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Barack brings out the blues in Tokyo, Hatoyama calls for green in Singapore

17 November, 2009

Having closeted myself away from the world of news for the most of last week, it took me a few days to work out why every major Tokyo train station was crawling with police. Every exit, every walkway seemed to have police both posted and patrolling. Getting directions had never been easier. After tossing up between it being the anniversary of the sarin gas attacks (it wasn’t) and a visit from David Beckham, I realised it was actually Barack Obama in town that has caused the conspicuous show of  force from the “boys in blue”.

Indeed, it was “Suntory Time” for Obama as he took to Suntory Hall on 14 November to tell the audience that the US and Japan need not view the rise of China as a threat (I am paraphrasing here of course) – that power was “not a zero-sum game” and the rise of one nation did not have to be followed by the fall of another.

And while Rudd has been trying to get his Asian Community idea to fly (although it seems to have been kept in the hangar of late), Japan’s Hatoyama has been pushing for the formation of an East Asian Community, first suggested by then-Prime Minister Murayama, often considered the first Japanese Prime Minister to apologise for wartime atrocities in Asia. However, just as Rudd has an uphill battle with his community, so too does Hatoyama for different reasons, although he sees an EU-based model as one way to achieve greater integration while easing tensions.

Onto APEC in Singapore however, and Hatoyama again took bold steps in leading other “seen to be green” leaders in his eco-tracks – urging all APEC leaders to adopt measures to be decided at the “COP15” meeting in Copenhagen. (Unlike me, most leaders won’t be taking the greener DSB First airport train, and therefore should actually arrive in time for their designated meetings. I am guessing nobody from the Maori Party will be attending either, so no chance their escape from scheduled meetings will be foiled by faulty trains like mine was.)

In a message to leaders, Hatoyama said:

“Countries with the technology must cooperate to solve this global issue so that we can create the so-called low carbon revolution. I want to seek the cooperation of the APEC countries. I want to say to them, let’s work together.”

And I don’t think he was referring to drinking “low carb” beer….though this statement hasn’t stopped the popularity of his cabinet slipping (albeit to realistic levels) as the cabinet has battled out budget hearings in Diet sessions, where he faces real pressure at home to curb his green pledges to stop the public accounts going even further into the red… although they are already so red that most people have probably given up caring at this point.


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