Search

 

Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 03/05/07

VZCZCXRO4600
PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #0903/01 0640132
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050132Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1202
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/USDOT WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5//
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
RHMFIUU/HQ PACAF HICKAM AFB HI//CC/PA//
RUALSFJ/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA//J5/JO21//
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
RUAYJAA/COMPATWING ONE KAMI SEYA JA
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 2533
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 0068
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 3560
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 9485
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 1043
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5979
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2071
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3429

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 12 TOKYO 000903

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR E, P, EB, EAP/J, EAP/P, EAP/PD, PA;
WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION;
TREASURY/OASIA/IMI/JAPAN; DEPT PASS USTR/PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
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 03/05/07


1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's weekend schedule

Visit of Deputy Secretary Negroponte:
4) Deputy Secretary State Negroponte in Tokyo stresses that North
Korea will not be unconditionally removed from the US list of
terrorist-sponsoring countries
5) Negroponte: DPRK must reveal its plan to develop nuclear weapons
using uranium-enrichment technology

North Korea problem:
6) High-level US official: North Korea's uranium-enrichment plan
remains unknown
7) Government's strategy for bilateral working-group talks with
North Korea is to make judgment based on results of another survey
of abduction victims
8) US will bring up the abduction issue in its working group with
North Korea
9) Evidence points to possibility that Kim Jong Il himself may have
ordered the abduction of Japanese in the past

Kono Statement row:
10) Hiroshige Seko, Special Press Advisor to Prime Minister Abe,
stresses there has been no change in policy of accepting Kono
Statement
11) Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) President Ozawa blasts
Abe's saying there is no evidence to back government coercion of
wartime sex-slavery

Defense issues:
12) Two-plus-two meeting between US, Japan defense, foreign
ministers being scheduled for late April now
13) Special measures law for Iraq reconstruction to be extended two
years to strengthen alliance
14) Government to strengthen cooperation with NATO, help Afghan
reconstruction by economically aiding PRT efforts
15) India to join US-Japan military drill next month as part of
effort to check China's moves

16) US, Japan to expand missile-defense cooperation by introducing a
mobile system that can analyze launch information
17) Komeito lawmaker tells Lower House Budget Committee that US
Marine move to Guam "will not change Okinawa's burden," calls effort
a "failure"

Political agenda:
18) Kantei (Prime Minister's Official Residence), LDP increasingly
at odds over policy issues, including Kono Statement, educational
reform, and social disparity
19) Ruling camp draws up win-lose line for upcoming Upper House
election

Articles:

1) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi:
70%of karaoke parlors have substandard fire-safety measures

Mainichi:
Public tender formula introduced in 1999 failed to prevent

TOKYO 00000903 002 OF 012


bid-rigging over floodgate construction projects

Yomiuri:
Garbage illegally dumped at expressway service areas

Nihon Keizai:
Toyota, Nissan to reform production lines around the world

Sankei:
US to present abduction issue at working group discussion

Tokyo Shimbun:
China to target 8%economic growth rate

Akahata:
6 municipalities in Yamagata Prefecture stop issuing qualification
certificate for households unable to pay national health insurance
premiums

2) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) Pension reform will be crucial
(2) Management must hold dialogue with shareholders

Mainichi:
(1) China should place priority on stability rather than economic
growth
(2) Increase in overtime work wages not enough

Yomiuri:
(1) Bill revising the minimum wage law: Monthly payment that is
lower than welfare payment unacceptable
(2) Rise in timber production for forestry industry

Nihon Keizai:
Think of the environment and economy: Aim at environment-friendly
motor traffic

Sankei:
(1) Japan-North Korea working group: No compromise on abduction
issue
(2) New bullet train station: Time to make decision to freeze the
plan

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Japan-North Korea working group: Both abduction and nuclear
isssues should be pushed forward
(2) Piano accompaniment order for national anthem: Court rules
constitutional but order is undesirable

Akahata:
Nuclear waste disposal facility: Government should not force Toyo
Town to accept with money

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, March 2 and 3

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
March 3, 2006


TOKYO 00000903 003 OF 012


8:31
Cabinet meeting in the Diet building. Internal Affairs Minister Suga
remained.

8:58
Met with State Minister for Administrative Reform Watanabe, followed
by Cabinet Intelligence Director Mitani.

10:00
Met with LDP Public Relations Office chief Futada and Bureau
Director General Katayama, followed by Cabinet Office Vice Minister
Uchida and Decoration Bureau Director General Fukushita.

11:31
Met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki.

12:56
Met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matoba, followed by Upper
House Secretary General Katayama.

13:30
Met with Lower House member Taro Nakayama, followed by Special
Advisor to the Prime Minister Koike.

14:10
Lower House Budget Committee meeting.

17:39
Arrived at Kantei.

19:00
Dined with Yomiuri Shimbun Group Chairman Tsuneo Watanabe at Hotel
Okura.

21:31
Returned to Kantei.

22:28
Lower House plenary session.

23:58
Lawmakers' meeting in the Diet building.

Prime Minister's schedule, March 3

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
March 3, 2006

0:07
Met with Former Prime Ministers Mori and Fukuda, joined by former
Foreign Minister Machimura.

0:22
Lower House plenary session.

Prime Minister's schedule, 3

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
March 4, 2006

0:22
Lower House plenary session.

TOKYO 00000903 004 OF 012

3:56
Made courtesy visits to Lower House Speaker Kono and senior
officials of the ruling parties.

4:17
Arrived at the official residence.

10:01
Left the official residence.

10:13
Watched a movie at Marunouchi Piccadilly with his wife Akie. Then
met Shochiku President Junichi Hakumoto and actor Takashi Sorimachi
and actress Rei Kikukawa at the Marion Building. Premier: "It was
good, especially the horse-riding scenes."

13:38
Went to a ramen shop with Akie.Premier: "I like ramen and hadn't had
it for a while."

14:21
Had a haircut at a barber at Hilton Tokyo Hotel.

16:41
Arrived at the official residence.

Prime Minister's schedule, 4

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
March 5, 2006

Spent the day at the official residence.

4) Negroponte: US will not unconditionally remove North Korea from
terrorist-sponsor list

YOMIRUI (Page 2) (Full)
March 3, 2007

In a press conference at the United States Embassy in Tokyo
Yesterday, visiting Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte said,
"Pyongyang must take the initial steps (toward nuclear disarmament)
(as stipulated in the joint declaration adopted in the latest
six-party talks) and make considerable progress; otherwise, the US
will not delist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. A
removal of the North from the terrorist-sponsor list will be taken
up as a major topic in the upcoming working group talks on
normalizing diplomatic ties between the US and North Korea in New
York on March 5-6.

Saying, "The two countries just agreed to start discussion,"
Negroponte indicated that the US, out of consideration to Japan's
stance of deeming North Korea's past abductions of Japanese
nationals as an act of terrorism, would not unconditionally delist
North Korea as a sponsor of terrorists. Regarding North Korea's
uranium enrichment program, many US government officials have begun
to make circumspective remarks about its progress. The deputy state
secretary also took a cautious view, saying, "I believe there was an

SIPDIS
enrichment program in the past, but I am not 100%sure of whether the
program is still ongoing or not."


TOKYO 00000903 005 OF 012


5) US Deputy Secretary of State: "We are sure (DPRK) had enrichment
program"

SANKEI (Page 7) (Full)
March 3, 2007

US Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte, now visiting Japan,
yesterday held a press conference at the US Embassy, in which he
stated that North Korea must reveal its nuclear weapons development
program by means of enriched uranium. Negroponte continued, "We are
sure that the North Koreans had a uranium enrichment program. Even
now, we are fairly sure of that."

On the abduction issue, Negroponte stated, "The US government's
position is that North Korea must reveal the whereabouts of
abductees and accept Japan's request." In addition, referring to the
upcoming talks at the US-North Korea working group on the question
of whether to remove North Korea from its designation as a state
sponsor of terror, Negroponte noted, "That is not something where we
anticipate a quick move (toward removing the designation)," warning:
"North Korea can't expect its designation to be removed, should it
fail to observe the promises made at the six-party talks."

6) High-level US officials cautious about DPRK's uranium enrichment
program, reiterating, "It's unclear"

SANKEI (Page 7) (Excerpts)
March 3, 2007

Takashi Arimoto, Washington

Ranking US government officials have now become cautious about
referring to progress on North Korea's nuclear weapons development
program by means of enriched uranium. They have insisted that the
program existed, but they remain unable to show data to support
their assertion. The US government has stated that uranium
enrichment activities will be put on the list of items subject to
declaration during talks at the future six-party talks, but doubts
are being cast on how far the United States will be able to pressure
North Korea, which has denied the existence of that program.

The chief intelligence officer for North Korea working under the
Central Intelligence Agency director, De Trani told the Senate Armed
Service Committee hearing on Feb. 27: "We are moderately sure" of
the uranium enrichment program. Assistant Secretary of State Hill,
the top negotiator at the six-party talks, also stated in a speech
or his testimony before the Congressional hearings that it was
unclear whether North Korea succeeded in acquiring uranium
enrichment technology.

7) Japan-North Korea working group: Government to judge whether to
extend assistance to Pyongyang, based on outcome of reinvestigation
into victims of abductions by North Korea

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
March 5, 2007

During the meetings of a Japan-North Korea working group for
normalization of relations that start on March 7 in Hanoi, Vietnam,
the government has decided to ask North Korea to conduct further
investigation into the remaining abduction victims. In the event
Pyongyang agrees to do so, the government, after examining the

TOKYO 00000903 006 OF 012


results of that investigation, will decide whether there has been
progress in resolving the abduction issue, the premise for Japan to
take part in economic and energy aid to that nation. Japan's
position also is that it will not provide assistance to the North
unless Pyongyang sets an arrangement for the abductors to be
extradited to Japan for trial.

The government's view is that there is a strong possibility
Pyongyang will agree to respond to another investigation and to
provide further information after certain time limit.

However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki noted, "We do not consider
a pledge to conduct further investigation and provide information as
progress." The government will make a decision, based on whether the
outcome of the investigation by the North and the information it
provided are based on scientific and objective grounds and the
information it provided corresponds to the information provided by
repatriated Japanese victims.

8) US to raise abduction issue during US-DPRK working-group talks,
emphasize importance of human rights

SANKEI (Top play) (Excerpts)
March 5, 2007

Takashi Arimoto, Washington

The United States and North Korea will hold a meeting of their
working group on diplomatic normalization in New York starting
today, following the six-party agreement. Ahead of the meeting, the
US decided to bring up the issue of abductions of Japanese nationals
by North Korea. This was revealed on March 3 by a US government
official. North Korea is likely to ask the US to remove the North
from its list of state sponsors of terror, but the US position is
that because the US has cited the abduction issue as one of the
reasons for the designation, progress on the abduction issue is
required for the removal of the designation.

This policy line of the US is in part intended to give indirect
backing to Japan by urging North Korea to resolve the abduction
issue ahead of the Japan-DPRK working-group meeting set to take
place in Hanoi starting March 7.

North Korea still insists that the abduction issue has already been
settled, so some in the US government were initially cautious about
raising the abduction issue in the first working group meeting with
North Korea, but reportedly the US government has judged it
necessary to make it clear that there is no change in its position
of emphasizing the need to resolve the abduction issue.

9) Kim Jong Il directed abductions of Japanese nationals? Former
abductee Hasuike: "I met with senior official under direct
supervision of Kim"

SANKEI (Top play) (Lead paragraph)
March 4, 2007

Suspicions have grown about the involvement in the abduction issue
of a former senior officer of a North Korean intelligence agency who
supervised operations in South Korea and worked directly under Kim
Jong Il. Former abductee Kaoru Hasuike, 49, testified to police
authorities that he had met with that officer. This is the first

TOKYO 00000903 007 OF 012


testimony directly linking Kim Jong Il to the abduction issue. Given
that the North Koreans who appeared before the former abductees were
always special operatives involved in the abductions, police
authorities have concluded that Kim Jong Il's explanation to the
Japanese government that the abductions "were a crime committed by
those who acted rashly and blindly" is likely a lie. It is more
likely that Japanese nationals were abducted on the order of Kim.

10) "The government will continue to stand by the Kono statement,"
says Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Seko

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
March 5, 2007

In response to prime minister's statement on the wartime "comfort
women" issue that there is no evidence of coercion by the former
Japanese Army, South Korea's Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry
released a statement criticizing the prime minister as trying to
cover up a historical fact. In this connection, Special Advisor to
the Prime Minister for Public Relations Hiroshige Seko, appearing on
a TV Asahi news show yesterday, said: "What the prime minister meant
in the statement is that though there are various definitions of
'coercion,' including a narrow sense or a broad sense, Japan will
continue to stand by the Kono statement without fail. There is no
change in this stance." He thus underscored the government's
position that there is no change in its stance of continuing to
stand by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono's 1993 statement,
in which he admitted to the involvement of the former Imperial
Japanese Army in the matter and offered an apology, as the
recognition of coercion in a broad sense. Regarding moves in the
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to revise the statement, Seko said,
"The prime minister himself is not making a stir."

11) DPJ head Ozawa criticizes prime minister's statement on wartime
comfort women issue, noting, "The prime minister's perception of
wartime history is problematic"

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
March 5, 2007

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) head Ichiro Ozawa
yesterday held a press conference in Aomori. He rapped Prime
Minister Abe's statement that there is no evidence confirming
coercion regarding the wartime comfort women issue as earlier
defined, noting: "The prime minister's perception of wartime history
and stance toward it are being put to the test. Just saying he
somehow feels that way will invite distrust both from the domestic
and foreign audiences. He must clearly indicate his ideals and way
of thinking and reveal his judgments on individual issues."

12) Japanese, US governments coordinating 2-plus-2 meeting in late
April

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
March 5, 2007

The governments of Japan and the United States have started final
coordination on a plan to hold a meeting of the Japan-US Security
Consultative Committee (2-plus-2) in late April. The two governments
will confirm bilateral cooperation to move ahead with the
realignment of US forces in Japan and to introduce a missile defense
(MD) system in Japan. There also will be an exchange of views on the

TOKYO 00000903 008 OF 012


Iraq situation.

No 2-plus-2 meeting has been held since last May when both
governments agreed on a final report for realigning US forces in
Japan. Although Tokyo and Washington had aimed to hold a meeting
earlier, they failed to set a date because President George W. Bush
announced in January a new Iraq policy, which centered on sending
20,000 more troops to Iraq and because the US government was unhappy
with Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma's remarks criticizing Bush's
decision to launch the Iraq war.

The Japanese government has judged that if both Kyuma and Foreign
Minister Taro Aso travel to Washington in late April, their absence
would have little impact on the Diet that will still be in session.
A government source also assumed that more specific discussion on
the relocation of the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station (Ginowan
City in Okinawa Prefecture) could be carried out if the 2-plus-2
meeting were held after the April 22 Upper House by-election in
Okinawa.

There is still a possibility, though, of the meeting being delayed
to May or later since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also plans to visit
the US during the late April timeframe.

13) Government to extend Iraq Reconstruction Law by two years,
keeping importance of Japan-US alliance in mind

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
March 3, 2007

The government decided to extend the Iraq Reconstruction Law, which
is to expire on July 31, for another two years, and informed the
ruling parties of this decision yesterday. The government plans to
shortly submit a revision bill to the Diet, with the aim of having
the bill clear the House of Representatives prior to the planned
visit to the United States by Prime Minister Abe in late April.

From the stance of placing importance on the Japan-US alliance and
international contributions, the government has judged it necessary
to continue the ongoing transport air transport mission of the Air
Self Defense Force in Iraq.

Given that the security situation in Iraq remains bleak, some
officials in the government and the ruling camp had suggested a
one-year extension. But the government made this judgment, "(if the
time of the extension is halved,) it would give an impression that
Japan will suspend its transport activities in a short period time,
and eventually its relations with the countries concerned could go
sour," said a senior Defense Ministry official.

14) Japan to step up cooperation with NATO for Afghan
reconstruction; Gov't mulls financial aid to PRT

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
March 4, 2007

Japan will actively cooperate with the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) in assisting with Afghanistan's reconstruction.
The government will hold a meeting of high-level officials with NATO
in Tokyo on March 7 to discuss specific plans. The focus is on how
to cooperate with a military-civilian provisional reconstruction
team (PRT) led by the International Security Assistance Force

TOKYO 00000903 009 OF 012


(ISAF). There are expectations within NATO for Japan's personnel
contributions, but Japan will only provide financial aid for the
time being.

In January this year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed NATO at
its headquarters in Brussels. In his speech, Abe said that he was
willing to work with NATO, and that Japan would step up its
cooperation to PRT-related humanitarian activities. "They have high
expectations for Japan's contributions," a Foreign Ministry official
said.

However, the Antiterror Special Measures Law, the basis for Japan's
support activities in Afghanistan, does not allow Japan to send
personnel to combat areas. Japan's cooperation is therefore limited.
"It's also impossible for the Self-Defense Forces, of course, and
civilians to participate in the PRT's nonmilitary activities," the
Foreign Ministry official said.

The Japan-NATO meeting will be held with Deputy Foreign Minister
Mitoji Yabunaka representing the Japanese government and Assistant
to the NATO Secretary General Erdman on the NATO side. They are
expected to discuss Japan's financial aid through its official
development assistance (ODA) programs for education, hospital
reconstruction, and infrastructure construction in the areas of PRT
activities.

In his NATO speech, Abe also remarked that Japan would not hesitate
to conduct SDF activities overseas. There is no denying that this
statement led to NATO's high expectations for Japan's personnel
contributions. NATO may ask for Japan's personnel contributions, and
Japan could be at a loss.

15) India to join Japan-US military training for 1st time

TOKYO (Page 1) (Abridged)
March 5, 2007

Japan and the United States will conduct joint military training
with India in early April for the first time, sources close to
Japan-US relations revealed yesterday. The joint training will be
carried out in Pacific waters near Japan.

Japan and the United States are allies, but India is not totally
committed to the United States. Their trilateral joint training,
which will step up their cooperation, is likely to aim at
constraining China's rapid rise as a military power.

The US Department of Defense worked on Japan and India for the joint
training, according to sources close to Japan-US relations. The
training will be carried out for about a week, the sources said. The
planned training is intended to ensure safety at sea in the
aftermath of major disasters like the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Details of the scenario are unknown. The Maritime Self-Defense Force
is expected have a destroyer and a patrol helicopter participate in
the training.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has now set forth a plan to
strengthen strategic talks with the United States, India, and
Australia. In December last year, Abe signed a joint statement with
Indian Prime Minister Singh to develop bilateral relations.
Australian Prime Minister Howard will visit Japan on March 11, and
Abe is expected to release a joint statement with Howard on security

TOKYO 00000903 010 OF 012


cooperation. The trilateral joint training can be taken as a move
aimed at strengthening the four countries' relationships.

16) Japan, US to expand missile defense shield

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
March 5, 2007

Japan and the United States are expanding their ballistic missile
defense shield. US Forces Japan (USFJ) will deploy a mobile
data-processing system at its Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture by
this summer. The system, which can receive missile launch
information from a satellite and distribute it, will be installed in
Japan for the first time. The Defense Ministry will construct an
advance warning and control radar system on Sado Island, Niigata
Prefecture. Japan and the United States will team up against North
Korean ballistic missile launches.

The Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS), which will be deployed at
Misawa, will be made up of a large vehicle equipped with a
data-processing system and three satellite antennas. JTAGS receives
localized data from a US early warning satellite detecting signs of
a ballistic missile launch, and it also analyzes data to forecast
where a launched missile will land. Its analyzed data will be
distributed to USFJ and also to the Defense Ministry and the
Self-Defense Forces.

JTAGS can directly get satellite intelligence anywhere. "It's
possible to collect fine-grained, flexible intelligence," a Foreign
Ministry source says. Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya stressed
that JSTAGS would buttress up missile defense and contribute to
security.

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry recently agreed with Niigata
Prefecture and Sado City to build a fixed three-dimensional radar
system codenamed J/FPS-5, which is the latest model with functions
to detect and track ballistic missiles in addition to aircraft
control functions. J/FPS-5 is expected to be a core of Japan's
missile defense warning dragnet along with Aegis-equipped vessels.
It is expected to go operational in fiscal 2010.

17) New Komeito member says in Diet: US Marine transfer to Guam will
not change the current burden on Okinawa

AKAHATA (Page 2) (Full)
March 3, 2007

In a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on March 1,
New Komeito member Masao Akamatsu said that the planned transfer of
US Marines in Okinawa to Guam "will not significantly change the
number of Marines stationed in Okinawa," adding, "Honestly speaking,
there are parts that disappoint me."

The government has revealed plans to reduce the 18,000 US Marines in
Okinawa by 8,000 to 10,000. Akamatsu said that the actual number of
Marines there is 12,000 and that reducing that figure to 10,000
"doesn't represent much of a change."

However, Lower House member Seiken Akamine of the Japanese Communist
Party repeatedly pointed out this problem in the regular Diet
session and the extraordinary Diet session last year.


TOKYO 00000903 011 OF 012


Meanwhile, in the Lower House plenary session on May 11 of last
year, in which the government gave explanations about US force
realignment plans, New Komeito member Shigeki Sato praised the Guam
transfer plan, saying, "The transfer plan will pave the way to
reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa," and, "I hail it as a
concrete result."

The government has decided to disburse approximately 700 billion yen
for the Guam transfer plan. To squeeze out the money, it intends to
have a bill to promote US force realignment plans passed in the
current Diet session.

Despite this fact, Akamatsu did not call on the government to
withdraw the Guam-transfer plan or the bill.

18) Diverging views between Kantei, LDP on Kono Statement, education
reform, disparity issue

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
March 5, 2007

With the April unified local elections and the July Upper House
elections approaching, a noticeably gulf has opened up between the
Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) and the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP). Confusion reigns over a difference in
response to the Kono Statement on the comfort-women issue. And
regarding the bill to reform the education system, the party, which
is giving special regard to the regions, is pushing back Kantei
efforts to strengthen central government involvement. On the social
and income disparity issue, the response of the Kantei has
disgruntled the party, and if strained relations continue, some are
concerned that there could be an impact on the elections.

"We will firmly uphold the Kono Statement; there will be no change
in it at all," said Special Press Advisor Seko on a TV-Asahi
program. He stressed that the government would uphold the 1993
statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the comfort
women issue, which acknowledged involvement by the former Japanese
Imperial Army in the forced recruitment of wartime comfort women.
Although Prime Minister Abe prior to his taking office as premier
expressed negative views about the Kono Statement, after his took
office, it did not become an item on his agenda.

What set off the issue again was the call from a group of LDP
lawmakers seeking a reinvestigation into the "coercive" aspect of
the issue. Although the Prime Minister on March 1 said, "There is no
evidence to back up the charge that there was coerciveness," he was
vague about whether he would seek a revision of the statement or
not.

Still, the government of the Foreign and Trade Ministry of the
Republic of Korea has expressed "extreme regret," and Minshuto
(Democratic Party of Japan) head Ozawa on March 4 criticized Abe,
saying, "It will invite distrust both in Japan and from other
countries." The group of LDP lawmakers plan later this week to
request the Prime Minister to look into the Statement, but an aide
to the Prime Minister, perplexed, saw the party as "overshooting its
authority."

19) Upper House by-elections determine LDP's minimum threshold for
victory of summer's Upper House race


TOKYO 00000903 012 OF 012


MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
March 5, 2007

A total of 121 House of Councillors seats (73 district seats, 48
proportional representation seats) are up for grabs in this summer's
election. The ruling parties hold 57 seats that are not up for
reelection, 46 by the Liberal Democratic Party and 11 by New
Komeito. This means that the ruling coalition must win 65 seats to
maintain their majority. They cannot afford to be optimistic about
the 29 single-seat districts that will hold the key to victory, so
they are desperate to lower the necessary threshold from 65 to 63.

Assuming that the New Komeito holds its 13 seats up for grabs, if
the ruling coalition wins two Upper House by-elections, the LDP's
minimum threshold for victory will be 50 seats. The LDP is looking
to win 16 seats in the proportional representation segment of the
election and 20 more in multiple-seat districts for a total of 36.
This means that the LDP will be able to maintain its majority in the
Upper House by taking the two by-elections and then winning 14
single-seat races.

However, if the LDP fails to win the two by-elections, its minimum
threshold will be 52. As a result, the LDP would have to win 16
single-seat races. In the 2001 Upper House, in which the ruling
coalition won big due to then PM Koizumi's popularity, the LDP won
25 of the 27 single-seat races. In the 2004 Upper House election,
the LDP won 14 of the 27. Therefore, each of the seats in the
by-elections is critical. In a speech on Feb. 28, LDP Acting
Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara pointed out the possibility that

SIPDIS
the LDP could win 13 seats in proportional representation and 18 in
multiple-seat districts, with the New Komeito winning 12 seats. He
expressed a sense of crisis, saying, "We would have to win 22 of the
single-seat districts" if the ruling camp were to lose both the
by-elections.

SCHIEFFER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

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>>

ALSO:


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>>

ALSO:

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>>