Trust Us; Economic Reincarnation

  • Japanese troops are in Iraq, and their presence is a sign of Japan's coming of age in world affairs. But that doesn't mean the politicians and public who sent them there aren't skittish:

    Japan will launch a media campaign in Iraq this month in support of its humanitarian effort in the southeastern part of the country, the Defense Agency said Wednesday. ...The mission, involving about 1,000 troops in Japan's biggest military operation overseas since World War II, has been dogged by concerns at home about the safety of the force.

    The advertisements aim to help the Self-Defense Forces to carry out their humanitarian mission smoothly by informing the Iraqi public of the troops' activities in detail," a Defense Agency spokesman said.

    I'm hoping, for the sake of manhood, that the SDF avoids running commercials like this. Who am I to argue, though, if that's what will keep the average Japanese voter confident of their country's changing - and maturing - foreign policy?

  • In other news, Japan is choosing to shift the arterial flow of monetary loans, the Official Development Assistance, from China to India. According to the Asia Times, it's a decision made partly out of self-interest, with Tokyo's budget woes demanding some fiscal austerity and partly out of economic opportunism as - however muscular the Chinese Reds may be - India's place as the fifth largest economy is well worth Japanese attention (and investment). In the face of this loss of stature, China still enjoys a remarkably extensive economic relationship with its island neighbor; the Times describes a curious array of bilateral agreements on the regional and local level:

    More than just in the area of economic linkages, subnational governments of Japan and China are forging strong ties in educational, cultural and scientific fields through sister-city agreements, whose numbers are increasing by the year.

    We can only hope our friends in Tokyo are passing on the ideals of democracy. But totalitarian or not, China's commerce makes the Pacific go 'round. And Japan's turn to India seems unlikely to change that.

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