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So Much for the Pivot
Abe Adviser Pillories US on YouTube

Add Japan to the list of long-time U.S. allies who think America’s international presence is disconcertingly weak.

As the WSJ reports, a Japanese parliamentarian and trusted adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe criticized the United States in a video posted to YouTube (and subsequently deleted). “The U.S. said it was disappointed” when Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo recently, Seiichi Eto said. “I must say it was we who were disappointed. How can the U.S. fail to such a degree to treat Japan, a significant ally, in the right way?”

Eto’s blunt remarks are the latest in a series of events and statements signaling that Tokyo and Washington are drifting apart. Virginia’s state legislature, for example, recently took South Korea’s side in territorial dispute over islands claimed by Japan, blindsiding the Japanese government. One of the members of that legislature elaborated on another sensitive issue on a recent visit to Tokyo: “I would hear about the comfort women comments in my district,” he told a WSJ reporter. Abe’s Yasukuni Shrine visit was “not helpful,” concurred one of his colleagues, saying “it complicates matters in terms of our relationship with South Korea and other friends.”

Obama strategists thought that as the U.S. lowered its profile international tensions would diminish, but the opposite seems to be happening. American adversaries like China, Russia, and Iran are pushing harder, and U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Japan are taking risky steps that are increasing tensions and that will ultimately require more, not less, U.S. engagement to maintain the peace.

The Obama Administration’s strategic thinking is in disarray. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what comes in the next three years.

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  • rheddles

    You are quite generous in conceding that the Obama Administration can think strategically.

  • stevewfromford

    Japan better be building all the military hardware it can if it wants to not be bullied into quiescence by a billigerant China with the willing silence of a weakened US.
    Obama doesn’t know who are enemies and who are friends so it is no wonder his foriegn policy is in shambles.

    • Thirdsyphon

      We know exactly who our friends are, which is why it disappoints us when they honor convicted war criminals. From the likes of Russia, we’d expect nothing better; but from Japan, it’s, well, *disappointing.*

      • stevewfromford

        One countries “war criminals” are another countries honored dead. Ever hear of Patrick Henry or Benedict Arnold?

        • Tom

          Benedict Arnold was known as a traitor by the British as well, and Patrick Henry was never linked to things like, say, biological warfare experimentation on POWs and deliberate malnourishment of POWs.

  • Thirdsyphon

    All of the inflammatory remarks in this piece are attributed to members of Virginia’s state legislature. It’s possible that Tokyo and *Richmond* may be drawing apart; but unless Virginia has seceded from the Union again without telling anybody, its representatives are not empowered to speak for anybody -including Virginia- on matters of foreign policy.

    • Tom

      Problem is, when the state legislatures start talking about these things, it means their constituents are talking.
      Their constituents vote for Congress. Congressmen will pay attention to their voters on this issue.

      • Thirdsyphon

        As well they should. I don’t think Japan has done nearly enough to come to grips with its wartime atrocities. . . but Japan shouldn’t take the comments of VA state reps as official US policy, any more than the US should take the unflattering comments of the Governor of Okinawa regarding our marine base as the official position of Japan.

        • Tom

          They shouldn’t, but the hawkish press will run with it.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The last time the US was in a depression the authoritarian governments gave us WWII, I would be unsurprised if they didn’t give us WWIII during this Great Depression 2.0.

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