Preparations for the U.S. visit

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Preparations for the U.S. visit

When the Japanese prime minister visited the United States last month, Abe’s gifts were more than the revision of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Cooperation and fast-track negotiation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He also meticulously prepared words to please the Obama administration.

At the joint press conference at the White House on April 28, he said, “We have a dream.” He spoke this one sentence in English while speaking the rest in Japanese before adding, “that is to create a world abound in peace and prosperity. To realize this common dream, Japan and the United States will together pave the way towards a new era.”

Obviously, he was citing Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech during the March on Washington in 1963. Abe was standing next to the first African-American president of the United States quoting the African-American civil rights leader who changed the country’s history.

The next day, Abe addressed a joint meeting of U.S. Congress and named former U.S. ambassadors to Japan.

“As I stand in front of you today, the names of your distinguished colleagues that Japan welcomed as your ambassadors come back to me: the honorable Mike Mansfield, Walter Mondale, Tom Foley, and Howard Baker,” he said.

Mike Mansfield served 16 years as the Senate Majority Leader, and Walter Mondale was the vice president of the United States under President Jimmy Carter and ran against Ronald Reagan in the presidential election of 1984. Tom Foley was Speaker of the House, and Howard Baker was a Senate Majority Leader and the White House Chief of Staff for President Reagan. Mentioning the names of the former ambassadors to Japan reminded the senators and representatives how the United States values its relationship with Japan.

His flattery came at the end of the address. On the U.S. support provided after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Abe said, “You gave us something, something very, very precious. That was hope, hope for the future.” He then declared “Let us call the U.S.-Japan alliance, an alliance of hope.” Obama promised hope to the U.S., and Abe affirmed that the United States has given Japan the same. He will pursue an “alliance with hope” with the president who advocates the “audacity of hope.”

Abe’s speech suggests Tokyo’s foreign policy is solely focused on the U.S., with no consideration for its neighbors, so we should not be simply furious at the Abe government for paying respect to the United States while not apologizing to the wartime sex slavery victims. Before we get angry, we need to calmly review why Abe’s diplomacy works in Washington. If we just get upset or fail to understand the situation, we may end up isolated.

*The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, May 12, Page 34


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