Thursday, February 05, 2009

Good for the goose....

Two headlines caught my attention this morning:

"Japan warns US on ‘Buy American’"

"Japan Considers Ending Four-Decade Policy to Cut Rice Planting"

Well, my first thought is - what is good for the goose is good for the gander. While on one hand Japan is warning the US not to implement protectionist measures regarding steel, while on the other they are changing their support for rice farmers at home.

As always, domestic agriculture is a different universe, exempt for all ideas of fairness.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Germany to post troops in France

The AP reports today that Germany is going to station troops in France for the first time since the Nazi occupation of France prior to 1945. The French-German joint military brigade, currently stationed on the German side of the border and comprised of troops from both countries, will send approximately 600 of the 2800 German troops in the Brigade to a location in France. (There are 2,300 French troops in the Brigade). They have served in the Balkans and Afghanistan together.

This could not be more starkly different than Sino-Japanese relations. Remember back to the May 2008 earthquake and flooding in China, when the Chinese requested Japanese assistance. Ultimately, the plan to use Japanese ASDF planes did not pan out - its simply too sensitive.

While German reconciliation with its neighbors is often held up as the gold standard for Japan (and has its own problems), it does illustrate the distance that these other two WWII adversaries need to make up in their long efforts at reconciliation.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Japan Passing?

I have been shocked in recent weeks about the utter fear of Japan passing in Tokyo.

Now, it is reported, Clinton will make her first international trip to East Asia, including Tokyo. Surely, the protocol officers are ensuring she goes to Tokyo before Beijing or Seoul, but we shall see. Perhaps this will assuage the fears.

This reminds me of similar consternation in Tokyo when Victor Cha left the NSC, and was succeeded by a very young staffer. Leaders in Tokyo were worried that they wouldn't be heard in Washington. Likewise, when Obama won the election, Tokyo seemed surprised, and was afraid to imagine a US-Japan alliance without a certain Dr. Green.

It is time for Tokyo to quit fretting, and worrying about individual relationships, and instead act like the power they aspire to be. If they want to be a medium or large power, then they should act like it.