On the whole, recent inept Japanese diplomacy has played into the hands of those in China and Korea who conceptually and emotionally -- and for domestically political reasons -- remain fixed on Japan's nasty war-time past with regard to their basic (negative and at times racist) assumptions about the Japanese.
And so it came as a blessed breeze of fresh air in the otherwise overheated atmosphere of South Vietnam's largest and most teeming city to learn that, around here at least, the Japanese are very much in favor.
the Japanese are prepared to help. But they are not offering handouts, aid programs and the like once so common from the West because these efforts generally sank like dead water buffaloes in the swamp of Vietnam.
But the Japanese are prepared to offer loans, at incredibly low interest rates -- "sometimes just one percent," explained my friend, the master negotiator who deals with the Chinese, the Koreans, and anyone who is thinking of helping the country escape from poverty.
What does Japan ask for in return? Vietnam's vote at the UN? The opening of a Japanese war memorial downtown? Obeisance to the Chrysanthemum Throne?
"None of this, not at all," says my friend. "We just have to use the yen in ways that help Japanese businesses in this country and the region."3/30/2006 AsiaMedia