Thursday, December 16, 2004

53% of Japanese distrust United States

Fifty-three percent of Japanese respondents to a poll
said they did not trust the United States, a figure far
higher than the 29 percent of Americans who said they
distrusted Japan, according to the findings of a joint
Yomiuri Shimbun-Gallup survey released Wednesday.

Despite this, many respondents said they believed that
the Japan-U.S. relationship remained on good terms.

The distrust of the United States among Japanese was the
highest recorded in the survey over the past five years,
a sentiment believed to have been caused by U.S.
policies regarding the governing of postwar Iraq.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of Japanese respondents said they
did not trust China, reflecting their deteriorating view
of the country due to the recent intrusion into Japanese
territorial waters by a Chinese nuclear-powered
submarine and other gripes related to China.

The telephone survey was conducted in the latter half of
last month, with 1,006 voters aged 20 or older in Japan
and 1,000 voters aged 18 or older in the United States

Pollees who said Japan-U.S. relations were good
increased nine percentage points from the previous year
to 49 percent in Japan, but dropped one point to 53
percent in the United States.

Regarding mutual trust, the number of Japanese
respondents who expressed distrust of the United States
soared eight points to 53 percent from last year, a
figure much higher than the 38 percent who said they
trusted the United States.

In 2000, the interview format was changed from
person-to-person interviews to telephone interviews, and
since last year the number of Japanese pollees who said
they distrusted the United States exceeded those who
said they trusted it.

The gap has widened from four percentage points to 15
percentage points, showing that distrust of the United
States has increased.

In the United States, the number of respondents who said
they trusted Japan was 67 percent, much higher than the
29 percent who expressed distrust of Japan, illustrating
a gap between Japanese and U.S. pollees in their
perceptions about each other.

The Iraq problem is believed to be the main reason
behind the Japanese pollees' distrust of the United
States, with 75 percent of them expressing discontent
about the governing of Iraq led by the United States.

Sixty-one percent of Japanese pollees said they did not
feel a fondness toward U.S. President George W. Bush,
who was reelected in November. In the United States, it
was 60 percent for Bush and 39 percent against him. Even
in the United States, 62 percent of the respondents said
they did not believe other countries had a liking for
the United States.

The Iraq war has created a rift between the United
States and Europe, resulting in a deepened sense of
isolation among Americans.

In Japan, 71 percent of the respondents said they did
not think other countries admired the United States.

Regarding their relationships with China, 59 percent of
the Japanese respondents described Japan-China relations
as poor as did 16 percent in the United States.

The number of Japanese who described their relationship
with China as poor jumped 28 percentage points from the
previous year and was the highest since the 2000 survey.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Tensin Deleg Rinpoche, 52, a Tibetan monk on death row in China still alive

A high-profile Tibetan monk on death row in China, whose
case has sparked a raft of international appeals, is
still alive and may have his sentence reduced, prison
system officials said.

"This monk has not been executed. I heard they're
considering changing his penalty to life imprisonment or
a fixed-term penalty," an official surnamed Zheng at the
southwest Sichuan province prison administrative bureau

"It's because he behaved himself well in prison."

Tensin Deleg Rinpoche, 52, was sentenced to death in
2002 after being convicted of carrying out a 2002 bomb
attack in Sichuan province's Chengdu capital, charges
which he denied.

His sentence was suspended for two years and the
suspension expired on December 2, but China, which
referred to him as a "terrorist", had refused to say
what it planned to do with him.

The US Senate, the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama
and international human rights groups stepped up
pressure for his release in recent weeks.

Protest rallies were held in London, New Delhi and other

The prison official said he did not know when a decision
would be made on a possible sentence reduction.

Officials at the prison where Tensin Deleg is being
held, Chuanzhong Prison in Nanchong city in Sichuan,
refused to comment.

Another man Lobsang Dhondup, a 28-year-old activist, was
also convicted for the bomb attack that killed one
person and injured another and other blasts in the Ganzi
region of west Sichuan.

Lobsang Dhondup denied the charges but he was executed
in January 2003, stirring international uproar.

Last week China rejected a resolution by the US Senate
that called for the monk's release, saying the case fell
within "China's internal affairs" and related to
stamping out terrorism.

"Deleg undermined the security of society and conducted
terrorist bombing activities, he would be punished in
any country," foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue

In the latest appeal, hundreds of Tibetans took to the
streets of New Delhi Friday in a silent protest march to
demand his freedom, saying Tensin Deleg was innocent and
was denied a fair trial.

Suspended death sentences in China are often cut to life
imprisonment but cases involving Tibetans are treated
differently because of the political sensitivity of

China has ruled Tibet since 1951 following an invasion
of the Himalayan region, considering it an "inalienable"
part of its territory.

Since then it has routinely tried to stamp out dissent,
jailing and executing those suspected of separatism.

China executes more people every year than the rest of
the world combined.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Japan new defense plan adopted. Targets: China and North Korea

Japan adopted new defense guidelines Friday, including
the relaxation of an arms-export ban that will
facilitate missile security with Washington, another
sign of Tokyo's move away from its postwar pacifism in
favor of greater military cooperation with its top ally.

The new plan marked the most significant overhaul of the
country's defense policy in a decade - a period during
which Tokyo has tried to increase security cooperation
with the United States - and comes a day after the
pro-U.S. government voted to keep Japanese troops in
Iraq on a humanitarian mission for another year past its
Dec. 14 deadline.

``This is about ensuring security and dealing with new
threats as the times change,'' Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi told reporters after the new plan was unveiled.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said the
government would ease Japan's ban on exporting weapons
to other countries in order to pursue a missile defense
program with Washington for security purposes. The plan
called for the easing, citing modern security threats,
including North Korean missiles, China's military
buildup and terrorism.

Japan has maintained the arms export ban since 1976 in
deference to its pacifist constitution, unchanged since
it was written by U.S. occupation forces after World War
II. The constitution renounces war and the use of force
in settling international disputes.

Yet Koizumi has stirred debate about constitutional
reform. He has backed an increasingly high-profile role
for Japan's military and closer security cooperation
with Washington, which maintains 50,000 troops here
under a security treaty.

Under his administration, Japan has 1,000 troops in Iraq
and neighboring countries engaged in non-combat
reconstruction work - the postwar military's largest and
most dangerous overseas operation. Earlier, in 2001,
Koizumi responded to the U.S. ``war on terror'' by
pushing through legislation to allow the navy to provide
logistical support to forces in Afghanistan.

Critics have said such efforts are chipping away at the
pacifist society Japan has built since its destruction
in World War II. The new guidelines played down such
fears, reiterating that Japan's military was not going
on the offensive.

``Our country, under our constitution, will adhere
exclusively to self-defense,'' the report said.
``Following our policy of not becoming a major military
power that would pose a threat to other countries, we
will secure civilian control.''

The plan, approved in a Cabinet meeting, also vowed to
maintain the country's policy of not making or
possessing nuclear weapons. Japan is the only country to
have been attacked with nuclear weapons, when the United
States twice hit the country in 1945.

The revisions threaten to alarm Asian neighbors, who
suffered under Japan's expansionist policies earlier
last century.

Both China and North Korea were singled out as regional
security concerns in the outline, which covers from 2005
to 2014.

China's efforts to build up and modernize its military,
as well as its expanded range of naval activities, have
been closely monitored by Japan. Tensions between the
two Asian powerhouses spiked last month, when a Chinese
nuclear submarine infiltrated Japanese waters and
prompted an alert.

Pyongyang has also grown into one of Tokyo's biggest
security worries. It test-fired a long-range ballistic
missile over Japan in 1998 and is believed to be
developing nuclear weapons.


-- "China, which has a great impact on security in this
region, is pushing ahead with enhancing its nuclear and
missile capabilities in modernizing its navy and air
force while expanding marine activities. We need to
continue to watch these moves in the future."

-- "North Korea is developing, deploying and
proliferating weapons of mass destruction and ballistic
missiles and maintains large-scale special units. These
military moves of North Korea are serious, destabilizing
factors for regional security."

-- Russian military power in the Far East has been
reduced greatly since the end of Cold War but there is
still uncertainty over the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan


-- Japan will maintain a policy of not exporting
weapons, but will make an exception under "strict
control" for exports to the United States meant for
joint development and production of a missile shield,
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said in a
statement on the new guidelines.

Japan will decide whether to export weapons to the
United States or other countries for purposes other than
missile defense, such as measures to counter terrorism
or piracy, on a case-by-case basis, Hosoda said.


-- Japan's security alliance with the United States is
"indispensable," the guidelines said.


-- Japan will reduce its conventional arms buildup as
the possibility of a full-scale invasion has decreased
with the end of the Cold War.

-- Japanese troops need to be able to cope with
emergencies quickly and flexibly based on high
technology and efficient information gathering.

-- Japan will keep a watch for and take "appropriate
measures" against foreign intrusions into its air and
sea space.

-- Japan will build up its information-gathering
capability to detect threats.


-- Japan will actively engage in international
peace-keeping activities in close cooperation with


-- The new guidelines are for the coming 10 years but
could be revised in five years if a "serious change"
emerges in the security situation.

Give Japan's royal diplomacy a chance

by Fumio Kitamura.
Something is amiss within Japan's Imperial household.
For nearly a year now, the Crown Princess Masako has
suspended her official functions for "health reasons."
The public knew next to nothing about the details of her
disposition or the effectiveness of treatment, for
reasons that included the extreme lack of information
disclosed by the Imperial Household Agency and the
voluntary restraint on reporting exercised by Japan's
mass media.

Eventually, the cause of Princess Masako's impaired
health was disclosed in an unexpected manner. The Crown
Prince himself said during a press conference in May
that the Crown Princess had been "deeply distressed by
the fact that she was not freely permitted to pay
overseas visits, even though she considered promoting
international good will an important role to be played
by a member of the Imperial family."

He went further, stating flatly that "there were indeed
some moves purporting to dismiss Masako's career and her
personality based on that career."

It was an unprecedented event in the Imperial family,
bound by tradition and convention and cloaked in a heavy
shroud of secrecy. It was only after the Crown Prince's
comments that the Imperial Household Agency announced
Princess Masako's illness to be "stress-induced
adjustment disorder."

Taken together, the Crown Prince's comments and the
official announcement of the Crown Princess's illness
allows us to infer that she had been tormented by the
inability to fulfill her self-imposed duty of Imperial
diplomacy and by a myriad of related psychological

Ordinary Japanese cannot fathom the kind of Imperial
diplomacy that the Crown Princess had been aspiring to.
Up to the mid-19th century, the fate of nations was
decided by the flamboyant and elegant diplomacy of
monarchs that was described as the "congress dances."

However, the epoch of absolute monarchy has long gone.
While several advanced countries still retain
monarchies, they do so under the "reigns but does not
rule" principle. Politicians and bureaucrats are the
central players in diplomatic negotiations. Members of
royalty are no longer diplomatic players in the true
sense of the word. Why then do we still refer to the
term "royal diplomacy"?

For today's royal houses, the opportunity for
international exchange lies mostly in ceremonial visits
to other countries -- attendance at royal weddings and
funerals and visits for good will and charity. Broad
attempts at contacting citizens of the receiving country
are made during the visits. Itineraries consists mainly
of attendance at charity events and concerts, art
exhibitions and sports events, as well as inspection
tours of kindergartens, universities, hospitals and
nursing homes. Almost without exception, royal diplomacy
is characterized by a schedule of events that are highly
visible to the mass media.

In today's information age, members of royalty attract
extra media attention as "noble celebrities." Their
graceful yet unassuming demeanor and friendly
conversations with the general public are magnified by
media reports. And the royal image thus created with
these goodwill visits has the effect of planting in the
minds of the general public an image of the country
whence they came.

The greatest function that can be expected of "royal
diplomacy" is creating a positive impression of the
society that has a constitutional monarchy.

Internal change within a royal household also tends to
signify social changes taking place in that particular
country. In the royal houses of Europe and the Middle
East, career women of common birth and foreign women
with a history of divorce are sometimes chosen as crown
princesses. Such news is received outside those
countries as an indication of democratic maturity and
tolerance not only by the royal house concerned but also
by that society as a whole.

Political leaders such as presidents and prime ministers
can seldom be expected to communicate a positive image
of their society to the outside world. While there are
no doubt many leaders with high-minded personalities,
power struggles are dogged by conspiracy, oppression and
treachery. There is no end to the number of political
leaders who have been stained by scandals involving
bribery and corruption, nepotism or illegal information
gathered against political rivals.

Severed from political power, today's constitutional
monarchies have been freed from the negative elements of
politics. Their transformation into such a detached role
has expanded the domains in which "royal diplomacy" can
be effective.

Crown Princess Masako is blessed with ample qualities
for pursuing "royal diplomacy." She was educated at the
best universities in America, Japan and Britain, is
fluent in several languages and has experienced
difficult diplomatic negotiations as a career diplomat.
She is an invaluable asset for communicating Japan's
good image abroad. That the Crown Princess has suddenly
disappeared from the public view and remains unable to
perform her official functions is indeed a considerable
loss in terms of promoting international exchange.

To help Princess Masako overcome her adjustment
disorder, we must alleviate and eliminate the
psychological pressure. According to media reports in
Japan and abroad, the greatest cause of pressure
apparently originates from her concern that she has yet
to produce a male heir to the Imperial throne. Many also
report that the Crown Princess also suffers from the
heavy sense of stagnation and isolation caused by
long-standing protocol that places excessive
restrictions on her freedom in daily life.

To restore a lively expression to Princess Masako's
face, it is essential to encourage more openness in the
Imperial institution and respect for the individual
freedom of Imperial family members. We must also
consider revising the Imperial Household Law, which
limits the right of succession to a male heir, and open
the way to accession of an empress.

[Fumio Kitamura is the former general manager of the FPC,
a former professor of Shukutoku University and former senior
editor and London bureau chief of the Yomiuri Shimbun.]