Saturday–why am I blogging?
I’m hanging out with the dogs today–I swear they are as entertaining as cats–but I wanted to pass on a couple things about Japan.
First, Renard Sixton at Five Thirty Eight talks about shifting politics in Japan:
Initial reports were that the US-Japan link would largely stay the same, with incoming Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama reaffirming that the US relationship remained the “cornerstone” of Japanese foreign policy. However, after a campaign where change from the status quo — and it does not get much more “status quo” than 60 years of almost one party rule — was to be the main thrust of the new government, it was clear that the cornerstone was going to have to flex.
If the US-Japan relationship was largely military focused at the end of World War II, continuing with the “Status of Forces Agreement” signed in 1960, by the 1980s a increasingly close trade relationship held the two countries together. Recent years have seen a bit of a change.
It speaks to the larger policy shift that is already taking place and is likely to continue in Japan’s relations with the rest of the world’s nations–including Japan’s martial choices.
Michael Auslin at the FYSA blog brings up news on Japanese Afghan involvement:
Japan’s Defense Minister stated yesterday that the Maritime Self-Defense Forces eight-year old refueling mission in the Indian Ocean will end when the current legislation expires in January 2010. Japanese naval ships have been providing fuel to allied ships, British and Pakistani included, engaged in counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan and the maritime region.
The mission has courted some controversy (namely, whether it was legal according to Japan’s constitution), but also was seen by officials in Tokyo as a long-term test of its abilities to conduct missions out of its own region and in concert with America and other nations. In the absence of the refueling mission, news reports have suggested that Japan might offer to participate more in Afghan reconstruction missions. Background rumors in Tokyo also hint at the possibility that the JMSDF might dispatch more equipment to its anti-piracy mission off Somalia, currently consisting of two destroyers and several P-3 surveillance aircraft, in lieu of the Afghan operation.
Looks like I’ll be keeping an eye on this, Madhu.