Japan and Iran: Good vs. Evil?

Saw a great headline this morning:

Monday, February 27, 2006

Aso Urges Iran To Halt Uranium Enrichment, Iran Says No

TOKYO (Kyodo)–Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Monday said his country will not suspend its uranium enrichment, rejecting a request from his Japanese counterpart Taro Aso at their meeting in Tokyo, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.

Mottaki was quoted by the official as telling Aso that Iran is currently engaged in ”research activities” and that halting such resumption of uranium enrichment operations is ”impossible.”

Nice try, Japan! It’s unlikely that the international community will hold this diplomatic exercise in futility against you, so no worries! Aso gets an “A” for effort:

[February 04, 2006]

Japan viewed most positively in world poll, Iran most negatively

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)WASHINGTON, Feb. 4_(Kyodo) _ Japan was most widely viewed as having a positive influence in the world, while Iran displaced the United States as the nation with the most negative rating, according to a BBC World Service survey released Friday.
Continue reading Japan and Iran: Good vs. Evil?

Did Iran and Japan make the same mistake?

Or to phrase it as another SAT analogy: Israel is to Iran as Norway is to Japan.

I just wrote a post last week, largely about Japan’s illegal whaling, in which I pointed out the absurdity of Japan having voluntarily signed an anti-whaling treaty they had no intention of following and opened up themselves to international criticism, while Norway, who simply never signed the treaty, is perfectly content carrying out their own whaling activities.

For the other half of the analogy, look at this quote from the other day’s NYT:

The resolution was passed after the United States agreed late Friday to a clause indirectly criticizing Israel’s secret nuclear weapons status. Initially Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had rejected any compromise, arguing that Iran would use the clause for propaganda purposes to criticize Israel, which unlike Iran is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and suffers no consequences as a nuclear power, diplomats in Vienna and American officials said.

Of course the real reason that Israel can get away with having nuclear weapons and Iran can’t is not because of the treaty, but because the USA and Europe are willing to tolerate Israel’s possession of such weapons, but it does raise the question of why Iran bothered to sign the treaty in the first place. I’m sure there are plenty of other examples of countries that signed up for treaties that they then turned around and violated without a second thought, but I found this parallel particularly apt, despite the vast difference in scale of importance.

Maybe people would still be protesting Japan’s whaling activities even if they hadn’t entered into the treaty, and Iran would definitely still be under diplomatic pressure to curtail their nuclear research, but why in both cases did they only make it easier for their opponents by breaking rules that they never had to agree to be bound by in the first place?