Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, November 7, 2012
THE following is the timeline of a sequence of events that has begun to attract the attention of some people in the Japanese news media.
■ In early October, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry provided an explanation at the Kantei on the joint Japanese-American drills for island defense to be conducted starting 15 November. One of those drills was to simulate the retaking of an island occupied by an enemy. Deputy Prime Minister Okada Katsuya was present and agreed.
■ On 9 October, Prime Minister Noda received the same explanation and also agreed. The Ministry of Defense informed the Department of Defense in the U.S. that approval had been granted for the exercise.
■ On 12 October, Aeon President Okada Motoya, Okada Katsuya’s brother, announced, “We are not concerned about our China operations”. He was speaking about the rioting that had resulted in the trashing and looting of his company’s Jusco outlet in Tsingtao, Shandong Province, during the government-manufactured riots on 15 September. He emphasized there would be no change in his company’s plans to further expand their outlets in China.
One question being asked is why he was already so certain there would be no more problems with Jusco outlets in China.
■ In mid-October, Mr. Okada’s attitude toward the official approval of the joint drills as explained by the foreign and defense ministries changed. When both ministries again went to the Kantei to provide any explanations required before the official approval was announced, he declared that the decision was wrong.
■ On 16 October Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Leibao addressed the subject of the joint American and Chinese drills. He said:
Increasing tension in the region is not beneficial for promoting security or mutual trust.
We hope that Japan strives for the creation of progress in the Diaoyutai issue (Senkakus) with sincerity and actual deeds.
■ On 19 October Chinese patrol boats conducted a large-scale “drill to maintain maritime sovereignty” in the East China Sea. The Kyodo news agency reported, “The objective is to oppose the purchase of the Senkakus by the national government and the consideration of the joint Japanese-American military drill for retaking an occupied island on an uninhabited island in the Okinawa chain.”
■ On 21 October, during a speech in Wakayama City, Mr. Okada said the reason for the national government’s purchase of the Senkaku islets was to prevent Tokyo Metro District Gov. Ishihara Shintaro from purchasing them. He criticized the government’s purchase because “the result was an extremely harsh response from China”. He added:
There is no territorial dispute over the Senkakus, but it is a fact that there is debate. We must calm the present situation through dialogue.
This statement was immediately reported by the Chinese media as recognition by the Japanese government that a territorial dispute existed.
■ On 22 October, the Peoples Daily and Xinhua distributed op-eds with the title, “Japan should assume the onerous burden for betrayal”. It included this passage:
As long as Japan does not reflect on its errors, correct its mistakes, and establish a new consensus with China about the Diaoyutai issue, it will not be possible to return to a sound course of development for Sino-Japanese relations.
Note the recurrence of the passage, “correct mistakes” — a hallmark of Sinocentric culturalism, in which the Chinese position is the correct one, and opposing positions are errors.
■ On 22 October, the decision was announced to cancel the joint drill for retaking an occupied island. According to a high government official (speaking on the condition of anonymity), Mr. Okada made the final decision rather than Prime Minister Noda. His reason was to avoid upsetting China. Mr. Noda accepted it.
■ On 22 October, Aeon announced the opening of a new store in Tsingtao, Shandong Province, the same city where one of their stores was ransacked.
■ On 25 October, the new store opened. At the same time, Aeon said it would continue to be involved with building shopping malls in China.
■ On 25 October, during a visit to Japan, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell expressed strong dissatisfaction to senior members of the Foreign Ministry with the decision. That has been reported only in Japanese. Translated, he is quoted as having said, “Reversing a decision on a joint exercise is strange.” It was reportedly viewed by the Prime Minister’s Office as being a warning.
Today, when asked to explain the reason for the cancellation of the drill, Defense Minister Morimoto Satoshi said,
There were various circumstances. I will refrain from giving a detailed explanation of the reasons.
It seems as if we might be able to draw some conclusions:
■ For Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko, the interests of his party take priority over the national interest.
But we already knew that.
■ For Deputy Prime Minister Okada Katsuya, the interests of his family business take priority over the national interest.
■ And the Democratic Party of Japan government is veering once again into Neville Chamberlain territory.