Japanese Nationalism, The Envy of All
By Erick San Juan
"I fought this campaign vowing to resist the base, I intend to keep that promise as we move forward." A strong statement made by newly elected Mayor of the Okinawan city of Nago in Japan – Mayor Susumu Inamine. He ran as an independent (and won) backed by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s current Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
The issue at hand is the relocation of the US Marine air field station from Futenma to the coastal city of Nago by 2014. The said relocation was agreed upon by Japan and the US in 2006 under the previous government that lost power last year to the current Prime Minister Hatoyama who promised a less submissive stand towards the United States. PM Hatoyama also assured the reassessment of the 2006 agreement whether to move the Marine air station as planned or move the base to another site, either on or off the island. Although Hatoyama affirmed the US that they will come out with their decision by May this year.
Actually before the Nago election, Hatoyama is already considering the re-examination of the 2006 pact with Washington. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, last month, informed her counterpart to go ahead with the plan and remind Tokyo of its “commitment” to the relocation.
In November of last year, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates commented that the agreement is non-negotiable meaning Washington will push through with the relocation, no matter what.
We can see here on how the US top brass officials intimidate Japan in the midst of the clamor of the residents of Okinawa and the Japanese in general to oppose the presence of the new US base in the region. But importantly, Japan’s resistance to this intimidation only shows their nationalism at work even if it put the US-Japan alliance at risk. Much more, the consequences that goes with it. I am referring to the top two carmakers in Japan – Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Corp. which are currently recalling thousands of different car models and mini vans in the US, China and Europe allegedly because of several faulty features like air bags and brake pedals among others. Is this just a coincidence? Why only now?
The present policy of Japan as America’s key ally since the end of World War II, seems to have change into "deal with caution". In this part of the region, where the US is intensifying it's military presence due to the reported "threat" from North Korea and the military build up of China,it reminds me of the similar situation we are in today. The victory of Mayor Inamine seems to serve as the litmus test for the retention of the US base in Japan. The outcome of our country’s upcoming national elections will surely put to test the foreign policies the new administration will implement. Whoever wins and whatever policies that will be agreed in the future, our nation must learn from the Japanese kind of nationalism. The other day, one of my daily radio listener’s questioned me on the outcome of the Senate's renegotiation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US. The last time we heard of it was during the approval of the Senate resolution on VFA’s renegotiation or its abrogation which Malacanang assigned to the VFA Commission. The outcome of the Commission’s study was overtaken by several events. The bottom line is, we don’t have the guts and nationalism as the Japanese have for the protection of its citizenry and the country’s sovereignty.
The VFA question is just among the many foreign policies that our leaders must review and be cautious to decide. If not, we will always be at the losing end. One example is the Balikatan joint military exercises which is more favorable to the Americans than to us, and sadly we even spend for it. We must be firm to negotiate. Our counterpart should be truthful with their dealings and should give us what's due us.
I hope and pray that our new set of leaders will – at least get some inspiration from the Japanese nationalism and boost our national pride as a great Filipino race.