Friday, April 23, 2010

Japanese Democrat Government in Confusion and Its National Security Policy in Errant

On April 14, I attended a panel discussion, entitled ”The Prospect of Japanese Politics under the DPJ Administration” hosted by the Japan Forum on International Relations, inviting Professor Kouichi Endo as the guest speaker.

Professor Endo analyzed the DPJ administration from three points, and finally, he told prospects of the forthcoming election of the House of Councilors.

Regarding the power rotation last year, Endo said that the DPJ won the last election because Mutohaso (independent voters) who voted the LDP in the Postal Saving Election in September switched to support the DPJ. However, he says that LDP predominance has begun to be eroded, since the first manifesto based election in 2003. DPJ has grown steadily since then, not because leftist and liberal voters increased, but conservatives and centrists feel disappointed with LDP single party rule.

Regarding new DPJ regime with the above mentioned backgrounds, Endo points out critical gaps in policy values within the executive team, and the Hatoyama cabinet is dominated by Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, who leads intra party affairs of the Democratic Party. According to Endo, this is something like party superiority to the government under communist regime in the old Soviet Union and China. Endo expects a restructure of Japanese politics by new parties, as the DPJ government is in confusion and the LDP has become outmoded.

A typical case of illustrating confusion of the DPJ administration is the Futenma Military Base Issue, which has become the most important national security problem now. Endo is not the only Japanese opinion leader who strongly demands that Prime Minister Hatoyama resign unless he resolves the Futenma Issue by the end of this May as he promised. This may ne the reason why Prime Minister Hatoyama had a 10 minuet unofficial talk with President Obama to discuss the Futenma Issue, at the Nuclear Security Summit on April 12 and 13. However, did any leaders besides Hatoyama dared to discuss issues not related to the agenda of such a multilateral meeting? This fact reveals how erratic national security policy of the current administration is.

As the Nuclear Security Summit of 47 countries, issues like US base in Okinawa is just a “domestic problem”. Ever since the inauguration, President Obama has been preoccupied with domestic issues like passing the health care bill at the Congress, and he has just begun to tackle nuclear non-proliferation. President Obama has not made sufficient preparations for the Futenma negotiation, now. Hatoyama’s behavior is something like talking of mathematics when taking an English exam, or talking of History when taking a science exam.

As one diplomat told, US Forces in Japan will continue to use Futenma if the Japanese side cannot find any resolutions. This is hardly a problem for the American side.

A world without nuclear weapons was declared at this summit, but the imminent problem was Iranian nuclear arsenals. President Obama had the longest talk with Chinese President Hu Jiontao, because the gap between China and the West is not filled on sanctions against Iran. This is what I mentioned in previous posts (See 1 and 2.). Quite a few media reported that Japan was far less impressive than China, but it was Hatoyama’s fault that he discussed an issue irrelevant to the agenda of the summit.