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New Diplomacy Initiative’s official statement on Eldridge’s comment on Japan Times

New Diplomacy Initiative’s (ND) official statement

Board of Directors, New Diplomacy Initiative,  Mike Mochizuki / Shuntaro Torigoe / Jiro Yamaguchi / Kyoji Yanagisawa

 

On January 5, 2015, the Japan Times published an article about the New Diplomacy Initiative, “Think tank gives Japan-U.S. diplomacy an Okinawan voice.” About one month later, Robert Eldridge, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff of Government and External Affairs for the U.S. Marine Corps, commented on the Japan Times’ website in regards to this article. Mr. Eldridge’s comments were criticized in the Okinawa Times, as well as in the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper on February 13 and 14.

 

The New Diplomacy Initiative shares his view that “the establishment of a new think tank in Japan is indeed a good thing for civil society.” Our board of directors and staff work together to bring diverse voices to diplomacy by using existing diplomatic channels as well as establishing new channels. Because much information is not delivered through current diplomatic channels and not reported in the media, the New Diplomacy Initiative gathers and disseminates information about politics and diplomacy and develops policy proposals that reflect a wide and varied range of voices.

 

Mr. Eldridge called the Okinawan opposition against the Henoko base construction a “cacophony of noise.” In addition, as also reported widely, responding to the above Japan Times article about us, Captain Caleb D. Eames, Deputy Public Affairs Officer for the Marine Corps Installations Pacific, commented that Okinawan protestor’s attempt to appear injured is “laughable.” The problem is that only a small group of people can currently be influential actors in diplomacy between the United States and Japan. Diplomacy should have its foundation in real society. If Okinawan people are making “noise,” this “noise” should be delivered to policy-makers of the two countries, both of which are democratic nations.

 

Mr. Eldridge implies that the views of the U.S. and Japanese governments are impartial and that dissenting views are biased. But such an attitude is undemocratic and undermines the possibility of resolving policy problems in an effective and judicious manner.

 

In regards to Mr. Eldridge’s concern over the source of our funding, we receive our funding from our members and audiences of the symposiums we hold. As a matter of fact, our organization does not have a lot of resources, although we are proud of being supported by many people who would like to make their voices heard. We are always welcoming new members.

 

As Mr. Eldridge said, further research is vital on the issue of U.S. bases in Okinawa, and the research should be done “objectively and constructively with facts.” The New Diplomacy Initiative will continue to carry out our work objectively and constructively based on facts as we always have. Thank you very much for your support.

 

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