Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Will bullying have consequences?

Ambassador Schieffer has criticized, yet again, the DPJ's opposition to the extension of the MSDF refueling mission, this time in a speech at Japan's National Press Club.

"...I think if Japan stops doing this on a permanent basis," he said, "I think it would be sending a very bad message to the international community and to terrorists, because I think it would be saying that Japan is opting out of the war on terror for whatever reason." [The above link is to full text of the speech from the US Embassy in Japan.]

Once again, Ambassador Schieffer is given an opportunity to moderate his position and appear slightly less overweening, and once again, he chose to emphasize Japan's international responsibilities (and its purported alliance responsibilities) over Japanese democracy.

Is the ambassador, whether under orders from the White House or not, deliberately trying to make life harder for the Fukuda government as it tries to maneuver the new bill on the refueling mission to passage? Does Ambassador Schieffer think that reminding the Japanese government over and over again of the "very bad message" it will send if it brings its ships home ("If the MSDF stops giving gas to warships, the terrorists win!") will somehow ensure the smooth passage of the new law?

I suspect that with each statement the ambassador makes reiterating the (well known) US position on the anti-terror law, the resolve of LDP members weakens ever so slightly (and the determination of DPJ members firms up). After all, it's not like the LDP — especially its conservative ideologues — are pleased to be reminded of their dependence on the US, and so I wonder whether at some point too much goading from the US could prompt the LDP to stop fighting for the bill by arguing against the use of the supermajority to guarantee its passage. There must be someone within the LDP arguing that Japan should withdraw the MSDF as payback for the Bush administration's about-face on North Korea.

1 comment:

Andrew Oplas said...

Very much in disagreement with your comments about the US Ambassador. It is very much the United States' perogative (even its responsibility) to remind the Japanese public of its responsibilities to the international community, but more importantly to the US-Japan relationship and security arrangement, which is what has upheld prosperity in Japan for many years.

Japan bears a burden and responsibility to the United States (even in 2007) and Japan can pursue an independent policy while still upholding this responsibility.

I also believe that the Ambassador's comments and pressure by the Bush Administration are of help, not hindering the potential passage of the current legislation under discussion.

While I agree with many of your threads, I don't understand the antagonism toward the Bush Administration (which has very skillfully built on the US-Japan relationship) and this insistence on Japan weening itself away from the relationship that is the foundation of everything good in Japan. Thankfully, Japan is not Europe. It will not go the way of independence for independence sake alone. And, also thankfully, the undercurrents of anti-Americanism are weaker here than in Europe.