John Roos, helping out

So reported the Japan Times, which is giving me a “page load” error, and so no immediate link to the story. It should be here. John Roos has his picture on the top, helping the local villagers in the Tohoku region. It may be part of Operation Tomodachi, which is the U.S. military’s relief effort there.

I want to make a few comments about the background people quoted in the story, several of whom seem to be entrenched, Washington, so-called Japan Hands, who have simply updated Cold War rhetoric about China to fit the 21st century. (Old wine in new bottles.)

It’s 5am in Japan, so maybe Japan Times is just updating its server.

[More later.]

Great! It’s back. Here is the meat I want to go at:

With Japan the second-largest holder of U.S. Treasury bonds, after China, there is also worry on the U.S. side that Japan may be forced to dump some of those bonds to pay for a reconstruction effort that will be in the tens of trillions of yen.

This is silly. Japan owns some $700 billion or so of U.S. treasury bonds. QE2, which the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank is currently undertaking, is buying $600 billion of bonds. The Fed also holds over $1 trillion of mortgage bonds, which, it sounds like, it’s going to amortize.

Even if Japan were to start heavy Treasury selling, there is enough slack in the market to buy up these bonds. We do not need the Japanese to hold these bonds. They hold them because they are a good investment for Japan, and they help to finance Japanese exports to America.

“I’m a little bit worried about these divergent assessments — the Japanese government on the one hand and the U.S. government on the other — about the severity of the crisis,” said Richard Bush, director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at a symposium in Washington. “That may lead to a certain amount of resentment in Japan, that the U.S. lacks confidence in their institutional capacity.”

Another red herring. Are the ministries of Japan really concerned about what Washington thinks of their “institutional capacity”? No, right? They just do whatever they want. Their only concern is if they hit certain trip wires that would either cause bad press in America, or lose the patronage of one of the Pacific Elite fat cats. “Oh, we must be so careful to maintain our good relations with Japan!” is a noble goal. But what is actually going on is more like, “one hand washes the other”.

I don’t think Kan Naoto is going into meetings in a huff, that the U.S. lacks confidence in the ability of the national government to get a handle on Japan’s many problems. I think he is too busy trying to solve the problems. Who might be upset is all the vested interests, for whom all of this change, both now and in the immediate future, is considerably upsetting.

There is also concern in Washington over how China may use the disaster. While Bush said he doubted Beijing would exploit the situation, he added it should be kept in mind that China was continuing to draw closer to Japan.

“China has a strategic interest in weaning Japan away from its reliance on the United States and encouraging Tokyo to be more accommodative to its interests,” he said.

Likewise, do you see any of this going on? Machinating China! Always out to undermine the United States when it comes to its relationship with Japan! Sounds like Cold War stuff right out of the Mao era.

No one holds these guys to the specifics. What exactly would China be doing to exploit the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake situation? How exactly would the victims of the Second Sino-Japanese War like to build a greater partnership with the descendents of the people who came across the Sea of Japan and brutalized and murdered men, women and children, in village after village?

We Americans still remember the 911, which was 3,000 people. Does anyone think China forgot about the years 1937 to 1945?

I don’t like when American officials pretend that the American public is oblivious to Asia Pacific history. So when people start getting quoted on things that just sound silly, it’s like they are smoking revisionist weed or something.

But, you know, we live in this century. It’s great that our military is helping with Operation Tomodachi, and that Ambassador Roos is actually out there meeting real people, and not always ACCJers, people at Hotel Sanno (Tokyo American Club, etc.), military officials, potential college students, and few others.

This is really a good thing, although it’s clear that if it’s really meant to convince Okinawans to accept U.S. military base plans, it’s not being taken for that. Nor should it.