The new Kan Government and DPJ commentary I like the best is coming from Shisaku, a blog by Michael Cucek.
For example, yesterday’s entry (linked above) discussed the question of whether anyone stateside understands the tensions that different political groups have with American policy towards Japan. Answer: of course, and it’s mostly people in academia who are studying contemporary Japan.
Here provides a link to the National Bureau of Asian Research forthcoming bulletin (July 2010–but you can read it in June 2010!) about contemporary U.S.-Japan politics, with the DPJ settling in.
This is serious stuff. As I comment on his blog, a lot of what passes for discussion about American and Japanese relations is really just parroting a worldview of whatever the expat elites here need to keep their good thing going. So much of what is said by “America” in Tokyo is done in a language as if it’s still the postwar Showa era, and—surprise!—Japan has rebuilt itself into a peaceful modern nation. One that must critically rely on us militarily, and whose brahmins we should thus reward with the sweet honey of trans-Pacific trade.
Oh, and of course, then some well-connected Americans will be taken care of in the process.
But there is also the everyday Japan, and the everyday American expat, who are just not any part of that affair. And the U.S.-Japan thing just doesn’t look the same way as it does to the top guys. As I’ve said, I think Japan’s problems are mostly domestic, and the the Minshuto voter last summer was focused on these domestic problems when he/she hit the lever. It wasn’t about Futenma or the States. That issue was only later used by Hatoyama and Ozawa as an excuse not to deliver on promises made that would be very hard to deliver on.
But among the American expat elite, the shift to Minshuto has caused a lot of anxieties because it indicated that their special deals and preferences, the nice little lives they’ve made for themselves here, may be things that are called into question (or subject to debate) in the future. Like, “how dare they make us have to worry about the good things we’ve set up for ourselves!” This is, however, the nature of change, and especially regime change.