US rescue bid: still support from W. Europe, Japan but US prestige drops in Mideast as tensions rise; Japan weighs security
President Carter's unsuccessful effort to free the US hostages in Iran is raising disquieting questions about security in nonmilitary Japan. Japan depends on the US for security even more than the Europeans. It is constitutionally restrained from having a powerful military and belongs to no defense umbrella group like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
As a result, the hostage crisis could force Japan to think in global terms rather than narrow, regional ones, and to occasionally devise and initiate policies rathter than follow.
So far Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira, preparing to visit Mr. Carter at the White House May 1, has expressed "understanding" for the American action.
This comes despite Washington's failure to forewarn the allies of the risky venture at a time when they had finally agreed to a timetable for economic sanctions against Iran.
But Japan, like the European allies, is profoundly shocked by the American action. Newspaper opinion here has differed dramatically with US editorial opinion, which regretted mainly the failure of the action, not the attempt itself.
Said the normally cool and sober Nihon Keizai: "To the Western countries [the action to free the hostages] was itself an unethical act of betrayal, regardless of its success or failure."
Mr. Ohira will take no such language with him to Washington. He knows this is the time for allied solidarity.