- Registration time
- Last login
- Online time
- 1953 Hour
- Reading permission
EDITORIAL: Leaked documents reveal shocking Japan-U.S. diplomacy.|
WikiLeaks has published vast troves of internal and confidential government documents that normally would have been kept inaccessible to the public for a certain, usually long, period, such as 25 years, before being released after careful screening.
The anti-secrecy website has disclosed shocking facts about the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and American diplomacy through the releases of classified government documents by whisleblowers. Now, the wave has hit Japanese diplomacy.
The Asahi Shimbun has obtained nearly 7,000 U.S. diplomatic cables from the site, which shed light on the unknown side of diplomacy between Japan and the United States mainly between 2006 and early 2010.
This is the period from the final days of the Liberal Democratic Party's rule to the era of the first Democratic Party of Japan administration led by then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
The Hatoyama administration pledged to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma out of Okinawa Prefecture at the least.
Between late 2009 and early 2010, however, the Hatoyama administration secretly told Washington that Japan would go along with the 2006 bilateral agreement to move the base to a northern location in the same prefecture if no viable alternative to the existing plan was found. It was half a year before Hatoyama publicly said he had decided to break his promise to relocate the base outside Okinawa.
There are certainly some elements in diplomatic negotiations that should be kept secret from the public.
But the Hatoyama administration's lying about its basic policy concerning the Futenma issue amounts to an unpardonable betrayal of the people.
After the DPJ government assumed office, senior bureaucrats at the Foreign and Defense Ministries gave the United States some advice that could undermine the DPJ administration's efforts to solve the Futenma problem, such as Washington should not show flexibility (over the issue) too early.
If bureaucrats have objections to the government's policy, they should express their opinions to their own country's administration.
These foreign and defense ministry officials showed a gross misunderstanding of their roles when they tried to influence the new government's actions by communicating secretly with the negotiation partner.
But questionable diplomatic actions are not the exclusive preserve of the DPJ government.
Concerning the cost of transferring thousands of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, the previous government of the LDP-New Komeito coalition agreed with the U.S. administration to pad related expenses as a gimmick to make Japan's share of the financial burden look smaller than it actually was.
These cables, not intended for immediate publication, contain many facts about behind-the-scenes goings-on in the bilateral diplomacy.
Since they reflect U.S. interpretations of what actually happened, the documents may be silent about things the U.S. administration might find inconvenient.
But reading through these documents without reading too much into specific words and phrases throws into sharp relief some serious problems with Japanese diplomacy.
What emerged from the documents is a deplorable spectacle of Japanese politicians and bureaucrats making haphazard responses to the situation in order to protect existing policies or their own interests.
Their actions showed no sign that they were thinking consistently from the viewpoint of what was in the best interest of the Japanese people.
If there is any one thread running through their actions, it is consideration of the need to keep Japan's relations with the United States on good terms.
In addition, Japanese actors who were distrustful of each other talked fairly candidly about what was going on within the Japanese government to American officials. That's shocking rather than surprising.
If this distressing picture is a true picture of the state of our country's diplomacy, we need to start our efforts to rebuild it by confronting this reality.
What do the DPJ government, Japanese diplomats and the LDP really think about Japan's diplomacy as revealed by these cables? Their answers to this question should be seen as a starting point to debate.
--The Asahi Shimbun, May 5, 2011