Relations stiffen? My morning coffee nearly flew out of my mouth reading the title of this New York Times online article about Obama’s visit to Japan. Normally this blog stays glued to what some might consider the frivolous topic of male vanity in its many many manifestations.
But I could not resist the topic of Japan’s new-found independence in foreign policy after reading this title, with its hautiness and resentment mixed with a “stiffening” attraction. It seems to suggest, “I hate you, and you’re turning me on.”
Apparently the US felt extremely comfortable with the LDP’s nearly 50 years rule and are chafing under new policies brought by current Prime Minister Hatoyama, whose DP won in a landslide last August. Renegotiating what the US calls “the Alliance” may mean Japan no longer accepts military occupation and the assumption that Japan will join each and every US war.
Despite Hatoyama’s clear campaign calls for a more independent Japan, the US government and foreign policy experts claim that the new Japanese government is “inexperienced,” unsure of what it wants, and perhaps not serious about its campaign promises. In fact, I think the US is flipping over Japan’s re-opening Okinawa base discussions, ending the refueling mission in support of the permanent US war effort in Afghanistan, and new overtures to Asia that do not include the US.
There have even been ominous reports of arriving late to a state dinner (the Hatoyamas in Pittsburgh) and skipping a welcome dinner at the Japan Defense Ministry (Robert Gates, US military chief).
It is sad how little change Obama has created. Not so different from Bush’s economic team and his military policies that insist on servile allies and endless foreign wars. But maybe the “stiffening relations” can in the long run reduce some tensions.
On second thought I am not sure this post strayed too far from male vanity. What do you think?