Mitt Romney’s Foreign-Policy Etiquette Still Needs Some Work

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Photo: Oli Scarff/2012 Getty Images

While not exactly an Olympic-sized gaffe, Mitt Romney managed to lay the groundwork for some potential issues with another major United States ally. During his speech at a Thursday fund-raiser, the Republican candidate remarked, "We are not Japan. We are not going to be a nation that suffers in decline and distress for a decade or a century."

As Foreign Policy's The Cable points out, the line could be interpreted as "needlessly insulting the face-conscious Japanese," particularly since Japan analysts (Japanalysts?) say the assertion that the country has been in decline for a century "isn't a fair characterization," considering the immense economic strides the country made following World War II. A former spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry explained that, while the Japanese are somewhat used to being cited as a cautionary tale, Romney would be better off if he didn't seem to think "decade" and "century" were interchangeable.