Fraternity, Multipolarity, Co-Prosperity
11:09 AM, Aug 28, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Yukio Hatoyama, the man who would be sworn in as Japan's next prime minister should his Democratic party overcome the country's long-ruling Liberal Democratic party in elections this Sunday, penned an extremely provocative, borderline anti-American, and just plain creepy op-ed in the New York Times earlier this week. Perhaps the only mitigating factor is that, per the byline, the article was originally published, in a somewhat longer form, in the Japanese journal Voice. Otherwise, for a politician on the precipice of becoming the leader of a major world power and close American ally to so arrogantly criticize American policy and America's prospects in the pages of an American newspaper is inexplicable.
Hatoyama writes that we must recognize globalization as a failure and "return to the idea of fraternity":
For Hatoyama to raise doubts about the dollar as a global currency -- as legitimate as those doubts may be -- in an American paper can only antagonize the Obama administration. It's diplomatically irresponsible and does not bode well for relations between a Hatoyama administration and Obama's. On the other hand, Hatoyama's blame America views will surely warm the hearts of many in the White House, and talking about a post-American world shows Hatoyama is at least on the same page as Obama.
Perhaps the most galling line, however, is Hatoyama's assertion that the Iraq war has been a failure. By what right does a Japanese politician presume to judge for American readers the success or failure of U.S. military operations? It's offensive. The American left doesn't even call the Iraq war a failure anymore, but even if they did -- a Japanese PM ought to focus his energies on apologizing for Japan's own history of military failure, not castigating other nations for imaginary defeats.
Hatoyama also says that "another national goal that emerges from the concept of fraternity is the creation of an East Asian community." To have a Japanese leader state that one of his country's national goals is the creation of an East Asian community, co-prosperity sphere, or any other type of union grates on my ear. We can be glad Obama sent one of his top donors over there as ambassador to keep an eye on things though.