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    End of ASEAN summit

    What novel trouble have those rascals in East Asia found to get themselves into while I’m sleeping on the opposite side of the globe? Not much, it appears–the trouble is pretty much as per usual. Of course, ASEAN meetings have a way, by means of throwing enemies into close quarters, of exacerbating friction:

    [The recent] series of international meetings, conceived with an eye toward designing a future East Asian cooperative entity, the issues that have become obstacles to regional collaboration between Japan and the PRC, which face off as the area’s two major powers, were thrown into sharp relief. After the 14 December closing of the ASEAN Summit session, Prime Minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi held a press coference in the city of Kuala Lumpur and protested against the refusal of the PRC and ROK to hold official [head-of-state] meetings with Japan because of the Prime Minister’s pilgrimages to the Yasukuni Shrine. No mending of relations appears to be in sight.

    “Our prayers for peace and our respects for those who fell during wartime are matters of the heart, an issue of psychological liberty. I cannot understand the criticism of our pilgrimages.” The Prime Minister’s choice of words was nearly the same as it would be inside Japan, but in the context of close observation by journalists from the assembled nations of Asia, he uncharacteristically expanded on “criticism from the PRC.”

    “I have from the start argued for PRC-Japanese friendship. Even if we’re at swords-point on one or two items, that does not affect our ability to continue moving forward in developing our relations,” he said, but he betrayed discomfort in his facial expression.

    Nothing in the above is particularly new; it just serves to highlight the unwillingness of either Japan or its critics to budge on the Yasukuni issue.

    2 Responses to “End of ASEAN summit”

    1. tanoki says:

      Forgive me for not commenting on the substantive merits of your posts. I generally make an effort to carefully read your entries, but am today too sleepy to respond meaningfully to the points you’ve made. Not that I would have much to criticize, since I tend to see eye to eye with you regarding most things, but, for the meantime, I’ll defer my comments to another day.

      What I would like to say, though, is what a pleasure it has been reading your blog. You have a natural knack for writing–something that most people (at least those surrounding me) lack–and it’s a real breath of fresh air to read your insights. I don’t mention this to blow sunshine up your ass or inflate your ego. I just feel like, in some small way, I should show my gratitude for the weeks on end I have surreptitiously enojoyed your blog.

    2. Thanks, tanoki. That’s very gratifying. Feel free to be surreptitious if you prefer; there are plenty of blogs I myself read without commenting on.

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