Queen Elizabeth II has started a trend in YouTube holiday greetings from world leaders. Now Prime Minister of Japan Yasuo Fukuda has offered his (click image above).
I know that many will not share my enthusiasm for Prime Minister Fukuda’s New Year’s Greeting because it’s not the most charismatic presentation one could imagine — but just picture George Bush trying to issue his salutations in Japanese. Ok, stop — I know it’s tough. But Fukuda does it all in English — and does so in a way that we can focus on the important substance of his message.
But seriously, Fukuda provides a stark and refreshing contrast to both of Japan’s hawkish, immediate past prime ministers, Shinzo Abe and Junichiro Koizumi. Fukuda offers a message of “cooperation,” and of Japan as the “Peace Cooperation State.” When Fukuda discusses terrorism, he talks about the importance of providing soft-power like aid to disadvantaged people.
Fukuda’s performance is very impressive — and may signal the return of Japan to the kind of state that was strongly promoting global institutions and a kind of sovereignty that derived from embedded multilateralism in contrast to Japan becoming the kind of bland, ordinary nation that simply applauded American arbitrariness in the war against Iraq.
— Steve Clemons