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"Renewed Hope" - as contributed to The Diplomat

This is an unedited original draft version of the article contributed to the Tokyo Notes blog of The Diplomat. For the professionally edited version of the article. Click the title. For a complete super-translated Japanese version, click here.

At last, he has spoken.

Several days after the inauguration of his successor, and a day before the closing of the regular session of the National Diet, former Prime Minister Hatoyama has finally spoken. Not on television, not in a magazine or newspaper article, but on the Twitter. Who was he tweeting to? To the nation, and to his "followers," followers in the sense of a follower of a leader, and not in the sense of the conventional Twitter lingo.

So what did he utter, after a short but complete silence? This (in Japanese only; tentative translation follows).

"Now the 'new public’ appears to have a life of its own. I thank all those who allowed me do the 'naked dance.' I also would like to thank all those who followed after my 'naked dance'. This amazing power of propagation would definitely change our world."

Naked dance, or hadaka odori in Japanese means that you make a fool out of yourself in public. So what did he mean here?

Many of his followers--in a conventional Twitter lingo--were puzzled, and many posed questions to him asking what he meant by "naked dance". Speculations were abound.

A day after his last tweet, Hatoyama tweets again; this time, with a link to a YouTube video, and a short message, saying this (in Japanese only; tentative translation follows):

"This video is the answer to the mystery of the 'naked dance'. It's the notion of the 'new public' where not only the public but the entire nation takes responsibility in leading public affairs. Within this mindset, I'd like to continue dancing like the young fellow in this video."

Action speaks louder than words.

(featured with Japanese subtitles)

This time, the video spoke louder, with much clarity on what he meant, and what he's been endeavoring to convey, than ever.

Hatoyama's tightly hidden intention throughout his record short eight-month term was revealed in this short video, presented by Derek Sivers, the young and successful entrepreneur who literally changed the scope of digital music industry.

Actually, several intellectuals speculated on Twitter that Hatoyama was only playing as a fool. Some were even determined that he must have a hidden agenda behind his seemingly convincing act of 'loopyness.'

As Sivers says in this TED video,

"The first follower is what transforms a 'lone nut' into a leader".

Many, including myself, thought this was just wishful thinking and that he would simply succumb to internal as well was external pressure to accept the original agreement on Futenma. And he did. But not without cause.

On Wednesday, Mainichi Shinbun’s series article entitled "The Reporter's Eye - Kisha No Me" (Japanese only) reported in detail what was being spoken among the two departing leaders, Secretary General Ozawa and Prime Minister Hatoyama, in the last breath of their administration.

According to the article, on the day when the new head of the government was being selected, Ozawa tapped on the shoulder of Rep. Hiroshi Kawauchi at the Lower House chamber (see my previous article for his role in the DPJ) and whispered into him the following words.

"So you've been to the Saipan Island. I'd like to sit down with you and hear more about it."

The report continued to pick on what Hatoyama said to Kawauchi as he came back to his seat. In response to Kawauchi's polite remark commending Hatoyama's work, the departing Prime Minister said the following, with a hint of sorrow.

"I think the answer is Tinian after all."

As he recalls these words, Kawauchi sensed they conveyed the regrettable feeling of Hatoyama, expressing his sorrow for not being able to realize the departure from the traditional U.S.-dependent security posture.

With these words, our hopes were renewed, regenerated, and strengthened. And a single tweet of a departing head of the government, reaffirmed our conviction.

This is the moment when the United States should rightly take an alarmist position; that the intent of the new administration is indeed to 'follow through' with the original agreement, which would inevitably bring forth a national-level resentment that Hatoyama has instilled with his 'naked dancing'.

No longer is international security a matter that would compromise the interest of the nation as a whole. Now, the interest of our people in Okinawa has become the interest of the entire nation. Their demand is simple and clear: respect of sovereign rights, or no deal.

In practice this would mean if the U.S. cannot 'follow through' with their May 28 commitment, then no deal.

In other words, the Marines in Futenma Air Station would be forced to transfer off the island of Okinawa, and off the sovereign territory of Japan, if the U.S. government do not commit to improving the safety standards as well as due regard to the local environment. This means, possible amendment to the Status of Force Agreement or SOFA.

So the story goes on, and the hope lives on.
In the end, hope prevailed, and not despair.

Originally written, and Japanese portion translated by Etranger

1 件のコメント:

Max von Schuler-Kobayashi さんのコメント...

I have lived in Japan for 36 years. When I first came here, Japanese people treated foreigners, particularly Americans, like Gods.

This made me quite uncomfortable. I was born in America, and I can tell you the truth, Americans are not Gods. However, over the years, Japanese attitudes towards foreigners and the world has changed. When I first came here, Japanese people in their 50's and 60's had experienced Japan's defeat in war. Now those people are in their 80's.

For young people today, the war is something that happened long ago. Yet is Americans who cannot forget World War II. Often, young Americans today scream about how terrible Pearl Harbor was. When I lived in America, I was unusual, the Pearl Harbor attack never really bothered me. The Japanese Navy attacked the American Navy. It happens in wars.

And without having to write a book, America did a lot to provoke Japan into attacking. I know, I am a WWII historian.

Americans cannot forget WWII, yet most Americans were not alive at the time.

And I think that most Americans have no idea about their overseas military Empire. The United States has some 753 military bases around the world. And most Americans have no idea what their military does in other countries.

I know, I was a United States Marine in Japan. In general, uniformed troops are the worst representatives of a nation, and American troops are very ill behaved.

Many countries are getting tired of American domination. I have long read of such frustration in other nations.

Former Prime Minister Hatoyama articulated the desire of the Japanese people for a more equal relationship with the United States. But as I am trying to say above, the Americans themselves are clueless to the fact that they force unequal relationships on other nations.

President Obama either forced an impossible situation on former Prime Minister Hatoyama, or he allowed his staff to do so.

I know that Americans will say that Japan was trying to break an agreement that was reached in 2006. What the Americans cannot seem to understand is that that agreement was wildly unpopular, and the LDP was destroyed in August for that.

America may think it has won something by putting pressure on former PM Hatoyama, but is only a slight tactical victory. It is in truth it is a strategic defeat. Japanese people are losing trust in America.

Frankly, I don't think Henoko will ever be built. And the Marines will leave Japan sooner than they think. America greatly over estimates it's importance in Asia, particularly with a collapsing domestic economy.

I shall be honored to join former Prime minister Hatoyama in his "naked dance", and dance for a more equal relationship between Japan and America.