Sunday, December 6, 2009

US Ambassador to Japan Shouts at Japan's Ministers in Rage Over Okinawa Base

Chicagoland thuggery goes to Japan.

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to power, promising "change" (just like the new U.S. administration). Unlike the U.S. counterpart, though, they are actually trying. One of the things they are trying to change is the relocation plan of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa.

Between Japan's Aso administration and U.S.'s Bush administration, they agreed in 2006 to move the Marine airbase in Futenma, Okinawa, to another city, Nago, also in Okinawa. The strong opposition of Nago citizens as well as environmentalists' opposition (the base would be built on a landfill over coral reef) was totally ignored. Now, Prime Minister Hatoyama, whatever his political calculation is (or lack thereof), seems aligned with the citizens of both Futenma and Nago in opposing ANY U.S. military presence at all in Okinawa. He has delayed the decision on Futenma until next year.

This has angered the Obama administration, which has just expanded the Afghan war. Defense Secrerary Gates went to Japan and threatened Japanese of "serious consequences" if they didn't do the U.S. bidding. President Obama couldn't solve the Futenma issue when he visited Japan. (Why did he go to Asia, to begin with?) Now, Japan and the U.S. have started high-level negotiations in Tokyo to resolve the relocation issues.

The American Ambassador to Japan, John V. Roos, a big Obama campaign donor with zero foreign and diplomatic experience or knowledge, is a member of the U.S. negotiation team. He apparently blew up on the first day of the negotiation, according to Sankei Shinbun:

"In a closed session of the negotiation, Ambassador Roos flew into a rage and started shouting at Japan's Foreign Minister Okada and Defense Minister Kitazawa."

Don't you dare renege on the promise under Bush administration!

That sounds like Rahm Emanuel cloned.

(Sankei Shinbun, by the way, seems highly approving of the rude manner of the ambassador. The newspaper is heavily right-leaning, and heavily pro-U.S., a combination possible only in Japan.)

The base relocation was agreed upon in 2006 after an incident in 1995 of an abduction and rape of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. Marines. Violent crimes (rape, armed robbery, homicide) committed by the U.S. soldiers based in Japan, particularly in Okinawa, have irked and angered Japanese over the years, but this particular incident triggered an overwhelming disgust and protest against the U.S. military presence in Okinawa. (One of the Marines later killed himself after raping a woman in Georgia.)

Japan, like so many other nations in the world, was ecstatic over the election of Barack Obama, welcoming the "change" from Bush administration. Now the reality sets in. Okinawa's newspaper Ryukyu Shinpo, in its editorial, has this to say to Obama administration: "Change? What change?" [rough translation from original Japanese]:

"It is highly doubtful that Ambassador Roos knew or understood anything about Okinawa's situation before he visited Okinawa. Obama administration's call for "change" rings so hollow now.

"New administrations in Japan and the U.S. have sparked the hope that problems associated with the U.S. bases in Okinawa, which have been highly contentious and divisive, may finally be resolved. But Ambassador Roos simply repeats the same old official U.S. line that the U.S. believes the current plan (move the base from Futenma to Nago, with Japanese government paying for most of the cost) is the best option.

"The Japan-U.S. working group, which is made up of ministers and high-ranking officials including Mr. Roos, is supposedly examining the issues and exploring options. But if the U.S. has already decided on the conclusion (that the current plan is the best one for the U.S.), what is the point of even negotiating?"

According to Yomiuri Shinbun, Michael Green, former senior director of Asian affairs of the U.S. National Security Council under George W. Bush, warned that if the Japanese government does not proceed with the base relocation plan as agreed, it will jeopardize the entire U.S. plan for military reorganization in the Far East. He predicted total collapse of trust between the U.S. and Japan, and threatened that the U.S. would go over Japan's head and discuss important issues with China only. (Just like it routinely bypass Korea now.)

So the Obama "Change" administration enlists a former official from the previous administration to bully the new Japanese administration. Same old, same old. I guess the occupation of Japan has never been lifted.

Japan has almost always liked and respected the U.S. ambassadors sent by the administrations over the years. The U.S. always took care to pick a respected, senior member of the diplomatic corp, senior politician, or noted scholar - Reischauer, Mansfield, Mondale. The ambassador under George Bush, Tom Schieffer, was also very much liked and respected by the Japanese politicians and businessmen. That tradition was rudely ended when Obama appointed his campaign contributor and political/diplomatic/scholarly nobody as the ambassador.

Several days ago Zero Hedge reported the rumor that Japan is planning to sell U.S. Treasuries [that they hold]. I hope the U.S. won't regret having bullied a long-time subservient "ally" if and when that rumor turns out to be true.


Post a Comment