President Obama and Prime Minister Hatoyama to smile and shake hands

The Japan Times is reporting today that the President won’t be discussing the Okinawa controversy the DPJ created ahead of Obama’s visit here this week.

This quote, as translated into English, is particularly revealing:

“There has been a tacit agreement (between the two countries) that silliness, in which the top Japanese and U.S. leaders discuss the issue but can’t decide on anything, should be avoided,” Okada said during a TV Asahi program.

The reality is that the two countries had already agreed, three years ago, to a plan of action. “Tacit”, in English, implies unspoken. So it sounds like the Foreign Secretary is not really saying anything. Or that the United States officials said, sorry, we aren’t discussing this silliness. And now that’s an “agreement” not to discuss the breach.

He [Okada] also said the issue over the Futenma airfield should be resolved by coming up with a solution acceptable to the various parties, including people in Okinawa.

So now it’s an “issue”, but really the issue is that the DPJ is going back on the accord that Japan agreed to in 2006. Reports say it took 11 years to work out the 2006 accord. Eleven years.

I’m just baffled by the new government’s stance on this. I also think it just portends a lot of negative things for American citizens living in Japan. A lot.

And you know how this works: the well-connected will get taken care of. But if you are an Ordinary Joe, like myself, then it’s “uh-oh, watch out!”

I am not a military expert. But I trust that American military experts, in cooperation with defense organs of all the other allied countries in the region, decided that the 2006 accord worked the best.

If the U.S. just evacuates the region, it creates a security gap, doesn’t it? Maybe it doesn’t, but I think that is the long shot. More likely, if the U.S. left Japan, it would be an invitation for the Chinese military to start menacing Taiwan AND Okinawa (which was the vassal Ryuukyuu Kingdom at one time). Probably it would encourage North Korea to make trouble with South Korea.

Any of these developments would be the opening volley in the domination by China of Japan. It’s not like the Domino Theory of the 1960’s, but more like the frog in the heating pot of cold water.

I read the JT article to suggest that the United States isn’t going to discuss Okinawa on the President’s visit, because any reworking of the long-discussed deal would be considered breach by Japan. I think the people in Washington are pissed, and that the whole affair just created a hindrance that gets in the way of other regional issues.

Our prior administration (George W. Bush) did fantasy military policy with the Iraq War, and to some extent in Afghanistan. It’s an expensive and costly exercise, pretending that military reality is different than what is plain on the face of things. So I wonder if the Hatoyama Government is also engaged in that kind of believing things that aren’t quite what they are.

[Update: I guess what makes this ongoing story fascinating to me, is the number of times in four-plus years where I’ve thought a matter was settled, only to have it walked back on one issue or another. Or where things previously agreed to suddenly become forgotten. Or where an outside objective reference is completely ignored.

In four years, I can’t help but conclude that it’s a sign of disrespect. Sure, these kind of things go on in America and throughout the West. And, sure, a lot of Japanese people fall victim, by other Japanese, to the same kind of things.

But overt disrespect is frowned upon in this culture. So covert disrespect becomes the way it’s done. And the treatment of the Futenma matter just fits the pattern so well. It’s hard not to conclude that one of Hatoyama’s first orders of business was to stick it to Barack Obama. Why? God only knows. But I think it’s this myth around here that somehow America is “running” things from behind the curtain.

Oh really? If America’s running things, I don’t think everyday Americans would have half the troubles we run into here. Unless we’re a part of the decoy.]

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