AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Posts Tagged ‘Kanemaru S.’

Caveat emptor

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CAVEAT EMPTOR–let the buyer beware–is a legal doctrine that warns the purchasers of property they will not be able to collect for damages after the sale absent of fraud.

The motto of the New York Times is All the News that’s Fit to Print. It’s long past time to replace that with either caveat emptor, or Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Read Here.

Example number 24,910 is an article by Martin Fackler published on 7 March headlined U.S. Reaches Out to Tokyo’s Real Power. It starts with semi-accurate snark about Japan, ends with a borrowed, backhanded slam of American behavior, and in between is festooned with comments and observations from unidentified Japanese and American “officials”, unnamed “political experts”, an identified Japanese professor who has little of interest to say, an identified American professor who talks more but says even less, unnamed “others”, and, on five different occasions, unnamed “analysts”.

At the end, all the reader will know for certain is that Secretary-General Ozawa Ichiro of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan might or might not visit the United States soon. The rest of the text presents a bottom-of-a-Coke-bottle view of Japanese-American diplomatic relations while omitting the critical information necessary for an understanding of what’s really happening.

To start:

Even as Japan’s new leaders have promised to transform the way the nation is governed, they have left one thing unchanged: the prime minister, like many before him, is backed by a shadowy leader who is widely seen as really running the country.

Japan’s new leaders have left a lot more than one thing unchanged, but if there is anything they modified, it is the prime minister’s role. If some shadowy leader was running the country from 2001-2006 when Koizumi Junichiro was prime minister, he must have worked out of a basement broom closet.

The DPJ regressed to an earlier age because the not-very-shadowy Ozawa Ichiro now running the country was the protégé of Tanaka Kakuei, the man most closely identified with that model in postwar Japan. Mr. Ozawa tried his hand at playing Shadow Shogun once before during the Hosokawa administration in the early 90s, but that lasted less than a year. Meanwhile, the poll numbers for the Hatoyama administration have fallen to basement broom closet levels—a 32% approval rating–in just six months. Running the country from backstage does not seem to be Mr. Ozawa’s métier.

Now, at a time of turmoil in Washington’s ties with Tokyo, American officials are reaching out directly to that power behind the throne. According to Japanese and American officials, diplomats have been quietly negotiating a visit to Washington as early as next month by Ichiro Ozawa, the secretary general of the governing Democratic Party and its widely acknowledged power broker. The possible visit, which could include a meeting with President Obama, was first suggested to Mr. Ozawa in February by Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell during a visit to Tokyo…

As we’ll see later, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun earlier this month reported that the Americans might be thinking of calling the whole thing off.

As for the possibility his visit “could include” a meeting with President Obama, Mr. Ozawa discussed the Campbell offer with the Japanese media during a 2 February press conference. He said he would be interested in leading a group to visit the United States, and added:

民主党のオバマ大統領だから、せっかく行くなら大統領にも十分な時間をとってもらわなければ困る
This is President Obama of the Democratic Party, so if we’re going to go all the way (to the U.S.), it just won’t do unless we receive sufficient time from the President.

In other words, Mr. Ozawa’s condition for agreeing to the trip is a meeting with the president that lasts “a sufficient time”.

(T)he offer has also drawn some criticism because it could be seen as circumventing the prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, in favor of a scandal-tainted figure who holds no formal cabinet position.

Someone is forgetting that Mr. Hatoyama is as equally tarred with scandal as Mr. Ozawa. Is it the unnamed critics or Mr. Fackler? Probably the latter—facts have a way of disrupting the narrative flow in historical recreations.

Political experts said the fact that the Obama administration would propose such a move, and the government of Mr. Hatoyama might accept it, appears to underscore a shared feeling that current difficulties like a disagreement over an American military base in Okinawa are caused at least partly by an underlying problem: a breakdown in communications….

That might be a valid point had not the American government already been well aware of Mr. Ozawa and the likelihood that the DPJ would form the next government for at least the past two years. There is no mention at all that Ozawa Ichiro was the DPJ president until last May and would now be prime minister had not the first of his scandals erupted. The Bush administration was in contact with him when the DPJ under his leadership tried to turn Japanese assistance to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan into a political issue. (That ploy failed.) Then-Ambassador Thomas Schieffer asked for a meeting with Mr. Ozawa to explain that the Security Council actually had authorized the operations in Resolutions 1386, 1413, and 1510.

Mr. Ozawa agreed to the meeting, but kept the ambassador waiting for half an hour before seeing him. The DPJ boss is notorious for being imperious and rude, though he makes an exception for Chinese pols.

In February last year, while still party president, Mr. Ozawa met U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for half an hour. That same month, he spent 75 minutes in a meeting with Wang Jiarui, the Chinese Communist Party International Department Minister, during the latter’s visit to Japan. That was longer than Mr. Wang’s 60-minute meeting with then-Prime Minister Aso Taro.

The significance of those time differences will soon be apparent.

The Democrats not only swept aside the Liberal Democrats, but they have also tried to fulfill campaign pledges to pry policy making from the hands of bureaucrats and give it to political officials.

Those who pay closer attention to Japanese politics—i.e., people who read newspapers and watch television—realize that the DPJ has been pilloried for months for not trying very hard to pry policy making away from the hands of the important parts of the bureaucracy.

The resulting lack of information fed excessive alarm in Washington last fall when Tokyo began to call for changing a 2006 agreement to relocate the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa.

If Washington began to be alarmed only last fall, they’re not paying attention either. Surely someone in the government knew that Hatoyama Yukio has long called for what he refers to as “a security (treaty) without (military forces) permanenty stationed in Japan” (常時駐留なき安保).

Mr. Hatoyama’s older brother Kunio, who helped create the party that became today’s DPJ in 1996 but departed when it took a leftward turn, referred to that policy last November (my emphasis):

The fundamental idea for Kan Naoto (now Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister), my brother, and Yokomichi Takahiro (current lower house speaker, former member of the Socialist Party, and the leader of the party’s most leftward faction) has always been that American forces do not have to be permanently stationed in Japan. He should (therefore) try to move Futenma overseas as soon as possible. If he can’t do that, his thinking has changed (from the days of the party founding).

It was also last November that Hatoyama Yukio asked Barack Obama to trust him.

Mr. Hatoyama, incidentally, admitted on 16 December that he had always felt that way, but had to put a lid on his beliefs in the role of prime minister. He has never offered a credible alternative program for Japanese self-defense. If he has such a program that involves Japanese military forces, it would require a Constitutional amendment.

The comments by ministers have often been contradictory and confusing, reflecting a lack of consensus in an inexperienced government, analysts say.

Lack of consensus, yes, but the Hatoyama administration is not the world’s first disorganized coalition government. Washington has dealt with that sort of thing before.

As for experience:

Ozawa Ichiro: 41 years in the Diet, served in the Nakasone Cabinet, secretary-general of the LDP and the DPJ when both were in power, de facto ruler during the Hosokawa administration, head of the Liberal Party when the latter was a junior coalition partner in the Obuchi government.

Hatoyama Yukio: 24 years in the Diet, son of a former foreign minister, grandson of a former prime minister, great-grandson of a former lower house speaker, deputy chief cabinet secretary in the Hosokawa administration, a founding member and bankroller of the Democratic Party, now the prime minister.

Okada Katsuya (Foreign Minister): 20 years in the Diet, former president and secretary-general of the Democratic Party.

Their administration is now six months old.

Barack Obama: Part-time state senator for Illinois for seven years, part-time adjunct law professor at the University of Chicago, U.S. senator for four years.

Hillary Clinton: U.S. senator for eight years, wife of former President Bill Clinton till death do them part.

Their administration is now 14 months old.

While Mr. Hatoyama has said he wants to maintain the two nations’ security alliance, his voice has often been drowned out by the din. One result was that American officials misread Tokyo as seeking a much larger push away from the United States than was actually the case, analysts said.

Perhaps Mr. Hatoyama is being drowned out in the din because he’s not speaking with any conviction.

It’s too bad Mr. Fackler didn’t specify the identity of the “analysts” so we could ignore whatever it is they might say in the future. Here’s why.

Yamaoka Kenji, Chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee (who’s served in both houses of the Diet for a combined 27 years) is known as Ozawa Ichiro’s closest associate in politics. It is not just widely assumed that he speaks as an Ozawa surrogate—everyone knows he is the Ozawa surrogate.

Mr. Ozawa and Mr. Yamaoka led a DPJ-sponsored troupe on a trip to China in mid-December. At a symposium in Shanghai on 14 December, Mr. Yamaoka delivered a speech in which he said that the relations between Japan, the United States, and China should be that of an “equilateral triangle”. This is known to be a long-held view of Ozawa Ichiro. He added:

It is a fact that Japanese-American relations have become strained over the base issue. That’s yet another reason why a realistic process to resolve the problem with the United States is to first, strengthen Japanese-Sino ties, and to then create the equilateral triangle.

He continued:

This was confirmed in the meeting between Mr. Ozawa and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Japan’s security has been guaranteed by the United States since the end of the Second World War. The Japanese Constitution does not permit the country to engage even in legitimate self-defense. That’s why there are American military installations in Japan to begin with. The security arrangement defines Japanese foreign policy.

To declare that Japan will maintain an equal distance from both China and the United States is tantamount to abandoning this relationship with the United States. It would be the most important change in governmental policy of the last half century. To initiate the strain in Japanese-American relations, and then use that as an excuse to cozy up to the Chinese, is tantamount to being a creep.

Note that Mr. Ozawa, who is only a party official and not a member of the government, is “confirming” this policy in a one-to-one meeting with the Chinese leader.

Note also that Prime Minister Hatoyama seems to think this was just hunky-dory. Considering that he wants the American military to be gone, and that he wants to rely on an ill-defined, EU-like East Asian entity, no one should be surprised.

Note also that this apparent watershed change in policy was never discussed with or explained to the Japanese public.

The Sankei Shimbun reported on 9 February that Mr. Ozawa referred to a possible meeting with President Obama during a meeting with senior DPJ officials on the 8th. He said—and this was a direct quote:

中国に行ったとき、胡錦濤国家主席にお出迎えいただいた。オバマ大統領もちゃんとやってくれるだろう。

I left that in Japanese for a reason. In unadorned English, it might read something like this:

Chairman Hu Jintao received me when I visited to China. President Obama will probably do the right thing by me, too.

But as readers of Japanese will spot right away, there’s a lot more happening in those two sentences. When referring to Mr. Hu, the DPJ secretary said “receive” or “meet” in the sense of someone greeting a visitor at the door or meeting one at the airport.

More important, he attached the honorific “o” in front of the verb, which exalts the person who performs the action. Even more important, he attached suffix “itadaku” at the end of the verb. By doing so, Mr. Ozawa is signaling (a) that he is inferior in status to Mr. Hu, and that (b) he received a favor when the Chinese leader bestowed an honor on him by meeting him.

In contrast, he attaches no honorific prefix to the verb when talking about Mr. Obama. He uses the verb “kureru”, which is a verb of giving rather than receiving. The speech level also signals that he considers the American president to be either equal to or below him in status.

One university-level Japanese language textbook has the following example sentences for those verbs. Here’s the one for itadaku, the verb Mr. Ozawa used about the Chinese leader:

“I received a dictionary from my teacher.”

Here’s the one for kureru, the verb Mr. Ozawa used for the American leader:

“My roommate gave me a t-shirt for my birthday.”

If the Hatoyama administration didn’t move as far away from the United States as they feared, what was it the “analysts” expected? Hatoyama Yukio and Ozawa Ichiro trying to make their dream come true? Japan’s abrogation of the Security Treaty with the U.S. and recognizing China as its suzerain?

Back to the Times:

But some analysts warn that the move to bring Mr. Ozawa to Washington could send the wrong message. By suggesting that the Obama administration views Mr. Ozawa as the real center of power in Japan, these analysts say, the invitation could undermine the authority of Mr. Hatoyama, who already faces growing criticism at home for weak leadership.

This particular set of “analysts” needn’t worry. No one in Japan has ever thought Mr. Hatoyama had much authority in this administration to begin with. Everyone has viewed Mr. Ozawa as the “real center of power” since Hatoyama Yukio was elected party president last May. That has been the common assumption of every report from every news organization in the print or broadcast media, without exception, regardless of political orientation. The only message the Americans would send in that event is that they’re paying attention.

Here’s a question. Did these “analysts” warn that Mr. Ozawa’s “confirmation” of the equilateral triangle policy with Hu Jintao last December, with neither the prime minister nor the foreign minister in sight, might “send the wrong message”?

Here’s a better question: Did they even know that’s what Mr. Ozawa said?

Washington may also be seen as allying itself with an unpopular political figure who has come under a wave of media criticism here as a last holdout of the old regime’s backroom-style politics.

The headline of the article refers to Mr. Ozawa as Japan’s “real power”. It says “like many before him”, his backroom control is “unchanged” from the past. Now, a few paragraphs later, he’s “a last holdout”.

Warning to the New York Times: You might be sending a confusing message here.

Speaking of warnings:

An Ozawa visit might even be seen as an effort by the United States to engage in petty one-upmanship with the Chinese, warned Gerald Curtis, a professor of Japanese politics at Columbia University. American officials risk appearing as if they want him to repeat his performance last December in Beijing, when he took more than 140 Democratic lawmakers to meet with the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, Mr. Curtis said.

Why anyone would see this as “petty one-upmanship” instead of just the Americans doing business with the man who has the keys to the shop is not explained.

Mr. Curtis, like some other American analysts, said the Obama administration had also stumbled by seeming to stubbornly insist that the new government in Tokyo adhere to the existing agreement. They said this heavy-handed approach has appeared to backfire by raising ire here that Washington was failing to recognize the right of the new Japanese government to change the policies.

Follow this quick summary and timeline about the Futenma Base agreement, and see if you think the Americans have been “stubborn” and “heavy-handed”, if their approach has “backfired”, and which of the two parties is justified in feeling irate.

Futenma is a U.S. Marine Air Corps Station in Ginowan, Okinawa. It has been an airbase continuously since World War II, when it was used by the Japanese military. The U.S. Air Force assumed control in April 1945 and passed control to the U.S. Navy in 1957. The surrounding area is now densely populated area due to postwar development. Under current safety standards it would not be chosen as the location for a new airbase.

September 1995: Three U.S. Marines from the base gang rape an Okinawan school girl.

December 1996: The Japanese and American governments agree to relocate the base to an area offshore Camp Schwab in Okinawa. They decide in 2005 to move the location a few hundred meters further inland at the same location to Henoko in the city of Nago due to the difficulty of building an offshore airstrip in the original location.

December 1996: More than 80% of Nago residents vote against the air station move in a local referendum. Shortly after that, however, they elected a mayor willing to accept the air station.

August 2004: A Marine Corps CH-53D transport helicopter from Futenma crashed into Okinawa International University. Three crew members were injured. No local residents were harmed.

March 2006: A new mayor was elected in Nago, who was also willing to accept the new base. He received more votes than his two anti-relocation opponents combined. He signed an agreement to that effect with Defense Agency chief Nukaga Fukushiro in April 2006. The agreement was later signed by the mayors of the five principal cities in northern Okinawa.

May 2009: After his election as DPJ president, Hatoyama Yukio promised to work to have the base moved outside of Okinawa. He and other party members campaigned in Okinawa during the lower house election in August 2009 on the pledge of actively working to have the base moved. This pledge was not officially written into the party’s election platform, however, because of the difficulties and controversy involved.

29-30 October 2009: In both houses of the Diet, Prime Minister Hatoyama said that developments regarding the base needed to be reviewed, but went no further.

13 November 2009: Prime Minister Hatoyama met President Obama, said “Trust me,” and promised to resolve the issue soon.

14 November 2009: Prime Minister Hatoyama said the Security Treaty with the U.S. would not be the basis for his decision about Futenma.

27 November 2009: Prime Minister Hatoyama said he would resolve the situation within the year.

Late November 2009: Prime Minister Hatoyama sent Terashima Jitsuro, the chairman of the Japan Research Institute think tank, to the U.S. as a confidential emissary to discuss the issue. The White House called up the Prime Minister and asked why they had sent a private sector employee to negotiate.

Meanwhile, one of the DPJ’s minor coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party of Japan, was due to hold an election for party leader. Current party leader Fukushima Mizuho is a member of the Cabinet as the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety, Social Affairs, and Gender Equality. The SPDJ was added to the ruling coalition because their five votes in the upper house helps gives the DPJ a majority in that chamber. It is an anti-American party and has long campaigned to have the base removed from Japan entirely. Other party members criticized Ms. Fukushima for being lukewarm on the Futenma issue.

3 December 2009: Ms. Fukushima threatened to withdraw the party from the coalition if the air station was not removed from Japan.

3 December 2009: That same day, Prime Minister Hatoyama said, “I never said I would resolve (the issue) within the year.”

3 December 2009: That night, he summoned Defense Minister Kitazawa Toshimi and directed him to look into other options for the base site, including Guam. Guam is not part of Japanese territory.

4 December 2009: Fukushima Mizuho was selected by acclamation to head the SDPJ for a fourth term.

4 December 2009: In the morning, Prime Minister Hatoyama said it was necessary to consider Guam as a compromise solution for the base location.

4 December 2009: During the day, Foreign Minister Okada and Defense Minister Kitazawa met with U.S. Ambassador John Roos to discuss the issue. According to the weekly Shukan Shincho of 17 December 2009, they told the ambassador that the prime minister was considering a location for the air station other than Henoko, and it would be difficult to reach a decision before the end of the year. Mr. Roos asked everyone except the two ministers to leave. After they did so, he raised his voice and demanded to know what was going on. He reminded the two men that the prime minister had asked the president to trust him. Was he no longer to be trusted?

Mr. Okada and Mr. Kitazawa had no answer. Mr. Okada finally suggested again the possibility of merging Futenma with the Kadena air base. This solution had originally been suggested during the 1996 negotiations, but the Americans have repeatedly rejected it because Futenma was a Marine facility and Kadena an Air Force facility. The American position is that it is not possible to combine the command structures of the different branches of the service.

Foreign Ministry officials had informed Mr. Okada of this on several occasions, according to the Shukan Shincho, but he tried again anyway. The suggestion was rejected again.

4 December 2009: That same night, Prime Minister Hatoyama said he never brought up the idea of Guam as a compromise solution, claiming that it was the idea of a “different minister”.

15 December 2009: Prime Minister Hatoyama announced he would put off a decision indefinitely. When he was criticized for this decision, he said he would decide before the end of the year.

16 December 2009: Prime Minister Hatoyama admits that his personal objective has always been to have American military forces removed from Japan.

29 December 2009: Prime Minister Hatoyama announced his decision by saying he would reach a decision by May 2010.

25 January 2010: The city of Nago elected as mayor an opponent of the air station move by a margin of 17,960 to 16,362. That’s 52% of 34,322 votes cast among 44,896 eligible voters. The Okinawan prefectural assembly later unanimously voted to oppose the relocation of the base within the prefecture.

Today: Now word is circulating that Prime Minister Hatoyama wants to stick with the original agreement. Reports also say he is claiming that he wanted to stick with the original agreement in December.

Mr. Ozawa, however, has criticized that policy because it could harm the party’s chances among the Okinawa voters in the upper house election in July.

*****

Editorialized the left-of-center Mainichi Shimbun on 3 March:

When there’s a change of government, it is standard practice internationally to uphold the diplomatic agreements of the previous administration. That should have been the guiding principle of this government as it conducted negotiations over several years for further cuts in the Okinawa bases. This childish diplomatic friction has exposed to the international community (the government’s) lack of statecraft.

The Shukan Shincho quoted an unidentified American official:

Japan is (now) a banana republic. It’s not possible to negotiate with them about security matters.

Said Eda Kenji of Your Party about the Hatoyama adminstration:

I want nothing to do with politics of this sort. It’s like children playing house, ignorant of the ABCs of politics and diplomacy.

The Shukan Shincho also quoted Kato Koichi on the issue. Mr. Kato is a former Chief Cabinet Secretary, Defense Agency chief, LDP secretary-general, and was nearly prime minister. Remember, this was in December:

The American government has gotten perversely cross over this, and it’s possible they’ll allow the American auto industry to bash Toyota and refuse to cooperate with interventions to halt yen depreciation in currency markets. In other words, this issue is not limited to security alone. It could also have a harmful effect on automobile trade, Japan’s primary export industry, and foreign exchange policy. It could even cause a further deterioration in the Japanese economy.

That seems rather prescient, does it not?

He added:

Every politician has dreamt once about some of Mr. Hatoyama’s ideas, such as a security arrangement without foreign troops permanently stationed here, or an East Asian entity. But he is completely unable to distinguish between a medium- and long-term vision on the one hand, and circumstances that require a decision within a few months on the other. It’s a new administration, so of course he can seek changes in the promises of past governments. What would be rational, however, is to present a definite substitute proposal.

For its part, the Shukan Shincho wondered whether it will be possible for Mr. Hatoyama to even meet the American president again.

The Times piece concludes:

How does it help improve accountability in Japan if we strike a deal with the powerful man behind the folding screen? Mr. Curtis said.

By this point, the reader should understand the sheer pointlessness of the question. He might also be questioning why Mr. Curtis was interviewed for the article at all.

Now let’s look at what the Sankei Shimbun reported in two articles earlier this month.

*****

The newspaper’s Washington bureau chief, Sasaki (I can’t confirm his given name) wrote the first article on 2 March.

Mr. Sasaki said that discussions were proceeding with the idea of inviting Mr. Ozawa to the U.S., but they were based on the idea that it would not be a formal invitation from the White House or the State Department. If Mr. Ozawa were to insist on a formal invitation from Mr. Obama, he said, it would decrease the likelihood that an invitation would be extended.

The superficial reason is that Mr. Ozawa is not a member of the government. He’s just the head of the ruling party.

Translating back from the Japanese, Mr. Sasaki reports that Mr. Campbell extended the invitation informally “if his schedule permitted”, and that they would “welcome him with respect”. The latter phrase seemed to suggest a presidential meeting.

But Mr. Ozawa’s scandals have begun cause alarm in US government circles, and now some believe it would be best not to invite him at all. As his source, Mr. Sasaki cited someone “familiar with Japanese-American relations”. He added:

An invitation from the American government would mean that President Obama could not avoid a direct meeting. Another reason for the hesitation is the memory of Kanemaru Shin.

Kanemaru met with President George H.W. Bush for 50 minutes on 4 June 1992. At that time, he was the vice-president of the LDP and not in the government. Mr. Bush pledged his support to help Japan in the Northern Territories issue. (Those are the four Japanese islands currently held by Russia.)

Three months later, Kanemaru was indicted for JPY 500 million in political donations in the Sagawa Kyubin scandal, and was arrested for income tax evasion the following March.

It is rare, said the source, for an American president to meet a politician not in the government. Mr. Bush made an exception to help push the bill then pending in the Diet to allow Japanese Self-Defense Forces to participate in UN peace-keeping operations. The bill passed later that month. The newspaper quotes another American source “familiar with Japanese-American relations” who says the “trauma” from that visit still remains.

Ozawa Ichiro was close to Kanemaru Shin, and accompanied him on that visit. Now he’s the one involved in financial scandals.

The paper’s regular Washington correspondent, Komori Yoshihisa, wrote an article shortly thereafter saying that the Obama administration is trying to arrange for the invitation to come from Virginia Senator Jim Webb, the chairman of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

During Mr. Webb’s visit to Tokyo on 15 February, Yamaoka Kenji hit him up to wangle an invitation for Mr. Ozawa. Mr. Webb was non-committal. Mr. Webb has since received phone calls and other contacts from the Ozawa camp asking for help, according to the Sankei’s source. Mr. Ozawa wants a written invitation.

The Sankei article didn’t mention it, but it is not unusual in situations such as these for a foreign dignitary to meet with other political leaders in Washington, and for the president to just happen to “stop by” during the meeting. That might be the situation the Americans envision for Mr. Ozawa.

*****

Zachery Kouwe resigned from the New York Times last month because he was caught red-handed in plagiarism. He wrote several articles for the business section that copied sections verbatim from The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Type “The New York Times” and “plagiarism” into Google and watch how quickly the name Jayson Blair turns up. He was fired. Times columnist Maureen Dowd also got caught copying, but she skated.

The Times even publishes the columns of a Nobel Prize-winning economist. In one of those columns, he refers to a U.S. senator’s statement as a “bizarre point of view”. That point of view is identical to the point of view cited in an economics textbook–written by that same economist and his wife.

On the other hand, the Sankei Shimbun had to issue a public apology when Komori Yoshihisa was caught making up a story. He’s still working for them in Washington.

Then again, his account concerned only secondary details and cited just one or two sources. The New York Times, meanwhile, cited enough unidentified people to cast a chorus line in a Broadway musical, had only a glancing relationship with the facts, and seemed more designed to push a point of view than to present information.

*****

Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio asked President Barack Obama to trust him.

Fat chance.

The New York Times asks us to believe them.

Caveat emptor.

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