Thursday, March 4, 2004


I suspect that Japanese politicians were probably less famous for putting their feet in their mouths before the Meji Era, a time when most of them were still wearing 'geta' (Japanese wooden clogs). Of course, they closed the fashion gap with their Western counterparts years ago, and these days they may have even surpassed them in political faux pas department, as even the most cursory of glances at the Japanese mass media will confirm. Yes, saying stupid things in public isn't a just prerequisite for occupying a political position in America, the practice seems to be extant in Japan as well.

Item: Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara has said recently that if Iraqi deplyoed SDFs suffer casualties, then public opinion will shift to the side of the government, adding weight behind a move to revise Japan's pacifist Constitution along more militant lines. Ishihara was quoted as saying that if such a revision were to take place, Japan would "...no longer at the beck and call of the U.S." See the Japan Today's article and its attendant running commentary by concerned readers.

What could be behind such (for Japan) bold comments? Nothing more than a rather obvious American political gambit, but enough of one to completely rook more than a few countries around the world. France, for example, is now completely bamboozled. What's going on? OK...This isn't that complex, but please allow me to explain.

Since Japan, after a series of visits by key US officials, has sent troops to Iraq this time (previously Japan had only sent money...to the tune of billions of dollars), it makes them look better in the eyes of the UN. Why is it important to look good in the UN's eyes? Well, Japan has been salivating over a UN Security Council position for some time now. What's wrong with that, you say? After all, Japan IS a peace-loving country, isn't it? Won't it always vote on the side of peace if it can become a permanent member of the Council? Hummm...well, on paper, that is CONSTITUTIONALLY speaking, yes it is a peace-loving country. But, in terms of real world policy, the story is quite different, since Japan is one of the countries that America has well in pocket, in terms of military as well as economic 'support' (read: extortion), it will probably have little choice but to side with America on any key votes that come before the Security Council.

Remember, the Security Council only has five permanent members. They are China, France, the Russian Federation, the UK, and the US. It doens't take a rocket scientist to figure out that currently, three of the five members (China, France and the Russian Federation) aren't exactly George W. Bush's new lapdogs. So the President figures that after the UK, there is a little more room on his lap, at least enough for Japan. This will give it the key vote that it needs to act bullish in its role as a UN Security Council member. (As if it matters to the US what the Council decides anyway. It will just go ahead and do what it wants, just like it did with the recent war in Iraq.)

But in any event, a constitutionally more militant Japan leads eventually to a Japan more likely to back the US in a UN Security Council vote. Ishihara's naivete is stunning, since he is speaking in terms of 'if' and not 'when' the SDF incurs casualties. Mark my words, it will happen. For ONE reason why, I refer you to my previous posting on the SDF presence in Iraq, which voices some novel concerns. How Japan reacts after the SDF casualties is what I'm really interested in. i only hope the endgame doesn't play completely into US hands.

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