Hatoyama's foolish trip to Iran hurt national interests
Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama visited Iran despite government pressure to call the trip off, with the result that Tehran exploited the occasion. This was a development the government feared.
Hatoyama met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his aides in Tehran on Sunday to discuss Iran's controversial nuclear development program.
According to an Iranian report on the talks, Hatoyama criticized the International Atomic Energy Agency for applying double standards toward certain countries, including Iran, saying such treatment was unfair.
At a press conference in the Diet building on Monday following his return home, Hatoyama denied making this comment, saying he profoundly regrets what he called a "complete fabrication" by Tehran.
There is no doubt, however, that Hatoyama's visit to Tehran was exploited to justify Iran's nuclear development program.
Iran has come under increasingly severe sanctions from the United States and Europe. Talks between Iran and six countries on Tehran's nuclear development program are to resume in the near future.
It is extremely unfortunate that Hatoyama's visit to Iran has had a dampening effect on the government's diplomacy, which places priority on cooperating with the United States and European nations.
The government repeatedly asked Hatoyama not to visit Tehran. But Hatoyama turned a deaf ear to the requests, arguing that his trip "is part of my activities I'm making in a personal capacity as a legislator, as there is a significant possibility diplomatic efforts by an individual legislator could help the national interest."
When it comes to carrying out diplomacy between a former Japanese prime minister and the president of a foreign country, Hatoyama's remark convinces no one.
Is it any wonder that Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura reacted with dismay? "We continued to ask him not to make the trip at this sensitive time, even as an individual lawmaker acting on his own accord," he said.
With his own, self-centered way of thinking, Hatoyama probably felt like he was indirectly supporting Japan's diplomacy.
Diplomacy is the domain of the government, and diplomatic moves by individual lawmakers should be limited to an auxiliary role.
The leadership of the Democratic Party of Japan is partly responsible for the problem Hatoyama caused this time. Apparently to ensure party unity, the DPJ leadership decided in late February to appoint Hatoyama, a supreme adviser of the party, to the post of adviser in charge of diplomatic affairs.
Unaware of his incompetence
Immediately after his appointment, Hatoyama visited China at the same time as a DPJ delegation led by Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi. Hatoyama and the DPJ delegation held separate meetings the same day with Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to be elevated to the top Chinese post. The DPJ's lack of coordination for its extraordinary "dual diplomacy" immediately was brought to light.
Hatoyama is primarily responsible for virtually causing the Japan-U.S. relationship to collapse. His chaotic handling of the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture was epitomized by his controversial "Trust me" remark during talks with U.S. President Barack Obama on the issue. As he was prime minister at the time, Hatoyama's summit diplomacy hurt our national interests.
Even after he stepped down as prime minister, Hatoyama angered Okinawa Prefecture by describing his remarks concerning the deterrence provided by U.S. forces stationed in prefecture as nothing but "expediency." Has he forgotten his bungling already?
Hatoyama is a type of politician who should refrain from becoming involved in diplomacy, both in light of his incompetence and personality.
He should become more aware his limitations as quickly as possible.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 10, 2012)