Dissing Japan?

by Jonathan H. Adler

A friend sends along some interesting (if disturbing) news on the Obama administration’s recent change of heart regarding who will be Ambassador to Japan.

Originally, Obama was supposed to appoint Joseph Nye, a political scientist from Harvard, as ambassador to Japan.  This rumor, which clearly came from the Obama administration, was widely publicized in the Japanese media.  The Japanese were very pleased, and liked the fact that Nye was a well respected academic who had authored the well-received Nye-Armitage report on the importance of the US-Japan alliance.  Now, after appointing Huntsman as ambassador to China — a former governor who actually speaks Mandarin — the Obama administration has decided against Nye, and is instead putting forth someone named John Roos.  Perhaps you are familiar with him (he is apparently a high-powered silicon valley attorney), but his only qualification seems to be that he raised a ton of money for Obama in California.  He has no expertise in international affairs and doesn’t appear to know anything about Japan.  Essentially, this is political payback.  Imagine how the Japanese feel about this, particularly after all the reporting on Huntsman.  As they like to remind people, they, and not China, are the second largest economy in the world.  So we send them a fundraiser?  This is a real “slap-in-the-face” to a country that is already beginning to reevaluate our relationship after we took such a hands-off attitude to the N. Korean missle launch.