyo that Japan had no natural constituency in the U.S. as did other ethnic groups like the Jews, Indians, Koreans, or Armenians. The effective rallying of the Korean community to support the 2007 Comfort Women Resolution in the House of Representatives had alarmed conservative Tokyo and the Foreign Ministry.

In July 2008, the Japanese Embassy held a meeting with think tank, academic, and arts experts on Japan to discuss how to widen understanding (read support) of Japan. The meeting was to discuss how to inject money into cultivating the grassroots of the American public. CSIS’ Mike Green, UVa’s Len Schoppa, USJF’s George Packard, CFR’s Shelia Smith, Japanese-American Museum head Irene Hirano (Inouye’s new wife), and approximately 16 others attended this invitation-only planning meeting.

In 2007, the Senator had taken the very unusual step of writing members of the House advising them not to support the Comfort Women resolution, H Res 121. Many congressmen were taken aback by the Senator’s heavy hand and that his letter was nearly word-for-word from Japanese Embassy lobbying documents.

The U.S.-Japan Council was to expand among Japanese Americans the Senator’s efforts to explain Japan. Thus, to many who follow things Japanese, especially the Chinese, the Vice President's appearance at the Council inaugural conference, also attended by U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos, was an endorsement. Further, it was a venue for a pro-Japan policy pronouncement after months of haranguing the new Japanese government.

The connection to Japanese-American activism was probably lost on the Vice President, but he did pick up on the fact that the meeting was a cheering section for Japan, and the alliance. He was clearly bored, yet a bit swept up with the moment. The crowd was sparse and conversation seemed pretty routine. And like many in Washington, Biden often tries to adapt to his audience to please them and say what they want to hear.

Thus, Mr Biden leaped off message, ignored his prepared text, and rambled on about the wonderfulness of the alliance.

He gushed on that Japan is the “lynchpin” of an effective US strategy in Asia. "There is an emerging relationship that we have to get right between the United States and China... frankly, I don't know how that relationship can be made right other than going through Tokyo," Biden said. "I don't know how it works without our partner in that part of the world," he added.

U.S. China policy goes through Tokyo!? Really?

Eyebrows likely arched to the ceiling in Beijing.

In Washington, the White House gritted its teeth, never issued the actual text of the speech (a video is available, see above), and on background a senior administration official tried damage control:
In his remarks to an annual meeting of the U.S.-Japan Council, the Vice President reaffirmed a long-held tenet of American foreign policy: that the U.S.-Japan alliance is a linchpin of the security, stability and prosperity in Asia. This alliance has fostered a regional environment in which the United States can effectively build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship with China. 
But back in Beijing, the itch to test the premise that U.S. China policy runs through Tokyo must have been strong. More to the point, they reasoned; if Japan is to deliver messages to China for the U.S. then Japan can deliver messages to the U.S. for China. Pinch Tokyo and Washington will feel the pain.

With pending American military exercises in the Yellow Sea, U.S. statements that the South China Sea is a “strategic interest,” and American reaffirmation that the Security Treaty covered the Senkakus, Beijing was ready to believe the Vice President’s happy talk at face value. The day before the Vice President’s speech, Tokyo had unexpectedly (even to the White House) extended the detention of the trawler captain.

Beijing responded by threatening Japan with "strong counter-measures."

The strongest has been the embargo on REEs. It got everyone’s attention.

As Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell as oft said the U.S. has “a strategic interest in how these issues are dealt.”

Indeed, we do.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Something is changing

On Friday, July 2, JiJi Press reported that Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada had five diplomatic policy advisers dismissed from their posts.

The five are Shotaro Yachi, Sadayuki Hayashi, Shunji Yanai and Yoshiji Nogami, who have served as vice foreign ministers, and Ryozo Kato, former ambassador to the United States.

The five took the unpaid posts under former administrations led by the Liberal Democratic Party.

Interestingly, the brief article says nothing of the fate of MOFA’s most famous LDP foreign policy adviser, Yukio Okamoto.

On Thursday, July 8th, the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki is scheduled to give a speech at the Brookings Institution, A Changing Japan in A Changing World.

LATER: Amb Fujisaki requested the forum to give a talk. And to everyone's dismay there will be no refreshments at the program. Not a single cookie. Both Brookings and the Embassy have cheaped-out. I am disappointed as I was so looking forward to Brookings' excellent  double chocolate cookies.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Circling the Alliance

Turkey vultures are ugly, nasty creatures. They eat the dead and decaying. In flight, however, they are quite magnificent. Over the past two days, I watched a number of their kettles soar outside my room overlooking the Catskill mountains.

While I watched these scavengers, the US House of Representatives passed nearly unanimously (only Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich voted no) Resolution 1464 commemorating a successful 50 years of the US-Japan Treat of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

It is a peculiar Resolution.

First, it originated from the Republican side of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and not the majority Democrats or the Obama Administration. It was written, I understand, quietly without the advice or prose of any Alliance Manager or the White House.

Minus the usual and unavoidable pomposity about the Alliance being the unshakeable cornerstone of US security interests in the Asia Pacific, upholder of shared values, and the over-emphasis on North Korea, the Resolution was more sensitive to Japan than the usual conservative Republican pro-Alliance rhetoric.

At some points there were even hints of empathy and hope.

To be sure, there was no praise for Japan’s support at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen or its efforts in the developing world to deal with the inevitable challenges that climate change will bring to the disadvantaged. This is an area that both Japan and the State Department like to emphasize as examples of Japanese global leadership.

The Resolution’s sponsor, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtenin, does not believe in climate change. And she would not accept such a clause.

The Resolution did praise Japan for its “rapid and self- less humanitarian aid to the Republic of Haiti, including sending a Japan Self Defense Force unit.” [emphasis added] This slight exaggeration quietly highlighted a flaw in Japan’s aid policy while raising congressional expectations of Japan.

Mention of Japan’s first-time participation in the US Navy’s Pacific Partnership bringing medical aid to Vietnam and Cambodia further raised expectations. It is unfortunate that the US Government has not made more of the significance of this mission.

Further, the Resolution reminded Tokyo that the Alliance “ encouraged Japan to play a larger role on the world stage and make important contributions to stability around the world.” This seems as much a reminder as it is another marker of expectations. “Do more,” the Resolution says. This is no small matter, as the Japanese people consistently reply to surveys that they do not think Japan can or should exert leadership in the world. 

Most important, the Resolution recognizes the contributions, and by implication the sacrifices, of the average Japanese citizen. The Resolution resolves to recognize “that the broad support and understanding of the Japanese people are indispensable for the stationing of the United States Armed Forces in Japan.”

It recognizes that is not the government of Japan, the Alliance Managers, or the Gaijin Handlers, but the people, the voters, the citizens of Japan that matter for the continuation of the US-Japan relationship. The resolution speaks directly to the Japanese people.

H. Res 1464 has the US House of Representatives express “its appreciation to the people of Japan, and especially on Okinawa, for their continued hosting of the United States Armed Forces.” [emphasis added]

The Okinawans matter to the members of the US Congress. Reducing the burden on Okinawa is a sincere objective. Here there is an expectation for the Japanese people to have of the United States.

As the Resolution states: “the Roadmap [May 1, 2006, the United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation] will lead to a new phase in alliance cooperation and reduce the burden on local communities, especially those on Okinawa, thereby providing the basis for enhanced public support for the United States-Japan alliance.” [emphasis added]

There are lots of expectations in this Resolutions. However, expectations need to be based on correct assumptions and facts. And the assumption here is that the Japanese people can be won over to support a security relationship with the United States that is referred to as a military Alliance.

Another assumption is that the powers on both sides of the Pacific still support an Alliance.

It leaves me mystified why the Administration did not encourage a joint congressional resolution supporting the “Alliance” on the Security Treaty’s anniversary. There was so much whining in Washington these past months on how Tokyo needed to honor its agreements.
Maybe the most peculiar thing about Resolution are the members of congress who were the Resolution’s original 10 co-sponsors: Ros-Lehtinen, Manzullo, Poe, Gallegly, Bachmann, Djou, Inglis. Faleomavaega, Bordallo, and Watson. Another resolution, on the same day supporting the US friendship with Columbia, had 32 co-sponsors.
None of the co-sponsors are noted for their influence, intelligence, or reliability. The majority is Republican and of the three Democrats, two do not have the privilege of floor votes.
Like the turkey vultures, they all were making the best of a picked apart carcass—the Alliance. No wonder the Administration left it alone.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The news from France is very bad

On June 17, 1940, France surrendered to Nazi Germany. Prime Minister Winston Churchill took to the airways to announce the defeat and remind his fellow Britons that they had "become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause."

The next day, he delivered what many consider one of the finest speeches in the English language, This was their finest hour, to inspire his countrymen to fight on, because if they failed "then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made even more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science."

Seventy years later, to the day, the cabal of Japanese and American Alliance managers met to reassure themselves that they had not been and will not be defeated.  None of the speeches were as eloquent or inspiring as Churchill's. However, they were given with the same level of alarm and crafted to be reassuring to the audience, especially the keynote by Parliamentary Vice Minster for Defense Akihisa Nagashima.

Below is the text of the speech as prepared by Mr. Nagashima. He expounded on the imortance of the Alliance with bold, excellent English. His focus was on what the Japanese Self-Defense Forces could do for the Alliance and for the international community. He talked as if this was all possible. In another post, I will try to examine if it is.

Japan's Adventure Spirit
The contents of this speech are the personal opinion of Vice Minister Nagashima. 

Thank you very much for a kind introduction. I am excited to be here in Washington D.C. in which I lived for five years as a student at Johns Hopkins SAIS, a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a father of two American-born daughters. I’m so glad to see many familiar faces among the guests. It is my honor and privilege to speak in front of these distinguished participants about our pacific alliance on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and 150th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Treaty on Amity and Commerce.

Today, I would first like to briefly touch upon the history of the encounter of these two Pacific nations. Second, I will talk about the value of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, in other words, what I think the alliance should achieve. Third and last, I would like to discuss what my country should do to further strengthen the alliance.

Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida is known as a great statesman of Japan’s Showa Era and the architect of the Post-war Japan. In his famous book titled “The 100 years that defined Japan,” Mr. Yoshida says it was “adventure sprit” of the Japanese people that guided Japan through a rocky, and yet successful national transformation that was the Meiji Restoration. According to the book, that adventure sprit typically manifested in the 1860 voyage of the Kanrin-maru to the United States. This voyage was for a Japanese delegation that carried the instrument of ratification of the Japan-U.S. Treaty on Trade and Amity. This event made the Kanrin-maru the first steam-engine vessel operated by Japanese skipper and crew to sail across the Pacific Ocean.

Until not many years ago, Japan had not had even a glimpse of Western steam-engine ships, and it had been only several years since the Japanese began learning modern navigation. Mr. Yoshida asserts that the story of the Kanrin-maru symbolizes the spirit of modern Japan. Once having its country pried open by the Western powers, the Japanese showed remarkable brevity with which to deal with the “shock from the Occident.”

Aboard the Kanrin-maru were 11 Americans, including U.S. Navy Lieutenant John Brooke. It was Lieutenant Brooke who encouraged and assisted the inexperienced Japanese crew members throughout this trans-Pacific voyage. This is arguably one of the first examples of Japan-U.S. cooperation. In the intervening years, Japan and the United States fought an epic battle in the Pacific that claimed the lives of 2.5 million people on both sides.

After the war and ensuing American occupation, Japan and the United States formed an alliance that continues to this day. The longevity and resilience of the Japan-U.S. alliance are the product of hard work by people of many generations on both sides of the Pacific, yourselves included, to which I am eternally grateful.

2. 日本にとっての日米同盟の意義:日米同盟は何を達成すべきか
The Japan-U.S. Alliance was made in the specific context of the Cold War, which came to an end two decades ago. The Alliance, however, is hardly a relic of a bygone era.

During the time when the Alliance was said to be drifting in the aftermath of the Cold War, Japan and the United States worked hard to set new priorities and reaffirm the critical importance of the alliance. Whenever the Alliance faced difficulties, we have always come out stronger. And the alliance has been and remains a critical contributor to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific.

2-1. 日本の地政学上の位置から来る同盟の根源的意義
The fundamental and enduring value of the alliance for Japan rests in its geo-political setting, a reality no country can escape from.

Japan is a maritime state situated on the eastern tip of the vast Asian continent and the western rim of the Pacific Ocean. It is about the size of the State of Montana and stretched over 3,000km of an archipelago that comprises over 6,800 islands of various sizes. The length of the coastline totals at 30,000km, surpassing that of the United States. Surrounding waters have long provided natural barrier against external aggressions, but in the age of long-range strikes, Japan’s inherently shallow strategic depth is shrinking further. Moreover, Japan has scarce natural resources and its prosperity is heavily dependent upon the uninterrupted flow of commodities via sea lines of communication.

Japan’s immediate neighbors on the continent include two major nuclear powers, China and Russia. Although Japan and these countries are committed to peaceful, cooperative bilateral relations, there still are differences in terms of political values as well as in the conduct of international relations. Both countries also have illegitimate claims over Japanese sovereignty.

Another neighbor of Japan is a garrison state that continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions in defiance of the collective will of the international community. With its conventional and unconventional military capabilities as well as erratic and violent behavior, North Korea continues to pose clear and present danger to its neighbors.

While harboring security risks and concern for Japan, East Asia has become a major strategic center of gravity with the world’s most dynamic economies that have enjoyed robust and sustained growth for decades. According to the United Nations’ latest estimate, economies of East Asia are expected to grow by more than 7% this year, surpassing all other regions worldwide.

The United States, a Pacific nation with the World’s largest economy and military, therefore continues to have a high stake in remaining a “resident power” in the Asia-Pacific and ensuring peace and stability of the region. While Japan maintains credible military strength for national defense, it is only natural for Japan, and also in the interest of both Japan and the United States to maintain a bilateral security alliance to provide the foundation of the regional security.

2-2. 「中国の台頭」をマネージする
Another aspect of the value of the alliance for Japan regards one of the most significant trends of our time: The re-emergence of China as a great power.

The Japan-U.S. alliance should work to make sure that the rise of China will progress towards a peaceful and prosperous future for Japan, the United States, China, and the world. Three decades of remarkable economic growth, averaging close to 10 %, have made China an economic powerhouse and a key engine of world economy. Both between Japan and China and the United States and China, economic inter-dependency has been on a steady rise. It is no wonder that a prosperous China presents Japan, the United States and the world with a huge opportunity for sustained growth and prosperity.

On the other hand, there are significant differences between China and the free world over socio-political values such as liberal democracy and respect for human rights. Moreover, China’s economic rise has and continues to bring about dramatic growth of its military power. There remains a serious lack of transparency regarding many aspects of China’s military modernization and expanding sphere of military activities.

In particular, China’s growing Anti-Access/Area Denial capabilities are already presenting serious challenges to U.S. capacity to fulfill its security commitment in the Western Pacific. We are also concerned about China’s coercive behavior towards its neighbors backed by its rapidly expanding military power, which has already manifested in areas such as the South China Sea and the East China Sea. I am convinced that Japan and the United States are not the only countries in the Asia-Pacific who share these worries. Working through the alliance, Japan and the United States can guard against potentially negative aspects of China’s emergence. Only by having a credible hedging strategy and capacity, can Japan and the United States effectively engage China to encourage its responsible behavior.

2-3. 「価値の同盟」としての意義
Let me talk about the other thing that tells us about the importance of our Alliance, which is the fact that this alliance is not just an interest-based alliance but also a value-based alliance. I think this facet of the alliance is very important and all the more so in the current era.

Liberal democratic values and principles survived, and prevailed in the Cold War. But the world is still hardly unanimous in embracing these values and principles. Rather, in the age of what Fareed Zakaria calls “the rise of the rest” and emergence of non-democratic economic powers, we hear talks about the ascendancy of “authoritarian state capitalism model,” “contested modernity,” “The Beijing Consensus,” so on and so forth. These notions purport to suggest the viability of alternatives to the values and principles that the free world has defended and promoted.

With all the talks about alternative values, it is my strong belief that parliamentary democracy, civil liberty, the rule of law, and respect for human rights are among the values that all humanity should embrace and strive for. The Japan-U.S. alliance brings together the moral strengths of the two powerful democracies. The continued success of the Japan-U.S. alliance in promoting the world’s peace and stability will speak to the powerful allure of liberal democratic values and a world order built around them.

3. 日米同盟強化のため我が国がなすべき努力
Let me move on to the final part of my presentation: what I think Japan should do to strengthen the alliance. First is to maintain and strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities. Second is to work closely with the United States to building a cooperative, tailored regional posture, as suggested in QDR2010. And third is to enhance Japan Self-Defense Forces’ engagement in international peace operations.

3-1. 日本自身の防衛努力
Let me talk about the first. To ensure an effective Japan-U.S. alliance, the first order of business for Japan is to maintain its own robust defense capabilities.

The Government of Japan is now in the process of reviewing the National Defense Program Guidelines. This document outlines Japan’s strategic environment, sets overall directions of defense strategy, defines priority mission and capability areas, and provides guidance for subsequent force structure design. The review process is proceeding towards the conclusion at the end of this year. As a Parliamentary Vice Minister in charge of the review within the Ministry of Defense, I have been working closely with civilian and military professionals to figure out how best to prepare our forces for the security environment of today and tomorrow.

3-2. 新しいRegional Posture
Second is building a new regional posture. With emerging Anti-Access/Area Denial capabilities in the Western Pacific, balance of military power in the region is undergoing a significant change. Japan should work closely with the United States to craft a combined and tailored regional posture with an optimal mix of U.S. and Japanese roles, missions, and capabilities.

In addition to our capabilities, which represent its static aspect, the new regional posture should also emphasize its “dynamic” elements, which include sustained and coordinated ISR activities by U.S. and Japanese forces as well as combined training with well-designed formats and frequencies. Such regional posture should serve to restrain potential adversaries’ coercive behavior, deter their armed aggressions, and defeat them should deterrence fail.

Japan-U.S. bilateral consultations on new regional posture, which will also inform Japan’s NDPG review process, should include U.S. AirSea Battle concept. This is a concept that appears in QDR2010 as an initiative to address A2/AD threats. I believe Japan has much to contribute in the development and prosecution of the AirSea Battle concept in the Asia-Pacific context. Forward-stationed and rotationally deployed U.S. forces in this region remain a critical component of the regional posture. In this regard, the relocation of Marine Air Station Futenma is very important to ensure the stable stationing of U.S. Marines in Japan.

On May 28th, foreign and defense ministers of Japan and the United States issued a joint statement regarding the Futenma relocation. Prime Minister Kan and his new administration are committed to implement the agreement. In addition to Futenma, the May 28th Joint Statement discusses possible expansion of the joint use of military facilities including Guam by Japanese and U.S. forces. I would expect to see increased joint activities of the two forces in various places throughout the Western Pacific.

3-3. 自衛隊のGlobal Engagementの強化
Third and lastly, Japan should further promote JSDF’s engagement in international security activities. Japanese and U.S. governments have repeatedly affirmed their commitment to enhance cooperation in efforts to address global security issues. Recently, international peace operations such as UN peacekeeping were promoted from the Self-Defense Forces’ secondary mission to main mission.

I know that some U.S. experts are suggesting that Japan should forgo “out-of-area” operations and focus on the alliance’s core mission, which is the defense of Japan. Behind this idea is dissatisfaction over what these experts regard as the limited nature of SDF’s overseas activities, which they think is hurting the “strategic relevance” of the alliance. I know these suggestions are made out of sincere support of the alliance, to which I am very grateful. However, I believe that the SDF should not retreat from their overseas engagement that has gradually but steadily grown since the end of the Cold War.

Admittedly, SDF’s international security portfolio does have room for improvements. Such improvements, including those require legislative actions, cannot be done in the context of national defense missions. Japan is among the major beneficiaries of the world’s peace and stability and therefore must not shrink from sharing responsibility in addressing security concerns beyond its periphery. In this regard, I think Japan should seek to re-energize the activities of Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Indian Ocean, which forms an integral part of vital sea lines of communication for Japan and the world.

4. 結語
In closing, let me refer to Prime Minister Kan’s address in Japanese parliament delivered on June 11th,since my trip this time marks the first U.S. visit by a member of senior political leadership of the new Japanese administration led by Prime Minister Naoto Kan. During the address, Prime Minister Kan said Japan’s foreign and national security policy should be responsible and the conduct of foreign policy should be based on realism. The Prime Minister specifically said that “the Japan-U.S. alliance is international common goods that underpin not only Japan’s security but also stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific.”

He underlined his intent to steadfastly deepen the alliance. I am glad to tell you that the government of Japan is fully prepared to advance the Japan-U.S. security alliance to higher stages. It is my aspiration that Japan assumes full responsibilities by taking more risks to deepen the security cooperation of our Pacific Alliance, with the “adventure spirit” which we inherit from our ancestors. I very much look forward to working to that end with your continued support, which this alliance has always enjoyed and continues to need for its vitality and resilience.

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.

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

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.

Friday, March 5, 2010

No shame department

Did you get invited to the  party? Me neither. Hope the food was good. Better eat that tuna before it become politically incorrect.

The NIKKEI reported on March 2 that Parliamentary Secretary of Defense Akihisa Nagashima gave a talk at a party he held in Tokyo on the 1st.. With respect to where to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa, Nagashima emphatically said: "The continued presence of U.S. Marines in Okinawa is linked to the foundation of Japan's security."

The next day Bloomberg had Aki announcing that a decision on Futenma had been reached. It is startlingly close to the very original plan from way back in the 1990s. A heliport will be built inland at Camp Schwab.  But was that his job to speak up? Surely, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano must be getting tired of telling this guy to "zip it."

Has this guy any sense of shame, protocol, or place? Why hasn't he been fired yet? The best I can figure is that Aki is going to take the fall for whatever goes wrong--along with the rest of the Alliance Managers. After all, he is best buddies with all the folks that devised and delayed the current crappy plan to stick a air field out into a pristine bay on a typhoon- and earthquake-prone island.

His declaration is not exactly news. There was never any doubt that the Futenma relocation would be any other place than Okinawa.

If there will be a surprise, it will be the swiftness at which the relocation will happen. The LDP talked a bit game of enhancing Japan's security and furthering US-Japan cooperation, but did little to move it along. They were masters of delay and keeping the barbarians at the gate.  The DPJ's take-away from all this, is a recognition that any decision on Futenma would need to move quickly to appease the antsy Americans.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Not again! Please, please make it stop. It is relentless.

It is not more snow, but that another foundation has paid for and published another pro-Bush, anti-Hatoyama Michael J. Green essay. The Toyota Motor Japan Chair of CSIS just sucks all the air out of the room. What he has to say is increasingly irrelevant, however, this piece is an easy two and one-quarter page, three-point summary of the Alliance Manager’s mantra as to why the US-Japan alliance matters.

And why they remain bamboozled by what has been happening around them.

This time the publisher is the German Marshall Fund (GMF), which until recently shunned any support of Asia-related issues. But, with the Japanese economy fading and political changes in Japan and the US imminent, the Neocons and Alliance Managers branched out in 2008 to find new sources of funding other than the usual Japanese quasi-governmental sources or American foundations seeking to ingratiate themselves with a current White House.

In addition to a greater role by the Sasakawa Family of foundations, there has been an effort to tap the conservative leanings and money of other countries to support the Alliance Managers and their antiquated Asia strategies. Thus, the German Marshall Fund established an Asia program with former minor Bush officials to keep afloat other former Bush officials and their friends. Bill Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz are regulars at GMF meetings.

Titled, Why Japan is Important to the West, the commentary starts with the obligatory reference to the Black Ships—they were meant to stay in more important China and not pester Japan—as well as the newly popular reference to the Japanese Christian nationalist Inazo Nitobe.

Nitobe wrote in the early 20th Century, in English, Bushido: The Soul of Japan. It was a fanciful account of Japan’s samurai warrior code. Nitobe wrote his book to show how seamlessly Christianity could fit into a modernizing Japan. Instead, Japan’s conservatives and nationalists have used the book as proof of Japan’s unique culture and manly ethic. Nitobe, a Quaker, most likely would be horrified by how his work has been interpreted.

Knowing some history does not mean understanding history.

This travel back in time is merely a diversion to a swipe at both the Obama and Hatoyama Administrations. Green is worried that “The American strategic pendulum continues to swing between Japan and China—just as Japan’s sense of identity hovers between Asia and the West.” Clearly, the answer should be Japan and the West.

Unfortuately, the world the Bush Administration Alliance Manager imagined is disintegrating. Japan no longer wants to be, if ever, the passive platform for American strategic interests, and Americans have come to realize that few values are shared between the two “allies.”

Yet, Green finds three reasons why Japan remains important to the US:

1.Japan’s alliance with the United States serves as the single most important element in maintaining a stable strategic equilibrium in Asia at a time of profound power shifts that might otherwise heighten insecurity, rivalry, and conflict.

2. Japan remains the second largest economy in the world in exchange rate terms, and the second leading contributor to all of the critical international institutions that uphold the neoliberal order.

3. Japan anchors a growing number of successful democracies within Asia.

Ok, but nothing new is said here. Long before him, his mentors tried to believe these things. Their failure is that none of it is sustainable.

That is the critical, overlooked issue. He talks about change in economic and political power, but does not realize its dimensions. Japan’s economic power is slipping and its democracy is flawed and no longer unique. In a sense, only fatalism and resignation, has maintained Japan has a security platform for the US.

It is clear even to Green, as it was to some before, nothing in the US-Japan relationship has been cemented nor truly shared. And certainly little was done to make the relationship fundamentals—goals, perceptions, and values—permanent.

From not signing on the to Genocide Convention to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions; from lack laws on human trafficking to limited habeas corpus; from believing the US tricked Japan into an unwinnable war to maintaining a curious prohibition against “collective defense” Japan is an outlier among G-7 countries.

As Green notes, “It is not only important for the United States and the West to appreciate why Japan is essential to sustaining a liberal prosperous international order, but also for Japanese themselves to make this assessment….Japanese leaders will have to make the arguments to the Japanese people about why their nation is so crucial to the international order.”

He is right. But Green fails along with his neocon colleagues, to realize that their LDP conservative friends and funders never tried to make the case either. From calling US base support a “sympathy budget” to delaying 14 years on the Futenma move to promoting officiers like Toshio Tamogami, Japan’s elites did little to encourage a healthy relationship with the US. Even a causal check of the speeches and memberships of the Alliance Manager’s friend show a profound dislike of Washington policies and a deeper distrust of America’s wartime victory.

Further, Japanese citizens have never during their postwar contemporary democracy ever viewed their country as a world power. Further, not one survey or measure of public sentiment shows any interest even in becoming an international leader. In MOFA and JDA polling less than 6 percent of the respondents believe that Japan should aspire to more.

The Alliance managers see the importance of Japan though hopes rather than realities. Washington keeps trying to make an imagined Tokyo do things

In the last sentence of his essay, Green finally mentions Europe. He chastises the Europeans for not sharing the Bush vision of Asia.

He writes: “NATO and the European Union should also encourage higher-level strategic dialogue and cooperation with Japan. Indeed, the EU will find that its China policy will improve markedly once Brussels demonstrates the diversity and intensity of its other partnerships in Asia.”

The Europeans have always hedged their bets in Asia. Maybe it is time that Americans learn to do so as well as.

N.B.: The photo above is from the classic movie, The Wild Bunch. I watched this movie with my son as I wrote this blog post. For him, it was supposedly class assignment, as he wants to write his senior essay on the movie's director. My job was to instruct on note-taking. My take-away, and a lesson long learned by Japan, was that you should never underestimate the destructive ability of American men to leave a hugh bloody mess behind.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Zeros over the Bow

President Obama’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day proclamation is to be commended. It recognizes the elephant in the room of U.S.-Japan relations. It reminds everyone that there is a history to the relationship. The many recent missteps in the “alliance” can be attributed to the failure to address the history issues between the two countries.

Obama’s apparent habit of elaborate greetings, which don’t necessarily follow traditional egalitarian U.S. protocols, is likely to have been behind the President’s bow to the Japanese Emperor. I suspect the exaggerated, awkward ‘bow’ was merely an instinctive act of what Obama felt are good manners and culturally sensitive.

Unfortunately, it was an inadvertent slight to the new liberal Hatoyama government that has little use for the Imperial Household or the rightists that support it. The bow appeared to insiders as a sly nod of support to those who promote the U.S.-Japan Alliance. It was not lost on the DPJ that these out-of-power LDP conservatives also want a return of Imperial power.

But whatever Obama’s intent, its potential damage may have been lessened by today’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day proclamation. The President clearly points out that “the surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese on Pearl Harbor was an attempt to break the American will and destroy our Pacific Fleet.” He acknowledges that Imperial Japan was the aggressor in the war.

The Bush Administration and President-elect Obama last year failed to mention even once Japan in their statements on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. For Bush it was the “enemy” and for Obama it was the “danger.”

There is no longer any need to do this. If Obama had again ignored the fact that it was Imperial Japan that bombed Pearl Harbor, he would have further insulted both the new government in Japan and the Americans that died on that day and after.

Tacitly exonerating Japan from starting the Pacific War and elevating the Emperor panders to the conservative LDP and the rightists that believe what Imperial Japan did was right and support an “alliance” merely to further their own nationalist goals. The U.S. no longer needs to appease these people. They are no longer in a position to help with American security objective in Japan or Asia.

Even those conservatives in the Hatoyama Administration such as Maehara (a Nippon Kaigi member) and Nagashima (who denies Nanking) are being marginalized. Maehara is relegated to promoting airports and selling trains, while Nagashima gets reprimanded regularly by the Chief Cabinet Secretary. Supporting these conservatives in and especially out of government merely antagonizes the DPJ and confirms their suspicions about American Japan handlers as wanting to undermine the new government.

Part of being a modern equal to the U.S. is not being treated as a quaint, fragile Oriental. Bowing to the Emperor poked at the DPJ by catering to the antiquated sensibilities of the LDP and Japan’s conservatives. The DPJ is in power, not the LDP. It seems a bit pernicious to encourage Japan’s Right this way. Note, despite the American neocon outcry against the “bow”, none of the neocon Japan experts objected or commented. Their Japanese friends were delighted.

The Futenma issue festers because neither Tokyo nor Washington has successfully confronted the bitter war history of Okinawa. The prolonged American occupation of Okinawa (until 1972) and unwillingness of the Japanese government to do no more than bribe Okinawan leaders has allowed a deep hostility toward both powers on the Island.

It was only two years ago that the LDP government ordered textbook revisions to indicate that some Okinawans committed suicide or were forced to commit mass suicide, but not 'by whom.' And it was the LDP government that has failed for 14 years to relocate Futenma. For its part, Washington naively thinks Okinawans still can be persuaded by Tokyo.

The Emperor by putting out his hand tried to give Obama the hint as to what was the right thing to do. The Emperor who has been trying to humanize and modernize the Imperial Institution must have been puzzled by the President's inelegant bow. His Highness knows that the voters now count in Japan.

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.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Buried deep in a special section on "Giving" of the New York Times on November 12th, is an article "Raising Morale Far From Home" that starts:
A SURVIVOR of World War II’s infamous Bataan Death March, Dr. Lester Tenney endured over three years of slave labor as a Japanese prisoner of war, with no word from home. “I would have been so happy to get a package of any kind,” Dr. Tenney said. “I wouldn’t have cared what was in it — just the fact that someone would think of me and send something. Oh Lord, that would have been exciting!”
Ninety-year old Dr. Tenney spearheads an effort in his retirement community to send care packages to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The nonprofit group he created, Care Packages from Home sends out 200 packages a month to the troops. A local San Diego TV station even featured his effort, see HERE.

What the Times article does not say, is that the Japanese military and Mitsui Mining, the company that purchased Dr. Tenney to mine coal, withheld their Red Cross boxes and letters from home. From the Bataan Death March to the Hell Ship to slave labor, there was not one minute of mercy from the Japanese to Lester Tenney and his fellow American prisoners.

Also unstated, is that the U.S. government essentially abandoned Dr. Tenney and his fellow POWs in all their efforts for justice. The San Francisco Peace Treaty cut off the POWs from suing for their slave labor wages. In 2003, the U.S. government successfully confirmed in the Supreme Court that the POWs could not sue individual Japanese companies. Worse, the U.S. Congress cannot find its way to offer token compensation to the POWs as have all other Allied nations for their POWs.

Although this has been a momentous year of Japanese officials making never-before conciliatory gestures to the American POWs, the Obama Administration and the U.S. State Department has done little to capitalize on these efforts. In January, then-Prime Minister Aso gave in to evidence found in the Health and Welfare Ministry basement that his family's mining company did use POWs for forced labor. Buried deep in the records of a February Diet discussion is the Japanese government's first ever official apology to all POWs. And no where on any official website or document in English or Japanese can be found the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Fujisaki's May rewording of the 1995 Murayama Apology to include American POWs of Bataan and Corregidor and "other places."

"Other places" are the hundreds of POW camps through out the Empire of Japan. The best know was Mukden where General Jonathan Wainwright was held and American POWs were likely experimented on at the nearby notorious biological warfare laboratory Unit 731.

Dr. Tenney still wants justice and peace of mind for himself and his fellow POWs before the last of them die. He wants closure and understanding from their families and loved ones. He wants the Japanese government to accept the apologies given by its representative by publicizing these statements and including the American POWs in the long-standing Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative that funds visits, research, and projects for all POWs of Japan except Americans.

And he would like the over 60 Japanese companies that enslaved the POWs to run Japan's war machine to offer an apology. All these companies are now major multinationals. Indeed, the former head of Mitsui's Washington office, who spent a lot of his time fighting Dr. Tenney's lawsuit, is now rumored to be a possible pick to be Japan's next ambassador to the U.S.

Considering that the difficulties now exposed between the U.S. and Japan are all the result of unresolved history issues, both governments should welcome a larger project of exchange, research, and reconciliation on the Pacific War. It is unfortunate that the Alliance Managers in the State Department are not imaginative to see the opportunity.

For now they simply tell Dr. Tenney they feel his pain. Do they know he bears countless scares from beatings, lost all his teeth, and has a deep gash on his should from samurai sword? And like all other POWs of the Japanese he still cannot sleep through the night for his rest is disturbed by vivid nighmares. Studies have found that the former POWs of Japan suffer the worst PTSD of any WWII veteran.

Dr. Tenney, tells me, to be more optimistic. He is used to disappointment and the disingenuous. He never loses hope and he uses his sleepless nights for good. The American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan most certainly are better for it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cornerstone, Lynchpin, Band-Aid

President Barack Obama is expected in Tokyo shortly (November 12-13). By any analysis, the American and Japanese leaders will not have much to discuss. The best they can try for is to make some sort of personal connection.

The military/security relationship is on hold. Uncomfortable agreements between the LDP and the U.S. Governments are exposed nearly daily. Washington takes for granted that Tokyo will pay grandly for reconstruction aid in Afghanistan and is thus unimpressed. Surprised by the disagreement over the Futenma relocation, the Obama Administration is unlikely to expend any political capital to press on the social, historical, and economic issues (child abduction, American POWs of Japan, yen manipulation, trade barriers) that now gnaw prominently at the U.S.-Japan relationship.

Since the second term of the Clinton Administration, the U.S. has largely confined its interactions with Japan to the management of a security relationship. Tamped down were issues of Japanese economic manipulation, trade dumping, industrial espionage, tax evasion, and failure to abide by international standards. These were all unimportant in an effort to create a reliable, economically stable military partner in East Asia that can counter China and its satellites.

Now, the cork is out the bottle, so to speak. Everything is up for discussion. Both the Americans and Japanese might be surprised as to what constitutes an "equal" relationship to the other. If Japan defines "equal" as pursuing issues of human as opposed to military security, it will find itself viewed as wanting as it did when it only the issue of collective security was a problem. And for the Americans, the broad range of difficulties between the U.S. and Japan will extend far beyond the abilities of any small group of managers who move effortlessly between parties and administrations.

Thus, it may be welcome by all if President Obama had to cut to one day his Tokyo visit in order to attend the memorial service for the slain soldiers at Ft. Hood. As you can see from the White House Press Briefing on Friday, November 6th, not much is expected of the President's trip to Asia and honoring sharing the country's grief with the Ft Hood families is a greater priority.

Q One other question on the Asia trip. He's making several stops. But when the President comes back, is there anything at all that he wants to come back with? Is there an issue --

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I think that the President is going to have an opportunity over the course of this trip to meet with important -- important leaders. Obviously, we start in Japan. We will go to APEC. We will visit China before going to South Korea and home. You can understand what I think the President will be discussing -- I should mention, at APEC, there will likely be some important bilateral meetings. I think what will be on the docket will obviously be the health of the world economy. We will discuss, obviously, North Korea. I anticipate Iran will come up in meetings. Nonproliferation obviously will be something that is discussed, certainly as it relates to those two previous countries that I mentioned. And, finally, energy and climate change will also be part of what's discussed. I know we delayed a briefing call on this. It was originally supposed to be today. We'll probably do that likely some time early on Monday.

Q But are you looking to get anything at all, reassurance from one of these leaders about any one of these issues? Anything in particular that you're looking --

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I'll wait for the call to go through exactly what we see as part of each day on this. Again, I think you've got a very important part of the world to our economy and to the economies that we're going to see. I think obviously economic health and well-being and jobs will be a significant part of this. Yes, sir.

Q On Fort Hood, you said that when a service is scheduled, he will attend?


Q Did I understand that -- you mean, before or after the Asia trip?

MR. GIBBS: I anticipate -- we will attend a memorial service at Fort Hood when it is scheduled. I anticipate that that will likely happen prior to Asia. But again, this is, again, somewhat in flux based on the scheduling of this -- there are families that would have to come in from all over the United States, and our schedule is -- will be formed around that.

Q And they're not building the schedule around his schedule, I take it, for memorial services, as far as you know.

MR. GIBBS: We have communicated with the Department of Defense that our schedule is built around the families that suffered tragic losses yesterday.

Q Well, if they were to delay it until Tuesday or Wednesday or something like that, he could end up changing his schedule on the Asia trip.

MR. GIBBS: We anticipate going to Asia, and we anticipate -- we will got to a memorial service. I hate to get into hypotheticals --

Q Right, but you're not ruling out the possibility of changing the departure.

MR. GIBBS: I'm not ruling -- I'd prefer to talk about the schedule when we have a better sense of its formation.

Earlier in the day, National Security Council Asia Director Jeffrey Bader gave a speech at Brookings. He was not much more hopeful for any great progress. He emphasized the personal and focused still on the security alliance:

With new governments in place the time is ripe for our resilient alliance to be reaffirmed. The foreign policy platform of the Democratic Party of Japan called for a more equal partnership with the U.S. It raised questions about the Futenma replacement facility on Okinawa, about the future of refueling provided to allies fighting in Afghanistan, and about other aspects of the security relationship. Six or seven weeks into its debut in governance, the new Japanese leadership is assessing all these questions. At the same time, Prime Minister Hatoyama has said repeatedly that he considers the alliance with the U.S. as the key relationship in Japanese foreign policy.

President Obama and Prime Minister Hatoyama had a warm meeting in New York and spoke on the phone, getting their relationship off to a good start. In their meeting last month in the U.N., and in subsequent high level meetings, we demonstrated that we can listen to a critically important ally, understand its political needs, and articulate our thinking in ways that we hope will be persuasive to Tokyo.

Our approach is meant to ensure that the alliance is not reduced to a series of difficult negotiations and transactions when in fact it is a bond understood as critical to both our nations requiring sacrifices of narrow self interest. We will need to be persistent and clear as we deal with some of the complex alliance issues in the months ahead. As we do so, we both need to keep our eye on the larger picture, that is how much the U.S.- Japan Alliance means for both of us, both regionally and globally. American’s should not forget what Japan does on global issues is often critically important to us. Besides the U.S. there has been no larger contributor, for example, in foreign assistance to Pakistan and Afghanistan than Japan. Japan is a model of energy efficiency and is playing an important role in the climate change negotiations.

Fortunately, the President will return from Asia with his decision on Afghanistan and a new news cycle will begin.

Later: The U.S. government has asked Japan if the President's visit can be pushed to one day, Friday to allow the President to attend the memorial at Ft. Hood.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Faulty Assumptions

Michael Penn, executive director of the Shingetsu Institute in Japan on Japan-Islamic relations wrote a comment yesterday (11/2/09) for the popular Nelson Report on US-Asian relations. He observed that Washington policymakers seemed to hold a number of surprising assumptions about the new Japanese government that are not shared by their counterparts in Japan.

He writes:

Assumption #1: The DPJ electoral victory had nothing to do with alliance policy: Although domestic Japanese issues dominated the August 30 elections, the Japanese public was also moved by appeals for overall "regime change." There was the sense that Japan was moving in the wrong direction. This belief was linked to Tokyo's post-9/11 alliance policy.

When the DPJ talked about its unwillingness to support any more "American Wars," it did so because it resonated with the general public. More than once I have had young Japanese ask me, "Why do Americans like war?"

In short, the public rejection of the LDP was in part a rejection of the Bush-era "Britain of the East" military-centered model for the US-Japan alliance.

Assumption #2: The alliance burden on Japan is low: The Japanese do not believe that they receive high benefits from the US alliance at a very low cost. If you consider both direct as well as opportunity costs, Japan actually pays quite a lot for the alliance.

For example, when the Bush administration pursued its questionable 2003 war against Iraq, they expected the Japanese government's full support even though 80% of the public were opposed. The DPJ is responding, finally, to Japanese public opinion in a way that the LDP-to its cost-would not.

Assumption #3: The DPJ doesn't support the US alliance: If the DPJ really didn't support the alliance, they are currently in a strong enough domestic political position to openly say so.

They DO support the alliance, but demand that it must change the way it functions. They expect the right to make up their own minds about what constitutes the Japanese national interest, rather than have it decided for them by Washington.

In short, anger at the DPJ is misplaced. The politicians only reflect the realities of Japanese public opinion, the people who democratically elected them.

Maybe the lesson here is that US administrations will now have to work harder to appeal to the Japanese people whereas in the past they had only to appease a small, self-selected group of conservative politicians and bureaucrats.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Assume Nothing

On Saturday afternoon, October 31, the State Department revised the Secretary of State’s weekly calendar. In the morning it read that Foreign Minister Okada would meet with the Secretary of State at 11:30 on Friday, November 6th. By afternoon, the appointment had disappeared without explanation.

According to The Cable, the meeting is off. Okada has been reined in as his expectations about the power of his personal diplomacy to America's civilian leaders may have been too great. Or he may have simply been off the reservation.

As Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said in a Monday press conference, ''The Diet must be the top priority. There should not be any trips abroad (by ministers) that could influence Diet deliberations.'' Yet, The Cable, State, and the Nelson Report all say that Secretary Clinton's schedule is still open...

Monday, November 2, at the Daily Press Briefing with Ian Kelly:

QUESTION: Do you have any information about Secretary Clinton meeting with the Japanese Foreign Minister Okada?

MR. KELLY: Well, what I do know is that the Secretary has time on Friday to meet with him, but that I think I have to refer you to the Japanese foreign ministry about the plans of Foreign Minister Okada.

QUESTION: But you can talk about the plans of Hillary Clinton. So you’re saying it’s on their side, that scheduling is --

MR. KELLY: I’m just saying you would have to – you have to talk to them about his schedule. I only know the schedule of my Secretary.

QUESTION: Well, does she plan to meet him?

MR. KELLY: She’s ready to meet with him.

QUESTION: Is he going to meet with him?

MR. KELLY: That’s up to the Japanese foreign minister to – up to the foreign ministry to decide.

QUESTION: You’re suggesting that the Japanese foreign minister is snubbing the Secretary?

MR. KELLY: No, I’m not saying that at all.

QUESTION: What are you saying, then?

MR. KELLY: Well, I think one thing I’ll say is that when we put out a week ahead schedule, it is intended be for planning and not for publication.

LATER: Foreign Minister Okada cancels his plans to visit the U.S. Hatoyama reminds him who is in charge. Asst. Secretary of State for East Asia Kurt Campbell will be in Tokyo on Thursday.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Security's Disappointments

The conservative tabloid Tokyo Zakzak (online 10/28/09) said loudly what has been the subject of gossip and speculation: the Obama visit to Japan might be canceled because Washington is so angry with the new Hatoyama government.

The article quotes a "former US government official" as saying that the current relationship between Japan and the United States "is worse than the relationship between the United States and South Korea during the Roh Moo-hyon [No Mu-hyo'n] administration that was said to be the worst." The writer then worries that Japan will be again "passed over" and rendered irrelevant by its unwillingness to maintain the U.S.-Alliance.

How silly!

The President's visit to Japan will not be canceled and the "relationship" will not get any worse than it always has been. There are other issues of cooperation and amity. Have we already forgotten that it was the LDP that delayed the Futenma move nearly 15 years, crushed the U.S. auto industry, stalled at the Six-Party Talks, and destabilized East Asia with less than empathetic remarks on history?

The tension caused by differing aspirations for Japan's security strategy should not have been a surprise. They have always existed. It was never enough that the U.S. and Japan shared a common goal of a peaceful Asia. How Japan would contribute to this peace is a continuing subject of debate, misunderstanding, and exasperation.

Yet, this simple "goal," as a senior U.S. State Department official told the Washington Post, encouraged the United States to "grow comfortable" believing Japan as a constant in U.S. relations in Asia. The situation allowed for troubling inconsistencies and unholy alliances between Japan and the U.S.

Now, although the goal has not changed, the means to achieve Japan's security is being reevaluated. This too should not have been a surprise. The DPJ Manifesto, the DPJ visitors to Washington (often ignored), and Japanese public opinion all indicated a general lack of interest in international affairs, a skepticism for hosting U.S. bases in Japan, and a reluctance to engage anywhere militarily.

The LDP simply made assumptions about what the Japanese people wanted. And as you can see they have paid dearly for this. Public support for the Alliance does not imply a similar support for increased militarization of Japan.

The Hatoyama Administration sees other means to achieve regional security. Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, and the Senkakus are all trouble spots. Democracy remains weak or nonexistent throughout most of Asia. And memories of Japan's 20th century aggression remain bitter and deep. Their approach is to emphasize de-nuclearization, non-proliferation, human rights, democratic principles, and reconciliation with Imperial Japan's victims. The goal of a safer East Asia is to be achieved through a commitment to never appearing as a military threat to any other people or country.

Thus, the new DPJ administration was likely shocked and disappointed by the vehemence of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' objections to the desire to rethink and reevaluate one component of the Alliance. Hatoyama thought he was bringing something new to the Alliance and showing the sincerity of a democracy to review past decisions.

More important, Prime Minister Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Okada believed that Japan's greater commitment to global nuclear nonproliferation would strengthen the Alliance. After all the Obama Administration was championing nuclear disarmament. Differences in "details" would not trump the pursuit of shared goals. They had not in the past.

Maybe this coming week Foreign Minister Okada will visit Washington to see how to ensure the upcoming Obama-Hatoyama summit a success. Unfortunately, I suspect, he is coming to appeal to the Obama Administration with the belief that the American tradition of civilian control over the military will have the White House compel the Pentagon to be more reasonable. He will seek "understanding" to give his new government more time to examine the backroom deals of the LDP, to present its plan for Afghanistan, and to develop Japan's vision of a Northeast Asian Nuclear Free Zone.

And the Obama Administration, I suspect, believes the Japanese Foreign Minister will simply accede to American demands.