Monday, May 24, 2010

Japanese premier Yukio Hatoyama red-faced on Okinawa campaign pledges!

During his visit to the southern island on Sunday, Mr. Hatoyama faced angry protests by residents who had hoped to see the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station moved entirely off Okinawa, instead of relocated to a less built-up part. Okinawa, which hosts more than half the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan, has long sought to remove the bases, which are locally unpopular mainly because of noise, pollution and the risk of accidents and crimes. “I apologise to people in Okinawa as I could not keep to my word that I'll relocate the base off the prefecture,” said Mr. Hatoyama in a meeting with Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima, shown on television. “As the Prime Minister, I have to say that I can't allow the deterrent power of the U.S. forces in Japan, including the Marine Corps, to decline, given that the security environment in East Asia remains fragile.” Yukio Hatoyama said.

Explanations and press quotes : "Opposition parties laid into Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Sunday for reneging on his promise to seek to move a contentious U.S. Marine base outside Okinawa Prefecture, saying that it has amounted to a betrayal of the wishes of local people. Hatoyama announced the plan to relocate the Futenma Air Station in Ginowan to an area around Henoko, a coastal area in Nago on the same main island of Okinawa, during talks with Gov Hirokazu Nakaima in the prefectural capital of Naha earlier in the day.

In so doing, he dashed the hopes of Okinawa people seeking to reduce the footprint of U.S. forces on their island. ‘‘It has become clear that, realistically, it is difficult to resolve the matter by the end of May,’’ Liberal Democratic Party chief Sadakazu Tanigaki said in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, referring to a deadline Hatoyama had vowed to keep in securing the agreement of the major parties concerned. ‘‘The next prime minister would find it difficult to work if the public thinks a remark about staking one’s job is as light as Hatoyama has made it seem,’’ he said, urging the prime minister either to quit or to call a snap general election.

Hatoyama said last month that he will stake his political fortunes on resolving the base question, as his government continued to review a bilateral relocation deal reached by the previous LDP-led government. Tanigaki said his party will consider submitting to parliament a no-confidence motion against Hatoyama.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, who heads the smaller opposition New Komeito party, criticized Hatoyama as not being qualified to be prime minister, telling reporters in the city of Saitama, ‘‘He betrayed the people of the prefecture by raising their hopes for Futenma’s relocation outside the prefecture. Hatoyama is trying to resolve the matter ‘‘in a fraudulent manner.’’

In a statement, Japanese Communist Party policy chief Akira Koike called Hatoyama’s action ‘‘the worst betrayal’’ of the people of Okinawa and the Japanese public, saying that the government’s effort to find a new relocation site has clearly broken down. Koike went on to call for an unconditional removal of the Futenma facility, whose closure and return to the Japanese side is tied to the relocation of its air operations to a coastal area of the Marines’ Camp Schwab in Henoko by 2014 under a 2006 agreement reached between Japan and the United States.

Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe called for Hatoyama to step down, telling reporters in the city of Chiba that the prime minister must take responsibility for raising the hopes of the people of Okinawa for Futenma’s relocation outside of the prefecture. Okinawa hosts the bulk of the facilities used exclusively by the U.S. military in Japan. Before coming to power, Hatoyama, as president of the then main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said he would seek to relocate Futenma’s functions outside Okinawa to reduce the prefecture’s base-hosting burdens.

Insights on this new filibustering issue with professor Gregory Clark on the NBR Forum (opened source access)

"A major factor allowing Hatoyama to volte face on the
Futenma issue has been the fuss over the recent
Maritime Self-Defense Force scuffle with the Chinese
military in the East China Sea. So now it is not just
North Korea as the hypothetical enemy justifying
continued US bases in Okinawa and a Japanese military
buildup; we now are told that the government,
including even Hatoyama, now lists a possible
confrontation with rising Chinese military might as a
reason for reneging on the promise to move bases from

Nowhere, even in the pages of Asahi, do we find any
hint of realising what the East China Sea
confrontations are about, namely the failure to decide
between valid but rival EEZ claims. It is simply
taken for granted that the Japanese median line claim
is correct and that any Chinese attempt to operate on
the basis of their continental shelf claim being
correct proves aggressive intent (even if the Japanese
claim had some validity the Chinese cannot be expected
to weaken their negotiating position by seeming to
accept it; the Chinese claim also has weight and they
have in fact have made the very reasonable proposal
for joint development between the rival claims).

This strange Japanese ability to assume that in any
dispute - Northern Territories, Takeshima, Senkakus,
North Korean abductees, East China Sea - the Japanese
position is 100 percent correct and that any criticism
shows aggressive intent by the other side is worrying.
Only rarely, and in some cases never, does one find
any analysis hinting that the other side also has some
basis for its position. Those who do try to make such
an analysis find themselves quickly ostracized by the
Mood (Kuuki) that decides most things in Japan. (Who
said postwar Japan differs greatly from its prewar
version?) Indeed, even a chance posting on NBR can
give the Right the chance to do a lot of damage to the

One understands why Washington sees little need to
disabuse Tokyo of this kind of naivety - it has its
own interests to pursue and if Tokyo's propensity for
the emotional and illogical pushes it in the US
direction then so be it. But long-term is it really
in US interests to let itself be dragged into ugly
confrontations by this Japanese inability to think

(For emotion and illogic, incidentally, little can
beat the current LDP (Tanigaki yesterday for example)
and other rightwing criticism of Hatoyama's Henoko
decision - namely that by not opting for Henoko he was
damaging the US alliance and friendship, and that by
opting for Henoko he has damaged Okinawan feelings,
and in either case he should resign.)

True, inability, or reluctance, to think about the
causes that precede effects and to accept that one's
own side sometimes carries blame is not a Japanese
monopoly. It underlay most of the Cold War rhetoric
and waste in the West. We see it today in the
knee-jerk reaction to the North Korean attack on the
South Korean naval vessel, which ignores the strong
likelihood that the North Koreans were simply
retaliating for a devastating attack on one of their
own naval vessels last year, and that the attacks were
in disputed waters which, as in the East China Sea
refusal to accept there is a problem which has to be
negotiated, guarantees further clashes, allowing the
hawks on both sides to do their worst.

But our Japanese friends do seem able to carry the
bias and one- sidedness even further than most. Their
claims they now face Chinese threats in the East China
Sea are worrying. Alliance supporters should start
doing their homework. Confrontations do not happen
with a bang, where blame can easily be placed. They
are usually the result of series of incidents where
rights and wrongs can only be decided by close study
of past claims and escalating events. In the East
China Sea we are now seeing the beginning of those
events. To date in the West the main result has been
a big yawn." (Gregory Clark, the NBR Forum)

Sources: agencies, The Independent, The Hindu,
Reporter's notes

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