Historic issues loom for Hatoyama and Obama
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
Japan’s new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, faces his first diplomatic test this week when he meets President Barack Obama in New York as the two allies grapple with disagreements that investors fear could damage ties.
The only investors I can think of the meeting might upset are those heavily into war toys.
Hatoyama will also seek a high profile for Japan at a U.N. climate change conference by pledging ambitious targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and offering more environmental help to developing nations.
Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which trounced its long-dominant conservative rival in an August election, has vowed to forge a more equal partnership with Washington, setting goals such as revising deals on U.S. forces based in Japan…
Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said last week he wanted to resolve a row over how to ease the burden of U.S. military bases on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa within the first 100 days of the new administration.
“Ease the burden”? What a polite way to say “time to shove off, sailor”.
It is disagreements such as those that concern investors. A Reuters survey of 33 financial market traders and analysts last month showed a third saw strained ties with Washington as one of the key risks for Japan.
I love analysts who believe Asia still revolves around a United States fixed in the time of the Korean War. There really are good reasons why companies like Toyota have major commercial centers in Germany and China. It ain’t just the food. These are centers of economic growth that have been surpassing the guesses of “analysts” for a spell.
As the only nation to have suffered nuclear attacks, Hatoyama has said it is Japan’s “moral mission” to strive for a nuclear-free world. At the same time, Japan relies on the U.S. arsenal to protect it from regional threats such as unpredictable neighbor North Korea..
That last sentence must be leftover from a speechwriter for Chiang Kai-Shek around, say, 1954. And just as out of touch with the real world.
The questions are real. And there are many more. Most stem from protocols designed in the era of McArthur and our occupation forces. The Japanese are overdue at shrugging off conforming to rules delivered from the White House.