Saturday, April 26, 2014

President Obama Demanded Concessions from Prime Minister Abe on Free Trade Deal Based on Approval Ratings over $300 Sushi Dinner, Says Japanese Tabloid

Japan's tabloid daily Nikkan Gendai has an article with leaked information from Prime Minister Abe's ministers who anonymously shared their (and supposedly Prime Minister Abe's) disappointment over US President Obama, who was in Japan on a state visit.

While the US reporters accompanying the president on his Asian excursion asked tough questions like "Did you like green tea ice cream?" Nikkan Gendai's reporter wrote up an article condemning the Abe administration of complaining about Mr. Obama.

If what Nikkan Gendai reported is true, President Obama, instead of trying to foster personal ties with the Japanese prime minister on the occasion (private Sushi dinner at a sushi bar in Ginza, Tokyo where the minimum charge is $300 per person), dutifully represented the US multinational corporations who demand TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership, or NAFTA on steroid, as if he were a working-level negotiator.

From Nikkan Gendai (4/26/2014; part):


Prime Minister Abe was joined by Finance Minister Aso and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga on April 25 evening for a dinner at an exclusive steak restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo. Mr. Abe complained that "it was all business (with Obama)." According to Mr. Abe [as leaked by a participant to Nikkan Gendai reporter], Mr. Obama said to Mr. Abe on the sushi diplomacy on April 23 evening:


"The approval rating of the Abe administration is in 60s, mine is in 40s. Shinzo [Mr. Abe's first name] is more stable politically, so please make concessions in the TPP negotiation."


Mr. Abe tried to deflect with a joke, saying "In Japan, Ambassador Kennedy is more popular than me." However, Mr. Obama kept pressing for concessions, citing the tariff rates for pork and beef.


"Prime Minister jokingly said, "It was a business dinner on TPP. President Obama didn't crack a joke." The dinner participants chimed in, saying "He is business-like," and "It is difficult to be on the same wavelength with him." One of the participants leaked the words to the press waiting [outside the restaurant], who quickly spread the Prime Minister's remarks. I hope those words won't offend the United States..." (according to a source in Foreign Ministry)

The sushi dinner was reportedly $300 a person (minimum), which is not particularly expensive at all in an exclusive restaurant in Ginza. Mr. Abe and his ministers dined on $500 steaks, says Nikkan Gendai.

President Obama was in South Korea on Friday, telling the Korean president what she wants to hear on Korean "comfort women", just as he told Prime Minister Abe what he wanted to hear on Senkaku Islands.

The Abe administration is not pleased with Mr. Obama, who made the issue of "comfort women" into a political/diplomatic issue.

If China were on his itinerary, then, Mr. Obama would go on to condemn Japan over Senkaku Islands, following the pattern of saying what the host wants to hear.


Anonymous said...

Let's be honest, the US has treated Japan like a spoiled child for far too long. It's about time the international community held Japan to the same standard as any other country in trade and diplomatic negotiations.

How many times have the US and EU painstakingly negotiated trade agreements with the Japanese, including making very generous concessions based on non-scientific nihonjinron rubbish, only for the Japanese side to turn around at the end and either not ratify or fully implement the agreement citing the usual 'cultural/language differences' BS. Japan is famous for that type of immature behaviour in trade circles and was one reason why there was a collective groan from all sides when Japan announced they wanted to join the TPP negotiations. They have been playing these ridiculous games since 1960s; the problem for the Japanese is their relative importance in the world (or even regionally in Asia) has declined significantly since then and with bigger markets and manufacturing hubs (the BRICs, Eastern Europe, parts of Africa, SEA) the international community has frankly lost patience/interest. Most Japanese officials, however, don’t seem to appreciate how profound the power shift has been in international trade and are still entering these negotiations as if the world somehow needs Japan and its products. Truth is, they don’t. Western companies can get their products made to the same standard for less cost and hassle in China, Korea, Taiwan, even Malaysia and Vietnam are not far behind. Most Japanese brands, with the possible exception of automobiles, have lost their appeal being too expensive or just generally out of touch with the local tastes and needs.

The point is, if Abe-san truly wants Japan to be a so called 'normal' country (which I seriously doubt, I do not think Japan has the political maturity and sophistication to act as a responsible member of the international community) then he has to learn to negotiate as an equal ‘adult’ player without demanding special concessions and exemptions that no other country either expects or receives. What Abe-san and the Japanese officials can’t seem to get into their childlike minds is that trade and FTAs are all about give and take. If you want unlimited access for your electronic goods and automobiles into foreign markets then you must be prepared to accept products from overseas into your market. It’s quite simple actually and the Chinese, for example, have no problem understanding it.

Anonymous said...

As for the ‘comfort women’ (and what a sick euphemism that term is), Abe-san and the J-government need to learn that they can’t keep making stupidly inflammatory statements and then when the inevitable backlash arrives scurry for protection and political cover from the US like a naughty schoolboy hiding behind his daddy when the classmate he’s been teasing finally decides he has had enough.

Anonymous said...

Why does the president, why does the US government continue to represent the multi-national corporations which pay no US taxes? Can we start to ask this question openly, start to bring ti up whenever we can?

VyseLegendaire said...

O'Bummer is just the biggest corporate lobbyist on the planet, has been since before he was 'selected' for office. After all, you can't become president without their money and approval.

Anonymous said...

The old adage, I'm from the (US) government and I'm here to help you is even more true when it comes to foreign relations. The United States has not treated Japan as a spoiled child - the relationship is more like a bully and a small child - and guess who is the bully. Now the US is pushing the TPP which is not good for either the people of Japan or the people of the US, but does benefit a few of the 1%.

The Japanese are not childlike or stupid. They know that "free trade" will destroy their economy - just look at what it has done to the US. The TPP in its current form is something neither Japan nor the US needs.

Anonymous said...

The Sushi dinner may cost $300 per person but did the seafood contain any cesium137 and strontium90 from Fukushima? Hope not otherwise a sick US president may trigger ww3 over the Ukraine, where the US helped to topple an elected president.

Anonymous said...

Don't know about Fukushima fallout, but it would certainly have contained cesium-137 and strontium-90 from US's atmospheric nuclear testing.

Anonymous said...

Japan is dying of radiation.
Even if it wasn't, Japan is a flea on the back of China.
This is about talking, reasoning, begging, wishful thinking, on and on, all those things other than unavoidable reality.

China is the unavoidable unreality. China will take because it can't be stopped and could not care less about 'permission'.

Japan begs for respect.

Anonymous said...

More details on the Fukushima disaster here :

Anonymous said...

@ Richard Schrader

Your point "China will take because it can't be stopped and could not care less about 'permission'."

Can you please name a country China took by force and colonized it?

Anonymous said...

China is no saint. There are plenty of examples of Chinese Imperialism not to mention, it is still a fascist society. This is for "anonymous" before its pot calls the kettle black. The grotesque atrocities within China to its own people will make any Holocaust zealot wither in horror. That being said, Japan is a spoiled brat. - Anonymous 2

Some guy said...

The TPP is very dangerous & should be stopped, but won't be since too many people & sheeple are too complacent.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous2

Can you name a country China took by force and colonized it? China does not have democracy but it has Meritocracy. If democracy is that great why is the Philippines regarded as the 'poor man' of Asia? Why is Greece a bankrupt? If you wish to know what a fascist govt looks like look no further than the govt run by the Neo-Nazi thugs in the Ukraine.

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