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January 12, 2007

[SSJ: 4329] Re: New Monograph on Japanese Public Opinion and Policy toward Security

From: Ellis Krauss
Date: 2007/01/11

A brief comment both the John Campbell's post and about the Midford paper:

First, to John, I'd be a bit more circumspect if I were you about that talk entitled, ""Why do Japanese Leaders Love George Bush when Nobody Else Does?" The Japanese do NOT love George Bush. Indeed, he was one of the few Republican presidential candidates in my memory according to polls not to be favored in a presidential election over a Democrat: more Japanese wanted to see Kerry win in 2004 than Bush. What is true is that they are one of the few publics who still like the U.S. and feel an affinity for it (still over 70%, fairly consistently for last 20 years, although there was a dip around 1995-6 as a result of the Okinawa rape and a decade of trade friction) and whose liking for the U.S. has actually gone up in the last ten years. However, they trust the U.S. less now as a result of Iraq. According to a poll in the Yomiuri Shimbun, December 17, 2004:
Trust U.S.? Yes 38%
No 53% In 2003: 45%

I agree with Paul Midford's paper that public opinion has changed, and also that it can set limits on what policymakers can do. But wasn't that always the case? And hasn't the LDP's strategy for the past 25 years been not to challenge public opinion directly (as Kishi did directly in passing the 1960 Security Treaty) but rather to break small previous limits, have a small negative reaction from the public, then allow the public to get used to it and have the new policy become the new outer limit and so forth? Isn't that what Koizumi did with SDF to Iraq, which hardly had majority support when he sent them in, but wound up with over 60% support and has now established that SDF can be sent abroad under the excuse that it is was to fulfill obligations under the US-Japan alliance and Treaty (no such obligation exists or ever has in that Treaty, however) rather than as previously only under UN auspices as in PKOs?

Best,
Ellis

Approved by ssjmod at January 12, 2007 03:39 PM