Secretary Clinton turns up the heat on Prime Minister Hatoyama

The Washington Post reports that Secretary of State Clinton called the Japanese ambassador in earlier this month to discuss the Futenma situation.

What looks to be happening is that Washington isn’t interested in playing along with whatever the game has been going on with the new DPJ government here. The Post points out that there have been several small slights between the two nations since the Hatoyama Government came to power in September. And a series of unusual diplomatic moves that suggest Japan wants to send a message to Washington.

However, what’s really happening is that the Far East Asian allies are becoming concerned about Japan’s unusual moves. Rather than inspire confidence, the Hatoyama Government is making other capitals in the region nervous about what exactly the unusual outreaches are supposed to mean.

I think the Obama Administration is playing it just right. There doesn’t seem to be much positive behind a lot of the double-talk coming from the new government here. Rather than up the stakes–which maybe is what some foreign policy dimwit within DPJ wants–Washington is simply expressing concern

The Hatoyama Government’s popularity is going down—going from 71% down to 48% by one poll. In just three months.

Here in Tokyo, I can only see this as the result of making a lot of promises over the summer campaign, and then proceeding to table a large number of them and taking minimal action on the rest. What’s worse, is that they took the least significant of policy actions, the “more equal” relationship with America, and made that the centerpiece of the opening moves by the government. Rather than all the other Manifesto promises that actually had an impact on everyone’s daily lives.

As the Hatoyama Government continues not to deliver on the main items in the Manifesto, I foresee the popularity of the government continuing to go down—possibly into the 30’s.

I think the typical man or woman on the street was much more interested in the bread-and-butter issues, and less on picking fights that destabilize the region and make other regional allies question how stable Japan is as a partner in the absence of Uncle Sam close by.