As President Bush welcomes the third Japanese prime minister in 3 years to Washington today, a former Tokyo correspondent writes in the Los Angeles Times that current difficulties with arguably our most important ally stem from a fundamental Bush misunderstanding. W has confused Japan with the US's other "special relationship," he writes, and treated Japanese PMs as if they were Tony Blair.
In fact, cooperation on war efforts in the Mideast has been extremely difficult and politically costly for Japanese leaders. "The Japanese have been content to develop industrial muscle while leaving their defense in US hands," writes Michael Zielenziger, leaving Japan hamstrung with the bellicose Bush administration. As this weekend's summit should make clear, Japan has other goals, he writes: "splendid isolation and checkbook diplomacy."