Feeling Slighted By Obama, Tokyo Pins Hopes on Republican Win in 2016 (47 News, Japan)
It would appear that Japanese officials have a lot in common with U.S. Republicans: they both find President Obama stiff, unemotional and hard to get to know. This editorial from Japan’s 47 News details some of the unusually-open criticism of Barack Obama by Prime Minister Abe and members of his cabinet, both over the president’s personal style, and a sense that the White House has sided with China and South Korea on the issues WWII history and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The 47 News editorial, which also outlines the degree to which the Abe Administration is rooting for a Republican victory in 2016, starts out with a quote by Prime Minister Abe that has to be surprising, given that now more than ever, Tokyo needs the backing of its strongest ally:
Discontent is smoldering in the Abe cabinet over U.S. government criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. The furor over Abe aide Seiichi Eto’s rebuttal of the U.S. statement on Yasukuni has settled down after Eto “retracted” his comments. Despite this, it is clear from the remarks of insiders that cabinet members feel that the Obama Administration is siding disproportionately with China and South Korea, who have become quite vocal in expressing reprehension toward Japan. The prime minister himself is clearly discomfited by the American expression of “disappointment.” The question is: can the bad blood be removed before Obama’s April visit to Japan?
“Obama is too businesslike, it is rather difficult to build a personal relationship with him,” the prime minister let slip recently when commenting to aides on the differing communication styles of the two leaders. Since Abe’s second term began in December 2012, there have only been two formal meetings between Abe and Obama. According to Japanese government officials, these meetings stuck to practical matters from start to finish. One diplomat lamented that “friendship and trust between leaders is essential for a solid alliance, but Mr. Obama does not at all care.”
At the heart of the Abe administration is resentment over the way U.S. “disappointment,” which was announced right after the prime minister’s Yasukuni visit, has amplified accusations against Japan by China, which are aimed at dividing the allies. This has also turned Japanese public opinion against the Abe Administration.
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