By far the biggest loser of the extravaganza was the hapless and (in the opinion of some Obama administration officials) increasingly loopy Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. He reportedly requested but got no bilat. The only consolation prize was that he got an “unofficial” meeting during Monday night’s working dinner. Maybe somewhere between the main course and dessert?
A rich man’s son, Hatoyama has impressed Obama administration officials with his unreliability on a major issue dividing Japan and the United States: the future of a Marine Corps air station in Okinawa. Hatoyama promised Obama twice that he’d solve the issue. According to a long-standing agreement with Japan, the Futenma air base is supposed to be moved to an isolated part of Okinawa. (It now sits in the middle of a city of more than 80,000.)
But Hatoyama’s party, the Democratic Party of Japan, said it wanted to reexamine the agreement and to propose a different plan. It is supposed to do that by May. So far, nothing has come in over the transom. Uh, Yukio, you’re supposed to be an ally, remember? Saved you countless billions with that expensive U.S. nuclear umbrella? Still buy Toyotas and such?
UPDATE: I have changed the name of this post to reflect the fact that Kamen’s column reflects not just a narrative popular at the Washington Post — although the Post has thus far been its main mouthpiece — but a narrative increasingly popular in Washington and in the Obama administration.
4 thoughts on “Washington continues to see Japan slipping away”
I agree with everything in this post but I would rewrite that last bit about trying to answer to the people who elected him.
I'm not sure what you mean, but if you mean in a literal sense, then yes, he's not answerable to anyone but his own party's caucus in the Diet.But the literal sense is meaningless.Does any American really think that the president isn't answerable to the public in some sense despite literally being elected not by the public but by an electoral college? Parliaments are just electoral colleges that continue to sit after they've chosen a leader. An indirectly elected prime minister is no different from the \”directly\” elected president of the United States, as their job tenures depend on taking public concerns into consideration — because at some point down the line the voting public will determine whether he will continue to hold his job.
Point well taken.
Many thanks for your sensible, extremely informed, insightful, and dignified reporting on Japan! Your articles are being praised by Network for Okinawa members like Satoko Norimatsu, who has the best blog on Okinawa. Your's is best and most reliable political blog on Japan.