Japanese transport minister Seiji Maehara came to Washington and called on his U.S. counterpart Ray LaHood. Both agreed “that massive recalls of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles should not hurt the Japan-U.S. alliance and economic relations,” Japanese officials quoted by The Nikkei [sub] said.
LaHood answered Maehara that the U.S. government is treating Toyota in a fair manner, and that Washington is handling the matter based on rules. (Rimshot.) Maehara told LaHood, ”Toyota is a Japanese company as well as a U.S. company with plants in the United States.” (Rimshot.)
LaHood said that it’s all a big coincidence. It just happened to be a Japanese company that became his pet target, and that the problem would not affect the Japan-U.S. relationship at all. (Rimshot.)
It’s no secret that the Obama administration and that of Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama can’t see eye-to-eye. In a scathing analysis, The Nikkei [sub] said that “some officials in the administration of President Barack Obama are privately appalled at Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, believing that he often goes back on his word and that his government can no longer be trusted in negotiations.” Washington is “disgusted” with Hatoyama, says The Nikkei, over “a string of discouraging episodes stretching back over half a year.”
Hmmm, interesting timing. It’s the Okinawa issue.
Hatoyama’s campaign platform included language that Japan’s lockstep alignment with the U.S. foreign and defense policy should end. Ever since his party swept the LDP from power in September 2009, matters got frosty.
It’s been going from bad to worse. At the nuclear summit two weeks ago, Hatoyama was snubbed by Obama. Obama met King Abdullah II of Jordan, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, President Viktor Yanukovich of Ukraine, President Serzh Sargsian of Armenia, even Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Of course he met China’s Hu Jintao. For Hatoyama, no time.
Instead, it rained invectives. The Washington Post said: “By far the biggest loser of the extravaganza was the hapless and (in the opinion of some Obama administration officials) increasingly loopy Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.” (Rimshot.)
I don’t put much credence in conspiracy theories. But I also learned to distrust coincidences.