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Published:May 19th, 2010 21:18 EST
Futenma Comes Full Circle

Futenma Comes Full Circle

By Geoff Dean


 The more things change, the more they stay the same....

 The Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, under immense pressure, self-imposed, from his ill conceived May deadline for a decision on US Marine Base Futenma`s relocation plan, has come up with the ultimate solution.

 He tried to move the base out of Japan, leading the Japanese public on a tour of obscure Pacific islands and atolls. When the US said, "No", he flinched.

 He next came up with the move it out of Okinawa prefecture idea. After all, Okinawa bore an extreme "burden", housing the majority of US bases in Japan, despite a bare minimum of land on the tiny island. The locals had been pushing for a reduction for years, increasingly vocally, and promises of change had earned Hatoyama`s Democrats a sweep of the island`s seats in the Diet, as well as virtually all local posts. Still, when the US said, "No", he flinched again.

 There were attempts to move the base to other areas of Okinawa, such as White Beach or some more obscure Okinawan islands. When the US said, "No", well, you can guess the rest.

 Finally, the PM proposed tweaking the original 2006 plan, not enough to call it a "modification" but enough to save a bit of face. The new runways in Henoko Bay would be built on raised platforms instead of landfill. Citing terrorism threats, the US has said, "No" thus far and the Hatoyama Administration has responded by releasing a proposal which the US seems likely to accept, the 2006 proposal unchanged. (The US should accept since they already did once).

 Less likely to accept are the coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party who have made moving the base out of Japan and absolutely not accepting the 2006 accord, their signature issue. Even less likely are the people of Okinawa, especially of Nago/Henoko Bay who have been lied to and let down once again, and this time more spectacularly than ever.

 But those who are absolutely least likely to accept this are the voters of Japan who can`t help but wonder why the PM spent eight months pursuing a fight with the US that no one thought he could win, why he damaged US-Japan relations significantly, why he made his Administration look amateurish on the world stage, and why he promised Okinawa what was impossible to deliver, and did it all just so he could get the US to agree to an accord that they had already agreed to in 2006.

 When the Upper House election rolls around this July, watch out! The Tea Party movement will have nothing on what`s going to happen to Democratic Party incumbents. Japanese Tea Party, anyone?