Sunday, August 30, 2009

Say It Ain't So!

I was led to believe that the Obama administration would inspire pro-American governments in contrast to the way the Bush administration alienated the world.

So what is happening to Japan?

The Obama administration will be watching closely how the Democratic Party of Japan will govern should it gain power after Sunday's vote. All major media polls have forecast that the ruling, conservative Liberal Democratic Party will lose badly in balloting for the 480 seats in the powerful lower house of parliament.

Opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama, in line to become prime minister, has pushed for his country to be more independent from Washington and closer to Asia. His party has raised questions about a major realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, close ties with the United States and continuing Japan's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Oh, Japan will still be our ally. But this "Independence" is contrary to what was supposed to happen seven months into that "repairing our foreign relations" job.

UPDATE: The opposition party has won:

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan was set to win 300 of the 480 seats in the lower house of parliament, ousting the Liberal Democrats, who have governed Japan for all but 11 months since 1955, according to projections by all major Japanese TV networks.

In the macro sense, it isn't bad that Japan would have a real democracy instead of the 1-1/2-party democracy it has basically had since World War II. I hope governing has a sobering effect on the Democratic Party. And the Liberal Democrats, too, who've had little enough reason to fear voter repercussions for screwing up.

And despite rumblings about distancing Japan from America, we will still be allies. More importantly, the election was really about the economy--not America.

So I won't blame President Obama for this election. Yet I'm sure that our press would have described in detail why the election was an anti-Bush referendum had it taken place in 2008.

A lot of times, it just isn't about us.