Sec. of State H. Clinton Engages Asia, with her visit to Japan.
By, Uwe Paschen.
Japan welcome Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Tokyo today. As usual and expected Japan gave The Secretary of State the most courteous welcome as it does for all official visitors. With traditional entertainment and a visit to the Shrine as well as the Tea ceremony.
NHK our National News agency described the event rather well and yet went back in time portraying a different Clinton and Obama that where not saying the nicest of things to each other as they ran for the nomination. This was shown in detail on NHK with clips of them saying some rather harsh words about each other especially Clinton was depicted on this more so then Obama.
What does it all mean? My personal feelings put aside here, I think no one actually knows what to make of all this, nor how to judge the US at present and all seem rather following the etiquette and staying polite. The visit of course was a great show and all PR work with little substance though.
Of Course, Clinton condemned North Korea; wish had its 67th birthday on Monday. North Korea said that it has the right for Space exploration and Rocket test. I think we heard that before from Iran as well and even though technically both are right, the US does not like the idea at all and maybe for good reasons since neither trusts each other. The abduction of Japanese Nationals by North Korea came up again on wish Japan feels betrayed by the US ever since it removed North Korea from the list of threats. For Japan this is an important issue by it self. The Threat of Nuclear Bomb by North Korea is also a grave concern Japan has.
Ironically the word used in the media in Japan for the Secretary of States visit was “Ready to Engage Asia” rather then “Visit Asia” and there is a nuance here that needs to be taken into account since what is important in Japan is not so much what is said but rather what is not said.
Clinton said for her part in her addressing Speech, "I have come to Asia as my first trip as secretary of state to convey that America's relationships across the Pacific are indispensable to addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the 21st century," and that, "The U.S.-Japanese alliance is vitally important to both of our countries, to the Asia-Pacific region and to the world," she said.
The agenda for a meeting between PM, Taro Aso and President Obama has already been set for the 24th of February 2009 in Washington.
The US Secretary of State did meet with the Japanese Defence Minister Hamada Yasukazu and both discussed the bilateral cooperation in realigning US forces stationed in Japan. Where the two parties made an agreement that calls for transferring US marines from Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa to Guam, a US territory in the Pacific, and constructing a new airfield in Okinawa to relocate the US Futenma Marine Corps Air Station within the prefecture.
Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone official reply is that Japan is working on new legislation with the understanding that such a situation could occur.
NHK TV NEWS focused as well on Clinton her body languish and dress noting that wile she meet with the Foreign minister from Germany she wore Blue as she did wile visiting Japan, yet she wore Red wile with Obama and Black at official ceremony in Washington.
It almost seemed as if all where looking for the real talk and real meaning since the words where to well rehearsed and the show was a PR stunt with out much substance, in part most likely due to the fact that Japan is faced with a minority Government and elections around the corner.
All looked happy for the Cameras and where giving their best Smiles except Aso he was not smiling too much, but H. Clinton was at her best. Yet, not all worried about the pictures or dress codes. As FUKUHARA Koichi a former Chief Editorial Writer of Kyodo News Service and now independent Journalist in Tokyo writes,” it sound all to good to be true.”
As H. Clinton said before the Senate a week ago that the US needs to "use what has been called smart power, the full range of tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural -- picking the right tool or combination of tools for each situation" instead of leaning towards the "hard power" of military force. Those words where much welcome around the Globe and in Japan especially.
However, the toon seems to have changed somewhat and Japanese concerns seem to have grown again with Clinton saying, "Our alliance with Japan is a cornerstone of American policy in Asia, essential to maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region." At the same time, she also said: "China is critically important as an actor who will be changing the global landscape. We want a positive and cooperative relationship with China."
At this point it is difficult to get a clear and objective picture of it all and no one is any wiser today then we where a month ago. I suppose Time will tell. “Hope for the best and expect the worth” so it seems.