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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 04/24/07

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 12 TOKYO 001802

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 04/24/07


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

Abe's security policy agenda:
4) In interview prior to US visit, Prime Minister Abe stresses plan
to debate constitutional interpretation of right to use of
collective self-defense
5) Text of Abe's press interview
6) LDP sets up special committee on collective self-defense under
Shoichi Nakagawa
7) Vice Defense Minister Moriya: Leaking of MSDF secrets will also
be on the US-Japan summit-meeting agenda

Abe's North Korea policy:
8) Abe will make appeal to President Bush during summit meeting to
factor in abduction issue when considering removal of North Korea
from terrorist list
9) Prime Minister Abe will not accept another North Korean pro-forma
investigation of missing abductees as negotiation deal

10) Abe accompanied to Middle East by 180 business representatives
led by head of Japan Business Federation Mitarai

11) For environment and security reasons, Abe chooses picturesque
Lake Toya in Hokkaido as next year's G8 summit site

12) Civil service reform bill makes prime minister responsible for
handling issue of retired public servants landing cushy jobs with
companies related to their work

13) Survey of 100 companies show 30% believe triangular mergers
would promote industrial restructuring

Election fallout:
14) Analysis of unified elections: Minshuto (Democratic Party of
Japan) picked up seats in prefectural and city assemblies but still
far below LDP's numbers
15) Ruling and opposition camps will both strengthen Upper-House
election campaign set up
16) Ruling parties after win Okinawa have confidence they can
overcome the opposition's use of income-disparity issue in Upper
House election

17) 39 lawmakers visit Yasukuni Shrine for spring festival

Articles:

1) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi:
Prime minister responsible for "amakudari" practices under amendment
to the Public Official Law

Mainichi & Tokyo Shimbun:
Former Russian President Yeltsin dies at 76; Leading player in
dismantling USSR

Yomiuri & Sankei:
Toya Lake in Hokkaido chosen as venue for G8 in 2008

Nihon Keizai:

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Four non-life insurance companies to lower their trade insurance
premiums for major firms

Akahata:
Analysis of results of latter half of unified local elections by
JCP's Central Committee's Standing Committee: Significant progress
by JCP despite drastic cuts in municipal assembly seats

2) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) Unified local elections: Local governments need to be more
independent
(2) French presidential election: Hard-line rightist or
dialogue-oriented leftist?

Mainichi:
(1) Rape on express train: Bystanders must act
(2) Mayoral election in Toyo Town: Subsidies-based administration no
longer acceptable

Yomiuri:
(1) Organ transplants: What should replace "Mannami system"?
(2) General guidelines for prevention of suicides: Effective
measures will work

Nihon Keizai:
(1) Heavy homework for Toyo Town over a nuclear disposal site
(2) Europe now facing a new wave of reorganization of banks

Sankei:
(1) Japan, US should strengthen cooperation for resolution of
abduction issue
(2) Final nuclear disposal site: Toyo Town electorate's choice
regrettable

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) National achievement test must not be used to rank children
(2) With the end of unified local elections, reform is blooming

Akahata:
JCP's good fight in unified local elections: We will do our best to
realize our pledges

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, April 23

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
April 24, 2007

08:34
Attended a meeting of the Education Revitalization Council.

10:00
Met MOFA North American Affairs Bureau chief Nishimiya, followed by
Defense Ministry Defense Policy Bureau chief Ofuru and others.

11:18
Met Monaco Prince Albert II, followed by Vice Finance Minister
Fujii, Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs Watanabe
and others.

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12:01
Attended a government, ruling coalition liaison meeting. Afterward
met advisor Nemoto.

13:25
Gave an interview to the cabinet press club.

14:00
Met NPA Commissioner General Uruma, followed by Supreme Court Chief
Justice Shimada.

14:45
Met Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Ota, joined in by Nemoto and
others.

16:08
Held cabinet meeting to discuss the summit venue with Foreign
Minister Aso, National Public Safety Commission Chairman Mizote, and
Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki.

16:53
Appeared on an NTV program in Nibancho.

18:16
Attended a Security Council of Japan meeting at Kantei.

18:57
Returned to his official residence.

4) Abe seeks constitutional reinterpretation for collective
self-defense

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Abridged)
April 24, 2007

In connection with the government's plan to set up an expert panel
for specific case studies on collective self-defense, Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, meeting the Cabinet Press Club yesterday, said he would
like the panel to discuss how to interpret the Constitution given
the changes over time. His remark can be taken as giving heed to
specific cases like sending the Self-Defense Forces overseas and
building a missile defense shield. The remark sought the panel's
positive discussions to reinterpret the Constitution that prohibits
Japan from exercising the right to collective self-defense.

Abe has so far gone no further than to say he would proceed with
studies on specific cases where Japan is constitutionally allowed to
participate in collective self-defense. The premier has now taken an
in-depth stance for collective self-defense. "I would also like to
explain my thoughts in campaigning for the election," Abe said. With
this, the premier indicated that he would go to the people on the
advisability of amending the Constitution in this July's election
for the House of Councillors. In this connection, a government
source clarified that the government would set up an expert panel in
mid-May and reach a conclusion this fall.

5) Main points from Abe interview

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
April 24, 2007


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The following is a gist of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's remarks to
the Cabinet Press Club in an interview held yesterday.

Diet by-elections

We're going to analyze why we lost and why we won. By doing so,
we'll provide for the next election. We have more seats now in the
Diet's upper chamber. In my view, however, we're even (with the
opposition bench).

US visit

It's my understanding that I've already received confidence (from
President Bush). My predecessors visited the United States soon
after they came into office. But we're no longer in such an era.

Wartime comfort women

In consideration of the circumstances of comfort women in those
days, I want to express my heartfelt sympathy for them as the prime
minister.

North Korean abductions

I will talk (in the US) about the need to cooperate in order to
resolve the problem. Of course, I will ask the United States to
consider the abduction issue in delisting that country as a terror
sponsor. If we can confirm that they are taking specific steps for
all Japanese abductees to return home, I'd like to take it as
progress (on the abduction issue).

Upper House election

Constitutional revision always needs political energy. I would also
like to explain my way of thinking in campaigning for the election
to continue my appeal to the nation. Basically, we want to win in
all electoral districts.

Politics and money

We're saying we've been doing things under the rules we've made.
However, there are also some people who are saying that's strange in
the public eye. It's the legislature's responsibility to make rules
that are closer to the people's common sense.

Collective self-defense

The international situation surrounding Japan has now undergone a
sea change. I want to make legislative preparations so that Japan
can make even more contributions in the international community. I
also want them to discuss how we should interpret the Constitution
in the changing times.

6) LDP to set up special panel on collective self-defense

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
April 24, 2007

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party intends to set up a special
committee to study the right to collective self-defense, LDP Policy
Research Council Chairman Shoichi Nakagawa said yesterday. The
government, in its constitutional interpretation, prohibits Japan

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from exercising the right. Nakagawa was replying to a question from
reporters at LDP headquarters. The LDP will launch the special
committee directly under its policy chief. Former Defense Agency
Director General Shigeru Ishiba is expected to preside over the
special committee.

7) MSDF info leak also on agenda for bilateral security talks:
Moriya

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
April 24, 2007

Japan and the United States are scheduled to hold a two-plus-two
foreign and defense ministerial meeting of their intergovernmental
security consultative committee in Washington on May 1. On that
occasion, the top security meeting is expected to discuss the
Maritime Self-Defense Force's recently exposed information leakage
case, Administrative Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya told a
news conference yesterday. In the leakage case this time, an MSDF
petty officer second class is alleged to have taken out files that
contained Aegis vessel data. "There was a case of Aegis data
leakage, so they will talk about confidentiality protection and
information management in Japan," Moriya said.

Aegis vessel data is related to US military technology, so the
Defense Ministry is taking a serious view of the case this time.

8) Removing North Korea from list of state sponsors of terrorism:
Prime minister to ask US president to give consideration to
abduction issue

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
April 24, 2007

With his first visit to the US as prime minister just ahead, Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday afternoon responded to an interview by
members of the cabinet press club. Abe during the interview
clarified his intention to ask President Bush to give consideration
to the issue of the abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea
in judging whether to remove that nation from the list of state
sponsors of terrorism.

The prime minister pointed out, "In my view, the president is most
acutely aware among US government officials that the abduction issue
is a serious problem that must be settled by all means." He also
noted that he wants to discuss the need for Japan and the US, and
the international community to join forces.

Regarding the heightening criticism of Japan over the wartime
comfort women issue, Abe stated, "If reporters ask me about the
issue in the US, I will respond. I share the stance taken by then
Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono in 1993 and letters sent to former
comfort women by past prime ministers. The human rights issue
strikes a chord with people."

9) Prime minister: "Japan will not accept reinvestigation into
abduction issue merely for form's sake" in exchange for energy aid

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
April 24, 2007

Prior to his fist visit to the United States as prime minister

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starting on April 26, Shinzo Abe responded to an interview with the
Asahi Shimbun yesterday. Regarding "progress on the abduction issue"
set forth as a precondition for Japan's energy aid to North Korea as
agreed on in the latest six-party talks, the prime minister said:
"Both sides (Japan and the US) share the view that a reinvestigation
merely for form's sake is unacceptable. The issue must be completely
settled. Should the initial step be taken, we will recognize for the
first time that progress has been made." The prime minister also
revealed that he would call on President Bush during their meeting
to take a tougher stance toward North Korea.

The prime minister said: "In the summit, I would like to stress the
need to widen and deepen the bilateral alliance." Taking up the fact
that no progress has been made on the initial steps to be taken by
the North, as agreed on during the six-party talks, toward its
nuclear disarmament, Abe said: "We would like to also frankly
discuss how to urge the North to live up to its words."

Prime Minister Abe further said: "(The president) is the person most
aware in the US government of the seriousness of the abduction
issue." Asked about his response to the idea of Washington delisting
North Korea as a state sponsor of terror, Abe stated he would urge
the US to move cautiously.

Regarding the issue of so-called comfort women, Abe revealed that in
the teleconference with President Bush on April 3, he had offered an
apology for the comfort women and had told him: "In the 20th
century, there were various abuses of human rights. Japan was also
involved in such acts." Abe remarked that he would give similar
replies if asked by the media in the US.

10) Prime minister to be accompanied on Middle East visit by 180
business leaders, including Nippon Keidanren chairman

YOMIURI (Page 11) (Full)
April 24, 2007

A delegation headed by Fujio Mitarai, chairman of the Japan Business
Federation (Nippon Keidanren), will travel to the Middle East for
six days to link up with Prime Minister Abe on his visit to the
region. The aim is to secure stable supply of resources and energies
from Middle East nations, as well as to determine in what way
Japan's business circles can assist and cooperate them in their
efforts to diversify such industry areas as the manufacturing,
tourism and financial services sectors.

Approximately 180 persons from about 70 companies and organizations
related to general trading companies, petrochemistry and energy,
starting with chairman Mitarai, will join the delegation. It is
going to be the largest-ever mission to the Middle East. This is
going to be the second time for Nippon Keidanren to dispatch a
delegation in the form of joining the prime minister on a foreign
visit, following the one to Vietnam last November.

They plan to visit six cities in five countries - Saudi Arabia, the
United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Egypt -- and exchange views
with their economic ministers and local business circles. By joining
the prime minister, the delegation will play up its stance of
strengthening economic relations with Middle East nations as a joint
effort of government and private sector.

11) Lake Toya picked as G-8 summit venue; Government places priority

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on environment and security

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
April 24, 2007

The government yesterday picked the Lake Toya spa resort area in
Hokkaido as the venue for the G-8 summit, which Japan will host next
year. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chose the Lake Toya area because he
thinks the area surrounded by a rich natural environment is an
appropriate location, as environmental issues will become a major
issue in the summit and because it will be easier to enforce
security for foreign dignitaries than it would be at big cities. The
2008 G-8 summit will be the fifth for Japan to host. Japan will host
the summit in a regional area, following the Kyushu-Okinawa summit
in 2000. The government is in final coordination to pick host cities
for other ministerial talks from other cities that submitted bids to
host the summit.

12) Revised public servant law to focus on restrictions on amakudari
practice, placing final responsibility for assistance, monitoring on
prime minister

ASAHI (Top Play) (Excerpts)
April 24, 2007

The government will adopt a bill amending the National Civil Service
Law today. The bill features restrictions on the practice of former
government officials landing lucrative jobs in the private sector
after retirement (amakudari) by placing the authority and
responsibility for the amakudari practice on the prime minister. The
bill specifies that the prime minister should offer re-employment
assistance for retiring officers. Under the current law, each
government office is in charge of the assistance. The bill proposes
setting up a mechanism under which a public-private sector personnel
exchange center (human resource bank) and a monitoring committee
will be established in the Cabinet Office and will function with
"authority" from the prime minister. The prime minister will bear
final responsibility on whether the amakudari practice is actually
restricted or not.

As measures to restrict the amakudari practice, the National
Personnel Authority is now tasked with prior examination. Under the
new legislation, the public-private sector personnel exchange center
will engage in helping retiring officials to find a new job in an
integrated formula. By clarifying the prime minister's
responsibility for both re-employment assistance and monitoring, an
extremely heavy responsibility will be placed on the prime minister.
In addition, a new duty related to retirement management for
officials will be added to the prime minister's work, including
assistance for retiring officials and for the smooth implementation
of personnel exchanges between the public and private sectors.

13) Ban on triangular mergers to be lifted next month: Yomiuri
survey finds 30% of leading companies anticipate progress in
industrial reorganization; 15 companies predict active mergers
between domestic companies

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Full)
April 24, 2007

A poll conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun found that 15 of 100 leading
companies surveyed predict that there will be more mergers between

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domestic companies when the ban on a triangular merger system of
transferring stocks of the parent company to shareholders of the
company being bought out is lifted in May. The Japan Business
Federation (Nippon Keidanren) insists that triangular mergers will
accelerate purchases of Japanese companies by foreign corporations.
However, it appears that a sense of vigilance to M&As between
domestic companies is apparently beginning to mount.

The poll was conducted on 100 leading companies in mid-April, asking
how they are preparing for triangular mergers and what possible
impact they think the removal of the ban will have on business
circles (more than one reply was allowed). Twenty-two companies
said, "Foreign corporations will strengthen their buyout offensive
against Japanese companies." Twenty-nine pollees replied, "The
introduction of the triangular merger system will push forward
industrial reorganization." Of the 29, 10 said that industrial
reorganization would progress in the industrial sector to which they
belong. More than one company from the electric, chemical and
retailing industries anticipated industrial reorganization.
Communications and trading industries were negative about industrial
reorganization in their sectors.

The adoption of the triangular merger system has been put off for a
year due to lack of preparations on the corporate side. Only 12
companies replied that they have already introduced measures to
guard against takeover bids. The number of companies that are now
considering adopting such measures stood at 22. As other
countermeasures, 33 companies are either already implementing
expanded shareholder special benefit plans and have increased
dividends or are considering such measures. Ten companies are either
implementing an expanded system of cross-holding of stocks or
considering such. More companies appear to be giving priority to
securing stable shareholders instead of taking measures to guard
against takeover bids.

14) Nationwide local elections leave Minshuto with mounting
challenges

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
April 24, 2007

The ruling and opposition camps are preparing themselves for the
Upper House election in July based on their analyses of the results
of the first and second rounds of the nationwide local elections
that ended last Sunday. Although the major opposition Minshuto
(Democratic Party of Japan) has made a big leap in prefectural and
city assemblies, the party also faces mounting challenges, such as
its small share compared to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and
the presence of conservative independent local chiefs who are said
to be "hidden LDP members." The LDP is also having a hard time
determining its measures for unaffiliated voters. With a national
election only three months away, both the ruling and opposition
blocs have yet to come up with any effective strategies.

Minshuto garnered 375 seats in the April 8 prefectural assembly
elections and 374 in the April 22 city assembly races. They were a
record increase of 83% and 28% in the prefectural assemblies and
city assemblies, respectively, from the previous 2003 election (now
defunct Liberal Party not included).

Local assemblymen are the main workforce who cultivate votes in
national elections. Identifying the task of strengthening local

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organizations as the top priority for the Upper House election,
Minshuto President Ichiro Ozawa succeeded in fielding 81% more
prefectural assembly candidates and 25% more city assembly
candidates as compared with the previous election.

Minshuto Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama, based on the party's
defeat in the Okinawa by-election, indicated on April 23 a review of
the strategy of joining efforts with other opposition parties,
saying: "We need to examine whether we should continue cooperating
with other parties as before. We need to push our strength to the
forefront eve more."

Hatoyama's comment came from concern in the party that cooperation
with the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party
would drive away conservative voters. Minshuto is not considering
joining hands with other opposition parties, including the JCP, for
the Upper House lection. An SDP lawmaker took this view: "Now that
Minshuto has made a big leap in local elections, the largest
opposition party is beginning to take an aggressive attitude."

In fact, the cooperative relationship with the SDP has begun to
crumble. For instance, in a single-seat district in Oita, Minshuto
had first undertaken coordination for fielding the SDP candidate,
but the Minshuto prefectural chapter searched for ways to field its
own candidate. In a two-seat constituency in Niigata, coordination
between Minshuto and the SDP for fielding one candidate each
stalled, and Minshuto ended up endorsing two.

But the results of the recent local elections do not allow Minshuto
to indulge in optimism. Minshuto's share in prefectural assemblies
is still far smaller than that of the LDP, although the difference
in city assemblies has shrunk. Minshuto's share has increased from
7.8% to 14.7%, which is still one-third of the LDP's 47.6%.

LDP alarmed at decrease in local seats

In the city assembly elections, the LDP won a total of 598 seats,
down 216 from the previous race. Although the drop is partially
attributable to ongoing municipal mergers, the problem is that the
party's share has also declined to 7.5%. The LDP is now acutely
alarmed at the weakened campaigning rooted in local regions.

LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, however, showed confidence
yesterday about winning independent local assemblymen over to the
LDP, saying: "The majority of independent local assemblymen are
conservative-centrists. Many are in favor of the Abe cabinet's
efforts to create a beautiful country."

But some LDP lawmakers are wary of the party's declining presence in
local areas, as seen in its relations with local organizations.

New Komeito Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa took this view in
yesterday's liaison meeting between the government and ruling
parties: "Minshuto has gained more seats than the previous race. We
must analyze the results thoroughly and have them reflected in (our
measures for the Upper House election)." LDP Policy Research Council
Chairman Shoichi Nakagawa called for strong measures for
unaffiliated voters, saying: "The question is how to grab the hearts
of swing voters who hold the casting vote."

15) Ruling, opposition camps to strengthen campaigning for Upper
House election, focusing on organizational measures

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YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
April 24, 2007

Summing up Sunday's House of Councillors by-elections in Okinawa and
Fukushima prefectures, as well as the unified local elections, the
ruling and opposition parties began yesterday the work of looking
into measures to strengthen their campaigns for the summer's Upper
House election. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will make
efforts to tighten up their organizations and win support from
voters not affiliated with any party. Minshuto (Democratic Party of
Japan) President Ichiro Ozawa indicated that his party would strive
to boost its political base while maintaining cooperation with other
opposition parties.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was briefed yesterday morning by LDP
Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa on the results of the unified

SIPDIS
nationwide elections and the Upper House by-elections at the Prime
Minister's Official Residence. Abe told Nakagawa: "As a whole, we
put up a good fight. I want you to analyze the causes of victory and
defeat for this summer's Upper House election."

The LDP sees the main reasons for its crashing defeat in the
by-election in Fukushima and a neck-and-neck race in Okinawa is that
floating votes went to the opposition. LDP Upper House Caucus
Secretary General Toranosuke Katayama told reporters yesterday in

SIPDIS
the Diet building: "It is important to come up first with
organizational measures and present policy measures acceptable to
unaffiliated voters."

Many in the LDP are concerned about Minshuto's sharp increase its
presence in prefectural assemblies. The LDP, therefore, intends to
rebuild regional organizations, including its prefectural chapters.
The party's Upper House Caucus Chairman Mikio Aoki has set the goal
of winning 20 of the 29 single seats up for grabs, and 15 seats in
the proportional representation segment.

Secretary General Nakagawa and Election Strategy Headquarters

SIPDIS
Director Yoshio Yatsu discuss measures for the Upper House election
last evening at party headquarters. They confirmed that the party
would place priority on measures for the single seats up for grabs.
They also decided to give guidance separately to eight new-face
candidates for the single seats up for grabs.

16) Victory in Upper House by-election in Okinawa makes ruling bloc
confident in arguing down opposition bloc over "social disparities"
problem

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Excerpts)
April 24, 2007

Kei Sato

The two Upper House by-elections in Okinawa and Fukushima ended with
the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition
partner New Komeito winning Okinawa but losing Fukushima. This
outcome has made the ruling parties deepen their confidence in
arguing down the major opposition party Democratic Party of Japan
(Minshuto or DPJ) over the problem of social and income disparities,
ahead of the upcoming full-fledged Upper House elections set for
July. The ruling bloc has now judged that voters favored such
measures shown by the government and the ruling bloc as revitalizing

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the region instead of the correction of disparities in the society
as emphasized by the Minshuto in its campaign for the two
by-elections.

"We will take up the glove to debate the question of social
disparities. 'Disparities' can't be corrected only by chanting a
mantra, 'correction of disparities,'" Prime Minister Abe said on an
NTV program last evening, provoking the Minshuto, which aims

The LDP was defeated in Fukushima, but it won victory in Okinawa,
which is a good showcase of regional disparities between urban and
rural areas. This result has spread a "sense of victory" in the
ruling parties, with LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa saying,
"The voters concluded that the ruling parties are capable of
resolving the disparity problem."

The question of disparities became a political issue in the last
days of the former Koizumi administration. Since then the ruling
bloc has come frequently under fire from the opposition parties,
which argue that the structural reform line has broadened
disparities.

By calling the current Diet session a Diet focusing on correcting
disparities, the Minshuto attempted to drive the Abe administration
into the corner. But the Minshuto was thrown into confusion in
dealing with such problems as its President Ichiro Ozawa's political
funds reports, in which large expenses for the purchases of
properties were recorded as the office expenses. Taking this
opportunity, the ruling camp has struck back since the start of the
first part of the unified local elections as Nakagawa has argued,
"It is the ruling parties that can realize the correction of
disparities."

This approach has worked well. The ruling bloc gained three wins and
two losses in the five gubernatorial elections where the ruling
parties had a showdown with the Minshuto, such as Hokkaido and
Tokyo.

In the Upper House by-elections and the latter part of the unified
local elections, the ruling bloc stepped up its criticism of the
Minshuto, with Abe saying, "All the opposition parties are doing is
just complaining about disparities" and New Komeito Representative
Akihiro Ota saying, "What have the opposition parties done to
correct the disparities?" The ruling parties were also energized by
the Minshuto's failure in presenting measures to correct
disparities, even though it emphasizes the need to correct
disparities.

The Minshuto, however, will rebuild its strategy as its Secretary
General Yukio Hatoyama said, "We will use our defeat in Okinawa and
this chagrin as a springboard (to win victory in the Upper House
elections)." If the ruling parties were simply satisfied with the
victory in Okinawa, they could stumble.

17) 39 lawmakers visit Yasukuni Shrine for spring festival

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
April 24, 2007

Yesterday 39 members of the nonpartisan Diet members' group to pay
homage at Yasukuni Shrine visited the Shinto shrine in Kudan-Kita,
Tokyo, for the shrine's spring festival. Former Agriculture Minister

TOKYO 00001802 012 OF 012


Yoshinobu Shimamura headed the group. A total of 159 members, which
include 37 Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members, two Minshuto
(Democratic Party of Japan) members, and proxies for lawmakers,
visited the shrine. The number of lawmakers visited the shrine was
less than usual since the festival took place the day after the
unified local elections.

No cabinet ministers and senior vice-ministers visited Yasukuni.
However, Toshiei Mizuochi, state secretary for education, culture,
sports, science and technology, and State Secretary for Justice
Shinsuke Okuno paid their respects at the shrine.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not visit there during the spring
festival.

SCHIEFFER

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