Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 04/11/07

DE RUEHKO #1592/01 1010800
P 110800Z APR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


(1) National referendum bill likely to clear Diet during current
session; Government, ruling coalition confirm plan to pass
legislation through Lower House on April 13

(2) Defense Ministry eyes "logistics agency" after disbanding DFAA

(3) Interview with Syrian Foreign Minister Mualem: Syria hopes for
expanded dialogue with US

(4) Shiten (personal view) column: Thorough investigation necessary
for settling comfort women issue

(5) WTO talks: Japan alarmed about being left out of context;
Government unable to make move on agriculture; Japan likely to be
pressed to make concessions, if developing countries, US and EU
reach agreement

(6) Editorial -- An "ice-thawing trip" by Wen: Substance needed
instead of language

(7) Editorial: Japan must take strategic steps for bringing
stability to Iraq

(8) Editorial: Measures to address global warming; World beginning
to move forward


(1) National referendum bill likely to clear Diet during current
session; Government, ruling coalition confirm plan to pass
legislation through Lower House on April 13

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
April 10, 2007

With the end of the first half of the unified local elections, the
government and ruling parties yesterday started the selection of
priority bills that will be submitted to the current session of the
Diet. The government and ruling coalition also confirmed that the
Lower House Special Commission on the Constitution would adopt on
April 12 a bill outlining procedures for amending the Constitution
and pass it through the Lower House on April 13. As it stands,
chances are that the legislation will clear the Diet during the
ongoing session. They plan to set up a special committee in the
Lower House to deliberate a set of three bills on education reform
and to speed up deliberations in the committee next week or later.

In a meeting yesterday of the government and ruling camp, Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Toshihiro
Nikai explained the procedure of taking a vote on the national
referendum bill, saying:

"We will reach a crucial point this week. Since we spent enough time
for deliberations on the national referendum bill, we are now ready
to put the bill to a vote. More than 540 hours has been spent on
debate, including that in the Research Commission before the special
commission was set up."

Nikai underscored that criticism by Minshuto (Democratic Party of
Japan), which has called for deliberating the measure carefully, was

TOKYO 00001592 002 OF 010

The ruling parties have attached importance to bills with a strong
conservative bent that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eager to pass
through the Diet during the current Diet session. Coordination is
underway for naming former Education Minister Kosuke Hori chairman
of the special committee on the three bills for educational reform.
The ruling camp has a blueprint for passing the three bills thorough
the Lower House in the middle of May. They intend to have the Upper
House Committee on Education, Culture and Science discuss the
legislation and adopt it in early June. Regarding
social-security-related bills, they also aim to start in mid-April
deliberations on a bill to reform the Social Insurance Agency.

Since the start of debate on a bill revising the employment rules,
including a plan to raise the minimum wage, has been delayed, some
in the ruling camp are concerned that the measure may not clear the
Diet during the ongoing session. The Lower House is now discussing a
special measures law designed to set up a new subsidy system for
municipalities cooperating with the government plan to relocate US
bases in Japan with the aim of passing the bill through the Lower
House in mid-April. The outlook is that a bill revising the Iraq
Special Measures Law will clear the Lower House in mid-May or

The ruling bloc will put off until an extraordinary Diet session
this fall or later passage of bills to set up a Japanese version of
the US National Security Council and a bill merging the employees'
pension program and the mutual aid pension scheme.

In yesterday's meeting of the government and the ruling coalition,
Abe stressed the need to strengthen the party's support system for
the April 22 Upper House by-elections in Fukushima and Okinawa
Prefectures. In the first half of the unified local elections, the
LDP won three of the five gubernatorial races in which it faced off
with Minshuto. The number of seats the LDP obtained in the 44
prefectural assembly elections was about 100 fewer than it gained in
the 2003 elections. This indicates that the party's local chapters
have weakened.

Since the results of the Upper House by-elections will directly
affect the setting of the threshold for victory in the July Upper
House race, the LDP leadership will send senior members to Okinawa
and Fukushima. The ruling camp aims to maintain its majority in the
Upper House. If the ruling coalition wins the two by-elections, it
will have to win 63 seats in the July Upper House election to do so.
If it loses the two races, it must win 65, making the road to
victory a difficult one.

(2) Defense Ministry eyes "logistics agency" after disbanding DFAA

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
April 11, 2007

A plan is afoot to relocate the Logistics Departments in the Ground,
Maritime, and Air Staff Offices, which procure weaponry and
ammunition for the Self-Defense Forces, to the building now housing
the Defense Facilities Administration Agency (DFAA) when the agency
is disbanded in September this year. The plan is drawing criticism
from uniformed officers saying that it would obstruct their
operations. Behind the relocation plan lies a scheme to establish a
"defense logistics agency" overseeing those logistics departments in
separate buildings. It might be just another case of bureaucrats'
modus operandi of producing a bigger organization after dismantling

TOKYO 00001592 003 OF 010

one body.

The Defense Ministry sits in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. The Ground Staff
Office occupies five floors from the first floor in 19-story
Building A, the Maritime Staff Office from the 6th to 9th floors,
the ministry's internal bureaus from the 10th to 13th, and the Air
Staff Office from the 15th to 19th.

According to the relocation plan, when the DFAA, now in Building D,
is dismantled, the DFAA Facilities Department will move from the 4th
floor in Building D to Building A and the vacated space will be
filled by the Logistics Departments in the three staff offices. A
senior Defense Ministry official took this view: "The dismantlement
of the DFAA will increase the number of internal bureau personnel by
about 500, so some people must move out of the building."

One SDF officer said disapprovingly: "There are important
departments on the floors above and below each staff office in the
building. In particular, the operations and plans department, which
works out defense and budgetary plans, and the logistics department
are inseparable."

For instance, the Air Staff Office Defense Plans and Operations
Department exists a floor above the Air Staff Office Logistics
Department in Building A. Once the Logistics Department is moved to
Building D, traveling time would increase.

A Defense Ministry source explained: "We are fully aware of strong
objections from the uniformed officers. Defense Ministry leaders
have a plan to establish a "defense logistics agency" by putting
together three types of departments: a logistics and facilities
office to be established in Building D by realigning the DFAA
Construction Department, the Technical Research and Development
Institute that develops weapons, and the logistics department in
each staff office.

Once the defense logistics agency is established, it is certain to
press the defense industry hard to accept many retiring bureaucrats.
This might help the Defense Ministry's bureaucracy reestablish
channels to the construction industry, which the DFAA has lost due
to bureaucrat-initiated bid-rigging scandals last year.

The source also noted: "Banks, non-life and life insurance companies
are about the only firms that accept retiring senior internal bureau
officials. Over 10 career-track bureaucrats join the Defense
Ministry annually, and new posts and postretirement jobs are in

The approach of disbanding one organization only to establish a
similar, larger body in years later has been proven successful. One
such example is the Central Procurement Office (CPO) that had been
dismantled over a breach of trust scandal but revived as an enhanced
office five and a half years later.

A senior SDF officer lamented: "The revival of the CPO did not draw
much criticism. Defense leaders have come up with the idea of
dismantling the DFAA as a tool to upgrade the Defense Agency to a
ministry rather than from self-reflection. Some of the Defense
Ministry's bureaucrats think they can do anything." They put
ministry interests ahead of Japan's national interests.

(3) Interview with Syrian Foreign Minister Mualem: Syria hopes for
expanded dialogue with US

TOKYO 00001592 004 OF 010

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 8) (Full)
April 11, 2007

In an interview with a Nihon Keizai reporter yesterday, Syrian
Foreign Minister Walid Mualem expressed his hope that United States
Speaker of the House Pelosi's visit to Syria will lead to expanding
dialogue between Syria and the US. He reiterated the need for the US
to specify when it plans to withdraw from Iraq and for Iraq to form
a full-scale national defense force by reinforcing its current

-- The White House strongly opposed the speaker's visit to Syria,
didn't it?

Speaker Pelosi's visit will open the way for Syria to launch a
dialogue with the US Congress. The Bush administration's policy of
isolating Syria since 2003 is wrong. Syria, adjacent to Iraq,
Lebanon, and Palestine, all of which have conflicts, can become an
important player. We are ready to offer cooperation in stabilizing

-- What measures do you think will work effectively to stabilize

All parties concerned in Iraq, including Baathists, should be
allowed to take part in the political process. The US should clarify
when it plans to pull its troops out of Iraq, and Iraq should form a
heavily armed military to replace it. I think that should big-name
Iraqi politicians courageously dismantle the armed groups under
their control and discuss with group members how to incorporate them
in the military, Iraq will be stabilized.

-- In the upcoming foreign ministerial meeting next month to discuss
measures to stabilize Iraq, do you have a plan to meet US Secretary
of State Rice individually?

I have no intention of making the proposal to Secretary Rice. Even
if we meet under the current situation, we will just exchange our
own views and nothing more will come of it. We live in the Middle
East, so we know more about the circumstances there than the US. If
the other side has no interest in listening to us, the talks will
never be constructive.

-- What strategy do you have in mind to resume peace negotiations
with Israel?

We are ready to hold negotiations based on the comprehensive peace
plan (adopted by the Arab League in late March). We want to secure
the return of the Golan Heights, and this is Syria's top priority
challenge. Should Israel withdraw to its 1967 borders, it will be
possible for both sides to conclude a security accord acceptable to
both and establish a normal relationship

The problem of Palestinian refugees should be resolved through
negotiations. Nobody can deny the fact that all refugees have the
right of return, but the focus of attention is how they use the

(4) Shiten (personal view) column: Thorough investigation necessary
for settling comfort women issue

ASAHI (Page 18) (Abridged slightly)

TOKYO 00001592 005 OF 010

April 10, 2007

Koken Tsuchiya, former president of the Japan Federation of Bar

The government and the Liberal Democratic Party are showing
excessive reactions to the US House of Representatives resolution on
the so-called wartime comfort women. There is nothing new about the
US resolution, which is similar in contents to those adopted in
South Korea and Taiwan that called for Japan's clear apology and
response. Japan has repeatedly been urged by the UN Human Rights
Commission, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, and an International Labor Organization expert council to
settle the issue.

Neither the victimized countries nor the international organizations
regard the comfort women issue as settled.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Aso denied
"coercion in the narrow sense," pointing out factual mistakes. Their
justification is unsound. The governments of victimized countries,
such as the Netherlands and South Korea, have identified victims as
a result of conducting investigations, including interviews, since
1993. I have interviewed victims from various countries myself. As a
result, I have found that in many cases in occupied countries, such
as China and the Philippines, the Imperial Japanese Army directly
abducted, raped, and confined young women (in comfort stations)
without the involvement of the private sector. The Japan Federation
of Bar Associations has sent fact-finding teams to those countries,
released their investigative reports, and urged the prime minister
on four occasions to offer apologies and compensations to the

Some experts attribute the ongoing feud to ambiguity associated with
the investigative report and the statement released in 1993 by the
government and then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono,
respectively. I agree with their view. There is no evidence that the
government has conducted serious investigations since 1993. The
government's response has been passive, evidenced by its lack of
efforts to conduct interviews with victims except for those in South
Korea. Some have begun calling for a revocation of the Kono
statement by taking advantage of its insufficiency. The cause lies
in the government's failure to take appropriate steps. The
government must repeatedly conduct interviews to elucidate the
Japanese military's use of coercion in recruiting the comfort women
during World War II.

Past prime ministers have offered apologies. But never has the prime
minister or foreign minister met the victims in person. Their Diet
replies suggest that they have read neither the Dutch government's
investigative reports in or after 1993 nor Indonesian writer
Pramoedya Ananta Toer's reports on the comfort women on Buru

Speculation not based on thorough investigation is unconvincing. The
logic to rule out the use of coercion on the grounds of the absence
of government documents pointing to coercion is absurd. Although it
is a fact that voluminous documents were burned when Japan was
defeated in the war, government warehouses still keep large volumes
of documents.

A draft bill to establish a special bureau in the National Diet
Library to examine those documents has repeatedly been submitted to

TOKYO 00001592 006 OF 010

the Diet. The Diet must deliberate such a bill before making moves
to block the US Congress from adopting the comfort women

Some are wary the resolution could cause a split in the Japan-US
alliance. Any attempt to block the resolution would undermine
bilateral relations of trust. Rep. Mike Honda, a cosponsor of the
comfort women resolution, indicated that Japan's awareness of its
responsibility would result in reconciliation with the victims and
stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Although the Asian Women's Fund was dissolved last month, many
victimized countries and victims held negative views on it, deeming
it as a system to evade state responsibility. It is about time that
Japan contemplated what "national interests" really means.

(5) WTO talks: Japan alarmed about being left out of context;
Government unable to make move on agriculture; Japan likely to be
pressed to make concessions, if developing countries, US and EU
reach agreement

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 5) (Slightly abridged)
April 10, 2007

Moves to find a breakthrough in the stalemated multilateral trade
talks at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are underway behind
closed doors. That is because the US president's trade promotion
authority (TPA) given by the Congress expires on July 1. The
government is frantic about collecting information, alarmed about
the possibility of the US and the European Union reaching a
compromise on a major reduction of tariffs on agricultural

The government in early March received an e-mail from an official
responsible for WTO talks in Geneva noting that the US, the EU,
Brazil and India appear to plan to hold an urgent ministerial
meeting. Japan was quick to collect information by arranging for
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari and Agriculture
Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka to hold talks with Indian Prime
Minister Kamal Nath and United States Trade Representative Susan

The government has a bitter experience in Cancun, Mexico in 2003,
where the US and the EU reached agreement ahead of a WTO ministerial
to introduce a cap on tariff rates with a view to liberalizing
agricultural products. Japan, which was strongly against the idea of
capping tariff rates out of consideration to domestic farmers, found
that it was left out of the context.

The proposal made by the US and the EU was rejected as it faced
opposition from agricultural countries, which were seeking major
concessions in the agricultural area. This time Brazil is acting as
a mediator for developing countries and approaching the US and
Europe, which have hinted at adopting preferential measures for
developing countries. Japan has a growing sense of crisis, with one
government official saying: "If the US and the EU reach a consensus,
the talks will wrap up as they intended. Should that occur, Japan
might be pressed to make major concessions, including accepting a
cap on tariff rates."

Upon receiving information that the US, the EU, Brazil and India
would hold a ministerial meeting from Apr. 12 without Japan, Vice
Agriculture Minister Yoshio Kobayashi indignantly told a press

TOKYO 00001592 007 OF 010

conference, "It is regrettable to hold discussions in which Japan
cannot take part."

Japan's position is that it cannot accept any major reduction of
tariffs on produce, such as rice. Other countries are actively
exploring agreements through talks, while Japan finds it difficult
to make a move due to the agricultural issue.

There are signs indicating the possibility of the talks going on at
a high pitch. EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson stressed during
telephone talks with Matsuoka, "We will aim at reaching an agreement
in general principle." He is eyeballing the US president's TPA

One government official presumes that the talks would climax in
April, expecting to see some progress in April if they aim at
reaching a consensus at the end of June. This view is gaining ground
within the government. Amari and Matsuoka plan to hold talks in
India with US and European ministers after the G-4 ministerial on
the 12th.

If such a climax really comes, the government's policy decision,
including opening up Japan's agricultural market, will be put to the

(6) Editorial -- An "ice-thawing trip" by Wen: Substance needed
instead of language

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 11, 2007

Does Wen Jiabao want to melt the "ice" lying between Japan and China
with "wen" (this Chinese letter means warm)? China's Premier Wen
Jiabao will arrive in Japan this afternoon and stay here until April
13. Wen will be the first Chinese premier to visit Japan in nearly
seven years, but his visit to Japan this time will be his second
one. At a press conference ahead of his tour of Japan, Wen noted:
"Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China last year was an
'ice-breaking trip.' My visit to Japan this time will be an
'ice-thawing trip.'"

This remark is viewed as showing his enthusiasm to improve
Japan-China ties, which had been in an ice age until last year. We
welcome his stance. But it is not so easy for the Japanese public to
dispel their distrust of the Chinese government caused by China's
anti-Japanese attitude that has intensified particularly since the
start of the 1990s.

For the real improvement of relations, thawing, and mutual trust,
not only language but substance is also essential. We want to see
how China has changed its policy toward Japan in concrete terms.

Many Japanese never forget that the past buzzword "Japan-China
friendship" was simply used by China as a "friendship convenient
only to itself." Many Japanese also never forget that China's stance
toward Japan could easily change, depending on its domestic
political climate and its Communist Party's policy switch.

During Prime Minister Abe's visit to Beijing last October, both
Japan and China agreed to build a strategic, reciprocal
relationship. Now, the two countries intend to bring it into shape
and deepen it during Wen's visit to Japan this time.

TOKYO 00001592 008 OF 010

In the political and security areas, both sides are expected to
agree to push ahead with mutual visits by their top leaders. Japan
has claimed since former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was still
in office: "The top leaders of the two countries must meet all the
more because there are problems." We welcome mutual visits to each
other by the top leaders of the two countries taking root. Defense
exchanges, including a visit to Japan by the Chinese defense
minister, would also be of help for confidence-building.

In the economic area, a Japan-China high-level economic dialogue
will be arranged. This is a Japan-China version of the strategic
economic ministerial conference, which was started between the
United States and China and between China and Russia. Specifically,
Japan and China will work together to chart specific steps for
energy-saving and environmental preservation. In addition, the two
countries boost cooperation in such sectors as information
technology (IT), finance, and small businesses.

Yet, we must keep it in mind that Japan-China relations should be
"reciprocal." Any relationship benefiting only one side is never
acceptable. We want to see "reciprocal" measures shown in dealing
with the natural resources issue in the East China Sea. We also hope
to see both sides frankly assert their own positions respectively
about historical perceptions and the Taiwan issue but refrain from
using them for political purposes.

(7) Editorial: Japan must take strategic steps for bringing
stability to Iraq

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Full)
April 10, 2007

Supporting Iraq and strengthening relations with that country are
strategically vital for Japan.

In their meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki affirmed a plan to build a
long-term strategic partnership between the two countries.

Abe conveyed to Maliki Japan's plan to revise the Iraq
Reconstruction Support Special Measures Law to extend the Air
Self-Defense Force's airlift operations in Iraq for another two
years. In response, Maliki expressed his gratitude.

Given Iraq's highly unstable situation, there are limits to what
Japan can do to break the impasse in that country. ASDF activities
are a symbol of Japan's assistance to Iraq as a responsible member
of the international community.

ASDF activities are playing only a minor role in bringing stability
to Iraq. Still, it would be extremely significant for Iraq to
remember Japan as a country that has extended a helping hand in its
time of need.

Iraq has not ranked among the top 10 crude oil producers due to its
old facilities despite the fact it has the world's third-largest oil
reserves. Chances are high that Iraq's oil output will dramatically
increase once its domestic situation becomes stable and its
reconstruction efforts get on track.

The stability of the Middle East and relations with Iraq are
directly linked to the national interests of Japan, which imports
90% of its crude oil from the Middle East.

TOKYO 00001592 009 OF 010

With no prospects for law and order in Iraq in sight, the long-term
strategic partnership plan might end up as pie in the sky.

In fact, the government's evacuation advisory to Japanese citizens
in Iraq has been preventing Japan from sending personnel to that
country to implement the 5-billion-dollar official development
assistance (ODA) package.

But Japan must steadily take necessary steps from a long-term
strategic perspective.

Not only Japan but also Western countries have strong interests in
Iraq's oil. Japan must remain highly alert so as not to fall behind
other countries.

There are moves to create a framework to promote regional dialogue
for the stabilization of Iraq. One example is the recent
international conference held by 16 countries and organizations,
including Iraq, its neighboring countries, and the five UN Security
Council members, to discuss Iraq's stability.

Japan must actively take part in such a framework.

Prime Minister Abe is scheduled to visit five Middle Eastern
countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt, following his
trip to the United States in late April. Japan must urge the
international community to advance dialogue for bringing stability
to the Middle East.

(8) Editorial: Measures to address global warming; World beginning
to move forward

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 5) (Full)
April 10, 2007

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group
II said that no one on earth could avoid the impact of global
warming. The global position on global warming is now quickly

The report compiled by the Working Group II categorically noted that
the progress of global warming as a result of human behavior is
already having a visible effect on nature and human beings on a
global scale.

It also noted that if the average temperature rises 2 to 3 degrees
centigrade over 1990 levels, economic losses would increase all over
the world.

Facing frequent abnormal climatic events, the world is beginning to
move forward. Climate change will reportedly head the agenda of the
United Nations Security Council and the G-8 Summit.

The US, the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter, pulled out of
the Kyoto Protocol six years ago. The pact sets signatory countries'
commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions. However, the US Supreme
Court handed down a decision strengthening restrictions on
greenhouse gas emissions, judging that greenhouse effect gases
emitted by autos, etc., are apparently pollutants. Leading
retailers, such as Wal-Mart Stores, are shifting to simple wrapping
and energy-conservation at their outlets.

TOKYO 00001592 010 OF 010

Though the Kyoto Protocol does not obligate China to cut greenhouse
gas emissions, the country has indicated that it will press ahead
with reductions in such gases in the post-Kyoto framework to be
launched in 2013. Efforts to consolidate the environment for both
countries to return to the framework or take part in the pact appear
to be underway.

The European Union is ahead of other countries in terms of a global
warming preventive strategy. Chancellor Merkel of Germany, which
hosted the EU summit meeting held early last month, indicated a
strong desire to lead the world regarding global warming preventive
measures, issuing an ambitious declaration pledging that the EU as a
whole will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 over 1990
levels, or at least by 20% in any case. She added that a method that
will not harm economic development would be adopted.

Global interests are not the only issue to which the EU is paying
heed. Another ambition must be to seize the initiative in the
environmental market, which is bound to grow sharply, by outpacing
rivals through such economic strategies as innovation in
energy-conserving technology and emissions trading.

At the turning point of the global situation over measures to
prevent global warming, Japan's effort to cut greenhouse gas
emissions appears to be stagnated in both the industrial and
household sectors.

The first thing for Japan to do in order to avoid being left behind
is to strengthen preventive measures in those sectors and make sure
that it meets its commitment made under the Kyoto Protocol starting
next year. In addition, it should pursue policies that will lead to
economic development, while involving small and medium-size
companies and working people.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


COP24: Rapid Action Urged At Climate Change Conference

Following a year of devastating climate disasters around the globe, from California to Kerala, and Tonga to Japan, the annual UN Climate Change Conference opens with the goal of finalising the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement. More>>


New Report: Refugees In PNG Being Pushed To The Brink

Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International paint a stark picture of a traumatised refugee population hit hard by Australia's recent healthcare and counselling service cuts, as well as continued threats to their safety. More>>


Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>


MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC