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As American Media Transfixed by Trivialities, Japan and US Get Cozy


While most of the United States media class is distracted by the spectacle of feckless politicians squabbling away in Washington, real news is happening halfway around the world. Japan and the US have signed a landmark agreement that includes provisions for a new missile defense system in Japan, stations American surveillance drones at Japanese air bases, and provides for coordination on cyber threats. The New York Times buried the story on A11 of its print edition:

“Our bilateral defense cooperation, including America’s commitment to the security of Japan, is a critical component of our overall relationship,” Mr. Hagel told reporters, “and to the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia-Pacific.”

For its part, Japan committed to bolster its security capabilities by creating a new American-style National Security Council, and said it would expand assistance to Southeast Asian countries to help them resist Chinese territorial claims. Japan also pledged to increase military spending over all, despite the country’s need to pare down its huge national debt, and said it might change its current interpretation of its pacifist Constitution to allow its military to come to the aid of American forces under attack.

This is a very big deal. Despite all the distractions, the pivot to Asia continues to be a priority for this country and will shape American foreign policy way beyond Obama’s time in office; it’s certainly more consequential than the effect of the budget wars on domestic politics.

[Photo courtesy Getty Images.]

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  • JS

    WRM —

    I’m a huge fan of you and this blog, and I read it religiously. But anyone who thinks the debt ceiling fight doesn’t represent “real news” is either willfully ignorant or — as I suspect in your case is more likely — blinded by solipsistic delusions of other-worldly clairvoyance.

    Some part of you must know that a potentially calamitous blow to the anchor of the world economy is greater than the “spectacle of feckless politicians squabbling away.” Or is your understanding of economics so rudimentary that you don’t get the effect of a default? Please clarify.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    This is so much less than what is possible with Chinese belligerence driving all of its neighbors into America’s arms. A competent administration could easily organize an economic and military alliance with all of the targets of China’s belligerence. Instead all we get are the scraps the administration is forced to accept or look completely weak.

  • Corlyss

    While the media is focused on angry and abused government workers, and poor newlyweds who can’t spend their honeymoons in a national park, really important stories are going begging. The failure of Obamacare for instance, or the German election, or the Syrian/Iran debacles, or the resurgence of al Qaeda, etc. It’s just as if the media didn’t learn a darn thing from their excruciatingly bad performance in the 1995-6 shutdown.

    • Andrew Allison

      You forgot Benghazi , the IRS and the NSA! It’s truly pathetic.

      • Corlyss

        So I did. But they were sort of old news, and didn’t appear to be going anywhere. At least not while so many were having so much fun tearing Team O up one side and down the other for Syria/Iran and Obamacare.

  • Anthony

    “Japan and the US have signed a landmark agreement that included provisions for a new missile defense system in Japan….” Important policy decision WRM and in line with Asian pivot. Furthermore, NYT has covered agreement as well as the bane of budgetary brinkmanship – “America enjoys the exorbitant privilege of printing the world’s reserve currency”. The good news is Via Meadia provides perspective regarding both…

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