“Well, at least it’ll get the lush off the front page …”

After reports that the Japanese Finance Minister, Shoichi Nakagawa, was helplessly drunk during the meeting of the G7, doubtless the announcement that the Japanese Prime Minister is the first head of government to be invited to meet Obama lowered the heat slightly in Tokyo. But other than that particular circumstance, does it really matter who’s the first to have a meeting with the new American president any more? Are other leaders round the world sobbing into their hankies? Immediately after WWII, it mattered which nation was so favoured; and after the Berlin Wall came down, the message conveyed by their head of government’s place in the queue to meet the new incumbent mattered to the new former Eastern bloc democracies, but does it mean anything today?

7 thoughts on ““Well, at least it’ll get the lush off the front page …””

  1. Well, I think the presumption is that the order of meeting communicates which countries or which issues involving which countries hold the highest priority in the current administration.

    Since its Japan, I think it communicates that the Obama administration would rather just ignore the rest of the world.

  2. I thought there’d be a mad scramble to get in before the aura fades. It’s starting to look a bit sickly already, to some people at least.

  3. Obama’s a very insecure individual with a chip. He grew up (later childhood and teens) in Hawaii, where there are seriously large numbers of Japanese. His junior high and high school were probably fairly heavily populated with Japanese. Therefore, as “foreigners”, he may feel easier with them than with Brits or Europeans or, God forbid, Latin Americans.

    I see this as a panic move. A comfort zone. The President of Indonesia as first visitor might have been a bit de trop.

  4. Sorry for the messed up post above!

    Another explanation – which one do you think is more likely?

    From: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20090218TDY01301.htm

    According to observers, by choosing Aso to be the first foreign leader to meet him at the White House, Obama is signaling that his administration puts priority on the bilateral relationship…

    Clinton described the two countries’ ties as a “cornerstone.”

    Concerning issues relating to North Korea, (Japanese Foreign Minister) Nakasone said: “I believe it’s necessary to comprehensively resolve the abduction [to North Korea] of Japanese nationals and Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. To denuclearize North Korea, Japan will work on the issues in cooperation with the United States and South Korea.”

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