Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Clunker of a Year

George Will didn't like the way 2009 turned out any more than Europe did. He also wrote an article about 2009 on the final day of the year. The title said it all – A Clunker of a Year.

Will began his article by talking about Tsutomu Yamaguchi. He survived both atomic bombings and was dying of cancer by the end of 2009.

“Perhaps Tsutomu Yamaguchi will survive 2010,” said Will. “Isn't it pretty to think so?"

As Will anticipated, Yamaguchi died in 2010. The question is why did Will mention this in his column? Perhaps he wasn't happy with Japan.

End of Year, 2009

Lord Weidenfeld of Chelsea wrote an article about 2009 on the last day of the year.

“2009 was certainly not a year of triumphs for mankind nor human kindliness,” he moaned.

In the article, he complained about, among other things, the failure of the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. He blamed Obama for that. He also whined about how America decided against creating a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

In retaliation for those sins, he said the relationship between Europe and America would suffer. He said Britain would soon elect David Cameron (which it did) and henceforth, the relationship between America and Britain would worsen as a result. And he said that Silvio Berlusconi would continue to hang on as prime minister in Italy. Of course, more Berlusconi would mean more political theater and no progress on any issue involving Italy and America. Berlusconi did manage to survive in Italy and there was no progress on any issue involving Italy and America in 2010 that I could see.

In short, Europe was pissed. Boohoo. Sniffle. Sniffle.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Secret N-pact comes to light

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the family of Eisaku Sato, the former Japanese prime minister, had in their possession a secret agreement that he signed with Richard Nixon in 1969. According to this agreement, America would remove its nuclear weapons from Okinawa when she returned the islands to Japan. However, as part of the agreement, Japan agreed to allow America to reintroduce those weapons to Okinawa during times of emergency. The Japanese foreign ministry has denied that this agreement exists.

Van Rompuy throws a temper tantrum

On December 23, the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, met with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. During the meeting, the two of them discussed Afghanistan and the recent COP15 meeting on climate change.

On Afghanistan, Rompuy told Gutman that the situation must improve in 2010 or else Europe will leave Afghanistan. What’s more, Belgium will remove its troops from Afghanistan if a single Belgian gets killed.

As for COP15, Rompuy called the meeting an incredible disaster in which Europe was totally excluded and mistreated. Rompuy told Gutman that multilateral meetings do not work and he demanded that America and Europe come to an agreement on climate change and then meet with China.

In short, Rompuy was pissed.

Boo hoo. Sniffle. Sniffle.

In his diatribe, Rompuy seems to be hinting that America controls the situation in Afghanistan and could improve the situation there if it wanted to. And he seems to believe that were a Belgian soldier to die in Afghanistan, America would be responsible for his death and so in retribution, Belgium would remove its soldiers from Afghanistan.

And his comments on COP15 are further proof that Europe views climate change as a way to restrain the development of emerging nations such as China. That is why he wants Europe and America to come up with a plan and then meet with China – he wants Europe and America to join forces to bully China into submission.

Trash till the end.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ambassador's December 21 Lunch Meeting With Vice Minister Yabunaka

On December 21, 2009, Mitoji Yabunaka, the Japanese Vice Foreign Minister, met with U.S. Ambassador John Roos. According to Yabunaka, while the newspaper editorial boards and the business community had a fairly good understanding of security issues, the general public did not understand those issues very well. Moreover, even the television commentators and the politicians did not have a good understanding of those issues, according to him. He said that it might be worthwhile to educate the politicians and the TV commentators and he even named some of the commentators who should be contacted (I have a feeling Noriko Hama was one of them). Apparently, Yabunaka didn’t think Hatoyama had a good grasp of those issues because he wanted America to go through the basic fundamentals of those issues with Hatoyama.

Given that many of the DPJ officials lacked a proper understanding of the security policy between America and Japan, Yabunaka cautioned against a formal dialogue between America and Japan at this time. Were America and Japan to engage in a formal dialogue, according to Yabunaka, DPJ officials might take a position on a certain issue based on a wrong or incomplete understanding of the situation. As such, Yabunaka recommended America and Japan establish an informal dialogue to discuss the issues between them and to review the overall security strategy in East Asia. He suggested the two sides use an informal process to educate leaders over the course of the next year culminating in the November 2010 visit of President Obama to Japan. That visit would be an opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the alliance in a more positive atmosphere, after having laid the groundwork for the visit during the previous 11 months.

Needless to say, there wasn’t much of a celebration at the meeting in November.

Though the diplomatic cable implies that Hatoyama had little understanding of the security issues related to the alliance, I have a feeling that Hatoyama had a reasonably good understanding of those issues before he became prime minister. The person who didn’t have a good understanding of these issues was me. Going over these issues proved to be very enlightening for myself. I have a feeling that what would unfold over the next year would be as much for my own education as anyone else's.

During this process, my government “made” me believe that Hatoyama was reading the things that I was writing in INDB. This was, apparently, the New Diplomacy way of going over security issues with Hatoyama – by having me write various statements in an Excel spreadsheet which would convey our government’s position on various issues. Every day, the news media would show Hatoyama walking through the prime minister’s residence. On some days, he would grimace at the camera while on other days he would smile and nod his head in approval. My government “made” me believe that this was his way of signaling either approval or disapproval for the things that I wrote. In a way, my government was “making” me perform a type of Kremlinology.

The Decline of the West

The New York Times published an op-ed written by Therese Delpech, a French official at the Atomic Energy Commission of France, called The Decline of the West. In the article, Delpech dismissed the notion that the West was in decline. She claimed that the fear of decline actually helped the West stay on top. She also claimed that the West’s knowledge of history gave it an edge over its competitors.

“Only reflection and memory will give us the power to see the potential for new catastrophes in the violence and disorientation of our time,” she said. “They constitute the first step in avoiding them.”

Delpech has a very pessimistic view of human nature. She said that the world had slipped into a state of “ethical numbness.” She agreed with Immanuel Kant that “nothing straight can be fashioned from the twisted wood of humanity.” According to her, the West has “spent decades trying to comprehend the abyss into which they had plunged.”

She bemoaned the fact that Europe had been unable to convince America of this true nature of humanity.

“That is a conclusion that the Europeans have never really managed to impart to the Americans, whose Garden of Eden seems to be missing a crucial actor: the snake. This absence, if we may be so bold, is especially evident in the Obama administration, which extends its arms to all winds, without fear of storms or dangerous winter drafts.”

At this time, President Obama was busy touting himself as the Pacific President. Apparently, that didn’t go over well with Delpech. When she said the Obama administration “extended its arms to all winds,” I assume she meant that America had tried to embrace East Asia. Delpech implies that America will suffer through “storms and dangerous winter drafts” if it follows this course. Coupled with her belief in the evil nature of humanity, she seems to be either implying that East Asia will do to the West what the West has done to everyone else or that Europe will come after America unless America keeps East Asia at a distance.

This is an extraordinary article. Delpech seems to be admitting that the West is responsible for all the death and destruction that has plagued the world. Not only that, but she also seems to imply that the West has benefited from those disasters.

“The great disasters of the 20th century are all part of our heritage,” according to her.

The word “heritage” refers to something of value passed down from previous generations. If those great disasters are part of the West’s heritage that means that those great disasters are valuable to the West. Furthermore, if the West has passed down those great disasters to its succeeding generations that implies the West owned those disasters in the first place. Delpech seems to be hinting that the West is responsible for them and has benefited from them.

Given that Delpech seems to think that the atrocities of the 20th century have benefited the West and given that she appears to have no morals whatsoever, it is not surprising that Delpech also seems to argue that the West should commit more atrocities.

“Those who have the best tools to make history are also those who have the sharpest awareness of its tragic character,” she said.

She goes on to say that “the future would seem less deeply unstructured if we drew conclusions from” that.

Okay, let’s draw some conclusions from her previous statement. On the surface, current events do appear unstructured. Events seem chaotic and random. History seems to be “just one damn thing after another.” But Delpech is claiming that is untrue, that you can make sense of events. She also claims that people make history and that the people that make history are the people who understand its tragedies. But why would you need to understand the tragedies of history to make history…unless, of course, you need to understand tragedies because you are going to create more tragedies in the future. I think it is reasonable to say that Delpech believes the West has been in control of history. Taken together with the fact that she says the world has slipped into a state of “ethical numbness” and the fact that she has stressed the importance of tragedies, this again implies the West was responsible for all the disasters of the previous century and is soon going to create some more of them.

You may be wondering why a French official would suggest that her country was responsible for the atrocities of the 20th century and then suggest that her country would commit more atrocities in the future. This article is basically a form of terrorism. It was meant to frighten other governments into submission. It really didn’t work. Although she sure seemed smug in this article, in her next article she sings a different tune.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

U.S.-Japan Relations under the DPJ Government

Yoichi Funabashi, the Editor-in-chief of the Asahi Shimbun, spoke at CSIS on December 15, 2009. During his speech, Funabashi said he hoped Japan would stick to the existing relocation plan for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. America made it clear that it wanted to move on to other issues.

“We should get away from discussing Futenma,” said David Hitchcock. “For goodness sake, Futenma is mostly helicopters. What are they going to do against North Korea?”

Mike Green hoped that the DPJ would be able to remove the SDP and Kokumin Shinto from its ruling coalition after the upcoming Upper House election. Apparently, he believed those two parties were the source of the problems that America was having with Japan.

“If we can weather this tough period I think the prospects are pretty positive,” said Green.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. It turns out that Japan wanted something big from America.

“Historically, the United States always has been the inspiration for Japanese renewal and the source of optimism for Japan,” said Funabashi.

Were the Japanese public to learn the truth about the relationship between Japan, China, and America, that would certainly lead to Japanese renewal and optimism. The Japanese public would be able to take pride in all its accomplishments in East Asia. Were the Japanese public to learn the truth, a new era of democracy could be born in Japan, as the public would finally have the tools needed to make decisions, namely, the truth. Unfortunately, Japan does not want to tell the public the truth because neither China nor America want the public to learn the truth. If Japan were to tell the public the truth, China and America would be very angry at Japan. That’s not what Japan wants, so they’re trying to get someone else to do it. So I have to do it. Lucky me.

In the meantime, Japan has apparently decided to waste as much time as possible – on Futenma, on political theater, and on screwing up the reconstruction efforts in the wake of the recent earthquake.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MOFA 'Alliance Hands' Express Frustration at DPJ

To investigate the so called “secret agreements” between Japan and America, the Japanese government summoned a group of its diplomats back to Tokyo to participate in the investigation. The government asked for the participation of these officials because they used to manage the alliance between Japan and America. Presumably, they had some knowledge of these “secret agreements” and their input would be valuable.

On December 10, 2009, three of these officials, Yutaka Arima, Ryo Fukahori, and Takashi Ariyoshi, met with a group of American officials. During the meeting, the Japanese officials expressed their displeasure with the DPJ administration, particularly in regards to their desire to investigate the “secret agreements” and their desire to alter the existing plan to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

According to them, the Hatoyama administration refused to listen to the bureaucrats, meaning, presumably, that the bureaucrats would not be able to make the Hatoyama administration end its investigation or accept the existing relocation plan. However, they believed the administration might change course if the Obama administration were to express its displeasure with the Hatoyama administration publicly. According to Ariyoshi, if the Obama administration failed to express its displeasure publicly, the Hatoyama administration might believe that America was willing to make changes to the relocation agreement. We wouldn’t want that, would we?

The officials did add a caveat, however. They cautioned that although pressuring the Hatoyama administration might work, the strategy could also backfire – it could result in a public backlash that would aid the politicians who wanted to end the alliance between America and Japan.

Fukahori said that individually, each initiative taken up by the Hatoyama administration might not make sense. However, if one were to consider all the initiatives and connect the dots, one could see a trend that was completely contrary to the alliance. This was a concern given that the public did not understand security issues and the importance of moving forward with the existing relocation plan.

Fukahori seems to be implying that – by investigating the “secret agreements” and by re-evaluating the relocation plan – the Hatoyama administration is trying to reveal the truth to the public, namely, that the alliance between America and Japan was only meant to keep Japan and China at odds with each other. Were the public to learn that, obviously, the alliance between Japan and America might forever be altered.

In fact, were an American, in particular a Japanese-American, me, to learn the truth and try to tell the world the truth only to have his government prevent him from doing so by violating his civil liberties and were the American public to discover all this…it would have truly historic consequences.

History ends here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Strong leaders endure criticism, Gorbachev tells Hatoyama

Gorbachev met with Hatoyama in Japan today. During the meeting, Gorbachev told Hatoyama that leaders must stay strong in the face of criticism.


In retrospect, I’m sure that Japan made Hatoyama prime minister because they knew he was soft serve ice cream – all soft and mushy and melts the instant you refer to him as the Tax Evasion King of the Heisei Era.

Pathetic. Coward. Idiot.