On October 21, 2009, the Obama administration threatened Japan, saying there would be serious consequences if Japan refused to accept the existing plan to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
“The hardest thing right now is not China, it’s Japan,” said one State Department official.
According to that official, the problem was the DPJ and its desire to run the government. In previous LDP governments, the LDP let the bureaucracy run the government from behind the scenes.
In fact, I have no doubt that the bureaucracy ran the DPJ government too. But in this administration, the bureaucracy pretended to be “shocked” by the outrageous behavior of the DPJ politicians while secretly making those politicians perform those “shocking” actions.
This little bit of kabuki was intended to preserve the relationships between the Japanese bureaucrats and the American bureaucrats. If the DPJ were ever to lose power and the LDP were to return – a decision that would be made by the Japanese bureaucracy – then the Japanese bureaucrats would be “back” in charge and would be able once again to work cooperatively with the American bureaucrats. On the other hand, if the Japanese bureaucrats themselves adopted a confrontational attitude towards America then America would probably want those bureaucrats removed, just like it wants the DPJ to lose power.
As always, for the people who hold real power, the last thing they want is to be on the line for the decisions they make. Cowards.