AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Card games

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, September 23, 2009

LAST WEEK, new Foreign Minister Okada Katsuya gave an interview to the Nishinippon Shimbun’s Tokyo correspondent. It was unremarkable for the most part, save for this passage:

Will you extend the law that provides for the Indian Ocean refueling activities when it expires in January?

There will not be a simple extension.

Is there any leeway for an extension based on the condition of prior approval in the Diet?

There will not be a simple extension. (I won’t say) anything more than that, or anything less than that. I have no comment on the details. We want to have different cards available.

*****

Cards? Cards? When did Japan’s commitment to participate in the UN-approved NATO mission in Afghanistan become a poker game?

Diplomatic cards are used when dealing with hostile or potentially hostile nations to outmaneuver them and gain an advantage. The United States played the “China card” of recognizing the PRC as part of its geopolitical strategy against the Soviet Union.

The UN approved the NATO mission a second time specifically to give Japan the justification it needed for participation. It’s a matter of principle. You either support the mission or you don’t. If you support it, extend it, and if you don’t, end it.

This is not an issue to be manipulated for some imagined advantage either abroad or at home, and trying to do so will only wind up harming Japan. What does he think Japan will win by playing this “card”? I really hope he doesn’t have the Okinawa bases or the SOFA in the back of his mind.

It would have been one thing had he said that the Government wants to keep its options open while it examines the alternatives. But this ain’t mah jongg, and Ozawa/Tanaka Tammany-style politicking doesn’t translate well from the Diet to foreign affairs.

You’re in the Government now, Mr. Okada. It’s time to put away the petty parliamentary games and put on your long trousers.

On 24 April 2004, the Japanese oil tanker Takasuzu was anchored at a terminal near Basra in Iraq when three boats filled with explosives on a suicide mission approached the site at high speed. There was a gun battle with ships from the multinational forces, and one of those boats was destroyed in a huge explosion a few hundred meters away from, and on a direct course to hit, the Takasuzu. No Japanese were hurt, though the tanker suffered minor damage.

Two American sailors and a guard on shore were killed, however.

You think it’s a card game? One of these days, somebody just might pull out the No Blood For (Japanese) Oil card on you.

UPDATE:

Prime Minister Hatoyama has been talking about this issue with his British counterpart, Gordon Brown. Mr. Brown asked him what he intended to do. Here’s the answer, as reported by Breitbart:

“Our country will consider what would be the best way to contribute to the future of Afghanistan,” Hatoyama was quoted by the officials as saying to Brown.

As one example, the new Japanese leader said, “We may instead choose to provide vocational training to Taliban soldiers to help them to return to society, offer the soldiers stability and happiness, and eventually bring about peace in all of Afghanistan,” according to the officials.

It seems as if Yuki-chan might have eaten a bit too much sun for breakfast this morning.

It’s beginning to look as if the recent election was the first time in world history government power was transfered from a group of tired old men to a junior high school girl playing dress up in her grandfather’s clothes.

This has the potential to get really ugly.

Afterwords:

The Sunday before last I met Prof. Shimojo Masao face-to-face for the first time in a few years (see the article on Takeshima at the top of the page). He is utterly disgusted at the attitude of Japanese politicians of all parties toward international relations. “They’re just not interested,” he said.

Indeed.

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