Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 04/16/07
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 04/16/07
1) Top headlines
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule
4) Abe Cabinet support rate recovers to 40% in latest Asahi poll
5) Public split on early Diet passage of national referendum bill
setting constitutional amendment procedures: Asahi poll
6) Kyodo poll on constitutional amendment shows 57% approval, but
support slips 4 points from last survey
Defense and security affairs:
7) Prime Minister Abe will not have Japan join Afghan reconstruction
8) First joint maritime drill involving US, Japan and Indian vessels
is aimed at checking China
9) Aegis intelligence leaks: Police question MSDF officers, raid
10) China, Japan, South Korea wisemen's council proposes creation of
an environment fund
11) Ruling and opposition camps clash in Upper House over national
referendum bill setting procedures for constitutional amendment
12) Ruling parties aggressively pushing important bills through the
13) New YKK political alliance in LDP trying to set agenda for Asia
diplomacy and encircle Abe camp
14) Only five more days until the Upper House by-elections in
Okinawa, Fukushima, with both ruling and opposition parties focusing
on the latter race
1) TOP HEADLINES
Poll on national referendum legislation: 80% think setting minimum
TOTO to fix 180,000 toilets prone to catch fire
Yomiuri and Sankei:
Kanagawa Prefectural Police question MSDF officers, including
lieutenant commander, to determine source of Aegis information leak;
Apartment of petty officer 3rd class searched
Public organizations speeding up asset sales
21, including gunman, killed in Virginia Tech shootings
Campaigning for second round of local elections intensifying; JCP
candidates vow to improve livelihood
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(1) High school baseball team to disband over scouting
(2) 50-year-old EU still growing
(1) Manifestos essential in second round of nationwide local
(2) Child abuse law to be revised
(1) China must stop being piracy paradise
(2) New science museum to open today
(1) Investors must be protected by solid rules
(2) Russia needs freedom of assembly
(1) North Korea: Set deadline for talks on sanctions
(2) Solid guidelines necessary on posthumous use of frozen sperm
(1) Part-time workers deserve better pension system
(2) Take every preventive measure against collapse of buildings
(1) Japan must not be turned into terrible country
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, April 16
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
April 17, 2007
Arrived at Kantei.
Met with Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Ota and Chief Cabinet
Secretary Shiozaki. Later joined by Special Advisor Koike.
Met with LDP Secretary General Nakagawa.
Had lunch with Kyoto University Prof. Nakanishi, Waseda University
Prof. Shigemura, and Tsutomu Nishioka, vice chairman of the group to
support the families of abduction victims.
Met with Italian Prime Minister Prodi. Held joint press conference
Met with Lower House member Taro Nakayama.
Viewed Leonardo da Vinci's painting at National Museum in Tokyo,
along with Prodi and his wife.
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Attended LDP board meeting.
Attended at Kantei a monthly economic report-connected cabinet
Hosted dinner party for Prodi and his wife.
Returned to his official residence.
4) Poll: Cabinet support rate rebounds to 40%
ASAHI (Page 1) (Abridged)
April 17, 2007
The rate of public support for Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet
was 40%, the Asahi Shimbun found from its latest nationwide public
opinion survey. The nonsupport rate for the Abe cabinet was 38%. The
support rate for the Abe cabinet rebounded from the 37% rating in
the last survey taken March 31 and April 1. In addition, the Abe
cabinet's nonsupport rate decreased from 43% in the last survey. The
approval rating topped the disapproval rating for the first time in
three months since this January's survey.
In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party stood at 31%, with the leading opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) at 14%. The two parties'
respective popularity ratings leveled off from the last survey. The
proportion of those who have no particular party to support
decreased from 50% to 46%.
5) Upper House starts debate on national referendum bill; Focus on
minimum voter turnout; Committee fails to hold session due to
opposition camp's resistance
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
April 17, 2007
The House of Councillors yesterday started in its plenary session
debating a bill setting procedures for a national referendum to
amend the Constitution. The opposition bloc criticized the ruling
coalition-proposed bill for: (1) failing to stipulate whether to set
a minimum voter turnout, (2) restriction on political activities by
civil servants; and (3) a limit on TV advertisements. Although the
Upper House Special Committee for Research on the Constitution had
planned to begin deliberations, the panel put them off due to
objections from the opposition camp against replies at the plenary
session by Lower House member Okiharu Yasuoka, who presented the
ruling coalition's bill.
Referring to the ruling bloc-proposed bill failing to include a
minimum voter turnout system, Tadayoshi Ichida of the Japanese
Communist Party (JCP) and Masamichi Kondo of the Social Democratic
Party (SDP) pointed out that the constitutional amendment bill would
be adopted by 10 to 20% of approval.
"It is unclear what kind of political activities civil servants are
prohibited," said Kondo. Ichida expressed concern about the bill
that stipulates that TV advertisements would be allowed until two
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weeks before the voting day, saying, "A force that has ample funds
will buy up advertising networks in order to develop a large-scale
campaign for constitutional amendments."
At the Upper House plenary session, Yasuoka stated: "Based on the
debate at the Lower House, I think the Upper House will carry out
intensive debate on items that were not deliberated in the Lower
House." The opposition camp, however, negatively reacted against
Yasuoka's statement, saying, "He thinks lightly of the Upper House."
Yasuoka then apologized in a meeting yesterday of the Upper House
Steering Committee, but a debate at the special committee and
discussion on a timetable has been delayed to today and later.
Taro Nakayama, the chairman of the Lower House Special Committee for
Research on the Constitution, yesterday briefed Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe on the reasons why he had taken a forced vote amid
opposition by the main opposition party, Minshuto (Democratic Party
of Japan). There is the view that with Minshuto's opposition the
chance for constitutional reform is slipping away. Abe, however,
expressed his hopes for cooperation with Minshuto, telling
reporters, "Political circles will change."
6) Kyodo poll: 57% support constitutional reform, down 4 points
TOKYO (Page 1) (Abridged)
April 17, 2007
Kyodo News conducted a telephone-based nationwide public opinion
survey on April 14-15, in which respondents were asked if they
supported amending the Constitution. In response, "yes" totaled
57.0%, with "no" reaching 34.5%. In a similar survey taken in April
2005, "yes" totaled 61.0%, with "no" accounting for 29.8%. In the
survey this time, there was a decrease in the proportion of
affirmative answers, though only slightly, and an increase in the
proportion of negative answers.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eager to revise the Constitution while
he is in office. A national referendum bill that provides procedures
for constitutional revision has now cleared the House of
Representatives. In the midst of such specific moves for
constitutional revision, more people are apparently thinking it is
now necessary to debate the issue in a cautious manner.
Respondents were also asked if they thought it would be necessary to
amend Constitution Article 9, which stipulates Japan's war
renunciation and its maintenance of no war potential. In response,
44.5% answered "no," with 26.0% saying "yes." As seen from these
figures, negative answers markedly outnumbered affirmative ones.
The rate of public support for the Abe cabinet was 44.2%, up 4.3
percentage points from the last survey taken in March. The Abe
cabinet's support rate, which tended to decline since October last
year, rebounded for the first time. The nonsupport rate for the Abe
cabinet was 38.3%, down 3.9 points.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abe has made up his mind to change the
government's interpretation, in which the government takes the
position that the Constitution prohibits Japan from exercising the
right to collective self-defense. Asked about the advisability of
reinterpreting the Constitution, 54.6% preferred to uphold the
government's current constitutional interpretation as is. Among
other answers, 18.3% answered that the government should change its
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way of reading the Constitution so that Japan can participate in
collective self-defense, with 18.7% insisting that the Constitution
should be revised so that Japan can participate in collective
self-defense. As seen from these figures, anti-revision answers
outnumbered the total proportion of pro-revision answers.
In the Diet, the House of Councillors yesterday entered into
deliberations on the national referendum bill sent from the House of
Representatives. Asked about this legislation, 55.6% answered that
there was no need for the Diet to pass the bill during its current
session, with only 19.9% saying it should be enacted into law at an
Polling methodology: The survey was conducted March 14-15 by Kyodo
News Service on a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis.
Among randomly generated telephone numbers, those actually for
household use with one or more eligible voters totaled 1,474.
Answers were obtained from 1,027 persons.
7) Prime Minister Abe announces SDF will not participate in
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
April 17, 2007
Prime Minister Abe yesterday referred to the question of whether
Japan will take part in the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT)
operating after the collapse of the Taliban government in
Afghanistan and made clear his intention not to have the
Self-Defense Forces (SDF) participate, saying: "I have no intention
to have the SDF join the PRT. While working together with NATO's
PRT, I plan to implement cooperation worth 2 billion yen over the
coming several years." Abe was replying at a joint press conference
after talks with Italian Prime Minister Prodi.
Abe had until then implied that the SDF would participate in the PRT
in a speech at a NATO's board of directors meeting in January and a
press conference afterwards.
In the PRT, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work in the area
of reconstruction assistance, such as building schools, while troops
Initially, Abe was positive about the SDF's participation in the
PRT. Following his positive stance, the government had launched
discussions on whether to allow the SDF to take part in the PRT
under a general law that newly stipulates comprehensive standards
about overseas dispatch of the SDF. But there is the possibility of
the SDF using armed force abroad, which is prohibited (by the
Constitution), so many in the government were cautious about the
dispatch of the SDF to the PRT, with one government official saying,
"It may violate the Constitution." Given the current situation, the
prime minister appears to have concluded that the dispatch of the
SDF to the PRT is difficult.
8) MSDF holds first joint drills with US, India, with eye on China's
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
April 17, 2007
The Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) conducted its first joint
TOKYO 00001665 006 OF 011
naval drills with the militaries of the United States and India in
the Pacific Ocean off the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture
yesterday. By strengthening ties with Australia and India, with the
Japan-US alliance as the axis, Japan has stepped up efforts to apply
pressure on China, which has boosted military spending.
Defense Vice Minister Takemasa Moriya emphatically said in a press
conference yesterday: "The joint drills are aimed at improving the
maritime skills of the MSDF and the Indian military. The drills are
very significant in boosting the friendly relationship and promoting
defense exchange among Japan, the US and India."
In addition to communications training, such as radio contact and
flag signaling, the three countries conducted training of naval
ships navigating side by side, assuming such scenarios as defending
the sea lanes connecting the Middle East and Asia, as well as
preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by North
Japan apparently is keeping China's recent military buildup in mind.
A senior Defense Ministry official commented: "It is quite natural
for Japan to try to apply pressure on China, which has frequently
encroached into Japanese territory." Foreign Vice Minister Shotaro
Yachi, however, stressed in a press conference yesterday: "The
drills are aimed at boosting friendly relations and are not linked
9) Investigators question MSDF officers, including lieutenant
commander, about leaked Aegis information; Apartment of petty
officer 3rd class searched
SANKEI (Top play) (Full)
April 17, 2007
Investigative authorities, including the Kanagawa Prefectural
Police, have questioned about 10 Maritime Self-Defense Force
officers, including the lieutenant commander who had compiled files
containing information on the Aegis system, in connection with the
removal of pivotal data on Aegis vessels by a 33-year-old petty
officer 2nd class of MSDF Escort Flotilla 1 (Yokosuka City, Kanagawa
Prefecture). Investigative authorities will conduct investigations
to determine why and how the data including "special defense
secrets" leaked out in order to establish a case against those
officers on suspicion of violating the law on the protection of
national security information under the Japan-US Mutual Defense
It has become clear through investigation that the hard disk taken
out by the seaman to his home contained files on essential
information on the Aegis system that are classified as "special
defense secrets." The files bore the name of the lieutenant
commander belonging to a program development division responsible
for maintaining and managing the system. This prompted investigative
authorities to question the lieutenant commander and several other
officers who had been assigned to the same program development
division. Authorities have also begun questioning a number of other
officers who had been assigned to the same destroyer, the Hatsuyuki,
with the petty officer 2nd class in question.
Investigators also searched on April 13 the Yokosuka apartment of a
30-year-old petty officer 3rd class based at the destroyer Shirayuki
of the Yokosuka District who is believed to have given the petty
TOKYO 00001665 007 OF 011
officer 2nd class the data files in question on suspicion of
violating the security information protection law. As a result, the
investigators confiscated a personal computer and hard disk from the
apartment. It is the first time that the law on the protection of
national security information has been invoked since it took effect
The petty officer 3rd class told investigators that he had no
recollection of exchanging files with the petty officer 2nd class.
On the other hand, the petty officer 2nd class told investigators,
"After I copied various files from the personal computer of the
petty officer 3rd class, I found files containing information on the
10) Japan, China, South Korea in wise men's conference proposes
creating environment fund, disbursing 5% of foreign currency
reserves to set up fund to stabilize Asian currencies
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
April 17, 2007
Experts in the economic, political, and academic areas from Japan,
China, and South Korea met to discuss measures to promote trilateral
cooperative relations. The two-day wise men's conference, sponsored
by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the New China News Agency, and the
JoongAng Iibo, which wrapped up on April 16, put together a package
of recommendations, including the creation of an environment fund
designed for the three countries to assist environmental protection
projects in Asia by issuing bonds in their respective currencies. To
establish a fund aimed at stabilizing Asian currencies, the
conference also proposed setting up a system under which 13
countries - Japan, China, South Korea, and the ASEAN (Association of
Southeast Asian Nations) members - would disburse 5% of their
foreign currency reserves each.
The second round of the conference, following the first one held in
Seoul in February of last year, was joined by about 30 academics and
business leaders, including former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone,
Toyota Motor Corp. Chairman Fujio Chou, former South Korean Prime
Minister Lee Hong-Koo, and the Chinese Haier Group vice president.
Besides a plenary session, the conference was proceeded with three
working sessions regarding "currencies, finances, and economic
integration;" "environment and energy," and "culture and
private-sector exchanges." Each working session worked out a report
In the session on finances and economic integration, the report
included these measures: (1) Early establishment of an Asia currency
unit (ACU) to calculate exchange rates in the region in a weighted
average method; (2) building of mutual confidence to promote
economic integration among Japan, China, and South Korea; and (3)
holding of a trilateral summit regularly in order to accelerate
negotiations on concluding a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
If the notion of ACU is translated into action, the ACU will be the
Asian version of the European Currency Unit (ECU), the predecessor
of the unified currency euro in Europe.
11) Poll: 80% see need for minimum turnout for constitutional
referendum; Public opinion split over legislation during current
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ASAHI (Top play) (Full)
April 17, 2007
The Asahi Shimbun conducted a telephone-based nationwide public
opinion survey on April 14-15, in which respondents were asked about
the advisability of legislating a national referendum bill that
provides procedures for amendments to the Constitution. A total of
79% answered "yes" when asked whether the voting rate should be
above a certain level. "Yes" also accounted for 80% among those who
support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition
partner, the New Komeito. The bill, after clearing the House of
Representatives, was sent to the House of Councillors yesterday for
deliberations. It is now certain to be enacted into law during the
current Diet session. However, the minimum necessary turnout for
constitutional revision is likely to become a point at issue in Diet
Public opinion was split over whether the national referendum bill
should be enacted into law during the current Diet session, with 40%
answering "yes" and 37% saying "no." In addition, "other answers"
and "no answer" also totaled 23%.
Among those in their 20s and 30s, "yes" accounted for nearly 50%.
Among those over the age of 40, however, "no" somewhat outnumbered
"yes." Broken down into political party supporters, "yes" accounted
for 55% among LDP supporters. Meanwhile, "no" totaled 60% among
those who support the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan
The national referendum bill, currently under discussion in the
Diet, does not stipulate the minimum necessary turnout, so the
Constitution could be revised even if turnout was low. With this
explanation given in the survey, respondents were asked if they
thought the turnout of voters should be above a certain level.
In response, "yes" accounted for a majority not only among male and
female respondents but also in all age brackets. The figure reached
79% among those who support the Abe cabinet and 80% even among those
who think the legislation should be enacted into law during the
current Diet session. Broken down into political party supporters,
"yes" accounted for 80% among LDP supporters, 79% among New Komeito
supporters, and 86% among DPJ supporters.
"No" accounted for only 11% of all respondents.
12) Ruling camp's bullish with number of key bills entering
deliberations: Emphasis on results of Upper House election
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
April 17, 2007
Now that the national referendum bill, on which Prime Minister Abe
places importance, will likely obtain Diet approval during the
current session, the ruling camp is increasingly bullish in its
steering of the Diet. It has now begun shifting its target to early
passage of bills amending the Juvenile Law and the United States
Forces in Japan (USFJ) Realignment Special Measures Law. Diet
deliberations on three bills related to education reform and a bill
amending the Iraq Reconstruction Assistance Special Measures Law
will also start in the Lower House. The ruling parties intend to
focus on results with the Upper House election close at hand in
TOKYO 00001665 009 OF 011
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa
during a party executive meeting yesterday urged unity to pass the
key bills: "There is a mountain of key bills. I would like you to
steadily proceed with deliberations for their early passage."
Prior to this meeting, Diet Policy Committee Chairman Toshihiro
Nikai met with Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) Diet
Policy Committee Chairman Yoshiaki Takagi and conveyed to him that
the ruling parties are ready to hold intensive deliberations on the
"politics and money" issue during the Lower House Budget Committee
meeting on April 25. Takagi refrained from making a response.
However, Nikai has judged that holding intensive deliberations as
called for by the DPJ and other opposition parties will pave the way
for passage of those bills.
The ruling parties are about to finalize a deliberation schedule for
key bills. The Lower House Steering Committee during a directors
meeting yesterday decided to hold a session for the explanation of
the education-related bills and a question-and-answer session at the
plenary session on the 17th. They want to see passage of the bills
carrying an Abe stamp, to which the prime minister attaches
importance along with the national referendum bill.
The ruling camp has decided not to insist on passage of the national
referendum bill by May 3, Constitution Day, since it is now certain
that it will obtain Diet approval, Nakagawa said. That is because
they want to minimize a possible impact of its passage on other key
bills. A certain LDP senior official revealed that the party intends
to hold a session for explanations and interpellations on a bill
amending the Social Insurance Agency on the 19th and the bill
amending the Iraq Reconstruction Assistance Special Measures Law on
Regarding bills related to Japan-US matters, the ruling camp expects
the USFJ Realignment bill to obtain Diet approval in mid-May and the
bill amending the Iraq Special Measures Law in early June. Foreign
and defense affairs officials are relieved, because criticism of the
US by such officials as Defense Minister Akio Kyuma had caused a
stir. The prime minister will touch on the progress of both bills
during a Japan-US summit meeting slated for later in the month.
13) New YKK trio of lawmakers moving to check Abe on Asia diplomacy
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
April 17, 2007
Yudai Nakazawa, Tatsuo Eto
Parliamentary groups dealing with diplomatic issues, including Asia
diplomacy, are gaining steam, particularly in the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP). For instance, the so-called "new YKK trio"
consisting of former LDP Vice President Taku Yamasaki and former LDP
Secretaries General Koichi Kato and Makoto Koga, who are now
estranged from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, are moving to rally forces
across the factions in the party with the aim of expanding anti-Abe
forces. This move is taken as strategic preparation to form an
alliance against Abe after the upcoming Upper House election.
Meanwhile, lawmakers backing Abe's diplomacy are expected to launch
their own parliamentary group in a move to oppose the anti-Abe
TOKYO 00001665 010 OF 011
Tug of war
Early this month during a Lower House plenary session, Yamasaki
asked Kato about his plans for the Golden Week holidays from late
April through early May.
Yamasaki: "How about traveling to a local area in addition to
listening to a lecture at a study meeting?"
Kato: "That's a good idea. I know a good place to travel. It's near
the China-Korea border."
Both agreed to do so and decided to make a five-day trip to China
starting April 27. Their trip includes a visit to a town in Jilin
Province near the border with North Korea. In contrast to Abe's
"pressure" line toward North Korea, they emphasize the importance of
dialogue. The official purpose of their China trip is to look into
China-North Korea trade, but their real intention is apparently to
forestall Abe and break a stalemate in Japan-North Korea relations.
Meanwhile, on March 26, a parliamentary association assisting the
2008 Beijing Olympics (composed of some 250 lawmakers) was launched.
The chair of the association is Lower House Speaker Yohei Kono, who
is seen as a representative of the doves. This group is a supraparty
parliamentary group, and secretaries general of the LDP and the
opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) have been
named deputy chairmen. On the membership list are "pro-China
lawmakers," such as former Home Affairs Minister Takeshi Noda,
former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, Yamasaki, Kato, Koga,
former Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, and former Defense Agency
Director-General Fukushiro Nukaga. Noda serves as secretary general
of the association and Fukuda as vice chairman of the association.
All these parliamentary moves stem from three study meetings: the
Research Council on Asia Diplomacy and Security Vision (with a
membership of 40 or so lawmakers) established by Kato in cooperation
with Yamasaki and others; the Asia Strategic Research Council,
establishment of which Koga was deeply involved in; and the Asia and
Africa Issues Research Council chaired by Lower House Speaker Kono.
Affecting these three councils, the new YKK trio meet regularly and
exchange views. "It's important to set the stage for (the foundation
of the government) to broaden to involve middle-of-the-road
lawmakers. If realized, a highly political decision can be made,"
Koga said. The moves of the faction led by Tanigaki, who is critical
of Abe's diplomatic approach, are particularly drawing public
attention. On April 3, Yamasaki and his faction's senior members and
Tanigaki and his faction's senior members, including former Health
Minister Jiro Kawasaki, met and agreed to deepen cooperation among
the three factions, including the Koga faction.
14) Upper House by-elections: Ruling, opposition parties putting all
efforts into Okinawa ahead of April 22
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Slightly abridged)
April 17, 2007
Less than one week is left until the April 22 Upper House
by-elections. The ruling parties are desperately trying to solidify
their support organizations in Okinawa. "We must not be defeated in
two elections in order to avoid negative effects on the summer's
House of Councillors election," said one senor member of the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
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According to the results of a Yomiuri poll, in the Upper House
by-election in Okinawa the candidate recommended by the ruling
coalition and a candidate recommended by opposition parties are now
fiercely competing against each other. In the by-election in
Fukushima Prefecture, the candidate backed by Minshuto (Democratic
Party of Japan) is ahead of the LDP-backed candidate.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters last night: "I'm glad that
I was able to speak about my policy and my idea of building a nation
directly (to voters in Okinawa and Fukushima)." In a meeting earlier
in the day, LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa gave a pep talk:
"We have gained 70% of LDP supporters, but we need more support."
The opposition held the two Upper House seats in Okinawa and
Fukushima before the by-elections. If the ruling coalition wins one
seat, it will be able to decrease by one the number of seats it
needs to win in the summer's Upper House race and maintain its
majority in the Upper House.
The LDP thinks that it is uncertain that the present good mood will
lead to gaining votes in Okinawa. The party, therefore, will call
again on its lawmakers, support organizations, and corporations to
work harder. In Fukushima as well, the LDP intends to call on
prefectural assembly members and organizations for their support.
Minshuto President Ichiro Ozawa held a press conference last
yesterday in Utsunomiya City. Referring to the campaign situation in
Okinawa, he pointed out:
"In the gubernatorial election (last November), we were defeated in
urban areas, including Naha City. Especially in Naha, this situation
continues. Minshuto supporters do not know well about the candidate
backed by Minshuto."
Ozawa stressed that his party would make efforts to gain support in