Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 03/26/07-1
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WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION;
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SECDEF FOR JCS-J-5/JAPAN,
DASD/ISA/EAPR/JAPAN; DEPT PASS ELECTRONICALLY TO USDA
FAS/ITP FOR SCHROETER; PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR;
CINCPAC FLT/PA/ COMNAVFORJAPAN/PA.
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA
SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 03/26/07-1
1) Top headlines
3) Prime Minister's weekend schedule
4) Yomiuri poll on Abe administration at six months finds 60% of
public give him poor evaluation
5) Abe Cabinet support rate stabilizes at 35% in Mainichi poll, but
non-support rate remains higher at 42%
Defense and security issues:
6) Yokota Air Base had 90 spill incidents between 1999-2006 but only
one reported to surrounding local governments
7) Defense Ministry plans to obtain Okinawa's concurrence for
preliminary survey of Futenma relocation site next month
8) Sasebo fishing coop falsely claimed damage compensation from US
forces use of local waters
9) Opposition camp pursuing ruling parties in Diet on subsidies in
USFJ realignment bill
10) Government trying to use carrot-stick approach to sell USFJ
realignment bill but impact on Okinawa's thinking remains unclear
11) Government formally adopts BMD emergency guidelines that
including intelligence sharing with US
12) Iraq's vice president in meeting with Abe asks Japan to keep
ASDF in Iraq
13) Prime Minister Abe promised to cooperate with Iraq to help
stabilize the country
1) TOP HEADLINES
Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, Tokyo Shimbun & Akahata:
M-6.9 quake hits Noto Peninsula, killing 1, injuring 190
Economy still on stable growth path, with signs of improvement in
NTV sponsors reckless driving? Broadcaster told youths they were
(1) Quake on Noto Peninsula: Prepare countermeasures to accidents in
(2) Dances by Asian skaters fascinate us
(1) Rescue and aid to put people's lives back in quake-hit areas in
(2) Prime Minister Abe should make a restart, reflecting on low
(1) Government urged to prepare countermeasures to unexpected quake
(2) Kansai TV must implement measures to prevent fabricated programs
TOKYO 00001321 002 OF 009
(1) Noto quake shows importance of defenses
(2) Additional sanctions against Iran natural
(1) Introducing effective quake-spot-report system urged
(2) Sanctions against Iran: International community must try to
prevent nuclear cooperation with North Korea
(1) Everywhere on the Japanese Islands dangerous
(2) Professional baseball games start
(1) JCP taking initiative in medical fee aid for children
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, March 24
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
March 25, 2007
Left JR Tokyo Station on Shinkansen Nozomi 11. Met with Minister of
Internal Affairs and Communications Suga on Shinkansen.
Arrived at JR Okayama Station.
Left the station on Marine Liner 27.
Arrived at JR Takamatsu Station.
Met with Lower House member Yoshinori Ono and others at the
Takamatsu Marugame Ichibangai building in Takamatsu City. Later,
exchanged views with members of the Takamatsu Marugame Shopping
Street Council. Visited the shopping street.
Met with LDP Upper House Caucus Secretary General Katayama at the
Okayama Prefectural Welfare/Volunteer/NPO Hall in Okayama City.
Afterwards, met with the mayor of Okayama and exchanged views with
members of the crime prevention organization Okayama Guardians.
Inspected the Okayama Guardians' activities at the Okayama
Ichibangai located at the underground shopping moll at JR Okayama
Responded to an interview with the Okayama Prefecture's press club
at Hotel Granvia.
Left JR Okayama Station on Nozomi 12. Met with Suga on train.
TOKYO 00001321 003 OF 009
Arrived at JR Tokyo Station.
Had a haircut at Hilton Tokyo.
Arrived at his private residence in Tomigaya.
Prime Minister's schedule, March 25
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
March 24, 2007
Left his private residence in Tomigaya.
Arrived at Kantei residence.
Attended a reception commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Rome
Treaty at "Tokyo City View" at Roppongi Hills with his wife Akie.
Arrived at his private residence.
Arrived at Kantei residence.
4) Yomiuri opinion poll on Abe Cabinet after half-year: 60% do not
positively evaluate his achievements, but 54% have hopes for the
prime minister in future
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
March 24, 2007
In a nationwide opinion poll (face-to-face interviews) taken by the
Yomiuri Shimbun March 17-18 to mark the six months in office of the
Abe administration on March 26, those respondents who either
"greatly appreciated" or "more or less appreciated" the
accomplishments so far of the Abe Cabinet and Prime Minister Abe
totaled 36%. However, this was much lower than the 60% in total who
either felt they "did not appreciate at all" or "did not appreciate
much" the achievements. Compared to the same questions being asked
in the December 2006 poll, there was an eight-point drop in positive
evaluation and a 15-point increase in negative evaluation. The
Cabinet support rate, as well, for March fell for the fifth month in
a row to 43.8%. For the prime minister, the challenge will be to
reverse the trend by the time the Upper House election comes this
On the other hand, on the question of whether there was expectation
or high hopes for Prime Minister Abe, those who either answered
positively or qualified is by saying, "if I had to choose," totaled
54%. This exceeded the 45% who said they had no high hopes for Abe.
5) Abe Cabinet support rate levels off, slips one point to 35% in
Mainichi poll; New Komeito supporters are distancing themselves from
MAINICHI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
TOKYO 00001321 004 OF 009
March 26, 2007
The Mainichi Shimbun on March 24-25 carried out a telephone-based
nationwide opinion poll. It showed the support rate for the cabinet
of Prime Minister Abe to be 35%, one point down from the previous
poll in February. The non-support rate rose a point to 42%,
continuing a trend seen in the last poll. With a lacking of material
for boosting the support rate, it appears that such issues as the
restoration to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of former
Lower-House member (and postal rebel) Eto, as well as the flap over
the utilities expenses of Agricultural Minister Matsuoka, affected
the poll results. In addition, there was a great drop in supporters
from the New Komeito, indicating that the party is distancing itself
The Cabinet support and non-support rates both reached their lowest
and highest rate, respectively, since the launching of the
administration. The main reason for 53% of the non-supporters was:
"I cannot expect leadership from the prime minister."
6) Ninety incidents of hazard-material leaks at Yokota Air Base,
1999-2006, but notification to local government in only one case
ASAHI (Top play) (Slightly abridged)
Eve., March 24, 2007
This newspaper has learned that during the seven-year period
1999-2007, there occurred at the US forces' Yokota Airbase
(Tokyo-to) and its related facilities, 90 incidents of accidents in
which hazardous materials such as jet fuel that are subject to
restriction in the US escaped, with the total volume of leakage
reaching approximately 105,000 liters. Only one incident out of the
90 was reported as an accident to local government authorities.
Although there is an obligation on the part of the US forces to
notify the Japanese side of such incidents, by agreement of the
Japan-US Joint Committee, the US forces in Japan also has the right
to judge what is reportable, and the reality is that local
governments have no capability of checking into the situation.
This state of affairs was discovered from documents released under
the US government's Freedom of Information Act, and obtained by a
Hitotsubashi University graduate student, Yukinori (?) Hayashi (25).
The disclosed documents covered the period September 1999 to May
2006. When broken down by type of incident, based on volume of
leakage by the US military, there are "Category 1" incidents
involving over 10,000 gallons (1 gallon = 3.78 liters) and
considered "posing a serious threat to the health and safety of the
public." One such incident occurred at the base's Tokorozawa
communication facility (Tokorozawa City, Saitama Prefecture), in
which 29,000 gallons of light fuel oil leaked out. There were two
incidents of "Category 2" level of danger, 1,000 - 10,000 gallons
("posing a threat to the health and safety of the public"). For
example, In July 2005, jet fuel amounting to 2,400 gallons leaked
There were six incidents in the next category, 100 - 1,000, "does
not pose a danger to health and safety," and 75 incidents of 100
gallons of less leaking out. In six cases, the amount of leakage was
The US Pacific Air Force Command orders every base to prepare
reports on accidents that call into categories 1-3, and for 10
TOKYO 00001321 005 OF 009
cases, detailed reports were made, according to the information
disclosed. However, the only case that local authorities had a
grasp of was the Category 1 incident at Tokorozawa. Notification was
never provided to local governments on Category 2 or less
According to the Foreign Ministry, there was a Joint Committee
agreement on March 1997 on procedures for providing information to
the Japanese side, which goes: "In the case of the occurrence of
incidents or accidents in which there is concern that there would be
an effect on public safety or the environment, they should be
reported immediately to the Japanese side." The specific items
include "the possibility of creating substantial pollution by the
misuse or escape of hazardous materials or radioactive substances."
The US military is to notify the Foreign Ministry. The mechanism to
notify local authorities is via the Defense Facilities
However, the decision on whether to notify is left up to the US
military. According to the Tokyo Defense Facilities Administrative
Bureau, in documents covering 2003 - 2006, there were 18 incidents
that were reported by the base. Of these, the only one related to
leakage of fuel was the case at the Tokorozawa communications
Hayashi, having analyzed the documents, pointed out: "According to
the Status of Forces Agreement between Japan and the United States,
there are no set procedures for removing pollution at US bases in
Japan. The US military is not under any obligation to restore the
land to its original state. There needs to be established for the
Japanese side the right to enter bases to investigate."
7) Futenma relocation: Defense Ministry to begin preliminary
environmental assessment in April
ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged slightly)
March 25, 2007
The Defense Agency has decided to begin in April an environmental
assessment of coastal areas around Camp Schwab, the relocation site
of the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station. The government,
however, will conduct a preliminary assessment instead of a formal
assessment that would require the presentation of documents to the
prefectural government, in deference to strong negative reactions
from local residents.
The assessment will cover costal areas around Camp Schwab and its
nearby waters. The Defense Ministry thinks that in order to observe
the growth process of coral, it must begin the assessment before
June, when the spawning season begins. The ministry will study such
matters as the marine habitat for coral, water quality, and air for
a year. It will carry out bidding on March 28 to select a
The government initially considered a formal assessment, but Nago in
January presented a plan to revise the government's plan, which
displeased Tokyo. The Okinawa prefectural government was also
reluctant to accept the government's documents detailing the method
of the assessment, saying that doing so might be taken as
concurrence with the government plan. Given the situation, the
Defense Ministry intends to push ahead with the preliminary
assessment to use its findings as the basis for a formal assessment
TOKYO 00001321 006 OF 009
that will follow. The ministry plans to hold talks on the planned
formal assessment with the prefectural government once the Upper
House Okinawa by-election is over.
8) Senior Fukuoka defense official, Sasebo fishermen fraudulently
claim US base compensation money
MAINICHI (Page 1) (Slightly excerpt)
March 26, 2007
The Defense Facilities Administration Agency has decided to file a
criminal complaint with Nagasaki police tomorrow against more than a
dozen fishermen in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, and a senior member
of the Fukuoka Defense Facilities Administration Bureau (DFAB) on
suspicion of conspiring to fraudulently use state money paid as
compensation for damage caused by the US military's use of waters
near the US Sasebo Naval Base.
This is first case of involvement of a regional DFAB, which is
responsible for screening and supervising compensation for damage
caused by the US military use, is misuse of funds. The case has
exposed a murky compensation program based on cozy relations between
government authorities and the fishing industry.
In the sea areas used by the US military, fishing operations are not
allowed under the law restricting operations by fishing boats. Given
this, regional DFABs are engaged in examining ledgers on harvests in
waters other than the restricted areas and pay compensation money to
According to informed sources, the Sasebo Fishermen's Union reported
seven fleets of net-fishing boats engaged in operations, but four of
the seven were found to not have been in operation. The officials
concerned at the DFAB, while knowing the actual situation, filed
forged documents though consultations with fishermen, and the
official and the fishermen pocketed several million yen annually
over the past several years.
9) Deliberations begin on US force realignment bill; Government's
plan to subsidize municipal governments draws questions from
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
March 24, 2007
A Lower House plenary session on March 23 began deliberating on a US
forces realignment special measures law featuring a step to
subsidize the municipal governments bearing greater burdens in the
force realignment plan. In explaining the bill, Defense Minister
Fumio Kyuma, said: "It is vital for maintaining the peace and
stability of Japan and for alleviating the burdens on residents."
Opposition parties intend to raise questions about the system
designed to provide subsidies in accordance with the state of
progress in implementing the plan and about Japan's financial burden
for the Guam relocation plan. How Diet deliberations will proceed
Under the proposed legislation, the subsidies will be provided to
host municipalities in four stages of the realignment work: (1) the
acceptance of a government plan, (2) the start of an environmental
assessment, (3) the start of construction work, and (4) the
completion of the project. The system is intended to win cooperation
TOKYO 00001321 007 OF 009
on the US force realignment by providing carrots to the
municipalities that have accepted the government's plan.
In the Diet session, Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Seiken
Akamine lashed out at the government, saying, "The government is
trying to pin down the municipal governments with money." Defense
chief Kyuma rebutted, "It is natural for the government to take a
step in response to contributions by municipalities."
Japan's financial contribution to the relocation of US Marine Corps
from Okinawa to Guam is also a point of contention. Foreign Minister
Taro Aso replied, "In order to reduce the burden on Okinawa, Japan
will make an appropriate financial contribution to the force
relocation." Opposition parties have raised questions about the
rationale behind Japan's plan to make financial contributions.
10) Diet begins deliberations on US force realignment bill; Okinawa
and other municipalities alarmed at government's carrot-and-stick
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
March 24, 2007
The Lower House on March 23 began deliberations on a US force
realignment special measures bill incorporating a plan to establish
a system to subsidize affected municipal governments. Defense
Minister Fumio Kyuma explained the legislation in the plenary
session and before the Security Committee. The government aims to
elicit cooperation from affected municipalities by using subsidies.
Okinawa and other areas are highly alarmed at the government's
carrot-and-stick approach. Passage of the bill by the Diet does not
guarantee the smooth implementation of the US force realignment.
Kyuma explained the significance of the planned subsidy system this
way: "Many municipal governments have expressed their hopes for
force realignment subsidies. Responding to their requests will help
smoothly implement the force realignment."
According to the Defense Ministry, of the 68 affected
municipalities, 46 have expressed their support for the US force
realignment. Although some municipalities have apparently agreed to
the realignment plan in anticipation of subsidies, such
municipalities as Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture, the relocation
site of carrier-borne aircraft, are cautious about realignment.
The plan to relocate the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station from
Ginowan to the coastline of Camp Schwab in Nago has been stalled
over the Tokyo-Washington agreement to build a V-shaped pair of
runways. Talks between the government and the affected
municipalities have not been held since January. The effectiveness
of the planned subsidies remains unclear.
In the plenary session, many opposition lawmakers raised questions
about Japan's financial contributions to the force realignment
project. In response, Kyuma indicated that the government has not
finished its calculations, saying: "Given the nation's tight
financial situation, we will keenly examine views and necessary
11) Cabinet adopts BMD emergency response guidelines;
Intelligence-sharing with US to be issue
TOKYO 00001321 008 OF 009
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
March 24, 2007
The cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe adopted on March 23
emergency response guidelines for a ballistic missile defense (BMD)
system that stipulates the procedures for intercepting ballistic
missiles on the authority of a unit commander. Although the Defense
Ministry aims at simultaneous operations of the BMD emergency
response guidelines and civilian control, some national defense
advocates in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are concerned
about whether the guidelines will be effective in an actual
conflict. Sharing intelligence, including on missiles, with the
United States, and legal improvement are issues to be resolved.
Under the emergency response guidelines, unit commanders are allowed
to intercept enemy missiles after they find "signs" of a state of
emergency. In a meeting on March 13 of the LDP Research Council,
many council members raised objections to the guidelines, arguing,
"Dose it mean that we should wait to die without doing anything? It
is meaningless to intercept enemy missiles after confirming them. We
need to create a 24-hour-response system."
Therefore, reaching an agreement in the LDP was delayed for a week.
The reason for the delay is Japan's dependence on the United States
in the intelligence area. Japan relies on the US military regarding
early-warning satellite intelligence, through which it can detect
signs of a missile launch. The LDP has decided to set up a project
team that will re-study how Japan-US cooperation and BMD law should
The government will introduce later this month the Patriot Advanced
Capability 3 (PAC-3) to the Air Self-Defense Force's Iruma base in
Saitama Prefecture, as well as in the Tokyo area. The emergency
response guidelines will applied to the planed PAC-3 deployment. The
PAC-3 is a mobile system with the range of several kilometers.
Therefore, securing places for equipment will be an issue to be
12) Iraqi vice president asks for continuation of ASDF operation
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
March 24, 2007
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on March 23 with Iraqi Vice President
Taril al-Hashimi. Hashimi asked Abe to continue Japan's Air
Self-Defense Force's mission in Iraq, saying, "In order also to
maintain friendly relations between Iraq and Japan, I want you to
continue the ASDF operations." Abe then responded:
"Iraqi's stability is indispensable for the stability of the
international community. It is also extremely important for Japan's
interests. So, we have decided to submit to the Diet a bill to
extend the ASDF mission."
13) Prime Minister Abe promises Japan's stable cooperation to Iraq
Vice President Hashimi
YOMIURI (Page 2)(Full)
March 24, 2007
TOKYO 00001321 009 OF 009
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with Iraq Vice President Taril
al-Hashimi on the night of March 23. In the meeting, Abe told
Hashimi that Japan would continue its Air Self-Defense Force mission
in his country by extending the Iraq Special Measures Law for two
years. The prime minister also promised Japan's cooperation for
reconciliation among the people of Iraq, in which sectarian and
ethnic conflicts have continued.
The vice president expressed his gratitude and told Abe:
"We are experiencing difficulties in improving security. But the
sectarian conflict will be resolved soon or later. Since it is
mainly the Sunnis that have carried out resistance activities,
efforts are needed to win them over."
Hashimi met also with Foreign Minister Taro Aso on the evening of
the same day.
The Japanese government will invite 15 influential Iraqi
parliamentary members to hold a meeting with them from March 25.
During the session, Tokyo will explain to them its experiences in
bringing peace to Cambodia, as well as the views of Japan's experts,
as part of its effort to indirectly support Iraq's reconstruction.
In consideration of the balance of sects and ethnic groups, the 15
Iraqi parliamentarians are made up of seven Shiites, four Sunnis,
and one Turkmen.
Final coordination is underway on a plan for a visit to Japan in
April by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Hashimi is a Sunni and
Maliki is a Shiite.
The purpose of Japan's invitations of influential Iraqi leaders is
to build strategic relations with Iraq, which ranks third on the
list of countries with crude oil deposits.