Saturday, December 27, 2008

Richard Armitage: Bush administration lacked accountability

The Asahi Shimbun interviewed Richard Armitage on December 27, 2008. Armitage said two interesting things in that interview.

“Usually when a new administration comes in--and I mean back to when (Richard) Nixon came in--Japanese officials show up and they tell the president and secretary of state what they can’t do,” said Armitage. “We cannot do that because of political constipation.”

In this quote, Richard Armitage basically explains political theater. Japan can’t do anything because of “political constipation.” Political constipation is presumably another word for political theater.

The other interesting quote had to do with North Korea.

“The Obama administration has got to repair the semi-torn fabric of the U.S.-Japan relationship and the semi-torn fabric of the U.S.-Korea relationship,” said Armitage. “We’re not apart, but the North Koreans have driven a wedge between us. The North Koreans have made Japan the odd man out. This is part of their strategy. We’ve played into their hands. When President Bush made the decision to delist North Korea from the states which support terrorism, I’m sure the North Koreans were throwing themselves a party at Pyongyang. They win, we lose, and they get a bonus. What's the bonus? Anxiety in Japan, some detriment to the U.S.-Japan relationship. I was not in favor of the way the abductee issue was handled in the last several months. So I think that the decision to delist was a bad one.”

This shows that Japan was “angry” with America for removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. In reality, however, this was another example of a zero sum game. North Korea and Japan were actually working together. America was in a no win situation. On the one hand, America could delist North Korea which would make Japan angry. On the other hand, if America refused to delist North Korea then North Korea would have presumably continued along its path of hostile behavior.

As a side note, though Armitage denies it, I bet he supported the decision to delist North Korea. In the good cop / bad cop game that we like to play with other nations, Richard Armitage is our good cop for Japan, meaning that, on the surface, he appears to support the Japanese position on issues like North Korea. His true feelings are probably much different, however.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mission accomplished

“The historical mission of the LDP has been completed,” said Koichi Kato, the secretary general of the LDP.

The LDP was created in 1955 and remained in power for the rest of the Cold War. The Japan Socialist Party was its primary opposition. Presumably, the “historical mission” of the LDP was to keep the communists at bay and keep Japan aligned with the West throughout the Cold War. Once the Cold War ended, the “historical mission” of the LDP had ended.

Perhaps it is time for something new...


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rahm Emanuel on the Opportunities of Crisis

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” said Rahm Emanuel. “And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before. I think America as a whole in 1973 and 1974 – and it’s not just my view but obviously the administration – missed the opportunity to deal with the energy crisis that was before us. For a long time our energy policy came down to cheap oil.”

If America needed to improve its energy efficiency, it could do no better than look to Japan for help. As the Japanese ambassador, Ichiro Fujisaki, noted, the Japanese economy is twice as energy efficient as the American economy.

Perhaps if America put a little pressure on Japan it might spill its secrets…

Or not.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Aso May Be LDP 'Funeral Director' as Election Delayed

“Aso will become the LDP’s funeral director instead of saving it,” said Hirotaka Futatsugi, a political commentator.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama wins the election

On November 4, the America people chose Barack Obama to become their next president. While the Japanese public welcomed the selection of Obama, the Japanese government had some reservations. They believed that America might try to make the Obama administration a repeat of the Clinton administration.

“Obama’s win causes a large degree of uncertainty for Japan,” said one Japanese official.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Europeans back Obama, Asians like McCain

The Japan Times published an op-ed written by Dominique Moisi on October 28, 2008. In that article, Moisi argued that Europeans supported Barack Obama while Asians supported John McCain. The Bush administration was not popular in Europe. That administration had made Europe somewhat leery of Republicans. By contrast, the countries of Asia did not have the same negative feelings towards the Bush administration. Many of those nations did quite well during that administration.

“A majority of Asian elites are awaiting the growing possibility of an Obama victory with some bewilderment and even apprehension,” said Moisi.

According to him, Europeans supported Obama because they wanted him to transform the image of the West.

“It is a noble hope, but also a dangerous one, for dreams can easily turn into nightmares,” said Moisi. “That might very well happen if America’s next president fails to redress the financial and economic threats facing his country.”

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Financial Crisis Spreads to Emerging Nations

“International banks, because of their own problems, won’t lend to us,” said Jung Hyun-jin, an official at a South Korean bank. “We don't face a solvency problem. We face a liquidity problem.”

“We are collateral damage in a crisis that is not our doing,” said Park Yung-chul, a professor at Korea University. “We live in an unfair world.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Reading is hard

The Japanese language is written using the Chinese character system which, in Japan, is called kanji. In order to read a Japanese newspaper, you need to have memorized at least 2,000 different Chinese characters. Some people have a hard time doing this. Apparently, Taro Aso is one of these people. On October 12, 2008, Taro Aso gave a speech at Gakushuin University. It did not go well. Aso mispronounced several words during the speech.

Instead of saying, “It is unprecedented that Japanese and Chinese leaders have visited each other so frequently,” Taro Aso said, “It is unprecedented that Japanese and Chinese leaders have visited each other in a ‘cumbersome’ manner like this.”

Once again, the media pilloried Aso.

“Prime Minister Taro Aso may want to set aside his comic books and cut down on the bar-hopping in exchange for some kanji tutoring,” said the Japan Times.

“The phrase ‘kanji test’ should scare Prime Minister Taro Aso,” said the Yomiuri Shimbun.

People started referring to Aso as KY. In the past, the initials KY stood for kuki yomenai, which literally means “can’t read the air” and is used to describe someone who doesn’t understand what is going on around them. But now, after kanji-gate, people started using the initials KY to represent kanji yomenai – can’t read kanji – and they slapped that label on Taro Aso.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shoichi Nakagawa goes off

“I said what the IMF did 10 years ago was not welcomed,” said Shoichi Nakagawa, the Japanese Finance Minister. “I think my comments were well-received.”

Ten years ago, during the Asian Financial Crisis, the IMF made the countries of Southeast Asia raise their interest rates and lower their government spending. You can guess what happened to their economies after they took those actions.

This time around, with a financial crisis in Europe and America, do you think the West would take the advice it gave East Asia a decade ago?


Did I mention that the defining characteristic of the West is hypocrisy? Oh, not yet, huh? Well, I will.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Look out below

“The panic and the fear we’re seeing is mind-blowing,” said Matt McCall, the president of Penn Financial Group. “It looks like the market is pricing in a depression.”

Monday, October 6, 2008

Whatever you do, don't panic!

Jim Cramer tells his listeners not to panic. Oh, and one more thing – the Dow might fall to 7,700. But don’t panic. Really.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An exclusive conversation with Warren Buffett

On October 1, 2008, Charlie Rose interviewed Warren Buffett.

“This really is an economic Pearl Harbor,” said Buffett. “That sounds melodramatic but I've never used that phrase before and this really is one.”

Looks like someone was trying to send a message to Japan.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Gaffe-prone Nakayama quits Cabinet

The Aso administration started off with a bang, as one of the members of his cabinet called the teacher’s union a cancer, claimed that the citizens of Japan did not like foreigners, angered ethnic minorities by claiming that Japan was ethnically homogenous, and lashed out at the locals near Narita Airport, blaming them for the problems with the expansion of the airport. He had to resign only four days into the Aso administration. From there, things only went downhill for Taro Aso. The media hounded him right from the start. They made fun of him for going to expensive bars after work, claiming Aso was out of touch with the average Japanese worker. With the economy in trouble, and the media attacking him, Aso decided to delay the election and instead focus on the economy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Don't Keep Talking Happy Talk

At the start of the financial crisis, the American media made things worse by doing whatever they could to scare people.

“Calling this a meltdown is like crying ‘fire’ in an inferno,” said Daniel Gross.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Taro Aso Takes Over

On September 24, 2008, Taro Aso became 59th Prime Minister of Japan, replacing Yasuo Fukuda. During his term, the press gave him a nickname – Manga Brain, due to his life long love of comic books. Japanese comic book characters often act silly and ridiculous. Of course, Japanese politicians also like to act silly and ridiculous, and when it comes to that sort of behavior, no one could outdo Taro Aso. If Japan wanted a politician who could humiliate himself in public and thus avoid having the political capital to do the things that America wanted, it could find no better candidate than Taro Aso. With his life long commitment to reading comic books, you could say that Taro Aso had been studying all his life for his upcoming role. He did not disappoint.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy

On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection after the government refused to bail out the company. The collapse of Lehman Brothers left its creditors with significant losses. One of its creditors, the Reserve Primary Fund, a huge money market fund, said it would break the buck, meaning that the fund had lost money and could not fully pay back its investors. This set off a panic. Investors started withdrawing money from all money market funds. The credit markets collapsed. Both investors and financial institutions knew that Lehman wasn’t the only Wall Street firm with solvency issues. The entire American financial system faced a crisis of confidence. No one wanted to lend to anyone else. Loan yields soared through the stratosphere. Businesses and consumers could no longer afford to get loans. The global economy started to collapse.

Our government wanted this to happen. It wanted to use the crisis to put pressure on other governments. However, I don’t think events unfolded in the way they imagined.


Bow down. Bow down.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Conspiracy Coverage

For reasons that only my government understands, on June 25, I created a website called and on July 18, I published the one and only article that would go on that website.

That article was about the surge in Iraq. I argued that the violence in Iraq did not decrease because of the surge in the number of U.S. troops. Instead, I argued the reduction in violence occurred for three reasons – our efforts to negotiate with Iran, our efforts to negotiate with Syria, and our efforts to bring the Sunnis back into the political process.

I still don’t know why my government had me write this article. It’s probably not a coincidence that President Obama began his administration trying to engage countries like North Korea and Iran in negotiation. Presumably, my government had me write the article in an effort to support that policy of “engagement.”

In retrospect, I would have written a different article had I known then what I know now. What was missing in that article was the support for the insurgency from outside the Middle East, in particular, from Europe. While adding an insignificant number of troops should not have lowered the violence in Iraq, in reality, adding those troops was important because Europe wanted us to do that. They would not have cooperated with us otherwise. Europe wants to maintain the myth that our military strength is effective.

And the reason why Europe started cooperating with America during the surge is because America started to put some distance between itself and Japan. There is nothing that Europe fears more than an alliance between America and East Asia, as that alliance would exclude them. While the Koizumi administration and the Bush administration seemed to get along, once the Abe administration took over, the relationship between America and Japan seemed to go down the toilet, much to the delight of Europe, I’m sure. That is probably the main reason why the situation in Iraq improved.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Obama's message to Europe

“The border-crossing networks and communities that technology spawns call for a new diplomacy,” said Roger Cohen, a reporter for the New York Times, on July 6, 2008.

This “New Diplomacy” involved having citizens – such as me – disclose secret information on the Internet.

I never agreed to do this. The U.S. government has ways of placing thoughts and ideas into a person’s mind. They did this to me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

George H. W. Bush

PBS aired a biography of George H. W. Bush. At the end of the show, Barbara Bush talked about what it felt like to lose the 1992 election. She called the loss disappointing. But surprisingly, she implied that there was a silver lining.

“I now think that we were saved the four most miserable years of our life,” said Mrs. Bush. “I think the press would have been all over him, worse than ever. And I think the Congress -- he never had a Congress, Senate or House. They would have just clobbered him. Maybe Newt saved us. Maybe. Miserable four years.”

This quote is important because it proves that the scandals that plagued the Clinton administration were nothing more than political theater. In this quote, Mrs. Bush is basically saying that her husband would have gone through the same thing had he won the election. It proves that the scandals of the Clinton administration had little to do with Bill Clinton but had a lot to do with the strategy our government wanted to employ over that eight year time span.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Politics of Extortion

On March 15, as part of the New Diplomacy, my government “made” me create a website called the Politics of Extortion. Over the next few months, I would be busy writing articles for that website. Most of those articles explained why the Bush administration sucked, and so in one of the final articles I told everyone to vote for Obama.


Sorry about that.

My government made me do it.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Man Between War and Peace

On March 5, Esquire published an interview with William Fallon, who at that time was in charge of U.S. Central Command. In the interview, Esquire asked him if the return of Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan would improve the situation there. In response, Fallon shook his head and said, “Better forget that.”

Less than two months later, Bhutto was assassinated. Based on Fallon’s response, it appears that America knew Bhutto would be assassinated.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Truthers Taking Over Japan?

During a Diet session, Yukihisa Fujita, a member of the Upper House, argued that the U.S. government has not been telling the truth about what happened on 9/11. He argued that a plane did not hit the Pentagon and he argued that explosives were used to demolish 7 World Trade Center.