Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hatoyama's turn to evade a decision

This time it is all about the U.S.-Japan relocation of forces agreement...

Seems that the Americans were about to try the professional route, sending over Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific, this week and planning to send over the specialists from the Japan desk at DeptState's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

But (to all appearances) so timed as to make a hash of that, the leader of shakai minshu tou (the Social Democratic Party; SDP) announced that if the Hatoyama administration sticks to the plan as previously negotiated, she's pulling out of the ruling coalition. Now, the SDP is electorally insignificant these days *EXCEPT* for the fact that Hatoyama's Democrats don't quite have a majority in the Upper House of the Parliament by themselves... they need the SDP reps and those of the minor party led by the politically odious S. Kamei to hold a majority. So until either the Opposition seizes the Upper House back in next year's election, or the Democrats get a single party majority up there, Hatoyama-souri needs to keep both those minnows happy.

Here's how he will buy time to try and do that.

If it makes you feel any better, this sort of "gee, let's negotiate more, but quietly" malarkey is exactly what the latest visitor from Russia said *to* Hatoyama about the Northern Territories problem. Maybe he thought that was such a politically harmless thing to hear, he's use it on the Americans...

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