11.10.2010

Diary of a Future Former Prime Minister



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It has not been a wonderful past five months for Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan. He's dodged the "U.S. forces in Okinawa" bullet that brought down his predecessor Yukio Hatoyama, but mainly because other foreign policy woes have reminded Japanese that U.S. forces are probably the only reason Chinese tanks are not rolling down Ginza as I type.

First on Kan's foreign policy agenda was a bitchslapping by China's Foreign Ministry, after a (reportedly drunken and certainly nationalistic) Chinese fishing boat captain rammed his trawler into a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat. After arresting the captain, Kan caved to Chinese threats and released him.

Then Russian president Medvedev decided to field test his Leica and hiking boots on one of the Kuril Islands, whose ownership has been disputed by Japan and Russia since the end of World War Two (when Russia seized them from Japan).

And finally, last week U.S. president Barack Obama threw his arm around Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and declared he's like nothing better than to see India land a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, a seat Japan has been angling for.

The possible silver lining? As Japan's fifth prime minister in five years, it's likely Japan's neighbors (and voters) won't have Naoto Kan to kick around much longer.

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