Hatoyama's Naked Dance
Image Credit: Flickr / Tanakawho

Hatoyama's Naked Dance


Yukio Hatoyama has finally spoken out about the recent events that ended in his resignation, days after the inauguration of his successor as prime minister, Naoto Kan.

But he chose not to speak on TV, or to a magazine or to a newspaper. Instead, he chose Twitter. Who was he Tweeting to? To the nation and to his ‘followers’ (although not just followers in the conventional Twitter sense).

And what did he say after his brief but total silence since stepping down earlier this month? Roughly translated, he said:

‘Now the “new public” appears to have a life of its own. I thank all those who allowed me to do the naked dance. I also would like to thank all those who followed after my naked dance. This amazing power of propagation will definitely change our world.’

Naked dance, or hadaka odori, means makinga fool of oneself in public. So what did he mean by saying that here? Many of his Twitter followers were puzzled, and asked him what exactly he meant by ‘naked dance’.

The following day Hatoyama Tweeted again, this time with a link to a YouTube video presented by young music industry entrepreneur Derek Sivers who outlines how one ‘lone nut’ can start a movement with a single follower. Hatoyama accompanied the link with the words:

‘This video is the answer to the mystery of the “naked dance”. This is the idea of the “new public” where the entire nation takes responsibility in leading public affairs. With this in mind, I'd like to continue dancing like the young guy in this video.’

Not everyone was convinced—several commentators speculated openly on Twitter that Hatoyama was just playing the fool presenting this video, and that he must have a hidden agenda behind his apparent act of 'loopiness.'

Sivers says in the video that: ‘The first follower is what transforms a 'lone nut' into a leader.’

Did this apply to Hatoyama? Many at the time, including myself, thought such an idea was just wishful thinking on the issue of the relocation of the Futenma Air Station, and that Hatoyama would simply succumb to internal and external pressure to accept the original agreement with the United States. And he did.

On Wednesday, a Mainichi Shimbun article entitled ‘The Reporter's Eye – Kisha No Me’ reported in detail on what was being said by the Democratic Party of Japan’s two departing leaders–Secretary General Ozawa and Prime Minister Hatoyama—as their administration drew to a close.

According to the article, on the day the new prime minister was being selected, Ozawa tapped Rep. Hiroshi Kawauchi on the shoulder inthe Lower House chamber and whispered: ‘So you've been to Saipan? I'd like to sit down with you and hear more about it.’

Following this, Hatoyama is reported to have said to Kawauchi as he returned to his seat: ‘I think the answer is Tinian (one of the Mariana Islands) after all.’

As he recalls these comments, Kawauchi is reported to have sensed Hatoyama’s regret over not being able to change the traditional US-dependent security posture. These are encouraging words for those who hoped for something different than the current agreement over Okinawa.

But although the United States has what it originally wanted, it will still need to tread carefully. If the intent of the new Japanese government is indeed to follow through with the original agreement, Hatoyama’s naked dance may actually have succeeded in instilling some resentment nationwide among Japanese about the plan.

The interests of the Okinawan people have become the interest of the entire nation, and their demands are clear and simple: respect our sovereign rights, or no deal.

In practice, this would mean that if the United States can’t follow through with its May 28 commitment to ‘appropriately consider factors such as safety, operational requirements, noise impact, environmental concerns, and effects on the local community’, then no deal.

In other words, the marines at the Futenma Air Station would be forced to transfer off the island of Okinawa, and Japanese sovereign territory altogether if the US government doesn’t commit to improving safety standards and show due regard to the local environment. This would mean the Status of Force Agreement would also have to be amended.

So, it seems, hope hasn’t been crushed after all.

Max von Schuler-Kobayashi
June 23, 2010 at 05:16

I have lived in Japan for 36 years. When I first came here, Japanese people treated foreigners, particularly Americans, like Gods.

This made me quite uncomfortable. I was born in America, and I can tell you the truth, Americans are not Gods. However, over the years, Japanese attitudes towards foreigners and the world has changed. When I first came here, Japanese people in their 50′s and 60′s had experienced Japan’s defeat in war. Now those people are in their 80′s.

For young people today, the war is something that happened long ago. Yet it is Americans who cannot forget World War II. Often, young Americans today scream about how terrible Pearl Harbor was. When I lived in America, I was unusual, the Pearl Harbor attack never really bothered me. The Japanese Navy attacked the American Navy. It happens in wars.

And without having to write a book, America did a lot to provoke Japan into attacking. I know, I am a WWII historian.

Americans cannot forget WWII, yet most Americans were not alive at the time.

And I think that most Americans have no idea about their overseas military Empire. The United States has some 753 military bases around the world. And most Americans have no idea what their military does in other countries.

I know, I was a United States Marine in Japan. In general, uniformed troops are the worst representatives of a nation, and American troops are very ill behaved.

Many countries are getting tired of American domination. I have long read of such frustration in other nations.

Former Prime Minister Hatoyama articulated the desire of the Japanese people for a more equal relationship with the United States. But as I am trying to say above, the Americans themselves are clueless to the fact that they force unequal relationships on other nations.

President Obama either forced an impossible situation on former Prime Minister Hatoyama, or he allowed his staff to do so.

I know that Americans will say that Japan was trying to break an agreement that was reached in 2006. What the Americans cannot seem to understand is that that agreement was wildly unpopular, and the LDP was destroyed in August for that.

America may think it has won something by putting pressure on former PM Hatoyama, but is only a slight tactical victory. It is in truth it is a strategic defeat. Japanese people are losing trust in America.

Frankly, I don’t think Henoko will ever be built. And the Marines will leave Japan sooner than they think. America greatly over estimates it’s importance in Asia, particularly with a collapsing domestic economy.

I shall be honored to join former Prime minister Hatoyama in his “naked dance”, and dance for a more equal relationship between Japan and America.

June 20, 2010 at 08:27

I think it is about time the US got out of Japan and left the Japanese take care of themselves. Guam is close enough to China for our military.

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