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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 02/21/07

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 02/21/07

Index:

Visit of Vice President Cheney:
1) Cheney to meet Prime Minister Abe today, reconfirm strength of
US-Japan alliance
2) Abe to stress the closeness of Japan's relations with US during
meeting with
3) Cheney to confirm trilateral cooperation of US, Japan, Australia
during his stops
4) Asahi poll shows that Vice President Cheney arrives at time when
57% of public agrees with Defense Minister Kyuma's criticism of US'
Iraq policy

North Korea problem:
5) No clues in sight for resolving abduction issue in Japan's
working group, given North Korea's insistence that sanctions be
removed first
6) Yomiuri poll: 79% of public say they cannot expect resolution of
DPRK nuclear issue despite 6-party agreement
7) Former opposition DPJ head Seiji Maehara: Japan will only provide
assistance to North Korea if it first scraps its nuclear programs
8) Prime Minister Abe meets parents of Megumi Yokota to assure them
on abduction issue
9) Famous folk-singer Paul Stookey performs his "Song for Megumi"
for Abe, Yokotas

10) Government sending small contingent of SDF personnel to Nepal
for UNMIN PKO

11) Government, power companies to ask Russia to enrich uranium for
Japan's power plants

12) TOPIX (Tokyo Stock Exchange Index) briefly hits a 15-year high,
a good boost for corporate restructuring efforts

Political agenda:
13) Former Prime Minister Koizumi providing guidance to the Abe
administration?
14) DPJ head Ozawa reveals details of 1 billion yen real estate
holding by his political office but claims it is not personal
property

Articles:

1) Cheney, Abe to reconfirm importance of Japan-US alliance today

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
February 21, 2007

US Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Japan yesterday afternoon.
He is scheduled to meet separately with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
and Finance Minister Taro Aso this afternoon to discuss the two
countries' responses to the situations in North Korea, Iraq, and
Iran and to reconfirm the importance of the Japan-US alliance.

Abe is likely to urge the US to base the removal of North Korea from
its list of nations sponsoring terrorism on progress on the
abduction issue, as was agreed upon in the latest six-party talks.
The prime minister is also expected to express support for America's
new Iraq policy featuring a plan to send additional over 20,000
troops to that country.


TOKYO 00000722 002 OF 011


Ahead of his meetings with Japanese leaders, Cheney will visit the
US Naval Base at Yokosuka and meet senior Self-Defense Force
officers, as well. However, a meeting with Defense Minister Fumio
Kyuma, who has criticized the US on the Iraq war, has not been set
up due to difficulty in coordinating schedules.

Cheney will have an audience with the Emperor and Emperor today.
Tomorrow, he will meet Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, the parents of
abductee Megumi Yokota, at the US Ambassador's Residence in Tokyo
before leaving for Australia.

2) Abe to play up close Japan-US ties

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Abridged)
February 21, 2007

Of all the US government officials who visited Japan since the
establishment of the Abe administration, Vice President Cheney is
the highest ranking. Although Japan-US relations appear good on the
surface, concerns have grown recently over how closely the two
countries are aligned on such issues as North Korea. This can
explain why Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to play up the
closeness of ties between the two countries in his meeting with
Cheney today, brushing aside apprehensions at home and abroad.

In the recent six-party talks on the North Korea nuclear issue, the
US, which had been pursuing a thoroughly hard-line stance, suddenly
switched "soft-line stance," according to a senior Foreign Ministry
official, and agreed to policy line of dialogue with the DRPK.

This has prompted some Liberal Democratic Party members, including
former secretary general Koichi Kato, who pointed out, "The US is
rushing toward the goal of scrapping nuclear programs without
consideration for Japan," to see an emerging difference in stances
between the US and Japan, which intends to continue applying
pressure on the North.

Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma's criticism of the US over the Iraq war
in particular has also increased tensions between Tokyo and
Washington. In fact, Cheney has opted not to see Kyuma, the official
directly responsible for the SDF mission in Iraq, during his stay in
Japan.

A diplomatic source has identified the Abe-Cheney meeting today as a
venue to remove the sources of concern once and for all and to
confirm the overall direction (of Japan-US relations). The meeting
with Cheney will be a good chance for Abe, who has been hit by a
plummeting support rate, to score points on the diplomatic front.

However, there is a new development, for the US Congress is now
considering a resolution seeking a formal apology from the Japanese
government on the World War II military comfort women (sex-slave)
issue.

3) US Vice President Cheney to confirm Japan-US-Australia
cooperation

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
February 21, 2007

US Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Japan yesterday. In his
meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Minister Taro Aso

TOKYO 00000722 003 OF 011


and other Japanese government officials, he will reaffirm the
importance of the Japan-US alliance, as well as the need for
strengthening cooperation between Japan, the United States and
Australia in the Asia-Pacific region. He is also expected to confirm
with the Japanese officials close bilateral cooperation to resolve
North Korea's nuclear programs. He plans to meet tomorrow the
parents of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korean agents
decades ago, to convey to them that there is no change in the Bush
administration's stance of placing importance on the abduction
issue. He will leave Japan tomorrow for Australia.

Cheney is now visiting Japan taking advantage of the recess of the
US Congress. The purpose of his visits to Japan and Australia is to
strengthen trilateral cooperation. In his meeting with Abe, the vice
president intends to stress the US position of keeping the
relationship of trust built by President George W. Bush and former
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Cheney will hold meetings with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa
Shiozaki and Foreign Minister Aso. He plans to tour the US Yokosuka
Naval Base, but he has no plan to meet with Defense Minister Fumio
Kyuma because of "Kyuma's remarks critical of the US government
regarding the Iraqi war" sources said.

The vice president, however, has suddenly decided to meet the Yokota
family. According to government officials, at the request of the
Yokotas, the Japanese government sounded out the US side and through
the good offices of US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer, and the
meeting between Cheney and the Yokotas has been set for tomorrow
morning.

At the latest round of the six-party talks, the US government agreed
to begin the process of removing North Korea from its designation as
a terror-sponsoring state. In Japan, therefore, there is growing
concern that the Bush administration might have changed its stance
toward the abduction issue. So the Japanese and US governments aim
to erase such concern through a meeting between Cheney and the
Yokotas.

4) Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi, Vox Dei): Polls and the Cheney visit

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
February 21, 2007

Public opinion surveys show the direction and intensity of the wind
blowing in the political world. The wind is now blowing harder
against the Abe cabinet, we found from our newspaper's latest
survey.

The Abe cabinet's support rate was 37%, but the nonsupport rate was
higher at 40%. The prime minister's disapproval rating topped its
approval rating for the first time. "First of all, I will explain my
policies clearly and will carry them out. By doing so, I'd like to
gain public confidence." This comment came from the prime minister.
He seems to be thinking of responding to the criticism that his
policies are "invisible." However, his lack of explanations does not
seem to be the only reason why he is being buffeted by the wind.

The Abe cabinet started with a tailwind that had been blowing for
the Koizumi cabinet in its closing days. That tailwind was not a
strong, favorable wind like the one we saw previously. The wind soon
began blowing hard in a different direction, and is still blowing up

TOKYO 00000722 004 OF 011


a storm.

The prime minister's leadership is weak. One of his cabinet
ministers has resigned over a scandal. Another cabinet minister made
an inappropriate remark. There are various factors that caused a
gale force to blow against the Abe cabinet. One of these factors
might be the prime minister's taking over of the Koizumi cabinet's
support for the Iraq war.

In the United States, the House of Representatives adopted a
resolution against President Bush's decision to send reinforcements
to Iraq. In the Abe cabinet, the defense minister said that the
decision by the United States to launch the Iraq war was a mistake.
In our latest poll as well, 57% agreed with the defense minister,
but only 26% did not. As seen from these figures, affirmative
opinions overwhelmed negative ones.

US Vice President Cheney arrived in Japan yesterday. "Terrorists
would say the Americans have no fighting spirit. That's the biggest
threat." With this, the vice president was quoted as expressing his
irritation at the emergence in the United States of arguments for
troop pullout from Iraq. The Koizumi cabinet followed the United
States. Allies sometimes say bitter things to each other. That is
the way allies are. We wonder if the Abe government can do the same
-- in other words, to say something that may change the direction of
the wind in the future.

5) No prospects in sight for settlement of abduction issue at
Japan-North Korea working group

ASAHI (Page 7) (Excerpts)
February 21, 2007

The consensus document adopted at the six-party talks calls for
creating a working group on normalization of diplomatic ties between
Japan and North Korea. The Japanese government intends to put the
abduction issue high on the agenda. North Korea, however, has
refused to respond to Japan's suggestion. The North is believed to
be aiming to underscore the impression that Japan alone stays behind
in diplomacy toward North Korea, given the progress in the six-party
talks and bilateral dialogue between the United States and the
North.

Japan and North Korea created a forum in February of last year for
talks on the abduction issue, North Korea's nuclear and missile
programs, and the normalization of diplomatic ties. But the forum
has been up in the air since both sides crashed head-on over the
remains handed over to Japan by Pyongyang, which claimed they were
those of abductee Megumi Yokota. By setting up a working group,
Japan and North Korea will make a new start.

The Japanese government aims to include the abduction issue in the
framework of the six-party talks, "in a bid to make the task of
resolving the abduction issue a pledge with the international
community," according to a senior Foreign Ministry official. On
Feb.19 in the Foreign Ministry, Administrative Vice Minister Shotaro
Yachi, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Kenichiro
Sasae and other senior members met to discuss what approach Japan
should take in the working group. Some participants stressed the
need to push ahead with negotiations on the abduction and
normalization issues simultaneously.


TOKYO 00000722 005 OF 011


According to the Foreign Ministry, Japan is carrying out
coordination with the North on the date, place and responsible
officials for the first session of the working group through the
Japanese Embassy in Beijing. Those cited as negotiators include
Ambassador for Japan-North Korea Normalization Talks Koichi
Haraguchi, who represented Japan in the comprehensive talks with the
North Korea, and Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Deputy Director
General Junichi Ihara. But no definite decision has been made yet.

The dominant view in the Japanese government is that North Korea
might have agreed on establishing a working group on Japan-North
Korea relations only with the aim of moving the six-party talks
forward and have no intention to produce results there. Only general
arguments would be exchanged in the talks.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry denounced Prime Minister Abe in a
press statement on Feb. 19. According to the Radio Press, the North
issued such a statement for the first time since January 2005.
Japanese observers had believed that the Japan Section in the North
Korean Foreign Ministry was eager for dialogue with Japan, but the
North has indicated a tough stance toward Japan.

A source familiar with North Korea categorically said in regard to
the abduction issue: "The North Korean leader met the Japanese prime
minister twice. We have no intention of making more concessions."
Among North Korean residents in Japan, there is strong
dissatisfaction with the Abe administration. Given this, the North
Korean side might call on Japan to remove its own sanctions.

Even so, once progress is made in the six-party talks, the North is
likely to devote itself to promoting relations with the US and South
Korea first and then to make an approach to Japan. Some observers
take the view that the North Korean government invited the Liberal
Democratic Party's Security Research Council Chairman Taku Yamasaki
to Pyongyang in January stemming from a desire to promote relations
with Japan, though it does not want to negotiate with the Abe
administration.

6) Poll: 79% see no hope for solution to North Korea's nukes

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
February 21, 2007

Although the recent six-party talks over the issue of North Korea's
nuclear weapons programs have now reached an agreement, a total of
79% in Japan think that they cannot expect this problem to be
resolved, the Yomiuri Shimbun found from its face-to-face nationwide
public opinion survey conducted Feb. 17-18. Meanwhile, a total of
18% said they could.

The Japanese public's distrust of North Korea seems extremely
deep-seated. For one thing, North Korea continued its nuclear
development programs even while receiving energy aid under the
Agreed Framework of 1994 between the United States and North Korea.
For another, North Korea has been insincere about the issue of
Japanese nationals abducted to North Korea.

However, the six parties adopted a joint statement. Public opinion
was therefore split over the six-party talks on the whole, with a
total of 47% saying they appreciated the talks and a total of 46%
saying they did not.


TOKYO 00000722 006 OF 011


Meanwhile, the Japanese government, in its policy toward North
Korea, takes the position that Japan will not provide economy or
energy aid to North Korea as long as there is no progress in the
abduction issue. In the survey, respondents were asked if they
supported this policy stance. In response to this question, a total
of 81% answered "yes," with a total of 16% saying "no."

The six-party talks this time agreed to set up working groups,
including one on the normalization of diplomatic relations between
Japan and North Korea. In the survey, respondents were asked if they
could expect the abduction issue to be resolved with this working
group being set up. In response, 71% answered "no," with 24% saying
"yes."

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage)

Q: Recently, the six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons
programs were held. In the talks this time, the six parties agreed
that North Korea would halt one of its nuclear facilities within 60
days and would accept international oversight for fuel oil amounting
to 50,000 tons in aid. Furthermore, the six-party talks also agreed
that North Korea would be provided with additional fuel oil
amounting to 950,000 tons if North Korea deactivates all its nuclear
facilities. Do you expect the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons
programs to be resolved with the agreement reached this time?

Yes 4.1
Yes to a certain degree 14.0
No to a certain degree 27.3
No 51.5
No answer (N/A) 3.1

Q: The Japanese government will not provide North Korea with
economic or energy aid as long as there is no progress in the issue
of Japanese nationals abducted to North Korea. Do you support this
policy?

Yes 56.8
Yes to a certain degree 24.0
No to a certain degree 9.1
No 7.3
N/A 2.8

Q: In the talks this time, the six parties agreed to set up a
working group within 30 days on the normalization of diplomatic
relations between Japan and North Korea. Do you expect the issue of
Japanese abductees to be resolved with this working group being set
up?

Yes 7.1
Yes to a certain degree 16.8
No to a certain degree 31.6
No 39.8
N/A 4.7

Q: Do you appreciate the results of the six-party talks on the
whole?

Yes 13.5
Yes to a certain degree 32.7
No to a certain degree 26.7

TOKYO 00000722 007 OF 011


No 20.1
N/A 7.0

Polling methodology
Date of survey: Feb. 17-18.
Subjects of survey: 3,000 persons chosen from among all eligible
voters throughout the country (at 250 locations on a stratified
two-stage random sampling basis).
Method of implementation: Door-to-door visits for face-to-face
interviews.
Number of valid respondents: 1,739 persons (58.0% ).

7) Japan should join aid to North Korea to have it scrap nuclear
programs

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
February 21, 2007

Former DPJ President Seiji Maehara

The (North Korean) nuclear issue is extremely serious in view of
Japan's security and national interests. Japan is the most likely
target of a nuclear attack by North Korea. We must take it as a
vital issue. Japan has insisted that it will not offer aid without a
settlement of the abduction issue even if the North makes a
concession on the nuclear issue. This stance violates the national
interests from a broad point of view.

The abduction issue naturally has to be resolved as soon as possible
since it is an extremely serious problem. But Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe set the hurdle to aid to North Korea too high. Japan has also
applied its stance of neither normalizing diplomatic ties nor
offering economic assistance without a complete settlement of the
abduction issue to multilateral aid. As a result, Japan's options
have decreased, and its diplomatic bargaining capability has been
undermined.

Japan should join the framework of cooperation under the context of
the six-party talks and urge North Korea to scrap its nuclear
weapons and programs. This approach will enable Japan to hold sway
in negotiations and also to make strong assertions in bilateral
talks with the North. Japan will be able to say in bilateral talks,
"If the abduction issue is not settled, it will be impossible for
Japan to normalize diplomatic ties with North Korea and to offer
bilateral economic aid."

Should Japan provide no assistance when other six-party members have
joined hands in having the North disband its nuclear programs, the
presence of Japan in the six-party talks might diminish since it
will be unable to take the initiative in resolving the nuclear
issue. North Korea might think that there will be no problem as long
as it gets along well with the other countries.

The US has said it understands Japan's stance. But if Japan, citing
the abduction issue as the main reason, continues to refuse the use
of the card to solicit concessions from North Korea, the US may feel
dissatisfied with Japan. The US might begin to discuss measures to
settle the nuclear issue with countries other than Japan.

In order to persuade North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons
and programs, it is necessary to take a strategic approach.


TOKYO 00000722 008 OF 011


8) Prime Minister Abe tells families of abductees "Abduction issue
will not be left behind"

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
February 21, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met yesterday afternoon with Shigeru
Yokota, representative of the families of victims of kidnapped by
North Korea, and other members of the association at the Prime
Minister's Official Residence. Abe briefed them on such matters as
his government's policy stance at the Japan-North Korea working
group, the establishment of which was decided at the latest round of
the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programs.

Abe pointed out the achievements of the six-party talks, saying:

"It is significant that the six countries within the framework of
the talks confirmed that they would promote in tandem the process of
normalizing diplomatic ties between Japan and North Korea and the
goal of denuclearizing North Korea. This is the first step for
resolving the abduction issue as well."

Abe then stressed: "Japan-North Korea negotiations will not left
behind (other negotiations).

Representative Yokota stated his appreciation for the Japanese
government's efforts, noting, "I'm confident that Japan was able to
obtain understanding from other countries for its position that it
will not offer aid to North Korea unless the abduction issue is
resolved."

Referring to the government's policy of not provide energy
assistance to North Korea as long as there is no progress on the
abduction issue, Abe stated: "Japan will make a decision on whether
there is progress on the abduction issue."

With Taku Yamasaki, former vice president of the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP), who is negative about the government's
policy, in mind, Teruaki Masumoto, chief of secretariat of the
families of victims of kidnapped by North Korea, said: "I am
concerned that the Japanese side has not been working together on
this issue."

9) Prime Minister Abe thanks US singer for making song for abductee
Megumi Yokota

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
February 21, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met last night US folk singer Paul
Stookey, who wrote "Song For Megumi" dedicated to Yokota Megumi, a
Japanese abductee to North Korea, and listened to the song along
with the parents of Megumi and the family members of other abductees
at the Prime Minister's Official Residence.

Abe expressed his thanks to Stookey, saying, "Your song really
encourages us." The singer then said, "I would like to spread the
circle of support for the abductees through this song."

Abe then told reporters: "The song says that we miss you. I want to
resolve the issue as early as possible so that Mr. and Mrs. Yokota
will be able to reunited with their daughter Megumi." He expressed

TOKYO 00000722 009 OF 011


anew his willingness to resolve the issue.

10) SDF personnel to be dispatched to Nepal: Government decide to
take part in UNMIN

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Full)
February 21, 2007

The government yesterday decided to dispatch several (up to six)
unarmed Self-Defense Forces' (SDF) personnel to the United Nations
Political Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) in compliance with the UN
Peacekeeping Operations Cooperation Law. Chief Cabinet Secretary
Yasuhisa Shiozaki revealed the decision at a press conference. This
will be the first SDF mission abroad since international peace
cooperation activities have become part of their main duties
following the inauguration of the Defense Ministry.

Following the government decision, Defense Minister Kyuma ordered
Joint Staff Council Chairman Takashi Saito to select personnel to be
dispatched and collect information on that nation. The dispatch will
likely take place in mid-March or after. The dispatched SDF
personnel will be in charge of monitoring disarmed soldiers and
weapons. Shiozaki during the press conference underscored, "It is
meaningful for SDF personnel to take part in international
efforts."

11) Government, utility companies to relegate uranium enrichment to
Russia: Will aim at reaching agreement this summer

YOMIURI (Top Play) (Excerpts)
February 21, 2007

It was learned yesterday that the government and domestic utility
companies have entered final talks with Russia in order to relegate
uranium enrichment for the use at nuclear power facilities to
Atomenergoprom (Atomprom), a nation's state-owned nuclear monopoly.
The first commission is the enrichment of uranium recovered from
used nuclear fuels at nuclear power plants and stored in Britain.
The plan is to entrust the enrichment of natural uranium produced at
mines in Russia and Kazakhstan, for which Japan has obtained stakes.
The governments of Japan and Russia will aim at reaching an
agreement in outline at a summit-level meeting by the summer. Tokyo
and Moscow will also proceed with talks on the signing of a nuclear
non-proliferation agreement, the premise for the uranium enrichment
commission.

Since Japan has its Three No-nuclear Principles, it is cautious
about undertaking uranium enrichment, which can be converted for the
development of nuclear weapons. It hardly undertakes uranium
enrichment operations within Japan.

Power companies have commissioned the enrichment of recovered
uranium to Britain and France. However, the enrichment of recovered
uranium has made little progress due to high costs involved. The
amount of recovered uranium stored in those countries has increased
to 6,400 tons. Britain has asked Japan to take back the material.
Japan was therefore looking for a country that can enrich its
uranium for it.

According to informed sources, the Japanese government and power
companies sounded out Russia, which has the world's largest
enrichment facilities, about that possibility two years ago. Since

TOKYO 00000722 010 OF 011


Russia indicated an intention to do the job, behind-the-scenes talks
have been continued. Tokyo and Moscow have already finished basic
coordination of views. The US government has reportedly conveyed its
approval of the matter to Russia.

12) TOPIX temporarily marks 15-year high, boosted by hopes for
corporate reorganization

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
February 21, 2007

Tokyo stocks yesterday hit a 15-year high with the Tokyo Stock Price
Index (TOPIX) reflecting the moves of all first-section issues at
the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) temporarily soaring to 1784.20
points. Buying orders poured in encouraged by the global high stock
prices and upbeat corporate performances. The day's trading closed
at 1782.73 points, up 2.77 points.

Japan's stock markets are increasingly showing an upward trend in
the longest expansionary phase since the war. With hopes raised for
corporate reorganization, including mergers and acquisitions (M&As),
the TSE is attracting brisk buying orders from foreign investors.
According to the price trend in January (combining the movements at
the TSE, Osaka Stock Exchange and Nagoya Stock Exchange) tallied by
the TSE, the value of stocks purchased by foreign investors
registered a record high of 25.52 trillion yen.

Personal money is also flowing into the stock market with individual
investors jumping on the bandwagon of a shift from savings to
investment, as can be seen in the fact that the outstanding asset
balance of investment trust funds as of the end of January topped 70
trillion yen for the first time in history.

TOPIX last spring surpassed the highest mark registered during the
IT bubble in 2000. However, TOPIX dropped in reaction to individual
investors' increasing distrust in the stock market in the wake of
the order given to Chuo-Aoyama Audit Corporation (now Misuzu Audit
Corporation) to suspend business and the arrest of Yoshiaki Murakami
of Murakami Fund. It took an upward turn late last year.

13) Koizumi teaches Abe administration importance of thick skin

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
February 21, 2007

"The support rate rises and falls. Don't pay much attention to it.
You should not take a short view of things. Having thick skin is
important."

Meeting Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki and others in the
Diet building yesterday, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
gave these words of encouragement to the Abe administration.

Koizumi stopped by at the LDP office in the Diet building at the
request of Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa. To Shiozaki, who has
been under fire, Koizumi gave this advice:

"There are all sorts of opinions in the LDP, and there is no need to
forge a convergence of opinion. In order to realize postal
privatization, I had to fight with the forces of resistance. Reform
is never over. People think that you have given too much
consideration to the forces of resistance, and that's why the reform

TOKYO 00000722 011 OF 011


image has backed down. Why don't you say clearly that there are
disparities in the country? That's why the opposition parties are
criticizing you."

Prime Minister Abe said to reporters last night: "Those words are
characteristic of Mr. Koizumi. I think I need to have thick skin."

14) Ozawa reveals details of office expenses, including 1 billion
yen spent on acquiring real estate property, denies using it for own
benefit

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Top Play) (Lead paragraph)
February 21,

In a press conference at the Diet Building yesterday afternoon,
Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) President Ichiro Ozawa released
a breakdown of office expenses that his political fund management
group listed between 2003 and 2005, as well as related documents.
The group owns 12 properties in Tokyo, Iwate, Sendai and other
areas. According to its political funds reports, the money spent on
acquiring the properties totals about 1.019 billion yen. Ozawa
stressed that he has not used the real estate for his own personal
benefit.

SCHIEFFER

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Ramzy Baroud: Year in Review Will 2018 Usher in a New Palestinian Strategy

2017 will be remembered as the year that the so-called ‘peace process’, at least in its American formulation, has ended. And with its demise, a political framework that has served as the foundation for US foreign policy in the Middle East has also collapsed. More>>

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North Korea: NZ Denounces Missile Test

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has denounced North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. The test, which took place this morning, is North Korea’s third test flight of an inter-continental ballistic missile. More>>

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Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike.

Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures.

Once upon a time, the Soviet Union was the nightmare threat for the entire Cold War era – and since then the US has cast the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamic State in the same demonic role. Iran is now the latest example…More


Catalan Independence:
Pro-independence parties appear to have a narrow majority. More>>