Who gets to play the China card?

A week or so ago, I mentioned that it doesn’t seem like anyone in the American government is analyzing our current relations with Japan. So much seems to be on auto-pilot, mouthing the same tireless expressions[, which are tiresome,] of the past 50 years, when there are a number of issues that need to be looked at.

I don’t want to reblog the whole post, but the idea was simply that we have China to think about. “America” bends over backward for “Japan”, and maybe sometimes we need to step back and say, “No, no. Give us time to think about this.” I think we’re very proactive as “America”, and sometimes it leads to situations where we think we are negotiating with Japan, but in fact we are just negotiating with (and against) ourselves.

Well, apparently some character on the internet who read me took that statement and about five or six other blog posts totally out of context. And I got an e-mail about it, which probably came from the guy–as he’s probably just trying to generate controversy and promote his blog.

China cards? I don’t play China cards. But it got me thinking: Who gets to play the China card? You know very well that the U.S. military negotiators play it all the time. You know that American big businesses in Japan point out how easy it is to locate Asian business in Hong Kong and/or Shanghai. Even Singapore, which doesn’t count of course.

As the guy’s animosity seems to derive from being a JET Programme exchange-uh-EE, I hasten to point out that the China card is well played even by those stateside who want no changes to that dinosaur of a program:

Minoru Makihara, senior corporate adviser and former chairman of Mitsubishi Corp. and chair of the Japan panel, told a news conference that participants noted the importance of fostering Americans familiar with Japan amid growing interest in China among Americans.

[Emphasis added.]

So here is a Japanese business executive playing the China card, saying that if “Japan” does not leave the entire structure of JET in place without any reforms, China’s influence in America will just grow and grow. Then, arguably, Japan will be at a disadvantage.

Who can forget this guy, who played the China card with America just last fall?

This is from when DPJ President Ozawa went to China last fall with a delegation of six hundred. Plus the Emperor, I think. I saw the group picture, where there had to be, yes, about 500 or more people by my estimate. A member of that delegation brought it to an event I attended in town.

After Ozawa’s big show in Beijing, I think China realized that he was just playing a China card, and that’s the reason they started buzzing military craft around Okinawa and the China Sea last spring. People don’t like to be played.

I think it’s always worth repeating that America’s interest in Japan stems from the historical problems that Japan has with China. You just have to think a bit, that the reason “we” are around the region is because, otherwise, Japan has to stand by itself.

I am optimistic about the future of Asia. I think, at some point in the future, everybody gets along and lets old history be just that. Do you think that’s happening in the next five years though? Or ten? No, it would happen with the passing of many years.

So I was just stating plain fact: there is a tension between China and Japan, and America’s role as an ally to Japan can complicate America’s relations with China. This point gets forgotten by many who are licking the honey pot of trans-Pacific dealings between America and Japan.

Now, why some JET in Fukuoka is getting all upset about that is beyond me. I don’t know if the e-mail is the same as the post, and I really don’t bother myself with this kind of thing ordinarily. But it just seemed kind of strange to me why someone would want to twist what I had to say out of context, apparently on about five or six other posts, too. It sounds like it’s a tepido.org.

I have great things to say about the Japanese; the beef is with “Japan”: the people in the Japanese government bureaucracy who aren’t held accountable for their various corruptions, incompetence, and lack of foresight.

“Japan” is always looking for people to see things its way, but “Japan” has a hard time being fair itself. As a commenter on Debito said wonderfully a couple of weeks ago, he’s getting tired of the “what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine” attitude of “Japan”.