Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Japanese take to baseball, US to play hardball

Things are getting a bit interesting in the Japanese-American arena, an arena that is up close and personal to Guambat.

For the decades after WWII in which the LDP ran the show in Japan, there developed a certain standardized pas de due between the US and Japan that was pragmatic, commercial and static. Each could be counted upon to go no further than the dance choreographed.

Then, in August this year, the LDP finally got back-footed. In an expression of exasperation, the Japanese people voted for Anyone But LDP. The darts landed on hapless Mr. Hatoyama and his "visionary" wife, and his more inept than hapless comrades without arms coalition.

This government, elected without mandate or consensus, is struggling to define itself, let alone redefine the role of Japan in the New Millennium plus a decade. It is adrift, without mooring or bearing.

And in this context it is trying further to redefine the US/Japan relationship.


Starting with the "renegotiation" of the agreement between the US and Japan concluded in 2006 after years of hammering out, the subject of which was to relieve Okinawa of a small fraction of US troops on that formerly independent island, by way of delivering them to Guam, another place up close and personal to Guambat.

And here it begins to take on the plot of a Keystones Cops reel. Which has been made to seem more the so because the LDP, and its friendly media, didn't just go quietly into the rising sun.

The new Japanese coalition government can't make up its mind to implement the US/Japan Guam relocation agreement because nothing less than the wholesale removal of all US troops from Okinawa will currently satisfy its vision of self. Anything less than that is seen as a defeat, not a start. So they refuse to even start.

Guambat reckons there will be a reckoning. Not only will the deeply entrenched LDP find it in its Samurai past to restore its order, but the US will take the indecision on the part of the New government as a terminal sign of weakness and begin to apply pressures that have not been exercised since Guam's Liberation Day.

These will be very tense times in the coming months. Guambat only senses the tension, and guesses at the game. But the outcome is written.

Marines will come to Guam, some other adjustments will be made to mend fences and save faces, and the New Government will become a footnote in Japanese political history.

Oh, and the baseball reference in the heading? See Daisuke Matsuzaka amongst many other rising baseball heroes.

Guambat here abjectly apologizes to his family and friends who might find offense in anything said here. It is meant only dispassionately and affectionately for all concerned. Some things in realpolitik are simply hard to swallow, even when being jammed down the throat.

NB: A trio of Financial Times articles on the developments over the last couple of months, reflecting the view from across the Atlantic Pond:
October 21 2009 US raises pressure on Japan air base

November 11 2009 Okinawa outcry

December 15 2009 Japan delays decision on Okinawa base



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