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January 21, 2009

The meaning of the world has been restored---The Inauguration of President Obama

I have just seen the inauguration ceremony for President Obama. It was not so pompous but it was natural. I smiled when the new President could not properly reproduce the short words of oath just before his lengthy inaugural speech.

The good America, whom I know since my studentship in Boston, has come back. The meaning of the world, which was shattered during the course of the Iraq War, has come back. I feel so relieved.

President Bush was nice toward Japan and was not coercive, because Japan had sent its troops to Iraq. We were not forced to eat the American beef, which we believed has a danger of the mad-cow disease.
But in other parts of the world the values of freedom and democracy were discredited; freedom of the weak was neglected for the sake of freedom of the strong and democracy was imposed under the threat of guns. The principles of accountability and transparency of the government were trampled down. In many cases it was not clear at all who is doing what in the administration. ----I became very cynical about everything.

But now all has been reset. Now I feel that we can collaborate with America with an open heart and with a good conscience.

I know that President Obama's administration is poised for more coordination and collaboration with other countries. It means that he will sooner or later "test" Japan's capacity for cooperation.

Japan should be more articulate and quick in responding to his advance. Japan has to make it clear what we can and what we can not. For example Japan will not be able to send its troops so readily as the American administration wants to see (Though, if it is for the UN peace keeping operations, Japan can send its troops.). It is because of the entrenched pacifism in the Japanese society and because of the political configuration where Komei Party, the coalition partner for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, greatly bases itself on the pacifist voters.

But if Japan can not militarily join a right initiative of the United States, it should immediately offer some meaningful alternative. Japan can offer many other things; for example because of yen's appreciation Japan's official development aid is recovering its status as number two in the world.

Let us not repeat the unproductive process---mutual overexpectation and dissapointment in each other.

Japan allows the use of its bases by the American forces, and the USA provides Japan with deterrence. Japan is the bastion of freedom and democracy in Asia. Japan and the USA share common objectives in the world---promotion of peace and prosperity with freedom, democracy and market economy.

Obama has reset the mood in the American society from negative to positive. And you, my dear Americans, may be able to digest the effect of the largest influx of immigrants in its history. Please recall that you were able to do it one hundred years ago, when a large inflow of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe had almost changed the nature of the American society.
I for one will switch my feeling toward Japan-US relations to plus.
Copyright ©Akio KAWATO

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