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    More official smoke-filled rooms

    The DPJ’s Katsuya Okada has been busy since arriving in Boston. After meeting with Ezra Vogel and Joseph Nye, he seems to have met with Walter Mondale, telling him that the US needs to stay in Iraq until it’s stabilized (actually, the phrasing is the usual “we must humbly receive the favor of your staying…,” the we presumably referring to Japan and the rest of the world) but that Japan itself, despite the end of combat, cannot keep the SDF there because of constitutional strictures. None of that is surprising.

    He also said that US-Japan relations have been relying too much on Armitage personally and that he wonders whether we would still be bestest buddies if Kerry were elected (well, he said “the administration changed to a Democratic one,” but he’s presumably talking about the upcoming election). I was surprised at myself, at first, for not having given that issue much thought. But I think my assumption was that since Japan has socialized medicine, federal initiatives for anything and everything, and a general tradition of ecstatic individual self-abnegation for the good of the collective…sheesh, what’s for the Democrats, all the way to the left fringe, not to love? It’s also a non-white society that always talks about how it loves nature, despite its actual records on ethnic diversity and environmental protection. Also, the people use less energy and throw away less trash per capita than Americans, so even if you have socialist tendencies, you can kind of justify how staggeringly rich the country is.

    In any case, while my experience is that the States-side Democrats/liberals/leftists I know think of Japan as a beacon of the “Third Way,” it’s hard to predict how a Kerry administration might set its Japan policy because we don’t seem to have much indication of who could be his ranking foreign policy advisors. Of course, that policy strategists are kindly disposed toward Japan may not mean that they know how to deal with it effectively; but East Asia specialists tend to study countries they’re attracted to somehow.

    One Response to “More official smoke-filled rooms”

    1. Living here, I’m more concerned about Kerry’s foreign policy toward the United States. Doesn’t look too good.