Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 02/20/07-1
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 02/20/07-1
1) Top headlines
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule
Visit of Vice President Cheney:
4) Vice President Cheney arrives today but there are problems
underlying the US-Japan "honeymoon"
5) Cheney to ask Japan for extended support for Afghanistan, Iraq
6) Cheney will not meet Defense Minister Kyuma during his 3-day
Japan visit for "scheduling reasons"
7) Kyuma's critical remarks about the US have had a diplomatic
price: no meeting with Vice President Cheney
8) Ambassador Schieffer in meeting with Komeito head says he finds
Defense Minister Kyuma's remarks on Futenma plan "strange"
9) - Schieffer expresses concern about Kyuma's desire to revise
agreement on Futenma relocation
10) Abe Cabinet's non-support rate jumps 8 points to 39.2% in Jiji
11) Asahi poll: 40% non-support rate for Abe Cabinet now outpacing
37% support rate, with majority of public dissatisfied with
premier's income disparity policy
12) 53% of public want Health Minister Yanagisawa to resign for his
remarks about women: Asahi poll
13) Yomiuri poll: As Abe Cabinet support rate continues to slip now
at 45.3% majority of public chide premier for "lack of leadership"
14) Jiji poll finds half of Japanese public cautious about a
permanent law for overseas dispatches of SDF troops
15) Prime Minister Abe: Will rebuild confidence through policies
1) TOP HEADLINES
Poll: Disapproval for Abe cabinet at 40%, exceeds approval; 54%
dissatisfied with anti-disparity measures
Elderly people caged, chained to beds in Urayasu nursing-care
Japanese Association for Acute Medicine drafts guidelines on ending
Talks underway for Misuzu Audit Corp. to hand auditing to three
major corporations in summer to avoid adverse effect on end of
Education Ministry to allow local boards of education to become
involved in administration of private schools
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37 prefectures to issue in FY2007 bonds worth 300 billion yen -
three times greater than original amount - to cover baby-boomers'
Japan Federation of Medical Workers' Unions Poll: 96% of hospital
doctors work 32 hours nonstop three times a month
(1) Plummeting cabinet support spells trouble
(2) Opening sidewalks not enough to deal with bicycles
(1) Kidney transplant scandal requires thorough investigation
(2) Corporate world may change depending on Sapporo TOB
(1) Abe must try to restore confidence in cabinet
(2) Rising grain prices: Structural shift results from supply-demand
(1) Armitage report shows Japan-US challenges
(2) Kidney transplants outrageous
(1) Cheney's Japan visit: Japan, US, and Australia need strategic
(2) Tokyo marathon a festival for a megalopolis
(1) Government's growth enhancing strategy raises questions
(2) Matsuzakaya-Daimaru merger plan: Traditions and cultures must be
Lawmakers must clearly explain their office expenses
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, February 19
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
February 20, 2007
Met Secretary General Nakagawa at the Kantei.
Met Ambassador to the US Kato. Followed by Special Advisor Koike.
Attended a government and ruling parties liaison council meeting.
Later met Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matoba.
Met Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Matsuoka, Forestry
Agency Director General Hayashi, and others. Followed by Education
Minister Ibuki and others.
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Met Cabinet Intelligence Director Mitani.
Social Insurance Agency Director General Murase, with Special
Handed recommendation certificates in the Diet building to the
LDP-backed candidates for the Gunma and Tokushima gubernatorial
elections, and Shizuoka mayoral election, with Secretary General
Nakagawa and others present. Later, attended an LDP executive
Attended a meeting of cabinet ministers responsible for working out
a monthly economic report at Kantei.
Dined at a Japanese restaurant in the Hotel Okura with former
Finance Minister Shiokawa and former BOJ Deliberation Council member
Returned to his official residence.
4) US Vice President Cheney to arrive in Japan today as honeymoon
ties begin to cool
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
February 20, 2007
US Vice President Dick Cheney will arrive in Japan today. "It is
meaningful in order to strengthen the Japan-US alliance for the
world and Asia," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. But as Japanese
cabinet members have openly criticized the Bush administration's
Iraq policy recently, differences in foreign policy approaches
between the two countries, including toward North Korea, are
becoming increasingly prominent. With things no longer the same as
they were in the Koizumi-Bush honeymoon relations, the Abe
administration has faced a number of difficulties in its approach
toward the US.
North Korea: Gaps on abduction issue
"It was as if we were skating on thin ice," a senior Cabinet
Secretariat official remarked.
The agreement released on Feb. 13 by the recent round of six-party
talks stated that the US "will begin the process of removing" North
Korea from its designation as a terror-sponsoring state. One reason
for this designation is the abduction issue caused by North Korea.
So, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Yuriko Koike, who was then
in the US, swiftly asked the State Department for a cautious
response. On the night of Feb. 14, Abe and President George W. Bush
confirmed that they would act together to deal with North Korea.
Concerns about discord between Japan and the US, however, had
already spread in the ruling parties and other quarters. The Prime
Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) somehow soothed the situation
TOKYO 00000701 004 OF 011
with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki noting, "Of course,
it's incorrect to think that the removal of the designation has been
agreed on." But according to Keio University Professor Naoyuki
Agawa, a former minister to the US, the general view in Japan is
that "In Americans' eyes, the threat of North Korea is essentially
less acute that those of Iran and Iraq."
In order to make Japan-US ties look closer, during his stay in Japan
Cheney is to declare America's support for Japan's position on the
abduction issue. Also, he is likely to reaffirm the importance of
the Japan-US alliance and seek Japan's understanding and cooperation
regarding America's actions, such as the additional deployment of
troops to Iraq.
Japan reluctant to extend assistance to Iraq with the upcoming Upper
House election in mind
Japanese cabinet members have recently expressed critical views of
America's Iraq policy. For instance, Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma
stated: "Isn't it that the decision to go to war might have been a
mistake?" Foreign Minister Taro Aso noted, "(The post-war governing
policy) was naive." During his visit to Japan this time, Cheney has
no plan to meet with Kyuma.
Kyuma made such a remark apparently as a precaution to contain
objections from the ruling parties and the public before the start
of debate on whether to extend the term of airlifting assistance to
Iraq by the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF), which is to expire in
July. His and other cabinet members' remarks critical of the US
forced the prime minister to warn them not to make comments
thoughtlessly. The chief cabinet secretary, too, was forced to say:
"Those remarks were inappropriate."
There is no change in Abe's position that the Japanese government's
endorsement of America's opening of the war in Iraq in 2003 was
correct, as he has stated, "Iraq continued to violate a number of
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions over a period of
12 years. It was unwilling to the end to respond to the
international community's sincere efforts."
However, in order to revise the Iraq Special Measures Law, Abe needs
to pay due consideration to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's
(LDP) Upper House caucus, as well as junior coalition partner New
Komeito, given that his hold over the party is declining in line
with the cabinet's falling approval ratings. The US expects Japan to
extend the term, but Abe has yet to reach a final conclusion about
such matters as how long the airlift would be extended.
Ahead of Cheney's visit to Japan, the Japanese government obtained a
cabinet approval on Feb. 16 for the prevention of the transfer of
funds relating to Iran's nuclear development programs. Although it
came to light that day that US beef was suspected of violating
Japan's import requirements concerning BSE, the prime minister tried
to quiet down the news, noting, "I have been informed that SRMs were
Nonetheless, it is undeniable that Japan has tended to be slow to
deal with issues involving the US now that the honeymoon relations
between Koizumi and Bush are over.
On the relocation of the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station, a
focal point in the US force realignment that was agreed on between
TOKYO 00000701 005 OF 011
the Koizumi administration and the Bush administration, the
coordination process involving the central and local governments has
been deadlocked. No session of the Japan-US Security Consultative
Committee (2+2) of the foreign and defense ministers has occurred
yet since the start of the Abe administration.
Abe stated that in order to enhance the reliability of the Japan-US
alliance, "We will study individual cases specifically to see what
will be identified as exercising the right to collective defense."
In response, the press officer of the US Embassy in Japan commented,
"We welcome his pledge to review the hitherto known legal
obstacles." But a full-scale study is unlikely to start so soon, as
a senior Foreign Ministry official commented, "It would start after
the Upper House election at the earliest, but that will depend on
the result of the election."
5) Cheney to arrive in Japan on Feb. 20, expected to ask for Japan
to make more contributions in Iraq, Afghanistan
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
Evening, Feb. 17, 2007
Takashi Sadahiro, Washington
Responding to questions by representatives of press companies on
Feb. 16, prior to the planned visit to Japan by Vice President Dick
Cheney starting on Feb. 20, a senior United States government
official revealed that the vice president would ask the Japanese
government to make greater contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The official also indicated that the vice president would discuss
with Prime Minister Abe and other Japanese government officials on
Feb. 21 "where we need more efforts and what contributions each
country would be able to offer in the two countries (Iraq and
The US has decided to dispatch over 20,000 more troops to Iraq on a
security-restoration mission. The US government is expected to call
on Japan and other its allies to provide more personnel and
financial aid for reconstruction projects in Iraq.
The US official, while appreciating the airlift aid in Iraq and
fueling at sea by the Self-Defense Forces, commented, "The US hopes
that Japan will be a general partner to it."
6) US Vice President Cheney to visit Japan starting on 20th but will
not meet Defense Minister Kyuma for "scheduling reasons"
SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 18, 2007
By Hideya Yamamoto in Washington
Vice President Cheney will visit Japan for three days starting on
Feb. 20. In addition to meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and
other top officials to exchange views on such topics as the North
Korea nuclear issue, the Vice President also will visit the US Navy
base at Yokosuka to further strengthen the Japan-US alliance.
However, a senior US official on Feb. 16 confirmed to the press
corps that a meeting with Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma, who has
repeatedly criticized the United States on the Iraq war and on base
TOKYO 00000701 006 OF 011
relocation, will not occur. "Scheduling problems" were cited as the
reason for not setting up a meeting.
The senior official, commenting on the adoption by the six-party
talks of a joint statement on the North Korea nuclear issue,
predicted that the Vice President would transmit that the US would
continue to back Japan on the abduction issue, which would be taken
up in a working group between Japan and North Korea. Another topic
that would be brought up would be China's military moves, including
its test use of an ASAT weapon to shoot down a satellite. The
official indicated that there was concern not only by the US but
also across the Asia region, as well.
The Vice President will visit Australia, as well, passing through
Guam on the way. The visit is to show the US' stance of placing
emphasis on two of Japan's most important allies in the word --
Japan and Australia.
7) Diplomatic impact of defense minister's critical remarks about
the US: Vice President Cheney will not meet Defense Minister Kyuma
during his Japan visit; Kyuma has turned silent
TOKYO (Page 2) (Full)
February 18, 2007
Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma has recently turned cautious in his
remarks. He previously had repeatedly criticized the United States,
calling the Iraq war a "mistake," and saying that "the US should not
make such high-handed remarks" regarding the issue of relocating the
US forces' Futenma Air Station. It appears that Kyuma has taken
seriously the US' strong reaction and has recently stopped coming
out with his true feelings on these issues. As it stands now,
though, he has not been able to arrange a meeting with Vice
President Cheney, who arrives in Japan on Feb. 20.'
Kyuma stressed in the Lower House of the Diet on Feb. 16 that his
criticism of the US on the Iraq war was "my feelings at the time."
Now that he is a cabinet member, he indicated that he would follow a
posture of following the government's policy line of supporting the
US' launching of that war.
Kyuma has constrained his criticism o the US, but his words already
have had a major diplomatic impact. A Security Consultative
Committee (2-plus-2) meeting between Japan and the US planned
originally for January has been delayed until at least late March.
Although Vice President Cheney is not scheduled to see Kyuma, he
will meet with Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Aso in
separate sessions to discuss the Iraq war and the North Korean
One senior Defense Ministry official pointed out: "Kyuma made a big
mistake in thinking that since it was himself, it was permissible
(to even criticize the US)." Kyuma says that he will now watch what
he says, so the period of self-imposed silence is likely to
8) US Ambassador to Japan Schieffer finds Defense Minister Kyuma's
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
February 17, 2007
TOKYO 00000701 007 OF 011
New Komeito President Akihiro Ota met with US Ambassador to Japan
Schieffer on Feb. 16 in the Lower House Diet Members Building. In
their meeting, Ambassador Schieffer raised the question of
statements by Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma that have been critical
of the way the US government has handled the relocation of the US
forces' Futenma Air Station (Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture). He
said: "Although I am not upset by them, I find them strange since
the US and Japanese governments have already reached an agreement."
9) US Ambassador to Japan concerned about statements by Defense
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
February 17, 2007
US Ambassador to Japan Schieffer met on Feb. 16 with New Komeito
President Akihiro Ota. Referring to criticisms by Defense Minister
Kyuma of the US for not responding to calls for revision of the
relocation plan for Futenma Air Station, the Ambassador expressed
concern, saying: "The US and Japanese governments negotiated and
concluded a (relocation) agreement. We were perplexed when he said
he wanted to change the agreement."
10) Jiji Press opinion poll: Abe Cabinet non-support rate jumps 8
points to 39.2%
TOKYO (Page 2) (Abridged)
February 17, 2007
According to the results of Jiji Press' February opinion poll
completed on Feb. 16, the support rate for the Abe Cabinet declined
5.8 points from last month's level to 34.9%, the third straight
month for it to drop. On the other hand, the non-support rate jumped
8.3 points to reach 39.2%, surpassing the support rate for the first
time since the launching of the Abe administration last September.
There seems to have been a major impact in the polls of such
problems as the statement by Health Minister Yanagisawa comparing
women to "baby-bearing machines," and the issue of a lack of clarity
about office expenses by cabinet members.
The survey was carried out between Feb. 9-12 among 2,000 adults
nationwide using a face-to-face interview method. The effective
response rate was 66.3%. This was the first time for the prime
minister's support rate to fall before the 40% level. The
non-support rate, which was 15.9% in the first poll last October
after Abe took office as prime minister, has been rising in the
monthly poll ever since.
The main reasons for non-support (multiple choices) were: "can't
expect too much of him" (22.3%, rising for the first time over 20%
), and "no leadership" (17% ). Regarding party support, the LDP
received a 21.4% support rate, down 2.8 points since Jan., and the
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) was at 9.7%, slipping 1.4
points. Those supporting no party rose slightly 0.3% to 60.7%, as
high as it has ever been. There seems to be no stopping the trend of
voters deserting organized parties.
11) Poll: Cabinet support down to 40%, tops support rate
ASAHI (Top play) (Full)
February 20, 2007
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The rate of public support for Prime Minister Abe's cabinet was 37%
in a telephone-based nationwide public opinion survey conducted by
the Asahi Shimbun on Feb. 17-18. Meanwhile, the Abe cabinet's
nonsupport rate was 40%. The Abe cabinet's disapproval rating topped
its approval rating for the first time. Asked about Abe's job
performance since coming into office, nearly 40% answered that it
was "short of expectations." In addition, more than 50% were
negative about the Abe cabinet's efforts to deal with the nation's
social divide. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party's support rate
also dropped to 29%, failing to reach 30% for the first time in 22
months. The figures show that the public is about to distance
themselves both from the Abe cabinet and from the LDP.
The Abe cabinet made its debut with high popularity at 63%. However,
its support rate has not stopped falling in surveys taken
thereafter. The Abe cabinet's nonsupport rate topped its support
rate five months after its inauguration.
Among women, the Abe cabinet's support rate was 39%. Among men, it
was 36%. The Abe cabinet's support rate among women has tended has
been higher than that among men. However, the support rate among
women fell below 40% for the first time. Among those in their 20s to
50s, nonsupport was higher than support as in the previous survey
taken in January this year. In the latest survey, however, the
support rate among those in their 60s dropped from 49% to 38% and
closed in on the nonsupport rate (36% ).
What lies behind the drop in the Abe cabinet's support rate seems to
be the public's disappointment. In the survey, respondents were
asked about the Abe cabinet's job performance so far. In response to
this question, 37% of them answered that it was "short of
expectations," topping all other answers. Among other answers, 32%
said they had "no expectations from the beginning," with 25% saying
it was "up to expectations" and 1% saying it was "beyond
The survey this time also shows strong dissatisfaction with the Abe
cabinet's policies. The ruling and opposition parties are squaring
off over the issue of a social divide, such as economic disparities.
The prime minister has set forth his strategy of backing second
chances and boosting Japan's economic growth. However, only 21%
answered "yes" and 54% were negative when they were asked if they
appreciated such efforts. LDP supporters were also split, with 38%
saying "yes" and 36% saying "no."
In the survey, respondents were also asked if they appreciated the
agreement reached at the six-party talks on energy aid to North
Korea over its nuclear weapons programs. In response to this
question, 56% answered "no," with 31% saying "yes." As seen from
these figures, negative opinions outnumbered affirmative ones.
Meanwhile, Abe has declared that Japan will not provide energy aid
to North Korea if there is no progress in the issue of Japanese
nationals abducted to North Korea. Asked whether to support this
stance, "yes" accounted for 81%. It accounted for 88% among those
who support the Abe cabinet and 78% even among those who do not
support the Abe cabinet. Abe is now troubled with his cabinet's
unpopularity, but the general public seems to be supportive of his
stance of prioritizing the abduction issue.
The LDP's support rate was 29%, down from 32% in a previous survey
taken last month. The leading opposition Democratic Party (Minshuto)
TOKYO 00000701 009 OF 011
also dropped from 16% to 13%. The proportion of those with no
particular party affiliation increased from 45% to 51%. The LDP
failed to reach 30% for the first time since April 2005 when it was
split over postal privatization. The proportion of those
unaffiliated also topped 50% for the first time since then. People
are distancing themselves from political parties, with this summer's
House of Councillors election ahead.
12) Poll: 53% urge welfare minister to resign
ASAHI (Page 1) (Abridged)
February 20, 2007
In the Asahi Shimbun's latest survey, respondents were asked if they
thought Prime Minister Abe should dismiss Welfare and Labor Minister
Yanagisawa over his recent gaffe in which he called women
"childbearing machines. In response to this question, 53% answered
"yes," with 39% saying there is no need to do so.
"Yes" accounted for 56% among men and 51% among women. "Yes" was
higher than 50% in all age brackets, with the exception of those
aged 70 and over. However, it accounted for 60% or so among women in
their 20s to 30s and among men in their 50s to 60s, calling for the
prime minister to take severe action.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Kyuma said the United States launched
the Iraq war but that decision was "wrong." In the survey,
respondents were asked if they agreed with Kyuma. In response, "yes"
accounted for 57%, with "no" at 26%. As seen from these figures,
affirmative opinions outnumbered negative ones.
13) Poll: Cabinet support rate at 45.3%, close to nonsupport rate;
57% see Abe as lacking leadership ability
YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
February 20, 2007
The rate of public support for Prime Minister Abe's cabinet was
45.3% in a face-to-face nationwide public opinion survey conducted
by the Yomiuri Shimbun on Feb. 17-18, down 3.1%age points from the
48.4% rating in a survey taken in January. The Abe cabinet's support
rate dropped for the fourth month in a row from its inaugural 70.0%
rating in a survey taken in October last year. The Abe cabinet's
nonsupport rate was 42.7%, up 3.8 points from last month.
The Abe cabinet's approval and disapproval ratings were close in the
latest survey. This can be taken as reflecting scandals involving
cabinet ministers, such as Welfare and Labor Minister Yanagisawa's
gaffe in which he called women "childbearing machines," so more
people presumably doubted Prime Minister Abe's governing
The Abe cabinet's support rate among men was 43% and among women was
48%. Among men, the nonsupport rate was 48%, topping the support
In the survey, respondents were asked if they thought Abe has
displayed his leadership in steering his government. In response to
this question, 57% answered "no," with 18% saying "yes."
In addition, 56% answered "no" to a question asking respondents if
they thought Abe has appropriately dealt with his cabinet ministers'
TOKYO 00000701 010 OF 011
scandals and gaffe.
14) Half the public cautious about idea of establishing permanent
law on overseas dispatch of SDF troops, according to Jiji poll
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
February 19, 2007
Jiji Press carried out a poll to gauge views on the establishing of
a permanent law enabling the overseas dispatch of Self-Defense
Forces (SDF) personnel. According to the results of the survey,
wrapped up on Feb. 18, only about 10% of pollees replied such a law
was "necessary," while a half of them called for a cautious
approach, saying " It is necessary, but there is no need to hurry."
The poll, conducted from Feb. 9 through the 12th based on
face-to-face interviews, covered 2,000 adult males and females
throughout the nation. The effective response rate was 66.3%.
According to the findings, 12.5% of the respondents replied, "A
permanent law is necessary." Those who took a cautious view reached
50.5% combining those who replied, "Necessary but need to hurry,"
and, "It is better to deal with the matter not with a permanent law
but with special measures laws." The number of those "against" the
overseas dispatch of SDF troops itself came to 18.5%.
Regarding the easing of standards for weapons use, an act that is
allowed only for legitimate self-defense emergency evacuation, views
were divided with 21.5% saying, "They should be eased, and "31.5%
noting, "They should be eased, but there is no need to hurry" and
another 34.5% saying, "They should not be eased."
On the establishment of the Defense Ministry on Feb. 1, 37.7%
replied either, "I highly evaluate" or "evaluate," equaling the
35.3% who said, "I am opposed."
15) Prime Minister: "I will regain people's trust with my policies"
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
February 20, 2007
Referring to the fallen approval rate for the cabinet in the opinion
poll carried out by the Yomiuri Shimbun, Prime Minister Abe told
reporters at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, "I want to
regain the trust of the people by explaining my policies in a lucid
manner and then implement them." He thus indicated his intention to
make efforts to regain popular trust as seen in the approval ratings
for his cabinet through the carrying out of his policies. Abe
underscored: "It has been several months since the inauguration of
my administration. This is just the beginning. I am not
administering politics for the sake of public support rates. I am
grateful that such a large number of people support me."
Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki indicated that the administration
has yet to make more efforts to explain its policies to the people.
Ho noted: "The government is properly doing what it should do. We
must seriously take why our efforts are not being understood."
Some opposition party members noted that blunders by cabinet
ministers, such as Health Minister Yanagisawa likened women as
baby-making machines, have led to the fallen approval ratings.
TOKYO 00000701 011 OF 011
Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Nakagawa urged the
solidarity of the government, noting, "We must challenge in unison,
while examining ourselves so that internal discipline and spirits
will not relax." Yoichi Masuzoe, chairman of the Upper House Policy
Deliberation Commission of the LDP pointed out: "The fallen
authority of the cabinet is reflected in the declining approval
rates. One such case is the Yanagisawa statement. Cabinet ministers
lack a sense of tension. I do not see any efforts to help the prime
minister from Defense Minister Kyuma and Foreign Minister Aso." New
Komeito Ota also said, "I think the Yanagisawa statement has
affected the polls."