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Now it's All up to the Indian Fortune-teller

Left: Hatoyama keeps apologizing to everyone for everything he has done, or has not
Center: One of the brethren of this old man is governing Japan behind the scenes
Right: Pro golfer Ai Miyazato has already won two LPGA tournaments this spring

My friend Jack asked me about my take on the rally staged yesterday in Yomitanson, Okinawa Prefecture, in which 90,000 people participated to protest against the recent move by the government to keep the U.S. Marine Corps' "helicopter" unit in their islands. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama looks to have backed down on his pledge to relocate it to 県外 (kengai, or outside of Okinawa) or 国外 (kokugai, or outside of Japan) in the wake of the April 18 rally in Tokunoshima island, Kagoshima Prefecture.

I don't see a lot of differences between the two rallies. Protesters in both prefectures had equally ambivalent sentiments; on the one hand, they were opposed to any plan to have U.S. military bases in their respective prefectures, but on the other, they were receptive of them deep inside. Their behaviors were also similar in that they were discouraged from expressing their honne openly.

The Okinawa Governor is a good example. Hirokazu Nakaima was elected the governor basically on his campaign pledge to keep U.S. military bases in the prefecture while gradually trying to reduce the burden on the citizens. Yet, he somehow felt obliged to attend the April 25 rally to deliver a half-hearted and vaguely-worded address in support of the kengai relocation of the Futenma Air Station.

The reason behind their mixed feelings toward the U.S. presence in their lands is because Okinawa's base-related income accounts for 20% of the prefecture's GDP, whereas these bases cover only a little more than 10% of the total area of 2,276 or 879 sq.mi. Kagoshima Prefecture, too, could have expected a handsome amount of windfall from the $26 billion already funded by the previous administration had it not been for the April 18 rally.

However, there is one crucial difference between the peoples in Okinawa and other areas that include Tokunoshima.

Okinawa is Japan's last colony.

You may have been so brainwashed as to find it totally unimaginable that someday the Okinawans may seek independence from Japan. Yet, that is a little more likely than the Native Hawaiians seeking secession from the United States. To say the least, if and when Japan's first-ever civil war breaks out, Okinawa will be the major battleground.

From 1429 through 1879, these islands were an independent kingdom under the reign of the Ryukyu Dynasty. Even after Satsuma Domain, the fiefdom that is called Kagoshima Prefecture today, virtually annexed it in 1609, the rich and diverse culture has still been flourishing there among the bright, straightforward and self-respecting people.

Given their ethnological and cultural background, the Okinawans, except those who have chosen to abandon their ethnic identity to become assimilated into this nation where the process of disintegration is already irreversible, are a quite different people than the Japanese main-islanders. If you are skeptical about my argument, you just have to carefully observe any individual of Ryukyu ancestry. Just take Ai Miyazato for example; it's easy to tell the up-and-coming LPGA pro golfer has nothing in common with Hatoyama except how many eyes, nostrils and mouth they have.

In the last days of the Pacific War, Hirohito's Imperial Army killed or forced to commit suicide thousands of Okinawan women and children to shield the Honshu island against the all-out offensive being launched by the U.S. soldiers. In 1972, twenty years after Japan's nominal independence, these islands were finally "returned" to this country. Yet, these bases have remained there as the "cornerstone" of the U.S. strategy in this region.

In 1996, then-Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto promised that he would rid Okinawa of the Futenma Air Base at latest in seven years. But well before 2003, he was forced to retire from politics because of a bribery scandal. In 2006, the LDP government reached an accord with the Bush administration that the air station should be downsized by relocating 8,000 marines to Guam and the rest of them should be moved to Camp Schwab in a less-populated city of the same Okinawa Prefecture.

It is the Democratic Party of Japan that promised to tear up the 2006 accord and seek a kengai or kokugai alternative. When opening Pandora's box, Hatoyama should have been prepared to ultimately invoke Article 10 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the U.S. and Japan. In fact, though, the termination of the 50-year-old treaty was the last thing Hatoyama would think about doing.

That is why the equally loopy President of the U.S. called him a loopy prime minister. These guys will never learn what really underlies all this ado about nothing. As I have repeatedly argued, the gut issue with the bilateral alliance lies with the fact that at least for the Japanese, there are no real enemies to fight against and there are no values to defend against them.

On the part of the Okinawans, their honne is certainly that they have had enough with the colonial rule by the Japanese. And now that the Americans, too, think of Okinawa as if it were their colony, they think serving two colonial masters at a time is way too much to tolerate.

I'm not a historian, but I'm quite sure no other sovereign country in history has accepted the presence of full-fledged foreign military forces within its territory for almost six decades. Judging from the remark Kurt M. Campbell, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, made yesterday, these morons in Washington still think about staying in alliance with Japan at least for another 20 years: the bastard, apparently out of his mind, reportedly said to this effect: "The Sunday rally there sent us a clear message that we should seriously consider mitigating the burden on the Okinawans. But that takes 20 years."

It's good to know that in 10 to 20 years from now, we will see a Utopia where every nuclear state will have emptied its arsenal, every industrialized nation will have contained its greenhouse gas emissions, and the Okinawans will have had their undue burden eliminated.

The talk of the town these days has it that Hatoyama has now been seeking, through his wife, for advice from an Indian fortune-teller. The oracle that the U.K.-educated broad, who is known to be an extraordinarily superstitious person, is said to have already passed on to her husband is:

"Don't give in to Obama because eventually he will give in."

The widespread rumor has not been officially confirmed yet, but actually it needs not be confirmed at all.

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[FEATURE] Now it's All up to the Indian Fortune-teller
Authored by: samwidge on Monday, April 26 2010 @ 11:30 AM JST

An extraordinarily interesting paradigm, one that seems to have fallen under the international radar! Nobody in the states is discussing this. We are now too absorbed with internal affairs to notice.

You seem to be saying that the Okinawans, the Japanese and you see no military threat from North Korea, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia or from India. Are you saying that these problems will abate without war even if Americans are gone?

Perhaps the view is that Guam can provide quick protection now that early warning satellite systems are effective. Perhaps the view is that small, modern autonomous military aircraft will soon be available to defend against vast armies of attackers over vast regions. Perhaps China's newly won leadership in electric flight means that there is no hope against anything the Chinese will choose to do.

Elsewhere, I sense an idea that first attacks would come against Taiwan, that this nation will serve as an early-warning sacrifice so that Japan would have the required 20-years or so to gear up for defense.

In America, there has always been the feeling that American taxes alone pay for defense in the Pacific and that one day Japan will mature and pay these bills on its own. You seem to suggest that there is no need to spend money at all.

(Is it not American money that pays for most of this?)

Over all of the interplay is the possibility that President Obama expects to pay for his financial excesses by suspending our military. With no meaningful American military, both Japanese and American leaderships already figure that peace will continue to reign.

(Peace, of course, does not reign as there are wars all over the planet and the bigger democracies are paying dearly to slow them. Those wars could sputter out as more people like the North Koreans get to know all of us through the Internet and lose the anger that has propelled them for years.)

Separately, I understand that a large amount of grain for China now comes from Australia. There is the (dim) possibility that this nation would become a target for Chinese military acquisition.

There are so very many interesting possibilities in all of this!

I hope you will post further on this fascinating subject and I hope you will urge your good friend, Doctor Gordon Chang, to offer his expertise as well.

The world is now like a lovely balloon floating in air: strange, mysterious, delightful and ready to pop.

[FEATURE] Now it's All up to the Indian Fortune-teller
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Monday, April 26 2010 @ 12:15 PM JST


As usual, we agree on most points here. So I will reply only to point out differences.

I think you are wrong in assuming the U.S. is shouldering all these costs. Actually it's almost always Japan that foots the bill. As I wrote here, the cost to be involved in the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps ($26 billion) has been funded with Japanese taxpayers' money. The basic rule is: Japan pays it in taxpayers' money, America pays it in blood of young soldiers.

I'm not really saying the Japanese are surrounded by friendly peoples. What I wanted to say is that it's none of America's business if someday North Korea, China, Russia or Al-Qaeda launches an attack on Japan. Moreover, that scenario looks very unlikely as of now. Please don't take it for granted that the Japanese and Americans are on the same boat.

As I wrote here, Mr. Chang has lately downgraded Japan, and agreed to the last sentence of the same post. Yet he still believes the U.S. is somehow obliged to protect Japan. I don't know why.

Yu Yamamoto
[FEATURE] Now it's All up to the Indian Fortune-teller
Authored by: samwidge on Monday, April 26 2010 @ 01:15 PM JST

Ah hah!

As always, you are very insightful. It looks as though each of us has been missing information on the other's nation.

In America, one if the biggest motivations for our anti-war movement is the extraordinary financial burden. We have been a wealthy nation. (That will end soon.) We have been paying large sums of tax money for defense and our particular interest has been Asia since the end of WWII. Our carrier groups around Korea and Taiwan are legend and they are devastatingly expensive.Those are not our only expenditure. The cost is not only in blood and remote placement of troops but in research.

We spend much money in development of new military systems and it sounds like most other nations do not do this. Those Unmanned Air Vehicles and the new tanks come to mind though there are many others. There has always been the suspicion that this is our Achilles' heel. The suspicion is that both Russia and China have vastly larger populations than we and meaningful attacks could be in the form of human waves as in Korea. We would not survive large-scale attacks by individuals armed with small, cheap weapons.

As a side note, it is particularly interesting that our advances in military science have not placed us very far out in front because we insist on sharing what we learn -- NASA, GPS, Satellite search results are among our loss centers.

My eldest son served in the US Air Force and rode an F-16 into Tel Aviv, Israel on an ordinary mission. Upon landing, he and the pilot were forced by our own regulations to turn the top secret aircraft over to Israeli authorities for anything they wanted to do with it. The machine remained in their hands until my son and the pilot resumed the mission. The Israelis had full access to every secret piece of equipment aboard.

I believe that Japan is not extended quite such extravagant American privileges and there is no nation, not even England, that would grant such access by us to their own equipment.

True, we purchase and fly Harriers but they are not quite the same as the Harriers the British keep for themselves. We also collaborate extensively with Canada in research.

The Germans seem to be serious innovators but we have no way to know what they really are doing. Quite properly, they do not share though their success is obviously small.

All of this goes back to my curiosity about whether or not Japan does any military research. Our perception is that Japan merely buys foreign military equipment, practices a little and then goes back to the ordinary life.

On another level, it is poignant that you mention that attacks against Japan are none of America's business. You certainly are correct. In fact, that point is the one that first interested me so deeply in the things that you write. You alerted me to the fact that other nations invest themselves deeply in American politics and that Japan "rubs" our odd president.

I cannot help but wonder just how possible a divorce might be.

In the meantime, we live in fear. I have a Jewish friend who says, "Paranoia isn't a bad thing if they are really out to get you."

[FEATURE] Now it's All up to the Indian Fortune-teller
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Tuesday, April 27 2010 @ 01:54 AM JST


Thanks again.

I was going to close this thread for now, but I had a second thought because your second comment involves too many thought-provoking ideas.

One of the things I am not yet ready to agree is your understanding that R&D cost is being shouldered by the U.S. defense industry. Americans of older generations used to call the Japanese free riders. They were absolutely right - but not anymore.

As you know, any manufacturer prices its products so it can recover the R&D cost, most typically over the period of 5 years. The likes of Lockheed Martin and Boeing are no exception.

Generally speaking, when you want to have something, there are two options: BUY or MAKE. Japan has obviously chosen the BUY option. Actually, it's not Japan's choice. It's Douglas MacArthur and successive U.S. presidents that forced Japan not to MAKE it.

At any rate it is not true that the U.S. is benevolent enough to swallow these costs.

There is more to it; some 3 years ago a classic bill-padding case involving U.S. defense contractor Avex Aerospace Corp., Torrance, CA, and a contractor of the Japan's Defense Ministry named Yamada Corp. that fronted Avex came to the surface. At that time it was also revealed that the Japan's Defense Ministry had been (and still is, to a lesser degree) purchasing U.S.-made weapons at prices two to three times higher than what the Pentagon had been paying its contractors. Japan may have been a free rider, but now it's acting like a sucker.

Let me add something to the payment terms generally applied to the bilateral deals. I said the basic rule is, "Japan pays in cash, the U.S. pays in blood of its youths." But to be more precise, Japan pays on a COD bases, or even in advance sometimes, whereas the U.S. pays in arrears - or to be more precise, it is just supposed to do so. But nobody with commonsense really believes that American soldiers are ready to protect Japan at the cost of their own lives in an emergency despite their obligation stipulated in the fxxxing security treaty.

Equally important, the fact of the matter remains that the Japanese are still obsessed with the silly idea of "defensive defense." They always boast that not a single drop of Japanese blood has been shed in warfare in the last 65 years. And they are determined to extend this no-bloodshed streak for another 65 years. So actually they are at a loss where to use the state-of-the-art war machines they've coerced to buy mainly from the U.S. For your reference, as of 2006 they had:
44 destroyers mostly equipped with AEGIS defense system
9 frigates
16 submarines
4 amphibious ships
31 vessels for mine warfare
100 P3C Orion antisubmarine aircraft
80 combat aircraft
155 helicopters
- all absolutely for nothing.

They bought these weapons at the expense of taxpayers.

You don't have to worry too much about an emergency situation possibly arising here, because I'm sure when they realize they have to confront their enemies on their own, they will use their own technological prowess to develop suicide machines similar to Baka.

I said even if an emergency situation arises in this region, it's none of Americans' business. But please don't take me wrong; I just think anyone who can't take care of himself needs not, or should not, lend a helping hand to others. I'm always wondering what underlies this adamant sense of responsibility most Americans harbor toward crises cropping up here and there practically everyday. Does this something to do with their faith?

Yu Yamamoto