Kari and I have been following the Futenma base issue in the Leading Indicators roundup for a while now. After initially appearing to put the screws on the Hatoyama government now that the issue has become a domestic hornets’ nest, the U.S. appears to be giving Tokyo the breathing room it requires to navigate the wreckage. Tobias Harris explains why this is a smart move, as well as what’s driving Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s Asia-centric vision of a renovated U.S.-Japan alliance. The choice isn’t between a close or distant bilateral relationship, but rather between one that is relevant to the changing Asian environment, and one that remains anchored in the past.
Intuitively, it seems that Hatoyama is as compatable an interlocutor for President Barack Obama as former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizuma was for Bush, provided the two governments can get past the Futenma distraction.