Thursday, October 29, 2009

Japan Loves You, Brother - Newsweek piece

My take in Newsweek on Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama's speech in front of the Diet this week and his notion of yuai (fraternity). Here is an excerpt:

...Hatoyama's vision would go far beyond that of his predecessors, who have been trying for decades to coin a catchphrase that would somehow provide a signpost for understanding Japan's place in the world. Some of these ideas understood Japan primarily in relation to the world's great powers. DPJ chairman Ichiro Ozawa talked of Japan as a "normal country"—by which he meant that Japan would have a foreign policy of its own, independent of the United States. Other ideas were more nationalistic in tone, such as former prime minister Shinzo Abe's idea of Japan as a "beautiful country" or Taro Aso's of Japan as the "thought leader" of Asia. Still others attempted to position the country as the premier power in Asia, with Japan dubbed the head of "the flying geese." But all of these formulations seemed to position Japan against others, rather than putting it in a truly global context. Yuai, by contrast, identifies Japan as an independent actor that is also part of a much larger and integrated global system. Indeed, the universal rhetoric seems appropriate for a time of universal problems.

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