Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 03/07/06

DE RUEHKO #1217/01 0660821
P 070821Z MAR 06





E.O. 12958: N/A


(1) Interview with Minshuto Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kozo
Watanabe: Maehara's policy imprint not necessary; "I would not
shrink from boycotting deliberations"

(2) Minshuto may conduct presidential election before September;
Unifying views for diplomatic vision difficult; Moves afoot to
tighten noose around Maehara

(3) LDP leadership race: LDP unable to push pet views for fear of
public backlash; Work of regrouping stalled

(4) Tokyo air raid victims, kin to sue government possibly in
August to seek apology, financial compensation

(5) Strains in the Japan-US alliance (Part 2): US expects Japan
to act voluntarily

(6) Whale meat stockpiles become twice as much as level of 10
years ago because of surplus supplies as a result of expanded
research whaling; No longer a rare delicacy


(1) Interview with Minshuto Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kozo
Watanabe: Maehara's policy imprint not necessary; "I would not
shrink from boycotting deliberations"

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
March 7, 2006

Following its crashing defeat in the House of Representatives
election last year, the Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) has
again been seriously hurt over the fake e-mail fiasco. The e-mail
uproar also has generated questions about the party executive's
capability to deal with crises. The Tokyo Shimbun yesterday asked
former Lower House speaker Kozo Watanabe, who has just assumed
the post of Diet Affairs Committee chairman, for his views about
how to reconstruct his party's structure.

-- I guess there must be many things you need to reconsider over
executive responses to the e-mail problem.

"Hearing the second question (by Hisayasu Nagata at a meeting of
the House of Representatives' Budget Committee), (I thought) 'it
is a strange question.' I should have told (former Diet Affairs
Committee Chairman Yoshihiko) Noda to advise Nagata to stop such
questioning. I now regret it."

-- It took much time to bring the situation under control, didn't

''We fell into a state of confusion. It is necessary for veterans
to deal with matters when we face setbacks. That was difficult
for junior members to do so."

-- How do you assess the management of the party under the lead
of Mr. Seiji Maehara since last September?

"Mr. Maehara is excellent in insight. But he has no craftiness as
a politician at all. He does not act based on calculation, for
instance, based on the judgment it would not be desirable to say

TOKYO 00001217 002 OF 009

something on this occasion or that. "

-- How about a strategy of countermeasures?

"When I was a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, I told
opposition members to 'submit a counterproposal if you oppose our
plan.' This should be said by the ruling parties and not by
opposition parties. When I was serving as LDP Diet Affairs
Committee chairman, I feared a boycott of deliberations most. If
the Diet Affairs Committee chairman of an opposition party says,
"We will never boycott a session," the chairman will find it
difficult to freely act, like a wrestler bound hand and foot. I
am determined to thoroughly oppose bills that will not benefit
the people. I will not shrink even from boycotting

-- Mr. Maehara has said the party would unify views in June on
the party's basic policies, including security. What do you think
about this plan?

"In order to assume political power, it is necessary for the
party to prepare unified security and diplomatic principles, but
there is no need to adhere to the Maehara vision. It is
unnecessary to have a Maehara imprint on policy."

-- Do you mean you are not particular about the June deadline?

"Unfortunately, it is impossible to assume political power before
the House of Councillors election next year. Preparations must be
made before the election."

-- You referred to this, but what will you do about the plan of
moving up the party presidential race set for September?

"The election is scheduled for September (in principle). I will
listen to opinions from many party members."

-- Wasn't there the option of replacing the executive?

"In such a case, we would not be able to attend Diet
deliberations, which are managed with tax money, due to a party
head election. We must fulfill our responsibility to the public
under the current system during the current Diet session."

(2) Minshuto may conduct presidential election before September;
Unifying views for diplomatic vision difficult; Moves afoot to
tighten noose around Maehara

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged)
March 7, 2006

The major opposition party Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan)
must stop its penchant for wandering off course. Despite his
weakened grip on the party in the wake of his party's total
surrender to the Liberal Democratic Party over the e-mail flap,
Seiji Maehara intends to serve out his term as party president
until September. But his future seems gloomy since some Minshuto
lawmakers are ready to place tight restrictions on his leadership
role. Calls for an early party presidential election may grow
stronger toward the end of the current Diet session in June.

Following Minshuto's total surrender to the LDP, Secretary
General Yukio Hatoyama temporarily pressed President Maehara to

TOKYO 00001217 003 OF 009

resign from the post, alluding to the loss of influence in the
party. It has therefore now become difficult to for Maehara to
pursue his own policy style.

It has become difficult in practical terms now for Minshuto to
produce a foreign and security policy "vision" by the end of the
current Diet session, as planned.

Maehara delivered a speech at a breakfast meeting in Yokohama
yesterday, hosted by Keiichiro Asao, who as foreign minister in
the party's "Next Cabinet," has been playing a central role in
the party's effort to produce a policy vision. In his speech,
Maehara touched on bureaucratic sectionalism but stopped short of
mentioning the vision per se.

The party's foreign and defense affairs departments are scheduled
today to discuss the party's position on policy toward China for
the vision. Many Minshuto members disagree with Maehara's China-
as-threat argument. Such controversial themes as the right of
collective self-defense and international contributions may cause
Maehara to lose his grip on the party even further.

The website of Hideo Hiraoka, a Lower House member critical of
Maehara, carried this message on March 4: "I don't think we can
discuss matters calmly at a time like this when the party is in a
critical situation, losing public support."

Veteran lawmakers have begun keeping their distance from Maehara.

Naoto Kan explained on his website on March 4 the reason why he
refused to become the party's new Diet affairs chief: "I have
questions on Mr. Maehara's approach to unify views on foreign and
security affairs based on his view of China as posing a threat. I
also disagree with him on a retirement system for party
candidates running in elections."

Ichiro Ozawa is scheduled to launch a lawmaker's roundtable today
to discuss educational issues in collaboration with former
Education Minister Takeo Nishioka and others. Reportedly Kan,
Hatoyama, Lower House Vice Speaker Takahiro Yokomichi, and others
will join the forum. About 120 lawmakers have agreed to it. A
junior lawmaker said: "Education is a theme easy to bring people
together. But the group could act to encircle Maehara."

In compliance with advice by Kozo Watanabe, the new Diet affairs
chief, Maehara has given key posts to experienced lawmakers,
appointing former Secretary General Tatsuo Kawabata and former
General Coordination Department Senior Director General Hirofumi
Hirano as deputy Diet affairs chiefs, and former Policy Research
Committee Chairman Yoshito Sengoku as deputy secretary general to
serve as a coordinator for mid-level and junior members. A mid-
level member noted, "I think they assumed posts because the party
is in trouble and not necessarily to help Maehara."

A veteran member predicted: "Mr. Ozawa, the tactician, will not
lie still until September. The party will not be able to produce
its vision. There still is a possibility that the party will hold
an early presidential election."

(3) LDP leadership race: LDP unable to push pet views for fear of
public backlash; Work of regrouping stalled

ASAHI (Page 4) (Slightly abridged)

TOKYO 00001217 004 OF 009

March 3, 2006

About ten mid-level lawmakers from the Niwa-Koga, Tanigaki, and
Kono factions in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) assembled
together at a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo. Due in part to the
strong liquor, the participants said: "Let's get together again;"
and "Let's make much of the fact that we used to belong to the
same group (Kochi-kai)." Another group of mid-level likeminded
members from the three factions also agreed on Feb. 20 to create
a study session on Asia diplomacy.

Kochi-kai, a faction founded decades ago by then Prime Minister
Hayato Ikeda, was known as the liberal force that attached
importance to Japan recovering its economy, while only being
lightly armed. The group has split twice since former Prime
Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, 86, headed it. It has now split into
the Niwa-Koga faction with 48 members, the Tanigaki faction with
15, and the Kono faction with 11. Finance Minister Sadakazu
Tanigaki, 60, a possible future LDP president, heads the Tanigaki
faction. Foreign Minister Taro Aso, 65, who is regarded as
another candidate to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi,
belongs to the Kono faction.

The dominant view is that chances are slim that the three
factions will ever reunite. Whether the recent meetings to pave
the way for reuniting the Kochi-kai will develop into a coalition
depends on what kind of policies the three factions come up with,
as well as whether they can set forth a "large signboard."

Members of the Niwa-Koga faction, which holds the key to the
regrouping of the three factions, have kept separate distances
from the Koizumi government. The faction reached a consensus in
its general meeting on Feb. 23 on the co-chairmanship of Yuya
Niwa, 61, and Makoto Koga, 65, in an attempt to avoid the faction
from splitting. The move means that the faction failed to
determine its policy line.

Koga said in a speech delivered on Feb. 12 in the city of Kurume,
Fukuoka Prefecture, "If the political methods of (Prime Minister
Koizumi) continue, the possibility grows that Japan will go down
in ruins."

Several days after that day, Niwa told Koga, "I understand that
some policies of the prime minister are excessive, but it is not
that all the Koizumi polices are wrong."

Koga said in late January to some junior lawmakers in his
faction: "When a number of LDP members support a certain
candidate, I don't want you to rebel against that candidate."

Koizumi has destroyed the faction's function of recommending
candidates for cabinet and LDP executive posts, based on his
promise, "I will destroy the LDP." No Niwa-Koga faction members
were appointed as a cabinet minister and LDP executive member.
Faction members are concerned that they would be treated unkindly
regarding personnel appointments unless the faction followed the
Koizumi policy line. Such concern has made the three factions
think of reuniting.

Aso is negative about a coalition of the three factions. He said,
"If a presidential candidate has a strong flavor of being from a
faction, it will be difficult for the candidate to score with
party members belonging to no faction."

TOKYO 00001217 005 OF 009

The Tanigaki faction, meanwhile, describes a strategy of having
Tanigaki contend against Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, the
most likely successor to Koizumi. He could do so by gaining
support from the Niwa-Koga faction, according to a senior faction

Tanigaki will set forth a policy of emphasizing Asia diplomacy,
focusing on repairing the strained Japan-China relationship.
Regarding the domestic policy front, he will give consideration
to fiscal reconstruction and to the socially weak, based on the
widening income gap. In order to listen to various public
opinions, he intends to make known his differences with Koizumi,
who tends to ask voters to choose between only two things.

According to the outcome of a nationwide public opinion poll the
Asahi Shimbun conducted in mid-February, 28% of the respondents
said that Koizumi's successor should continue his policy of
forging a "small government;" 47% responded that the policy line
was good but the way of implementing policy should be reviewed;
and only 14% answered that the policy line itself should be

The Tsushima faction, a successor to the faction headed by former
Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita and the faction founded by former
Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, has been treated as the "force of
resistance." The faction plans to incorporate a stance of placing
importance on Asia and local development in its policy line. A
senior faction member was conciliatory when he said: "Since the
faction might split if it opposes the Koizumi policy line, we
will basically follow it. Factions no longer can decide the LDP
presidency; it is public opinion that does."

Public opinion that produced Prime Minister Koizumi five years
ago is making the three factions shrink back from calling for a
review of the Koizumi policy drive. A faction chief said,
"Factions now have to sail in high seas without a compass."

(4) Tokyo air raid victims, kin to sue government possibly in
August to seek apology, financial compensation

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
March 5, 2006

A group of victims and relatives of those who died in air raids
on Tokyo, including the March 10, 1945, Great Tokyo Air Raids,
decided at a gathering in Tokyo's Taito Ward March 4 to file a
lawsuit against the Japanese government in August, the month
marking the anniversary of the end of World War II, seeking an
apology and financial compensation.

The group based in Sumida Ward had intended to take the action
last August but postponed the plan. The nation's first class
action lawsuit against the government by air raid victims and kin
has now been set in motion.

According to the group, 113 people have expressed their wish to
join the suit and about 40 people have submitted statements to
the group's secretariat. The group is making arrangements with
lawyers representing plaintiffs. The group intends to build a
support system in collaboration with other air raid-connected

TOKYO 00001217 006 OF 009

In the lawsuit, the group plans to attack the nation's legal
system designed to provide postwar compensation, such as
pensions, to military personnel and civilian employees of the
armed forces but not to common civilians, saying that they were
not government employees. The group is also determined to pursue
the responsibility of the government, which has refused to pay
financial compensation, saying that the public must equally
tolerate the damages caused during the war.

Some 90 people, including the group's members, attended the
gathering in which the group's vice chairman Kenji Ando declared:
"The government's approach of not providing any compensation to
us is intolerable. We are determined to join efforts with
lawyers, academics, and other organizations." Pointing out the
fact that the government has paid 1 trillion yen in pension to
military personnel and persons attached to the military, writer
Katsumoto Saotome, who wrote The Great Tokyo Air Raids and other
books, said: "The difference in compensation between military
personnel and civilians is totally unreasonable. Keeping silence
is tantamount to condoning the discrimination."

(5) Strains in the Japan-US alliance (Part 2): US expects Japan
to act voluntarily

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
March 6, 2006

Bringing together Japanese and US security experts, an informal
seminar was held in San Francisco in late February in which
former National Security Council Asian Affairs Director Michael
Green told the following anecdote:

"America, France, and Japan wrote books on elephants. The
Americans' book was about how to make money on elephants, The
French wrote about the love life of elephants, but the Japanese
wrote on what do elephants think of Japan?

The ironical anecdote was directed at Tokyo, urging it to throw a
ball at Washington voluntarily without being coaxed.

The first Bush administration had many Japan experts, such as
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Assistant Secretary
of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly,
Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Torkel
Patterson, and Michael Green. They were all capable of throwing
balls at Japan a step short of applying gaiatsu or "foreign

With such Japan experts involved in the game of throwing balls
back and forth between the Japanese and the US governments,
strains were minimized between the two countries when
international opinion was split markedly over such key issues as
the propriety of attacking Iraq. The combination could produce
positive results, such as Japan's dispatch of the SDF mission to

Japan experts are clearly in short supply in the second Bush
administration. Although such members as Undersecretary of State
Nicholas Burns and presidential assistant Jack Crouch are drawing
attention as having some Japan expertise, they are specialized
more in Europe than in Asia. Japan and the US have begun
disagreeing on a number of issues, such as reform of the United

TOKYO 00001217 007 OF 009

The rise of China also is having a great impact on Japan's desire
to play a leadership role in Asia.

The Bush administration's strategy toward China is to form a
"alliance" with such democracies as Japan, Australia, and India
to make China think twice before taking any undesirable action.

The American media have become markedly critical of Japan since
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni Shrine last
October. With the US government now void of Japan experts like
Green, who was able to put out fires from time to time, there is
no one left to explain Japan's circumstances, such as the
historical issue between the Japan and China. If the image of an
isolated Japan in Asia becomes fixed, there is danger that it may
give rise to doubts about Japan's diplomatic influence in

The highest priority now for the Bush administration is its
handling the Iraq issue, which will ultimately determine the
President's place in history. The Iraq issue also is likely to be
the first real test for Japan-US relations under the second Bush
administration, given its lack of true Japan exerts.

Ambassador to the US Ryozo Kato underscored the importance for
Japan to be independently involved in Iraq's reconstruction
process even after withdrawing from Samawah, saying,
"Reconstruction will follow progress in the democratization
process and public security. It is important for Japan to
continuously play an active role."

A senior US State Department official noted: "It's not only Iraq.
We don't know where mines might be buried in US-Japan relations
that could go off: it could be over the realignment of US forces
in Japan or over the reform of the UN Security Council."

Japan-US relations, now devoid of Japan experts, will not have a
Mike Green to point things out, and Japan will have to "move on
its own, having a clear awareness of what to do," as Ambassador
Kato has said. Japan's positions will be avidly sought out.

(6) Whale meat stockpiles become twice as much as level of 10
years ago because of surplus supplies as a result of expanded
research whaling; No longer a rare delicacy

SANKEI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
March 6, 2006

Whale meat is available in Japanese markets as the by-product of
research whaling. But stockpiles have sharply increased and have
doubled over the level 10 years ago. For although supplies are on
the increase due to expanded research whaling, consumption of the
meat has stayed flat. Whale meat used to be seen as a rare
delicacy, but now it is available on store shelves on a steady
basis. It is on regular dish menus at pubs. It has become a
familiar item on dinner tables of ordinary people, so why doesn't
it sell?

Up until 1994, Japan was allowed to catch up to 330 minke whales
in the Antarctic Ocean. As supplies dwindled, prices would rise.
Demand for whale meat was then so high that restaurants serving
whale meat-dishes had to stockpile products obtained at high

TOKYO 00001217 008 OF 009

However, the catch quota for minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean
was expanded to 440 in 1995. In the North Atlantic Ocean, 150
minke whales, 50 Bryde's whales, 100 sei whales and 10 sperm
whales were added to the catch quota in 2002. In 2004, another
220 mike whales and sei whales were added.

Further, the catch quota for minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean
was doubled to 850 in 2005. In addition, 10 fin whales, large
type of whales that weigh nearly ten times more than minke
whales, were included in the quota target. For this reason,
estimated whale meat supplies sharply increased to about 8,500
tons in 2005, and stockpiles surged to approximately 3,900 tons.
On the other hand, consumption of the whale meat stood at
approximately 7,300 tons, accounting for only 0.2% of the
nation's meat consumption. The consumption of whale meat is only
1% of that of tuna.

Commenting on the sharp increase in whale-meat stockpiles --
though in absolute figures, the amount is smaller than other
types of meat -- Masayuki Komatsu, the executive director of the
Fisheries Research Agency, who served for 13 years until 2004 as
deputy representative of the Japanese government at the
International Whaling Commission (IWC), noted: "Whale meat is now
readily available on store shelves. It is no longer a rare
delicacy. It is, however, not a popular food. Consumers are
hesitant to buy whale meat, because they are not familiar with

Whale meat dishes are available at pubs and Japanese-style
restaurants, due to the nostalgic boom for the good old days.
Even so, whale stockpiles are continuing to increase. Komatsu
explained why: "Whale meat supplies will sharply increase this
year due to the new research whaling plan in the Antarctic Ocean.
For that reason, restaurant operators tend to think that they
need not to hastily purchase whale meat, though there is demand."

When research whaling was started, 1 kilogram of whale meat cost
3,900 yen. The price has recently dropped to 1,400 yen, which is
on a par with the price of medium fatty tuna for sushi. Whale
meat is still a relatively expensive food.

Chances are that if whale stockpiles continue to increase, anti-
whaling countries will call for an end to research whaling. In
order to avoid this situation, the Fisheries Agency has begun to
search for ways to boost consumption.

Some of the marketing strategies being considered include
restoring the distribution route that existed in the 1955-1966
period, reducing prices further, and targeting leading
supermarket chains, which have markedly increased in number
compared with that period, and targeting the restaurant industry
and the take-out food market. Developing various kinds of
products targeting young people, such as Chinese, Italian and
French style-dishes, as well as traditional soy sauce-flavored
dishes, will also future options.

Since freezers installed on research ships are outmoded, meat
when processed loses the juiciness that makes it taste delicious.
A number of consumers complained that they find the meat to be
mixed with blood.

Komatsu concluded, "Middle-aged and older persons have experience

TOKYO 00001217 009 OF 009

in eating whale meat. It is, therefore, necessary to take care of
these generations as well as to be creative with marketing that
targets young people, who have never eaten whale meat before." As
a specific measure, he called for whale meat to be on school meal


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