Posted by ampontan on Friday, November 12, 2010
(A) company rated “zero” uses ad hoc, shoot-from-the-hip means to accomplish things more than a level-5 company, and uses more subjective means of “measuring”. This leads to less concrete operating methods, poor perceptions and an inconsistency of approaches. Level-zero companies also waste effort developing their capabilities because they oversimplify the demands of success and learn that the hard way. Then, they promptly forget what was learned when a new CEO arrives and wipes the slate clean.
- Rick Ackerman
AT A NEWS CONFERENCE on the morning of the 10th, reporters asked Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito about criticism that the foreign policy pursued by Prime Minister Kan vis-à-vis China and Russia was weak, and that the people felt apprehensive about it. He answered:
“The people who are apprehensive are over-conceptualizing the opposition between two countries using a 19th century or Cold War type of thinking. This excessively limits the discussion to whether (foreign policy is) strong or weak.”
To partially paraphrase Leon Trotsky, you may not be interested in that backwards 19th century / Cold War way of thinking, but China and Russia are very interested in that behavior and how you respond to it. Reality, as Thomas Sowell likes to say, is not optional. Mr. Sengoku may believe that excessively limits the discussion, but whatever it is the current government is trying to do in the real world hasn’t been effective for dealing with its neighbors. He continued:
“The opposition parties say in unison that (the people are) apprehensive, apprehensive, but from the perspective of South Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam, I haven’t heard that they have apprehensions about our current foreign policy, and they rate it (highly).
How like a lawyer to change the subject. Mr. Sengoku still doesn’t understand that it isn’t his job to alleviate the concerns of those three countries. His primary duty is to provide for the security and well-being of his own country and its citizens—91% of whom are worried that the government isn’t fulfilling that primary duty, according to a Yomiuri poll.
Assuming that he’s telling the truth—an assumption I would not care to make—why is it necessary for Japan to seek the approval of the other countries in a matter involving Japanese sovereignty? Singapore is a city-state with a large ethnic Chinese population built on Commerce. As with Big Business everywhere, they will go along to get along. Vietnam hasn’t adopted the Kan administration approach in its own territorial disputes with China. Besides, they share a border with China, they were invaded by China in the 70s, and they are much smaller and weaker—there’s that word again—than the Chinese. Finally, policy makers in Japan have been concerned for years that the South Koreans seem to be too willing to find ways to accommodate the Chinese.
At the outbreak of the Senkakus crisis, the Kan-Sengoku government was eager to differentiate themselves from the Koizumi administration, which acted in ways they considered to be extra-legal. (They apprehended and sent back to China some uninvited guests without a trial.)
Blast from the past
There is a useful comparison between the Koizumi administration and the Kan administration in their handling of maritime incursions. The Koizumi administration behavior that is best examined is not their response to encroachments in the Senkakus, however, but in another part of the Pacific Ocean.
On 22 December 2001, when Mr. Koizumi had been in office about eight months, the Japanese Coast Guard encountered a Chinese-flagged vessel they thought was actually North Korean within the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone between Kyushu and China. Smuggling, particularly of drugs and counterfeit money, is a favorite Pyeongyang enterprise for obtaining foreign exchange. The mystery ship ignored requests to stop delivered in several languages, so the Japanese fired a few shots across its bow. It still kept going, so the Japanese fired a few rounds onto the deck, which started a fire.
They eventually wound up in a firefight, during which the crew members of the mystery ship were filmed dumping contraband into the ocean. When a Japanese Coast Guard cutter approached at night, they were told to beat it in both Japanese and Korean. The ship also fired a small rocket at the Japanese.
The crew finally scuttled the vessel rather than submit to inspection, and the sailors literally went down with the ship, lashing themselves to the rails.
Japanese authorities later salvaged the ship and some of its cargo, which are on display at the Japanese Coast Guard Museum at Yokohama. You can see photos on this Japanese-language page.
Recovered during the salvage operation were bodies wearing life jackets with Korean writing, Russian-made anti-aircraft weapons, automatic weapons and rocket launchers thought to be either North Korean or Russian, an English-Korean dictionary, Japanese-made cell phones that had been used to call yakuza groups (presumably their customers), a Kim Il-sung badge, a map of the sea off the Satsuma Peninsula, and a cigarette pack and package of peanut candy manufactured in North Korea.
How did the Koizumi administration handle this incident?
They immediately made the videos available, which were broadcast on news programs throughout the world. (The BBC World Service, then in an extreme anti-Nipponistic phase, thought the portion of the video with the missile fired at the Japanese ship was not newsworthy enough to be broadcast.)
So, did this lead to a resurgence of Japanese “nationalism” that most of the Anglosphere media and some in this country are constantly on the lookout for?
The North Koreans accused Japan of lying, said they had nothing to do with the ship, and threatened to take counter-measures, which they did not specify. Some might dismiss that as the usual Pyeongyang gasconade, but it had been little more than three years since the North Koreans launched a three-stage missile over Japan in August 1998. Besides, it is not the business of government to dismiss threats by hostile nations as unserious.
The North Koreans never took any counter-measures that we know about. The behavior of the Koizumi administration didn’t prevent them from getting the abductees and their families out of North Korea a few years later.
The Chinese government needed to approve of the salvaging operation, and they initially asked the Japanese not to raise the ship. They said it would “complicate the situation.” But they changed their mind.
The situation remains uncomplicated to this day.
A nation that will not hesitate to defend its legitimate national interests solves a lot of problems for itself and prevents others from occurring. But the Koizumi government consisted of people who understand that reality is not optional. Meanwhile, the leaders of the current government, whose eyeballs start operating independently of one another whenever they hear talk about defending the national interest, prefer to operate in secret, deny their involvement, distrust their countrymen, and ask how high when the Chinese tell them to jump.
The Koizumi government respected and trusted their fellow citizens enough to show them exactly what happened by releasing the video, which is still available. You Tube didn’t exist in those days, but it does now, and the video is there—and here—for anyone to see.
The captions are in Japanese, but here’s a quick summary with the timing:
01:00 L Flag raised, which means “Stop the ship”.
01:06 Stop instruction
02:17 SN Flag raised, which means, “Stop or we’ll shoot.”
03:30 Warning shot across bow
03:45 Warning shots to ship
05:22 Crew dumps contraband
05:32 Ship goes into reverse to put out fire
05:50 Crew member of ship shouts to JCG to go away in Japanese and Korean
06:53 JCG ship attacked
07:24 Rocket fired by mystery ship
08:12 Return fire from JCG
09:10 Crew scuttles ship
Mr. Kan and Mr. Sengoku could learn something from the behavior of the Koizumi administration, but they’re unlikely to try. Behavior of that sort is inimical to their world view.
UPDATE: Lest anyone think my views toward Mr. Kan or Mr. Sengoku in the Senkakus affair are extreme, reader Camphortree in a comment reminds us of just where these folks are coming from:
When the North Korean spy ship was sunk by the Japanese Coast Guard during the Koizumi Administration, our current prime minister Kan, then an opposition party leader in the diet severely criticized Koizumi for his “failure” of handling the North Korean ship. Kan blasted Koizumi and accused him to be leading Japan to the past dangerous naked aggression toward the peace loving neighbors.
The man is entitled to have his opinions. He’s also entitled to have his face rubbed in them.