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stuck in the mittle

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

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26:  Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for the USA presidential election, leaves 10 Downing Street after meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron on July 26, 2012 in London, England. Mr Romney is meeting various leaders, past and present, on his visit to the UK, including Tony Blair, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.  (Photo by Oli Scarff/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.

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Photo: Oli Scarff/2012 Getty Images