Hosono: Washington can trust Japan again
The new acting secretary general of Japan’s ruling party took time out of a heated campaign to visit Washington briefly Friday night, to deliver the message that the Obama administration no longer has to worry about the Japanese government’s commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance. In what several observers called his "reassurance tour," rising star Goshi ...
The new acting secretary general of Japan’s ruling party took time out of a heated campaign to visit Washington briefly Friday night, to deliver the message that the Obama administration no longer has to worry about the Japanese government’s commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance.
In what several observers called his "reassurance tour," rising star Goshi Hosono spoke to a group of experts and officials at a dinner hosted by the Center for a New American Security, the culminating event of the think tank’s two-day conference on U.S.-Japan relations. Hosono took over the position when former Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa stepped down along with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama last month.
Hosono was forceful, even aggressive, in describing the importance of the security relationship between the world’s top two economies and the need for Japan to take a larger and more active role in regional security operations.
He spoke about working toward a "close and equal" U.S.-Japan alliance and pledged to work to "deepen" the alliance through a "functional expansion of its powers."
"The alliance must serve not only as a public good in bringing stability to the region, but it must also play an active, problem solving role in regard to a number of pressing issues," he said.
The decline of U.S. naval power presents an opportunity for Japan to be more involved in maritime security, Hosono said, including participating in operations to protect sea lanes.
Hosono addressed directly the poor relationship Hatoyama had with President Obama. That relationship soured when Hatoyama asked Obama to "trust" him on the issue of the Futenma Marine corps base on Okinana. Obama felt that Hatoyama betrayed that trust, leading to a cooling of the relationship at the highest levels.
"There are many people in the room who are not sure whether [Prime Minister Naoto] Kan is trustworthy. We feel in Japan that through his leadership, we can trust him," Hosono said.
The Obama administration saw chaos in the Japanese decision making in the Hatoyama administration, but Hosono promised this would also be addressed by the new government. He said there will be a "firm control tower" inside the cabinet, made up of by Prime Minister Kan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, and the General Secretary of the party Yukio Edano.
He promised to stick to the deal that Hatoyama finally struck with Washington over Futenma and pledged to focus on "reducing the burden" on Okinawa residents while sticking to the agreement.
As for whether the Obama administration’s tough stance on the Futenma base contributed to Hatoyama’s downfall, Hosono said that actually, it did.
"This a large issue for those of us who are politicians," he said. "The reason that the Hatoyama administration could not continue was not because this issue was of such strong interest in the domestic sphere, but that it grew to be a large foreign policy issue that made the administration vulnerable."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
More from Foreign Policy
No, the World Is Not Multipolar
The idea of emerging power centers is popular but wrong—and could lead to serious policy mistakes.
America Prepares for a Pacific War With China It Doesn’t Want
Embedded with U.S. forces in the Pacific, I saw the dilemmas of deterrence firsthand.
America Can’t Stop China’s Rise
And it should stop trying.
The Morality of Ukraine’s War Is Very Murky
The ethical calculations are less clear than you might think.