So, perhaps I should politely ask some of the Americans in the Japan blogosphere to account for their country’s “irresponsible actions” in playing politics with the Futenma issue. (笑）
To be sure, (I think) I know what is going on behind the scenes here and understand that it does not signal a (poorly thought-out) intention or desire on the US side to change the balance of power within the U.S.-Japan alliance (cf. Hatoyama) – not yet anyway (Let’s assume no double dip recession for now). Nevertheless, while as the article suggests the Japanese alliance managers might understand how the US system works, the Japanese public may not – at times like these, the Japanese government must find it useful to have a media that knows how to behave and is generally sensible in regards to security issues. It certainly would not be hard to stir up a bit of “strategic insecurity” on this issue if desired. If nothing else can be read into it, certainly it is that Japanese politicians may not have a monopoly on discursive unreliability.
Furthermore, assuming the Japanese public is good enough to see the political context in which these discussions are taking place, maybe it is not too much after all to ask that the DC establishment, educated and powerful and all, to show a similar level of sensitivity to Japan’s own political context. Last of all, are not some of the questions that the likes of Franks etc are asking not so much unlike those that some in Japan have been asking and are pilloried for, you know, because they “do not understand security”.
To be sure, I am not saying I agree with their insights. I am skeptical of some claims of the utility for Japan of the alliance to be sure, but I am not a military strategy expert so I will withhold final judgement. But I do think it shows the need to be vigilant in appropriately framing the narrative around Japanese political behaviour within the context of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Democracy (and now fiscal solvency) is hard work everywhere, after all.
Now in practical terms, the Futenma issue was hard enough. Nejibana has already detailed the likely return of the Futenma issue and the implications for the DPJ and PM Kan in particular. In short, the issue is that Okinawa seems pretty fired up still, and that makes things hard for everyone. Now just to add a little bit more spice to the curry, according to the first article above, some of the politics around funding for the previously promised Marine transition to Guam have as much to do with hold ups in Guam than as a reaction against Japanese politicians behavior on Futenma. Sovereign island outposts are hard work too, aren’t they!?
But if the Okinawans are fired up now about the Futenma to Henoko relocation issue, I can imagine some degree of incredulity will be detectable in their reaction to news that due to practical reasons the US government has failed to find anywhere for the Marines to move, and thus, they will have to stay put for a while. So sorry about annoying you on Futenma, and extra sorry on really annoying you on the broader promised force transition.
If this really is the problem that the article suggests I don’t see how that could NOT be a big deal, to be honest.
And this all assumes that someone in the US congress down the line does not ask the question “shouldn’t they be paying more for all this?”