Sunday, March 4, 2007

Yomiuri on Sunday

A couple articles caught my eye in today's edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun, both of which appear to be unavailable online. (Articles from Sunday's paper never seem to be posted online.)

The first was an interview with US Japan hand Michael Green, focused on the "comfort women" resolution, the title of which summarizes the interview fairly well: "Leave 'comfort women' to the historians." The points made by Green are more or less the same points I made in two previous posts on the congressional resolution. He argues, "The US Congress's involvement in this issue is a big mistake. In particular, for the Committee on Foreign Affairs there is a pileup of problems that should be dealt with, like North Korea's human rights violations and the challenge of a rising China." He also attributed Representative Honda's eagerness to push for this resolution to Koreans resident in California, as well as to the entanglement of North Korea-sponsored anti-Japanese and anti-American NGOs.

Published on the same page is an article discussing the outline of contemporary US-Japan-China strategic triangle, with reference to the new Armitage-Nye Report. I mention the article because I found an interesting phrase contained within: "Kim Jong Hill [キム・ジョン・ヒル]." The "Hill" referred to is, of course, Christopher Hill, US assistant secretary of state and representative at the six-party talks. This is the first use I've seen of such a phrase in English or Japanese, and a quick Google search revealed nothing. It certainly made me laugh, but there's a bit of truth in the quip.

In some ways, Hill -- and the agreement he helped forge in Beijing -- may be as indirectly harmful to Japan's interests as Kim is directly harmful, because the six-party agreement, essentially made between the US and China over Japan's head, forces Japan to choose between taking a stand on principle and isolating itself, or assenting to an agreement that does little to secure its interests. Of course, it's not really fair for Japan to blame Hill or the US -- the Bush administration is simply looking out for what it perceives to be US national interests.

Japan has no one to blame for its less-than-ideal decision except the Abe Cabinet, which has seemingly focused on the abductions issue to the exclusion of all else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank for your post.

Unfortunately, Mr Green is quite uninformed. Indeed, neither he nor anyone he knows well was involved in the Comfort Women resolution. NO foreign government was in anyway involved. If the Chinese or North Koreans in any form had showed up they would have been shown the door. The South Koreans have wisely, and surprisingly, stayed away from it.

Sadly, his comments show a lack of understanding of the American political process and the problems he has created. The resolution is not a demand or a law. A resolution is a suggestion. This resolution is a suggestion because of deep concern on Capitol Hill about human rights, interenational law, woman's rights, and stability in Northeast Asia.

Amnesty International and the other NGO involved would deeply resent the implication that they are supported by any foreign government. Both are very very independent and very very pro-American. Mr Green's comments smack of the worst kind of McCarthyism.

It is wrong to call it a history issue. The Comfort Women is among the many unresolved historical issues still having a profound impact on regional relations. Cooperation and stability is fundamental to ther success of the 2 Party Talks and to overall security. The US Congress has every right to be concerned about how its major ally in Asia represents itself, especially to other US allies like South Korea, Australia, and Singapore. In terms or women's rights this issue has very contemporary resonance.

Two critical words are in the resolution: responsibility and unequivocal. Go look. These are the attributes that the US needs from Japan for a firm alliance. Right now, despite what Mr Green says, there is no alliance.

Mr Abe's comments on comfort women, in public, on March 1 (Korean holiday) firmly squashed any defense Japan or Mr Green might have. It was a caluculated political statement to poke at both the US and Korea. The heart of the resolution is regional reconciliation, and Mr Abe successfully ended that.

The communities involved are the Asian American, the human rights, the women's rights, and international law groups.

Quite a number of prominent and respected Japan scholars actually worked on the resolution and more have written in their support. All however know the danger of being identified.

If Japan is crafting its "defense" by using Mr Green to accuse his colleagues of being agents of North Korea, then Mr. Green may well want to give some thought to the goals of his handlers. And Japan may want to give some thought to the kind of advice it is getting from its paid "friends." Thus far, it has been all bad.

May I be so bold to urge you to read all the testimonies?