Did Washington really bring down Hatoyama? Or was it other things?

I was reading Daniel Sneider in Slate. According to Sneider,

This marks the first time a Japanese government has fallen over U.S.-Japan security issues since Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi was forced to step down in the wake of massive demonstrations against the conservative government’s decision to ram through the passage of a revised security treaty in 1960. Currently, the Japanese public blames Hatoyama and the DPJ for mismanaging the alliance. It is a narrative that the Japanese mass media has been pounding away at for months, and there is some truth to it. But eventually, if not immediately, the Japanese public is likely to notice that the nation’s principal ally, the United States, was intimately involved in, if not directly responsible for, the downfall of the Japanese prime minister.

(Emphasis added.)

Notice the construct, “eventually, if not immediately”. In reality, the Japanese public has been aware of America’s role in DPJ soap opera for months and months now. What makes it hard convincing non-Japanese of is that the controversies surrounding Futenma Air Base relocation was just one of the elements that turned the general public off to the Hatoyama Government.

As I’ve been blogging, there are a number of areas where it seemed the former Prime Minister was just cutting loose of what had been promised in that Manifesto last summer. What promises weren’t outright broken or crises dialed down seemed to have been shifted off to a committee—without even updates.

To me, it really looked like Hatoyama and the real puppet master, DPJ chairman Ozawa had no better plan for governing than simply to win last August, and that somehow that would take care of everything. To me, Futenma was at first a convenient excuse to avoid some fo the Manifesto, and maybe a signal to America that the DPJ government wanted to do things differently than what LDP had done.

It hardly looks like Robert Gates prompted the dispute. From bits and pieces I’ve seen, I think what actually happened was that the new government had every right to ask for modifications to the realignment agreement–but the channels and protocols were spelled out. And either Hatoyama and/or Ozawa didn’t follow them, which caught the U.S. officials by surprise. That, in turn, raised red flags in the Defense Department, and Gates went off.

With the issue on the table, that simply encouraged Mizuho Fukushima and the Social Democratic Party—who now neither major party will ever trust—to keep pounding away on their pet issue of total withdrawal of stationed American forces from Okinawa.

So then:

nothing about pensions;

nothing about civil service reform;

no new initiatives at labor reform beyond some tinkering
with the Worker Dispatch Law;

no explanation about what the party could do in place of not getting rid of toll roads, as promised;

the child allowance turned out to be coupled with the elimination of a child deduction, and phased in;

no sense of any change in the power structure of Japan, except that Ozawa was calling the shots from behind the scenes;

so in general, nobody felt there was really very much of a Regime Change (Seiken Koutai) at all. It was more like the Tanaka faction of the old LDP was in charge, and for some reason Mizuho Fukushima was given whatever political capital DPJ as a party had earned last summer. Meanwhile, true or not, the real prime minister just looked like he was in over his head.

Now, for however all of that could have been America’s fault, I don’t see it. Objectively–objectively—it looks like the DPJ made a lot of promises to win the election last summer, and then proceeded to do very little of the program. And that pissed the Japanese general public off. (Because the people here have had it.)

Mr. Ozawa had this little power spat going on with his ex-buddies in the LDP for at least the last 15 years. He finally gets the better of them, and he uses the time to sit there as, like, some sort of king in the background. Probably doing a lot grunting and going “yes” “no” to a bunch of low-level decisions that should have been delegated within the hierarchy, but somehow in Japan never are.

I have my doubts whether the Futenma relocation is, in all ways, the correct plan. But after 9 months of listening to people have no other credible plan but expect for others to live in their political fantasies, I have to hand it to Kan Naoto to take the job of prime minister.