コックピットの中の猿 ― 2010/01/08 16:54
Bureaucrats who once ran the country like the autopilot on a jumbo airliner now openly complain that monkeys (politicians) are in the cockpit.
Focus on Policy, Not Politics
By VICTOR D. CHA
Published: January 7, 2010
TOKYO — There is a new sheriff in town. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Ichiro Ozawa, secretary of the Democratic Party of Japan, are breaking the half-century of conservative rule by the Liberal Democrat Party. But the problem is they lack a clear direction.
Bureaucrats who once ran the country like the autopilot on a jumbo airliner now openly complain that monkeys (politicians) are in the cockpit. Normally polite and serene establishment types now pound the table in anger, and in full view of foreigners, over Mr. Hatoyama’s incompetence and deride the D.P.J., a coalition of socialist and liberal politicians who through their own ineptness once ensured that Japan would be forever seen as a one-party democracy.
But now, “citizen’s committees” in the new government publicly call bureaucrats to task as they slash budgets and redistribute resources. Mr. Hatoyama is wresting power from every corner of the bureaucracy but he has done nothing with his party’s new found clout, effectively causing the entire government to grind to a halt.
This is the biggest political change in Japan in many decades; one that has rattled the foundations of the stable, predictable U.S.-Japan alliance.
The immediate issue for Washington and Tokyo has been the implementation of a $26 billion base relocation agreement, a critical portion of which is to relocate a Marine Corps Air Station in Futenma to a less populated part of Okinawa. In other signs of resistance, Mr. Hatoyama announced during his meeting with President Obama in November that Japan would no longer provide Japanese Navy ships for fresh water and refueling for U.S. warships operating in support of Afghanistan operations. Moreover, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Singapore, Mr. Hatoyama called for a vision of an East Asia community that excluded the United States.
In December, Mr. Ozawa, the D.P.J. power broker, ordered the imperial household to break protocol and allow Vice President Xi Jinping of China to meet with the emperor to shore up ties with the senior Chinese leader. Later that month, Iran’s national security secretary was given red carpet treatment.
Is Japan rewriting the terms of the U.S.-Japan alliance? Probably not. One gets the sense of a new government trying to define an identity that is different from its wholly pro-American conservative predecessors, but certainly not one that is anti-American.
Domestic political calculations play a role in that the government needs to appease about 10 socialists (who are anti-American) until it can pass its budget, and then must focus on winning an absolute majority in the next legislative elections in July. The unfortunate victim of this confluence of political forces is the U.S. base agreement, as Mr. Hatoyama and Mr. Ozawa delay real decisions for vote calculations.
But Tokyo needs to realize that time is not on its side. What has resulted from Mr. Hatoyama’s failure to enunciate a clear strategy or action plan is the biggest political vacuum in over 50 years. And the problem with such vacuums is that every statement or action can be taken out of context and propel U.S.-Japan relations in unpredictable directions. In this context, Mr. Hatoyama’s statements about an East Asia community minus the U.S. or its red carpet treatment of Iran start to deplete the reservoir of trust and goodwill.
Amid this vacuum, Mr. Ozawa took 140 politicians to Beijing last month to share toasts and smiles with President Hu Jintao, making an otherwise welcome event in regional relations look like a deliberate poke at Washington.
Operating without strategic clarity can have costs beyond the loss of trust and political goodwill. In 2002, for example, Roh Moo-hyun was elected president of South Korea amid a groundswell of anti-American sentiment. Like Mr. Hatoyama, he made inflammatory statements about being independent of the U.S. alliance, but had no real vision behind them. This led to the worst of both worlds — angry relations with allies, but no real alternate strategy. Moreover, the crisis of trust in the alliance precipitated a drop in market confidence among foreign investors and massive transfers of currency abroad by South Korean companies until the situation stabilized.
Mr. Hatoyama and Mr. Ozawa need to learn from this experience. They must elucidate an economic strategy and an alliance action plan. Otherwise the costs could be far worse than hurt feelings on either side of the Pacific.
Victor D. Cha is director of Asian Studies at Georgetown and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He served as director for Japan and Korean affairs on the National Security Council from 2004 to 2007.
_ とおる ― 2010/01/08 20:23
_ トンチンカン ― 2010/01/08 22:30
_ Y-SONODA ― 2010/01/09 11:11
_ こうの ― 2010/01/09 19:07
_ こうの ― 2010/01/09 19:14
_ isaacpapa ― 2010/01/10 00:32
_ Y-SONODA ― 2010/01/11 01:07