Japan Focus: Discordant Visitors: Japanese and Okinawan Messages to the US
Seems to me that the Daily Yomiuri has some serious explaining to do, while other news channels fare almost as badly. It is all down to who said what, and who quoted whom. It all matters a lot to the people in Okinawa. If the Yomiuri fails to explain why it failed to report what actually happened during the Noda-Obama meeting, or if the Japanese officials were involved in what is commonly known as "spin" and if the Yomiuri had its own agenda, I hope we will find out.
Noda says he will try to get the "understanding" of the people in Okinawa. OK, good. So, when will he actually travel to the prefecture? When was the last time a Japanese Prime Minister bothered to visit Okinawa?
Or is Noda planning to let others do the explaining? As the imminent arrival of brand new US Marine Osprey helicopters are adding pressure to the prefecture, I expect Noda to have a lot of explaining to do. Okinawa prefectural governor Nakaima Hirokazu has already contradicted Noda, noting that opposition in Okinawa to the Okinawan base project is almost total.
In the first reports of the talks published in Japan (in Yomiuri shimbun), these words, which Campbell had given no indication were the President’s, were placed within quote marks as the direct speech of the President. The Japanese media immediately highlighted the words “need to see results,” making it sound as though Obama had issued something close to an ultimatum.
In later reports, the Yomiuri attributed its source for the “Obama” remark to unnamed Japanese government sources.7 The Japanese media soon built a picture of the meeting replete with insights into its mood and the President’s mind. There was (according to the Asahi, quoting “a Japanese government official”) an “unexpectedly tense atmosphere,” in which Obama “pressed for action,” and according to the Japan Times (quoting “sources”) Obama was “impatient and irritated” and Noda was under pressure. Jiji News Agency offered the most dramatic account:
“The President cut into the discussion as if not to waste a second, saying, ‘The time to produce results is approaching.’ According to sources accompanying the Prime Minister, without even waiting for the other participants including Secretary of State Clinton to introduce themselves, the President turned upon the Prime Minister to demand of him in firm tones progress on the Futenma problem.”
Gavan McCormack and Norimatsu Satoko notes that "the citizens of Okinawa have for fifteen years of mass, non-violent resistance defied all the Tokyo promises, threats and bribes designed to crush or neutralize them. No amount of “sincerity” on the part of Noda and his Ministers seemed likely to overcome that determination, and violence would threaten the very fabric of Japan’s security in whose name it would be taken. The US-Japan “Alliance” runs aground on the reef of Okinawan resistance. By making the promises he has made, supposedly in order to “deepen” the “alliance,” Noda heads towards exposing it to its greatest crisis."