December 31, 2008

IS THERE ANY ALLY WITH WHICH WE'RE GOING TO HAVE BETTER RELATIONS AFTER W?:

Will Obama's promise of change include U.S.-Japan relations? (HIROSHI NAKANISHI, 1/01/09, The Japan Times)

On the other, there is unease in Japan about the Obama administration and dissatisfaction with Japan's relations with the U.S. The unease mostly derives from the fact that Japan has worse memories of the Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton than of Republican administrations. The first Clinton administration was wary of Japan's economic power and pushed for Japan to open its market by setting numerical targets, which resulted in Japan suffering a steep appreciation of the yen to a record high of ¥79 against the dollar.

While the second Clinton administration saw economic friction wane as the U.S. economy enjoyed a boom and the Japanese economy suffered from a bust, the administration pursued a policy of playing up China's importance in East Asia. In 1998, President Clinton passed over Japan to visit China for more than a week. The experience of this "Japan bashing and passing" has given rise to fears, especially among Japanese political and business leaders, and high-ranking bureaucrats that the Obama administration will represent the reappearance of a Clinton administration — despite the fact that President Clinton and Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto issued a joint declaration on security cooperation in 1996, and that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and President George W. Bush built a foundation for a strong alliance, realizing what was called the best U.S.-Japan relationship so far. The fact that Obama appointed many people who had served in the Clinton administration to his Cabinet has strengthened these fears to some extent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 31, 2008 7:32 PM
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