Obama Not Such A Hero In Japan

Like millions of Americans, I watched the scene in Chicago’s Grant Park on election night, as President-elect Barack Obama delivered his victory speech, with a real sense of hope that something fundamental was changing. A few hours later, I began receiving e-mail messages from friends in Europe who were overjoyed by the choice American voters had made.

By Ayako Doi
The Washington Post
.
And the next day, the world’s excitement was visible in news stories, photos and television images broadcast from around the globe — with one striking exception.

Surfing Japanese news Web sites for commentaries on the Obama victory from a key U.S. ally, I was taken aback by the skeptical, even negative, tone that prevailed. “Obama Likely to Stress Importance of China,” read one headline in the mass-circulation daily Yomiuri Shimbun, implying that the new administration will relegate Japan to the foreign policy back seat. The economic daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun fretted about the likelihood that the Democratic president and Congress may concoct a massive rescue package for troubled U.S. automakers and about the potential fallout for the Japanese car industry. Everyone seemed to agree that Obama, who has talked about withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq to concentrate on Afghanistan, may well put pressure on Japan to send ground troops to the latter country — something the nation’s postwar pacifist leaders don’t feel prepared to do.

President George W. Bush (L) sits alongside Japan's Prime Minister ... 
President George W. Bush (L) sits alongside Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso at the G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy at the National Building Museum in Washington November 15, 2008.(Jason Reed/Reuters)

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13
/AR2008111302975.html

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