Ex-diplomat says Sino-Japanese rift part of US agenda
Julian Ryall in Tokyo
A former Japanese diplomat has accused the United States of manipulating Japan since the second world war in order to "eliminate" prime ministers who sought to develop better relations with Beijing.
Ukeru Magosaki, who also served as the head of the Foreign Ministry's Intelligence and Analysis Bureau, has recently written a book that has soared to the top of Japan's bestseller lists.
The book - Sengoshi no Shotai (The Truth Behind Post-war History) - states that the US will never remove its military bases from Japanese territory, no matter how much public outcry there is. Magosaki also said he believes that certain factions in the US would even like to see Japan develop nuclear weapons.
"In the book, I divide Japanese leaders into two groups; those who have wanted to pursue independent foreign policies and those who have just followed US instructions and policies," Magosaki said in Tokyo yesterday.
"Those in the first group were not welcomed by the US government and were usually quickly eliminated from the post of prime minister."
This was not achieved directly by Washington, he claimed, but through subtle influence over key politicians, the media, government officials and senior executives of major companies.
A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Tokyo declined to comment on the allegations made in Magosaki's book.
To achieve its control of Japan's political processes, Washington has interfered with media coverage, encouraged opposition parties, twisted public opinion and even brought down governments by "eliminating" key cabinet members, Magosaki claims.
Two of the Japanese politicians who he claims have been hounded for their independent thoughts have been Yukio Hatoyama, who lasted less then nine months as prime minister until June 2010, and Ichiro Ozawa, whose reputation has been tarnished by a financial scandal and a legal case.
Magosaki believes that had Hatoyama remained in power, the government would not be making moves to restart Japan's nuclear reactors - shut down in the aftermath of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant - and would not have gone ahead with raising the consumption tax or deploying US military Osprey aircraft to Okinawa.
These issues, along with the ongoing debate over the Diaoyu-Senkaku islands and the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade discussions, are all closely connected with Washington's global geopolitical interests, Magosaki said.
The US was "encouraging politicians like [national policy minister Seiji] Maehara to take action against China as that has a benefit for the US," he said.
And while business interests in the US may want closer co-operation with China, the US government was pursuing what Magosaki termed an "offshore balancing strategy" under which neighbouring nations - he named South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan - are encouraged to pursue actions to constrain China and its growing regional influence.
"The Senkaku [Diaoyu] issue is part of that strategy," he said.
"Today, in the US, there are some people who want Japan to have a nuclear bomb.
"This is related to balancing strategy, to counter China by using Japan's military power.
"From China's point of view, Yoshihiko Noda has been the worst prime minister they could have had and they feel there can be no trust" between the two governments, Magosaki said. "That means that anyone who replaces him will be welcome."