From Ginowan to Camp Schwab or nothing

The Japan Times today reports on the U.S. response to recent overtures by the new Japanese government about breaching Japan’s 2006 redeployment accord for the U.S. troops based here.

A Defense Department spokesman basically said, “no way”.

According to the Times:

“Operationally, it is unworkable,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. “And so you cannot consolidate the air force operations, the marine corps operations onto that facility and do all the things that we need to do to provide for the defense of Japan.

“So that is not a suitable replacement for Futenma,” he said.

Noting the United States has weighed the Futenma-Kadena merger option before, Morrell said the conclusion was that “it simply does not work.”

The painful thing about this politicking is that the United States already went through protracted negotiations with the previous Japanese government. So now, we are being asked to re-negotiate again. And this is so typical in some corners of Japanese society. Tough negotiation, and then, well: more negotiation. It makes the people who take part in the exercise feel like fools. Is this how the new “Dai Tou A” with the other Eastern Powers is going to go in the future?

Do you really think that modern China would put up with this shit even one instance?

Living next to a social nuisance is no picnic. An airport, an incinerator plant spewing toxins, a prison with weak controls, a dump—these things, yeah, the people around them are going to grumble.

So the people in Ginowan had a right to complain. I have never been there, but if you look at the Japan Times picture, it probably was like living by a very busy airport.

But in the end, this was likely Japan’s fault, or at least Japan’s decisions.

So there was protracted negotiations in the earlier 2000’s about moving the Futenma base to Nago, a relatively less populated area on Okinawa. And redeploying Marine troops to Guam. This was going to cost money so Japan agreed to pay. They didn’t pay very much on mutual defense for close to 30 years between the ’60’s and the ’90’s, and so it’s fair to ask.

Imagine what the States could have done with the money it spent here on mutual defense, back home? So a redeployment should be a Japan cost.

All this got worked out. Then DPJ comes along and they want to breach. I’m still floored by this—and the fact that they made it such an early issue.

Even more, because it sounds so much like the bad side of things I’ve seen in my 4 1/2 years here. There are good things of course. But bad, too. History doesn’t repeat itself, someone somewhere said, but it does rhyme.

Minshuto won because they made solemn promises to the people of Japan. They produced a Manifesto which was widely distributed. You could even read the English translation on the internet.

And there were many controversial items in it, focusing on everything from cash support for families to free high schools (public high school like America has had since about 1880). To an effective pension system and fair labor laws that are more than pretty words.

The country has a ton of problems that were never well addressed by the ousted Liberal Democrats.

One of my heroes of the new regime is Minister Akira Nagatsuma, a/k/a “Mister Nenkin”. He basically got stuck with all the heavy lifting. Oversee the massive pension problem and handle labor issues and handle health issues.

So this man is the one who is charged with doing all the work of the Seiken Koutai (Regime Change), it looks like.

The rest of them, frankly, seem to be farting around the last seven weeks. Like the Old Regime. Here it’s one worker (Nagatsuma), and a lot of others off doing their own thing. That’s the Japanese government right now. That’s what people voted in.

I don’t want to prejudge, but Mizuho Fukushima in particular is turning out to be a big disappointment. As a price of her rump minority party joining a coalition, the Social Democrats (Shamin-tou), with the much larger Minshuto, Ms. Fukushima got to be:

Minister in charge of Consumer Affairs

Minister in charge of fixing the Falling Birth Rate (which means, at the least, Japanese women have to get pregnant more).

For the life of me, I can’t see where moving a Ginowan military airstrip on Okinawa is going to protect consumers. I can’t even fathom how it will make women have more children, unless the presence of G.I.’s was cutting that down? Usually, these guys get in trouble for trying to get some action off base. Not the other way around.

Have there been any new consumer initiatives announced since mid-September? No. Right?

Anything about the falling birth rate? No. Right?

You see, this is the work. Complaining about America in the context of a leftist fantasy history almost as bad as Tamogami’s right wing one, is not work.

What’s worse is without American-inspired reforms of the Occupation era, Mizuho Fukushima wouldn’t even be a lawyer. Wouldn’t even be an elected official. Probably serving the tea instead. And contributing to the birth rate. That’s how the guys running Japan before America showed up on the scene used to plan it out for women.

So it all becomes a dog chasing its tail. Or the story of the Little Red Hen, in a way.

A bunch of people looking to avoid the work, while there is one guy actually doing the job that he was appointed to do. The rest of ’em are sticking their noses in other’s business (maybe Kamei is the top guy on that(?) more than Ms. Fukushima).

I worked in a Japanese company like that once. And an American one, too, as a matter of fact.