Update: Americans still ugly
Posted by ampontan on Sunday, August 29, 2010
TO TAKE AS READ the version offered in some corners of the American media and commentariat, the American treaty partners in Western Europe and Northeast Asia have the munificent Uncle Sam expend its blood and treasure for their military defense while the ungrateful layabouts spend the money thereby saved on lavish domestic social welfare schemes. They work themselves into various shades of righteous indignation about the unfairness of it all, and often use it as an excuse to flatter themselves for their geopolitical altruism.
Well, they have a point–some of those joint defense arrangements really are unfair.
Take the ongoing question of Futenma, the Marine air base in Okinawa. (Take it, please, as Henny Youngman might have said.) There is an agreement to move the Marines to Guam, but that will require the construction of facilities to house them.
Plans call for the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to lend $740 million to the United States to build water supply, sewage, and power supply systems for the new base in Guam. The mission of the bank, which is wholly owned by the Japanese government, is to promote economic cooperation between Japan and foreign countries. It was the Export-Import Bank in a previous incarnation.
In other words, the Japanese are using one of their primary financial institutions for providing ODA to lend Americans money to help build a new base for American troops on American territory.
In fact, the Japanese are assuming the liability for $6.09 billion of the $10.27 billion it will cost to move the 8,000-9,000 grunts to Guam.
A total of $438 million of the loan in question would be allocated to build the sewage facilities and be repaid by utilities fees on Guam. But now the Guam government says it won’t be responsible for those liabilities, and the U.S. government can’t come up with a definite repayment schedule. The Japanese are naturally thinking about delaying the provision of funds.
But the Americans want the money anyway. Now. They also won’t guarantee the repayment of the rest of the loan either.
You can read about it in this Kyodo report, thereby giving you a leg up on those in some corners of the American media and commentariat who never will read it. Kyodo’s Japanese-language report is slightly different, saying that the Japanese government’s assumption of the costs is an option they haven’t discarded yet.
Other Japanese reports provide further details on this development:
The Pentagon has said the transfer of the Marines could be delayed until 2017 from the current target of 2014.
The problem, as the Japanese reports explain, is that the environmental impact statements won’t be ready by 2014. Therefore, the Japanese government has unofficially offered to sweeten the pot with an additional loan, though some in the government are opposed to that.
Here’s how the Kyodo story closes:
The planned JBIC loan is structured to have the Japanese government cover it if it goes sour.
If it “goes sour”? The United States government would default on a loan from a foreign bank providing ODA financing to pay for a Marine base on Guam?
The phrase The Ugly American was popularized in 1958 after a novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer became a best seller. Marlon Brando starred in the movie. It was a fictionalized description of American behavior in Southeast Asia based on actual experiences.
Still ugly after all these years.
Incidentally, a supporter of Ozawa Ichiro in the DPJ presidential contest says that a Prime Minister Ozawa would insist on moving the Futenma base out of the country.
It might be educational to hear his reaction to a report that the Americans were demanding the prompt provision of loan funds to move their own troops to American soil, without a promise of repayment.
It would surely include some colorful expressions that aren’t in the standard Japanese language textbooks.