Given limitations on my own time right now, I would like to offer in lieu of a serious post of my own this excellent piece by Peter Ennis writing over at the Brookings institute.
As usual there is the typical excess of balance, thoughtfulness, and common sense blended with insider knowledge. In addition, Ennis sums up in a nice quote a theme my own research will likely reflect upon in terms of generation change and foreign policy:
It’s ironic, but in this age of globalization and rapid social change, it may be Japan’s deepening and widening democracy and civil society, more than Japan’s vaunted economic miracle, that proves most valuable as a model to Asia’s developing nations.
While it is not uncommon for alliance managers to argue for the need to maintain a broader view of the alliance in addition to its military and economic dimensions, the insight nicely points to why it would be a disaster if a more “forceful” resolution to the Futenma issue was pursued, for both the long-term legitimacy of the alliance itself as well as for Japan’s own interests. With former National Security Adviser James Jones’ recent comments and Senators Webb, McCain and Levin’s call for a re-examination of basing plans in East Asia, including Futenma, it does seem however that we are witnessing an opening in the discourse on not only Futenma but potentially on the sustainability of the US global and regional presence, and Japan’s orientation towards this presence. Which means, interesting times ahead for students of Japan’s foreign and security policy.