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If you are right, i.e. that it just boils down to an American sense of entitlement to hold onto its territories in Japan, then the Japanese need to grow some serious hairy ones and just tell the U.S. to sod off.

But I find it hard to subscribe to that interpretation of the situation for two reasons.

First, Obama is not one to embrace an imperial sense of entitlement; that is a noxious legacy he has been working to overcome from the last administration (forgive me: I am an American liberal, I know it's not fashionable to have a positive regard for Obama these days).  He is analytical, and would want substantive reasons for putting the screws on Hatoyama the way he did about the bases in Okinawa.  (Are there any other reasons for suspecting him of being anti-Japanese, he who bowed to Emperor Akihito last fall to the outrage of philistines across America?)

Second, it just doesn't make sense that successive Japanese governments would continually debase themselves and cave in to hectoring U.S. demands for no reason except they want to be seen to "be on good terms" with the Americans.  The Americans must have something on them, especially Hatoyama.  After all, he won by a landslide basically on a populist anti-American campaign with promises to get rid of the U.S. military in Okinawa.  Just as Obama is the last president to bully tier 1 U.S. allies for no reason except U.S. entitlement to territorial holdings, Hatoyama was extremely unlikely to do an about-face with respect to Okinawa just to make nice with the White House.

Or am I utterly underestimating the lack of dignity that the Japanese ruling classes have descended to, even in someone as "progressive" and "revolutionary" (in the Japanese context) as Hatoyama.

If you can't pay the bills, it's not sustainable.

by marco on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 12:38:29 AM EST
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