Monday, October 31, 2005

Let the whining begin.......

Thanks again to Mudville Gazette, Open Post.......

It has not even been 4 days and the anti-nuclear carrier protests are swinging into full gear.

Hiromichi Umebayashi, president of the nonprofit organization Peace Depot, said the report shows that the SDF, which has been a subordinate to the U.S. forces for 50 years, would share a more prominent role in the U.S. global military strategy from now on.

This enhanced role will have Tokyo bear greater responsibility for security in and around Japan and provide increased support to U.S. forces.

Although Washington argues that the reinforced bilateral alliance is aimed at maintaining security in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, what the U.S. actually wants is to efficiently reorganize the troops of the two countries to uproot terrorists in the Middle East, including Iraq, Umebayashi alleged.

"Integrating the SDF with the U.S. forces on an operational level means that Japan will be deeply involved in the U.S. global strategy and become jointly responsible for (the latter's) actions around the world," Umebayashi said.

He also criticized the lack of thorough Diet debate on the items set forth in the interim report,despite the fact that the agreement will result in a dramatic change to Japan's security policy.

"The people of Japan have not been able to participate in the discussion," Umebayashi said. "The government should provide the public with accurate information and have the Diet debate the issue."

The Japan
Times: Oct. 31, 2005

Don't feel bad Umebayashi-san, the people who live here and have to make these bad ideas work, were not consulted very much either. And when they were, the answers that were given ( like it is a logistical nightmare to move the air wing back and forth from Iwakuni to Yokosuka every time the ship gets underway) were dismissed as "not getting it.....".

Of course "The Governor" is slightly annoyed:

Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara expressed his disappointment Sunday over a Japan-U.S. accord on the realignment of U.S. forces as it does not address his proposal on military-civilian use of the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.

"We regard it as quite regrettable that the issue of joint military-civilian use has been put off. We will issue anew a strong demand to both the Japanese and U.S. governments for the early realization of joint use of the air base," Ishihara said of the accord reached at a ministerial meeting in Washington.

Not to be out done Okinawa's governor has weighed in:

Okinawa Gov Keiichi Inamine on Monday rejected the plan of the Japanese and U.S. governments for relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Futemma Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture, a senior Okinawa prefectural government official said.

Inamine rejected the plan during his talks with Defense Facilities Administration Agency Director General Iwao Kitahara at the prefectural government office in Naha. Japan and the United States agreed last week on a specific relocation site for the heliport functions of the Futemma base in Ginowan, central Okinawa Island, to Nago, in the northern part of the island.

The folks in Yokosuka have gotten into the act; today NHK showed a report of a petition opposing the carrier with 34,000 signatures on it being delievered to the mayors office in Yokosuka. 34,000!? In just a weekend? They must have camped out at every train station in the Kanto plain , convincing kids that CVN was not the name of a new J-pop band......

So does this mean the plan is in trouble before it even begins? Not at all. In Japan, as the late speaker of the house Tip O' Neill said, "all politics is local."

The Japanese government would never have agreed to this plan if they did not feel confident the opposition can be overcome, and especially now that the ruling party of Prime Minister Koizumi is in a very strong position. What this is about is making sure the communities get some sort of reward for their noise. The government knows it will get it's way, the cities know it, but they have to have something to show their people. Particularly at a time when a greater Japanese role overseas, particularly in Iraq, is very unpopular with the majority of the Japanese people. Koizumi and G.W. may have a "special relationship", but just like Bush's other "special relationship" with Tony Blair, there is a lot of skepticism about the President's real motives. That's partly why people are trying to find some other term than GWOT (global war on terror) because that term is identified with American objectives and not necessarily Japanese ones.

The local politicians know that after the recent elections, the Prime Minister is in a strong position and has been done to those who bolted LDP over the Postal Reform issue, they too can be exiled to the outer darkness. Since neither side wants that, it's better think of them as being "in negotiations." I suspect that the future of Japanese construction companies in Yamaguchi prefecture is very bright, as jobs projects are thrown their way. Same with Yokosuka. Such is the order of things over here.

As for the effect on US forces, namely making it harder to get things done.....well this is not the first time the guys who are out there have been ignored. Talk to Mark over in Korea...........

There is an upside to the protests though. They make for great entertainment value, particularly if they are like these protests against KFC here in Shibuya Tokyo:

You mean other than killing them and eating them?

Save Yokosuka, wear your bikini!!!!!!-Skippy-san


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