Monday, May 24, 2010

More old "news"

This story in today's NYT is the last act of a play that was foretold at the start.

Japanese Leader Gives In to U.S. on Okinawa Base
Apologizing for failing to fulfill a prominent campaign promise, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told outraged residents of Okinawa on Sunday that he has decided to relocate an American air base to the north side of the island as originally agreed upon with the United States.

On his second visit to Okinawa this month, Mr. Hatoyama for first time conceded what Japanese media had been reporting for weeks: that he would accept Washington’s demands and honor a 2006 agreement to move the United States Marine Air Station Futenma to the island’s less populated north.

The decision is a humiliating setback for Mr. Hatoyama on a problem that has consumed his young government and could prove its undoing. Before last year’s historic election victory, he had vowed to move the base off of Okinawa or even out of Japan. But his apparent wavering on the issue helped drive his approval ratings below 25 percent.

In the end, he seemed to decide it was more important to keep good ties with the United States, Japan’s longtime protector, at a time when his nation faces a nuclear-armed North Korea and an increasingly assertive China. Washington had consistently demanded that Tokyo honor the 2006 agreement to move Futenma and its noisy helicopters to a new facility to be built in Camp Schwab, near the northern Okinawan fishing village of Henoko.

Mr. Hatoyama explained his decision by saying that since taking office, he had learned to appreciate the role that the Marines play as a deterrent in the region, and that Okinawa was the most strategic location for them.

Mr. Hatoyama called it a “heartbreaking” decision, and said he extended his “heartfelt apology for causing much confusion” among islanders.

Six months ago, when Hatoyama was making the wild claims about ending US military support and presence, Guam posted,
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.

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