Snowing in July
Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 25, 2010
WHENEVER I do something like vacuum the floor on my own initiative, my wife enjoys pretending that it’s so unusual for me to do housework, it’s like a snowfall in July. (I’ve done all the ironing in the household in the 22 years we’ve been married, including her clothes, so I ignore the wise lips, but that’s another story.)
However, today it’s snowing on this website in July. I’m going to link to a New York Times article and commend the author–in this case–Martin Fackler, for getting it right.
Time to break out the mufflers and the mittens.
Here’s the lead sentence:
A diplomatic showdown between Japan and China that began two weeks ago with the arrest of the captain of a Chinese trawler near disputed islands ended Friday when Tokyo accepted Beijing’s demands for his immediate release, a concession that appeared to mark a humiliating retreat in a Pacific test of wills.
To be sure, anyone with knowledge of the events and the countries involved could have written this article as soon they heard the news of the Chinese captain’s release, but let’s not dim the luster of the New York Times’s deed. It happens so seldom.
It’s also informative: American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reported to have told the Japanese that the U.S. would come to Japan’s assistance if the Chinese attacked the Senkakus. Someone should tell Nicholas Kristof to read his own newspaper.
It also has:
On Friday, members of his own governing Democratic Party joined opposition lawmakers in condemning the decision to release the captain.
True, but the initial DPJ criticism didn’t come from the party’s left, where Prime Minister Kan Naoto and Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito perch. It won’t be long before the critics have a lot of company, however.
“I’m flabbergasted that this was resolved with such a clear diplomatic defeat for Japan,” said Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of the opposition Your Party.
Mr. Kan and Mr. Sengoku are going to be hearing a lot of this in the future, and I don’t think either one of them–much less anyone else in the party–has the skills to sell their decision.
Still, Fackler can’t be expected to get everything right:
The setback appears likely to raise new concerns about the leadership of the Democrats, who took power in a landslide election victory last year with promises to improve ties within Asia and reduce Japan’s dependence on the United States.
It already has raised new concerns about the DPJ, but their foreign policy had nothing to do with their election victory.
But at least he includes some comic relief:
“This was a move that Japan had to make or China would have taken further steps,” said Wang Xiangsui, a foreign policy analyst at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “Now the two sides can discuss this more calmly.”
Now that the Kan administration has lain on its back and shown its belly, China will never discuss this calmly. They know they’ve found their weapon, and they’ll use it every chance they get. Heck, they’ll create their own opportunities to use it.
For example, the Chinese Foreign Ministry is already calmly demanding an apology and financial compensation. And what will Mr. Kan (or more likely Mr. Sengoku, if some reports are to be believed) do if the Chinese continue the big chill unless they satisfy the Foreign Ministry demand?
Do I need to mention that this didn’t go unnoticed elsewhere in the region? I haven’t looked at the South Korean press yet, but Pyon Jin-il has. He’s a Tokyo native of Korean ethnicity who runs a website examining issues and events on the Korean Peninsula. He wrote:
韓国のメディアは一斉に「中国、レアアース輸出禁止など原子爆弾級報復に日本一日で降伏」「日本中国に白旗？」「中国 レアアース対日輸出中断 資源武器化 紛争国圧迫？」との見出しで、韓国のどのメディアも日本が中国の報復、制裁、圧力に屈したと報じていた。
The headlines in the South Korean media were uniform: “Japan Surrenders in a Day to China’s Atomic Bomb-Class Retaliation, Including Prohibitions on Rare Earth Exports”, “Japan Raises the White Flag to China?”, “China Cuts off Rare Earth Exports to Japan; Uses Resources as a Weapon – Pressure on Other Countries in Disputes?” All the South Korean media reported that Japan had buckled under to Chinese retaliation, sanctions, and pressure.
The Kan administration didn’t roll over for just the Chinese. It rolled over for everyone in Northeast Asia, and no one will let them forget it.
Mr. Pyon makes the interesting suggestion that the Japanese should have modeled their behavior after the North Koreans. They never give in to outside pressure, even if they have to starve.
If this were the Japan of the samurai, (they would have followed the proverb) ‘A samurai uses a toothpick ostentatiously even when he doesn’t eat.’ If (Japan) does not have the mettle to withstand and bounce back from Chinese economic sanctions, they will never be able to defend their territory. If they do not have the resolve to reduce their servings by one and their meals from three to two, Japan will never be able to prevail in their territorial disputes with China and South Korea.
He’s right, of course.
Also drearily predictable is that the media in China, South Korea, and some of the Anglosphere will start Hoovering the Japanese media for similar quotes to get all enuretic about the resurgent Japanese nationalism that will be a threat to the region. They’ve been warning of that for, oh, a half-century now at least. The pasty-faced ghouls in the think tanks will get cracking on that, too. Lord knows it’s the only time some of them ever examine Japanese-language sources in detail.
But when an ethnic Korean in Japan, a zainichi, says it, it can’t be blamed on the guys running the sound trucks.
It’s never nationalistic to stand up for one’s country when it’s right, but they’re not the types to get that. Scratch that–the Chinese and South Koreans do. But they’ll even stand up for their country when it’s dead wrong. Ah, but it’s the Japanese who are the East Asian chauvinists.
How long will it be before someone tells the Japanese that already the Chinese netizens refer to the country as 小日本 (Little Japan), as in “I haven’t the slightest interest in Little Japan”?
Yeah, I know I keep saying I hate predictions, so to keep me from making one, perhaps someone can make the argument that Mr. Kan and Mr. Sengoku haven’t just pulled the plug on their political careers–and very likely the DPJ government too. It’s only a matter of time, is it not? It was only a matter of time before this element of the party kowtowed (叩頭) to the Chinese anyway, considering their historical awareness is based on the pride of being ashamed to be Japanese.
The only question now is when a group of politicians emerge who are willing to stand up for Japan even while knowing that many outside the country are just waiting for another excuse to get it wrong about them.
Why not? It’s already snowing in July.
For those who read Japanese, here’s a link to Mr. Pyon’s website.