Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Hatoyama caves

Japanese take to baseball, US to play hardball (December 2009)
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.

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.

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.

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.

Japan PM abandons plan to move US base off Okinawa By Harumi Ozawa (AFP) – 9 hours ago
Japan's embattled premier Tuesday abandoned a plan to move an unpopular US airbase entirely off Okinawa island, backtracking on a key election pledge after months of dithering that angered Washington.

"I really feel sorry as I visit here today that I must ask for the Okinawan people's understanding that part of the base operations would have to stay" on Okinawa, Yukio Hatoyama told reporters after meeting the local governor.

Under the latest compromise plan -- not formally announced by the government but widely reported in domestic media -- Japan is proposing to stick with the original plan, with some modifications.

Hatoyama -- whose approval ratings have dived into the 20 percent band amid the row ahead of upper house polls due in July -- was meeting officials in Okinawa in a bid to sell the compromise plan.

"Initially, there was an argument to move it overseas. But when we consider the Japan-US alliance and matters related to neighbouring nations, it is difficult to do so from the viewpoint of deterrence"' Hatoyama said.

"It is impossible in reality."

“It has gotten to the point where the only way to make progress on this issue would be for Prime Minister Hatoyama to resign,” said Satoshi Machidori, a politics professor at Kyoto University.

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