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August 30th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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August 30, 2009

Will Japanese Power Shift
Change U.S. Relations?

by Corey Flintoff

The party that guided postwar Japan through impressive prosperity and then into persistent economic stagnation lost parliamentary elections Sunday in a vote that could signal significant changes in U.S.-Japan relations.

Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, which for a half-century enjoyed near total political domination, has helped define the U.S. relationship by providing bases for American troops and strong ties between U.S. and Japanese markets.

The Democratic Party of Japan, won in a landslide Sunday, campaigned on a promise to create a foreign policy that is more integrated with its East Asian neighbors and more independent from the United States.

While the strong U.S.-Japan relationship is not fundamentally threatened, a victory for the DPJ presents a different stance from the more conservative LPD, which has generally supported U.S. political and economic goals around the world.

The Democratic Party leader, Yukio Hatoyama, signaled some of his party's planned changes in international economic policy in a commentary Thursday in The New York Times. Hatoyama denounced what he called "market fundamentalism in a U.S.-led movement that is more usually called globalization."

Hatoyama argued that globalization ignores human dignity, and said his administration would work on people-oriented policies that "take greater account of nature and the environment, that rebuild welfare and medical systems, that provide better education and child-rearing support, and that address wealth disparities."

Sheila Smith, a senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, says Hatoyama's article should serve as a wake-up call to the Obama administration to be ready for a new Japanese approach that could show itself as early as the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh in late September.

Leaders from the world's major industrial countries will use the meeting to discuss the global financial crisis. Japan may not be as willing to go along with solutions that the new ruling party regards as promoting unrestrained, American-style capitalism.

Smith says a big victory by the DPJ in the 480-seat lower house of parliament means that the party could have a relatively free hand in implementing its policy goals.

"Three-hundred-plus seats means we'll have a DPJ government for at least the next three to four years," Smith says.

But domestic issues, not foreign policy, would likely dominate the agenda of the new government in the first few months, some analysts say.

The party campaigned on promises to spend heavily on domestic items such as family services, education and income support for farmers at a time when the country already faces a massive deficit.

"I don't see any big changes in foreign policy right away," says Nicholas Szechenyi, a Japan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Dispute Over Military Bases

Smith says a DPJ victory could also lead to changes in Japanese security policy, including the status-of-forces agreement that lays out how U.S. military forces can operate on Japanese soil. Japan hosts about 47,000 U.S. troops.

One potential dispute centers on how much Japan should pay of the cost of relocating a U.S. Marine base from Okinawa to Guam, a move that is supposed to be completed by 2014. U.S. bases in Okinawa have been a source of controversy for years because of disputes over land and a series of violent crimes committed by U.S. troops.

Under an agreement in 2006, Japan would pick up more than $6 billion of the estimated $10 billion cost of the relocation, mainly for building new housing for the Marines in Guam. DPJ leaders have said that is too much.

In his New York Times opinion piece, Hatoyama stressed that he wants Japan to take a more integrated role in East Asian affairs and align more closely with China and South Korea. But he added that Japan's alliance with the U.S. would "continue to be the cornerstone of Japanese diplomatic policy."

How Much Can The DPJ Deliver?

Even with a decisive win Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Hatoyama can bring the kind of change his party is promising. The 62-year-old Stanford-educated engineer has a reputation for being wooden and lacking charisma .

The DPJ has promised to reduce the power of Japan's entrenched bureaucracy and restore more policymaking power to elected politicians, a task that Smith says won't be easy, given Japan's parliamentary system.

The Liberal Democratic Party was formed in the mid-1950s and has ruled uninterrupted except for a defeat in 1993. Then, it returned to power after less than a year.

"People don't come in and out of the bureaucracy the way political appointees do in the U.S.," Smith says. "As an institution, that means the bureaucracy is stronger and more elite, and it has been tightly wedded to the LDP."

Szechenyi says Hatoyama would like to centralize power in the prime minister's office, but that could be a delicate balancing act, "because to a certain extent, the DPJ is going to be dependent on the bureaucracy to help it function."

A bigger challenge is that the DPJ is a fractious party, composed of a spectrum of politicians ranging from socialists to disgruntled former members of the LDP. "Some people in the DPJ have been suggesting that the U.S.-Japanese relationship won't change at all, and then you've got Hatoyama writing that op-ed," Szechenyi says.

"I think the No. 1 priority for a Hatoyama government is just going to be getting used to governing," Szechenyi says. "It's going to be a very quick transition from campaigning to being in charge."

Copyright 2009 NPR

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August 27, 2009

Op-Ed Contributor

A New Path for Japan


TOKYO — In the post-Cold War period, Japan has been continually buffeted by the winds of market fundamentalism in a U.S.-led movement that is more usually called globalization. In the fundamentalist pursuit of capitalism people are treated not as an end but as a means. Consequently, human dignity is lost.

How can we put an end to unrestrained market fundamentalism and financial capitalism, that are void of morals or moderation, in order to protect the finances and livelihoods of our citizens? That is the issue we are now facing.

In these times, we must return to the idea of fraternity — as in the French slogan “liberté, égalité, fraternité” — as a force for moderating the danger inherent within freedom.

Fraternity as I mean it can be described as a principle that aims to adjust to the excesses of the current globalized brand of capitalism and accommodate the local economic practices that have been fostered through our traditions.

The recent economic crisis resulted from a way of thinking based on the idea that American-style free-market economics represents a universal and ideal economic order, and that all countries should modify the traditions and regulations governing their economies in line with global (or rather American) standards.

In Japan, opinion was divided on how far the trend toward globalization should go. Some advocated the active embrace of globalism and leaving everything up to the dictates of the market. Others favored a more reticent approach, believing that efforts should be made to expand the social safety net and protect our traditional economic activities. Since the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (2001-2006), the Liberal Democratic Party has stressed the former, while we in the Democratic Party of Japan have tended toward the latter position.

The economic order in any country is built up over long years and reflects the influence of traditions, habits and national lifestyles. But globalism has progressed without any regard for non-economic values, or for environmental issues or problems of resource restriction.

If we look back on the changes in Japanese society since the end of the Cold War, I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the global economy has damaged traditional economic activities and destroyed local communities.

In terms of market theory, people are simply personnel expenses. But in the real world people support the fabric of the local community and are the physical embodiment of its lifestyle, traditions and culture. An individual gains respect as a person by acquiring a job and a role within the local community and being able to maintain his family’s livelihood.

Under the principle of fraternity, we would not implement policies that leave areas relating to human lives and safety — such as agriculture, the environment and medicine — to the mercy of globalism.

Our responsibility as politicians is to refocus our attention on those non-economic values that have been thrown aside by the march of globalism. We must work on policies that regenerate the ties that bring people together, that take greater account of nature and the environment, that rebuild welfare and medical systems, that provide better education and child-rearing support, and that address wealth disparities.

Another national goal that emerges from the concept of fraternity is the creation of an East Asian community. Of course, the Japan-U.S. security pact will continue to be the cornerstone of Japanese diplomatic policy.

But at the same time, we must not forget our identity as a nation located in Asia. I believe that the East Asian region, which is showing increasing vitality, must be recognized as Japan’s basic sphere of being. So we must continue to build frameworks for stable economic cooperation and security across the region.

The financial crisis has suggested to many that the era of U.S. unilateralism may come to an end. It has also raised doubts about the permanence of the dollar as the key global currency.

I also feel that as a result of the failure of the Iraq war and the financial crisis, the era of U.S.-led globalism is coming to an end and that we are moving toward an era of multipolarity. But at present no one country is ready to replace the United States as the dominant country. Nor is there a currency ready to replace the dollar as the world’s key currency. Although the influence of the U.S. is declining, it will remain the world’s leading military and economic power for the next two to three decades.

Current developments show clearly that China will become one of the world’s leading economic nations while also continuing to expand its military power. The size of China’s economy will surpass that of Japan in the not-too-distant future.

How should Japan maintain its political and economic independence and protect its national interest when caught between the United States, which is fighting to retain its position as the world’s dominant power, and China, which is seeking ways to become dominant?

This is a question of concern not only to Japan but also to the small and medium-sized nations in Asia. They want the military power of the U.S. to function effectively for the stability of the region but want to restrain U.S. political and economic excesses. They also want to reduce the military threat posed by our neighbor China while ensuring that China’s expanding economy develops in an orderly fashion. These are major factors accelerating regional integration.

Today, as the supranational political and economic philosophies of Marxism and globalism have, for better or for worse, stagnated, nationalism is once again starting to have a major influence in various countries.

As we seek to build new structures for international cooperation, we must overcome excessive nationalism and go down a path toward rule-based economic cooperation and security.

Unlike Europe, the countries of this region differ in size, development stage and political system, so economic integration cannot be achieved over the short term. However, we should nonetheless aspire to move toward regional currency integration as a natural extension of the rapid economic growth begun by Japan, followed by South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and then achieved by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China. We must spare no effort to build the permanent security frameworks essential to underpinning currency integration.

Establishing a common Asian currency will likely take more than 10 years. For such a single currency to bring about political integration will surely take longer still.

ASEAN, Japan, China (including Hong Kong), South Korea and Taiwan now account for one quarter of the world’s gross domestic product. The economic power of the East Asian region and the interdependent relationships within the region have grown wider and deeper. So the structures required for the formation of a regional economic bloc are already in place.

On the other hand, due to historical and cultural conflicts as well as conflicting national security interests, we must recognize that there are numerous difficult political issues. The problems of increased militarization and territorial disputes cannot be resolved by bilateral negotiations between, for example, Japan and South Korea, or Japan and China. The more these problems are discussed bilaterally, the greater the risk that emotions become inflamed and nationalism intensified.

Therefore, I would suggest, somewhat paradoxically, that the issues that stand in the way of regional integration can only be truly resolved by moving toward greater integration. The experience of the E.U. shows us how regional integration can defuse territorial disputes.

I believe that regional integration and collective security is the path we should follow toward realizing the principles of pacifism and multilateral cooperation advocated by the Japanese Constitution. It is also the appropriate path for protecting Japan’s political and economic independence and pursuing our interests in our position between the United States and China.

Let me conclude by quoting the words of Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, founder of the first popular movement for a united Europe, written 85 years ago in “Pan-Europa” (my grandfather, Ichiro Hatoyama, translated his book, “The Totalitarian State Against Man,” into Japanese): “All great historical ideas started as a utopian dream and ended with reality. Whether a particular idea remains as a utopian dream or becomes a reality depends on the number of people who believe in the ideal and their ability to act upon it.”

Yukio Hatoyama heads the Democratic Party of Japan, and would become prime minister should the party win in Sunday’s elections. A longer version of this article appears in the September issue of the monthly Japanese journal Voice.

Global Viewpoint/Tribune Media Services

Copyright 2009

September 2nd, 2009, 12:52 AM
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U.S. Is Seeing Policy Thorns in Japan Shift
By MARK LANDLER (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/mark_landler/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and MARTIN FACKLER (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/martin_fackler/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Published: September 1, 2009
WASHINGTON — Japan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/japan/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)’s landmark election (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/world/asia/31japan.html) presents the Obama administration with an untested government, creating a new set of imponderables for a White House already burdened by foreign policy headaches in Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea.
Skip to next paragraph (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/02/world/asia/02diplo.html?_r=1&hp#secondParagraph) Enlarge This Image (http://javascript<b></b>:pop_me_up2('http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/09/02/world/asia/02diplo.inline1.ready.html', '02diplo_inline1_ready', 'width=720,height=600,scrollbars=yes,toolbars=no,r esizable=yes'))
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Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times
Yukio Hatoyama, leader of Japan’s newly elected Democratic Party, spoke Monday to reporters.

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Toru Hanai/Reuters
Taro Aso, Japan’s prime minister, on Sunday, the day voters ousted his Liberal Democratic Party.

Inside the administration, the historic change in Tokyo is raising concerns that Japan may back away from supporting key American priorities like the war in Afghanistan or the redeployment of American troops in Asia, according to senior officials.

Specifically, the newly elected Democratic Party says it may recall the Japanese naval forces from a mission to refuel American warships near Afghanistan. And it wants to reopen an agreement (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/09/01/world/AP-AS-Japan-Politics.html) to relocate a Marine airfield on Okinawa, which requires Japan to pick up much of the cost for moving thousands of Marines (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/m/us_marine_corps/index.html?inline=nyt-org) to Guam.

The victory of the Democrats on Sunday means the White House must deal, for the first time in decades, with a Japanese government that is a complete stranger, and one that has expressed blunt criticism of the United States. The party’s leader and presumptive prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/yukio_hatoyama/index.html?inline=nyt-per), recently spoke out against American-led globalization and called for a greater Japanese focus on Asia.

Despite the party’s campaign rhetoric, its leaders insist they will not threaten the alliance with the United States, particularly when Japan faces a fast-rising China and a nuclear-armed North Korea. Senior American officials said they expected Japan to remain a bulwark in Asia, even noting that the new government, unburdened by history, could play a more central role in negotiating with North Korea.
But for the most part, the United States is perplexed by what one official described as a “seismic event,” with unknown consequences for one of its most important relationships.

“The election of a new party could produce new ways of doing things, which we will have to adjust to,” said a senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter. “You’ll have this period of unpredictability.”
The big question many in Washington are asking is whether the vote was a harbinger of a deeper change in Japan, away from its historic dependence on the United States.

“There is a fear of dramatic change in the U.S.-Japan alliance,” said Michael Auslin, an expert on Japanese foreign policy at the American Enterprise Institute (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/american_enterprise_institute_for_public_policy_re search/index.html?inline=nyt-org) in Washington. “No one knows what will happen next, or even who to talk to for answers.”

The Democratic Party struck a chord with its talk of improving ties with China and other neighbors, reflecting the fact that Japan’s $5 trillion economy has grown more dependent on commerce with its neighbors.
Fears of Japanese drift seemed to be confirmed last week when an article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/opinion/27iht-edhatoyama.html) by Mr. Hatoyama, excerpted and translated from a Japanese journal, appeared on the Web site of The New York Times. It stirred a hornet’s nest in Washington by casting Japan’s embattled economy as the victim of American-inspired free-market fundamentalism. Yet it also stressed the importance of the American alliance.

Mr. Hatoyama’s views sent many in Washington’s diplomatic establishment scurrying to learn more about him and the Democrats. That highlighted a problem: While American officials and academics have spent decades cultivating close ties with the Liberal Democrats, who have governed Japan for most of the last half century, they have built few links to the opposition.

Some Japan experts said it would be a mistake to read too much into Mr. Hatoyama’s remarks, and Japanese officials privately conveyed that same caution to the Obama administration.
“It was an indication they still haven’t figured out what they’re going to do in power,” said Michael J. Green, a professor of international relations at Georgetown University (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/g/georgetown_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org) who served on the National Security Council (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/national_security_council/index.html?inline=nyt-org) during the last Bush administration. “This could get confused and dysfunctional for a while.”

Stung by the reaction, Mr. Hatoyama appears to be back-pedaling and engaging in damage control. On Monday night, he said he had not intended for the article to appear abroad, and said it was being misinterpreted. “If you read the entire essay, you will understand that it is definitely not expressing anti-American ideas,” he said.
Professor Green noted that in many ways, relations between the United States and Japan were smoother now than in years past because the trade disputes of the 1980s and 1990s were largely settled.

He said the new government would find that some of its proposals, like reopening talks on the relocation of the Futenma Marine airfield on Okinawa, were unrealistic, given the years it took to negotiate that deal. For the Obama administration, he said, the challenge will be to give Japan’s new leaders a face-saving way to back down.
Japan, experts said, could play a more muscular role in talks with North Korea if, as expected, the Democrats turn down the heat on the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea decades ago, a perennial sticking point for the Liberal Democrats.

And Obama administration officials said they were eager to dispel perceptions in Japan that a better relationship with China would somehow undermine its alliance with the United States.
“We have no desire to see our defense commitment tested by battle,” a senior official said. “We see no contradiction between Japan reducing frictions with China and a strong Japan-U.S. alliance.”

In recent years, many Japanese have thought the United States took the relationship for granted, paying more attention to China.
Traditionally, the United States has sent high-powered diplomats or political figures to Tokyo. But the Obama administration chose to send a big campaign donor, John Roos, as ambassador, passing over a longtime Asia hand, Joseph S. Nye Jr., who had been championed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/hillary_rodham_clinton/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

Administration officials counter that Mr. Roos, a Silicon Valley lawyer, will be influential because he has the ear of President Obama (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/barack_obama/index.html?inline=nyt-per).
Political analysts and former diplomats say the Democrats are so sharply divided ideologically — between pacifist former Socialists and flag-flying former Liberal Democrats — that they will avoid treading too heavily on divisive foreign policy issues for fear of splitting the party.

Policy analysts also say the Japanese public would turn against the Democrats if they undermined the Washington alliance, pointing out that the opposition won because of anger with the incumbents’ failed economic policies, not because of a desire to change the nation’s reliance on the United States, which remains widely accepted here.
“They do not have a mandate for changing the alliance with the U.S.,” said Yukio Okamoto, a former adviser to several prime ministers on foreign affairs.

Mark Landler reported from Washington, and Martin Fackler from Tokyo.

September 3rd, 2009, 04:34 PM
Japan’s New Leader Reassures U.S. on Alliance

Junko Kimura/Getty Images
Japan's next Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, said on Thursday that he would not change the alliance with the United States.

By MARTIN FACKLER (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/martin_fackler/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: September 3, 2009
TOKYO — Scrambling to mend fences with his country’s biggest ally, Japan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/japan/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)’s next leader, Yukio Hatoyama (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/yukio_hatoyama/index.html?inline=nyt-per), told President Obama (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/barack_obama/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and the United States ambassador on Thursday that the American alliance was the basis of Japanese foreign policy.

In a phone call Thursday with the White House, Mr. Hatoyama said he reassured Mr. Obama that he would not change the alliance with the United States. It was his first conversation with the president since his party defeated (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/31/world/asia/31japan.html) Japan’s long-governing incumbent party in Sunday’s landmark election.

“We reaffirmed that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the foundation” of Japanese foreign policy, Mr. Hatoyama told reporters.
Mr. Hatoyama was seeking to quell worries (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/02/world/asia/02diplo.html) that his slightly left-of-center government — elected after an almost uninterrupted half-century of rule by the conservative, pro-American Liberal Democratic Party —would pull Japan away from the United States.

During the campaign, his party, the Democratic Party (http://www.dpj.or.jp/english/), promised to seek a more “equal partnership” with Washington and build closer ties with China and other Asian countries. But the biggest problems were caused by an essay (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/opinion/27iht-edhatoyama.html) by the Stanford-educated Mr. Hatoyama, published in the International Herald Tribune and on the Web site of The New York Times, that called Japan’s ailing economy a victim of American-led globalization.

The resulting stir in Washington presented Mr. Hatoyama’s inexperienced government-in-waiting with its first crisis. American criticism of the essay was front-page news in major Japanese newspapers on Thursday, reflecting the still widely held sentiment here that Japan must stay close to the United States, especially with a fast-rising China and nuclear-armed North Korea nearby.

Mr. Hatoyama has tried to control the damage in recent days, stressing that he has no intention of fundamentally altering the alliance, although his party wants some minor changes to agreements covering the 50,000-strong American military presence. He has also said the essay was misunderstood, and not intended to be anti-American.
Still, Japanese political analysts have been sharply critical of Mr. Hatoyama for failing to manage his image, and for letting the essay, a translation of a longer article in a Japanese magazine, be an early statement of his views to the world.

“The article itself is minor,” said Koji Murata, a professor of international relations at Doshisha University in Kyoto. “But the sense of timing of Mr. Hatoyama and those around him raises substantial doubts about his diplomatic sense.”
According to Mr. Murata and others, the row also reflected the lack of information about Mr. Hatoyama and his party in Washington, which had grown used to decades of dealing with the Liberal Democrats, while largely ignoring the opposition.

Mr. Murata also faulted American officials for their immediate negative reactions to the Democrats’ campaign pledges, such as re-examining an agreement to relocate the Marine Corps airfield at Futenma to another site on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

“If they say things like Futenma is not negotiable, this will just make the Democratic Party become more obstinate,” Mr. Murata said.
Mr. Hatoyama met for 45 minutes on Thursday with the new United States ambassador, John Roos, a California lawyer and fund-raiser for Mr. Obama.
“We spent a lot of time talking about how to enhance and deepen the relationship across a broad range of issues, not only strategic issues, but scientific issues, cultural matters,” Mr. Roos told reporters.

Mr. Hatoyama said that he told Mr. Roos that the alliance “should be further strengthened in a constructive, future-oriented manner.”

Mr. Hatoyama described his 12-minute phone conversation with Mr. Obama as friendly and constructive.