Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 03/08/07

DE RUEHKO #1000/01 0670818
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E.O. 12958: N/A


(1) Japanese Ambassador to the US Kato: US House of Representatives
resolution on the wartime comfort women "is not helpful to the
Japan-US relationship"

(2) Chief cabinet secretary rebuts US newspaper for criticism of
prime minister

(3) Advice to Prime Minister Abe by Yoshiko Sakurai: He should state
that "Kono statement was mistaken"

(4) Editorial: Comfort women issue-Kono statement must be inherited

(5) Futenma alternative: Gov't likely to ask for Okinawa governor's
permit next week for sea access

(6) Matsuoka office's huge utility expenses remain a mystery


(1) Japanese Ambassador to the US Kato: US House of Representatives
resolution on the wartime comfort women "is not helpful to the
Japan-US relationship"

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
Eve., March 8, 2007

Hiroshi Maruya in Washington

In a press conference on March 7, Ambassador the US Ryozo Kato
commented on the resolution submitted to the House of
Representatives that demand the Japanese government apologize for
the so-called comfort-women problem that was caused by the former
Imperial Japanese Army. He stressed: "In objective terms, since the
resolution is not based on accurate facts, if it happens to be
adopted, it would have an ill-effect on Japan-US relations. It would
not be helpful." On the statement by Prime Minister Abe that even if
the resolution were passed, he "would not apologize," Kato took the
view that "his stance was only natural."

Ambassador Kato then explained that there was much documentation on
record, such as 1) the Japanese government admitted its
responsibility for the so-called wartime comfort women issue and
apologized for it; and 2) It created an Asian Women's Fund and
implemented various projects to help the former comfort women. He
pointed out that the contents of the House resolution contradicted
the truth.

(2) Chief cabinet secretary rebuts US newspaper for criticism of
prime minister

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
Eve., March 8, 2007

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki at his press conference
this morning rebutted the New York Times and other US newspapers for
their criticism of the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's response to the
wartime comfort woman issue, saying, "The Prime Minister's statement
was not accurately understood in the report." He also revealed that
the government was considering requesting the newspaper to run its

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(3) Advice to Prime Minister Abe by Yoshiko Sakurai: He should state
that "Kono statement was mistaken"

SANKEI (Page 3) (Almost full)
March 8, 2007

Countries that fall down on foreign affairs will fall. This is what
I feel strongly now in connection with the issue of "comfort

I deem now is the time for Japan to face up to the "facts" of the
comfort women issue with sincerity in order to avoid cases of
diplomatic failure bringing disgrace on our country's honor and
withering the spirits of the Japanese people.

Take the resolution now under debate in the US House of
Representatives seeking Japan's apology. The resolution concludes
that 200,000 women "were forced by the former Imperial Japanese Army
into sex slavery" for a period extending from the 1930s. Japan is
indeed on the verge of the congress of its ally wrongly labeling it
as a disgraceful nation.

Three women testified at a US House hearing on Feb. 15. One of the
women, a South Korean, said that when she was 16 in 1944, she joined
her friend to run away from home before dawn one day and followed a
Japanese man in civilian clothes. Taking a train and then a ship,
she, along with the man, arrived at Taiwan, where she realized the
man was the owner of a wartime brothel. The man tortured her with
electric shocks and beat her with telephone equipment after binding
her with telephone wires. She was forced to work as a prostitute but
she said, "I was never been paid not even once."

If her story is true, this treatment was a hateful act, and I cannot
help sympathizing with her.

But I wonder whether her testimony had any link to abduction and
coercion by the Japanese government and its military. As she
revealed, she, along with her friend, left home. The man who brought
them to Taiwan was later found to be the owner of a brothel. It is
crystal clear that the Imperial Japanese Army and the Japanese
government had nothing to with their having gone to Taiwan, so was
there no government coercion.

Nonetheless, Representative Honda and other legislators have
condemned Japan without examining the facts. Mindy Kotler, who has
been engaged in the postwar compensation issue, also treated the
comfort women issue in the same way as the Holocaust and denounced
Japan, arguing that Japan "should stop bringing disgrace on the
honor of the Japan-US alliance" by denying "coercion".

These women's testimony gave rise to doubts even in South Korea in
the past.

Ahn Byung Jik, professor at Seoul National University who took part
in a survey in February 1993 by the South Korean Council on the
Issue of Volunteer Corps/Council to Study the Volunteer Corps,
commented (in the book, Yami ni Idomu (Challenge to the darkness),
authored by Tsutomu Nishioka, a Korea expert in Japan, and published
by Tokuma Shoten):

"It was not uncommon that witnesses' statements lacked coherence
with contradictions between the first story and the story that
followed"; "In some cases, I felt witnesses deliberately bent the

TOKYO 00001000 003 OF 007

facts"; and, "There were cases where we had to suspend the

That year, Japan's administration led by Prime Minister Kiichi
Miyazawa made a concerted effort to carry out investigations, but it
was unable to spot any facts supporting the charge of coercion. As
the next step, the administration had examined testimony by 16 women
in compliance with the strong request by the South Korean
government, but no questions were allowed, not to mention carrying
out investigations to prove the testimony. All relevant documents
are closed to the public even now. Despite that, then Chief Cabinet
Secretary Yohei Kono released a statement, in which he acknowledged

as is widely known that there was the fact of "forcing women to work
in wartime brothels".

Afterwards, then Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobuo Ishihara
reiterated that despite the lack of facts, the Japanese government
admitted "coercion" partly because of restoring women's honor and
complying with South Korea's strong request.

It is easy now to ask why Japan acknowledged such acts without any
grounds and why Japan did not fight against the issue. But at the
time, raising such questions would only provoke harsh criticism at
home and abroad. The Japanese people lacked mental toughness and
logical consistency necessary for them to advocate what they think
is true amid a storm of criticism. Japanese diplomacy has lacked
courage to face up to the facts with sincerity and assert its views
from a long perspective, instead of always easily conceding with the
reality it faced.

This tendency is found even in the present-day Japanese diplomacy.
There is a group of people who are trying to turn a blind eye to
errors found in the US House resolution as well as the Kono
statement so as to deal with the matter within the framework of the
Kono statement. Japanese Ambassador to the US Ryozo Kato explained
in a letter addressed to the US House of Representatives that the
Japanese government has repeatedly made an apology, but he has
failed to cite the factual errors.

Even Michael Green, a pro-Japanese American who formerly served as
senior director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council
(NSC), commented that even though Japan may argue there was no
"coercion," "Japan cannot win the argument" (Yomiuri Shimbun,
morning edition of March 4).

In order to block the adoption of the House resolution, an immediate
crisis for Japan, it may be wise to continue to emphasize that Japan
has profusely offered apologies. But what do you think will happen
next? The dishonor of Japan would be only engraved more deeply and
heavily in history.

Under present-day values, the idea of military brothels is
unacceptable. We must not repeat such inhumane acts and systems to
exist. At the same time, we must assert that wartime brothels
reflected the values of the times. Not only Japan but also other
countries had similar brothels. Even after World War II, other
countries in this world established a similar system.

Nonetheless, however, why has only Japan become the focus of
criticism? Because other countries deem that there was "coercion by
the former Imperial Japanese Army and the Japanese government. But
the fact is that coercion never existed. The Kono statement made a
clear mistake. If Japan fails to claim this point, the issue will

TOKYO 00001000 004 OF 007

not be essentially resolved. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to
focus his attention on the heart of the matter. In this regard, I
strongly stand by the prime minister's courageous attitude.

(4) Editorial: Comfort women issue-Kono statement must be inherited

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
March 8, 2007

There is a rise of arguments from among the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party's lawmakers, calling for the government to review
its 1993 statement that came from then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei
Kono and that owned up to the Imperial Japanese Army's roles over
the so-called comfort women. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed to
inherit this Kono statement. However, the prime minister said there
was nothing to endorse coercion that was defined at first. This
remark was taken as subscribing to the advocacy of revising the Kono
statement, and it triggered concerns among Japan's neighbors, such
as China and South Korea.

Meanwhile, a US congressional resolution, which regards the Kono
statement as insufficient and demands an official apology from
Japan, is now before the House of Representatives.

Prime Minister Abe visited China and South Korea shortly after
coming into office to resume discontinued summit diplomacy with the
two countries. Those LDP lawmakers' call for retouching the Kono
statement could damage considerably Japan's improved relations with
its neighbors. It's only natural that Prime Minister Abe declared
his intention to take over the Kono statement.

Former South Korean comfort women instituted lawsuits against the
Japanese government for compensation. Then Prime Minister Kiichi
Miyazawa's cabinet conducted fact-finding surveys and released the
Kono statement based on findings from those surveys. The Japanese
government formally admitted to the Imperial Japanese Army's direct
and indirect roles in setting up brothels and transporting comfort
women. The Japanese government then expressed its "sincere apologies
and remorse."

In the LDP, however, a group of lawmakers thinking over Japan's
future and history education voiced strong calls for a review of the
Kono statement on the grounds that there is no evidence to back
claims that the Japanese military and government authorities used
coercion to force the women into brothels as comfort women. Such a
move could be seen as a trend of Japan's rightward tilt, following
former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni

The Kono statement was not the only form for Japan's apologies to
former comfort women. In 1995, the Asian Women's Fund was set up.
The fund delivered private contributions in the form of consolation
to former comfort women with a letter of apology signed by the prime
minister. However, it is also true that former comfort women in
South Korea and other countries refused the prime minister's letter,
claiming that the letter incorporated no legal responsibilities.

It's possible to say that the Kono statement was a political
settlement. LDP people insisting on a review of the Kono statement
cite the government's discovery of no strict evidence with
historical endorsement as a reason for their advocacy of revising
the Kono statement. However, it is unavoidable for any political
settlement on an issue of this sort, which involves war

TOKYO 00001000 005 OF 007

responsibilities, to leave some parts ambiguous. If they would try
to contend the facts of history, the best way is for them to ask
historians. Japan and China, which have squared off with each other
time and again over history in their respective perceptions, have
set up a joint study committee, which is made up of 10 scholars from
both countries.

If politicians bring up something imprudently, things get entangled
in many cases, as seen from the advocacy of revising the Kono
statement. Politicians should first consider Japan's national
interests from a long-term perspective. They must strictly abstain
from stirring up unhealthy nationalism.

It is clear what Prime Minister Abe and other Japanese politicians
should do. They should carefully recount the standpoint of Japan,
which has offered its apologies over the comfort women issue, in
order to prevent the US congressional resolution from passing the US
House of Representatives and in order to wipe away the concerns of
Japan's neighbors. Prime Minister Abe upholds "asserting diplomacy."
However, the outcome of asserting must meet Japan's national

(5) Futenma alternative: Gov't likely to ask for Okinawa governor's
permit next week for sea access

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 1) (Abridged)
March 8, 2007

In connection with the government-planned construction of a new
facility in a coastal area of Camp Schwab in Nago City as an
alternative for the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station, the
Defense Facilities Administration Agency is now coordinating with
the Okinawa prefectural government to set about surveys to look into
the current state of sea areas, including a fact-finding survey of
egg-laying corals, sources revealed. For the surveys, the DFAA is
expected ask for Okinawa Prefecture's consent next week to its
surveys planned to be implemented in Okinawa Prefecture's public
waters off the coast of Camp Schwab, according to the sources. The
DFAA's Naha bureau, if the prefectural government's consent is
obtained, will select contractors in bidding scheduled for late
March and will prepare to carry out sea and other environmental
surveys in April and afterward.

"The say they're going to look into a considerably wide range of sea
areas," Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima said, "so there's no reason
(for the Okinawa prefectural government) to blame it." With this,
the governor was flexible about preliminary fact-finding surveys
before an environmental assessment.

In its coordination with the DFAA, the Okinawa prefectural
government asked the DFAA to set a range of survey areas that can
meet Nago City's proposal to build an offshore facility. The DFAA
side showed its understanding, so the Okinawa prefectural government
seems to have judged that these surveys differ from the one that is
premised on the government's alternative airfield plan and that is
based on the nation's environmental assessment law.

In addition, the DFAA, when asking Okinawa Prefecture in written
form for its consent, will describe "fact-finding surveys to look
into the current state of sea areas," instead of describing
"environmental fact-finding surveys," in an aim to weaken linkage
with a legally mandatory environmental assessment.

TOKYO 00001000 006 OF 007

However, these planned fact-finding surveys are also expected to
look into egg-laying corals and seaweed beds.

Even in case these surveys are conducted as preliminary surveys,
their results can be reflected in an environmental assessment.
However, Okinawa Prefecture will disclose information about the
government's environmental assessment survey for public review and
will make a decision with the governor's statement, according to a
prefectural government official. "The surveys planned this time are
not formal ones under the law and will be implemented by contractors
on their own responsibilities and judgment," the official said.

Meanwhile, the DFAA is expected to carefully determine when to
disclose information for public review about its law-based
environmental assessment survey for Okinawa Prefecture and its
municipalities, with an eye to a potential impact on political
events, such as a by-election to be officially announced on April 5
for the House of Councillors.

(6) Matsuoka office's huge utility expenses remain a mystery

ASAHI (Page 39) (Abridged)
March 8, 2007

The Asahi Shimbun has found that all the Abe cabinet ministers,
advisors to the prime minister, senior vice ministers, and
parliamentary secretaries who have their offices in the Dietmembers'
Office Buildings did not declare any utilities in their political
fund reports for 2005 -- except for one cabinet minister:
Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka.
The farm minister declared approximately 5.07 million yen as
utilities. The figure particularly stands out against the backdrop
that utilities in the Dietmembers' Office Buildings are all covered
by tax money. Before the Upper House Budget Committee yesterday,
Matsuoka simply reiterated that his office has reported its expenses

According to the political fund reports and other documents, the
Dietmembers' Office Buildings house "main offices" of the fund
management organizations of some 20 cabinet ministers and senior
vice ministers that total about 70. Of them, nine lawmakers who have
their offices only in the Dietmembers' Office Buildings indicated in
the Asahi Shimbun interviews that they had not declared an utilities
expenses. "I cannot declare utilities because my office exists only
in the Dietmembers' Office Building, which does not charge for
utilities," one lawmaker said. Similar explanations came from other
lawmakers, as well.

The Political Funds Control Law Enforcement Ordinance defines
utilities as fees for electricity, gas, water, and instruments for

An LDP Lower House lawmaker who had declared no utilities clearly
said: "Usually it's not possible for an office located in the
Dietmembers' Office Building to spend 5 million yen for utilities."

A secretary to an Upper House lawmaker took this view: "Office
expenses might include the bills for water purifiers and
humidifiers, but it's not realistic for a single office to consume
water totaling 5 million yen."

The fund statements by the remaining 10 lawmakers included 90,000
yen to 1.03 million yen in utilities. Those lawmakers had offices

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other than in the Dietmembers' Office Buildings, however.

Expenses declared by Matsuoka's fund management organization

Year Utilities Office Expenses
2001 6.59 million yen 26.42 million yen
2002 7.79 million yen 24.75 million yen
2003 4.16 million yen 26.32 million yen
2004 5.18 million yen 31.66 million yen
2005 5.07 million yen 33.59 million yen
Total 28.81 million yen 142.75 million yen

Matsuoka uses the word "appropriate" 23 times in Upper House

In the Upper House Budget Committee session yesterday, farm minister
Matsuoka repeatedly said that his fund management body has reported
utilities "appropriately." Matsuoka indicated on March 5 that he
would offer detailed explanations after checking facts with his
office. Opposition parties accordingly demanded his explanations
yesterday, but Matsuoka dodged their demands, saying: "The existing
system does not require information disclosure, so I would like to
abstain from doing so."

"My fund management organization informed me that it has reported
expenses appropriately." In response to questions yesterday from
Social Democratic Party member Hirokazu Shiba and Japanese Communist
Party lawmaker Satoshi Inoue, Matsuoka used the word "appropriate"
23 times.

Matsuoka replied on March 5: "A water purifier is installed in the
office. Office expenses included fees for heating and the like.
Taking the Diet floor yesterday, Shiba said: "Water purifiers and
heaters should come under equipment and expendables." Inoue grilled
Matsuoka, asking: "Utilities by your two offices in Kumamoto ran to
660,000 yen and 380,000 yen, respectively. Utilities by your office
in the Dietmembers' Office Building are far greater than those
locations. How do you explain that?" But Matsuoka refused to offer a
clear explanation.

Some LDP lawmakers had speculated that Matsuoka would weather the
storm by blaming the accounting manager. But on March 5, Matsuoka
categorically said: "I gave my consent to the figures in the fund
reports." Matsuoka can no longer blame his chief accountant.


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