Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 04/25/07

DE RUEHKO #1852/01 1150758
P 250758Z APR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


(1) Editorial: Prime minister should reaffirm close bilateral ties
in meeting with US president

(2) Abe's first visit to US as prime minister: Need to rebuild trust

(3) Prime minister's first US visit: Wartime comfort women issue
smoldering; Gaps in awareness of human rights

(4) Abe-Bush summit expected to serve as new milestone; Domestic and
international situations call for enhanced Japan-US alliance

(5) Poll of HS kids: Japanese less eager than Americans, Chinese, S.
Koreans; Only 8% in Japan want to advance in the world


(1) Editorial: Prime minister should reaffirm close bilateral ties
in meeting with US president

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
April 25, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will leave for the United States tomorrow
to meet President Bush on April 27. This will be his first visit to
the US since he assumed office as prime minister in September of
last year. The prime minister reportedly is also scheduled to meet
with leaders of both houses of Congress. Although he will only stay
overnight in the US, the visit will provide a good opportunity for
the two leaders to build a relationship of trust. We hope the prime
minister will thoroughly discuss with the president such imminent
issues as North Korea's nuclear development and abductions,
relations with China, as well as future options for the Japan-US

Immediately after coming into office, the prime minister visited
China and South Korea. As the destination of his overseas trip early
this year, he picked Europe. Because Abe and President Bush held
their first meeting in Vietnam last November, he put off a US visit.
But it is quite unusual for a Japanese prime minister to put on hold
a US visit for as long as seven months after assuming office.

It does not mean that a prime minister should go to the US
immediately after coming into office. Prime Minister Abe has also
said that we are no longer in an age in which the prime minister
goes to the US on a regular basis as most powerful feudal rulers
regularly visited Edo (the former name of the Japanese capital
Tokyo) in the Edo period (1603 - 1868).

Some observers say that relations between Japan and the US are
beginning to cool. This view must not be made light of, because
Prime Minister Abe has not established a personal relationship of
trust with President Bush like Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

The defense and foreign ministers have made remarks critical of the
US-led Iraq war and the Iraq-occupation policy since early this
year. In the US, a resolution calling for Japan's official apology
over the issue of so-called comfort women was submitted to the House
of Representatives.

TOKYO 00001852 002 OF 007

In a recent interview by an American media company, Prime Minister
Abe acknowledged that Japan holds moral responsibility over the
comfort-women issue. But his responses made during this period were
quite awkward. Abe, just after denying the government's coercion of
young women into sexual slavery in a narrow sense, emphasized that
his administration upholds the Kono Statement. Meanwhile, the prime
minister sealed his lips when Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary
Hirofumi Shimomura made remarks denying the Imperial Japanese Army's
involvement in the issue. Prime Minister Abe should take it serious
that such a stance of the prime minister has negatively affected
Japan's diplomatic efforts.

Prior to the planned meeting with President Bush, it is necessary
for the two countries to coordinate their strategies toward North
Korea. The Bush administration has begun to take a flexible stance
by removing its financial sanctions on North Korea. Meanwhile, the
Abe administration, which gives top priority to a settlement of the
abduction issue, remains tough, as seen from its decision to
continue its unilateral sanctions. Japan and the US share the goal
of having the North dismantle its nuclear programs and weapons, but
a discrepancy in their specific response measures is noticeable.

In reference to the idea of Washington delisting North Korea as a
state sponsor of terror, the prime minister has said that he would
urge the president to give consideration to a settlement of the
abduction issue. It is necessary for the prime minister to confirm
the president's views in advance so as not to trigger public
distrust of the US government. At the same time, the prime minister
also should explain his own views about the relations between
Japan's role to have the North to scrap its nuclear programs and the
abduction issue in an effort to solicit understanding from the US.

In the summit, the Japanese and US leaders are also expected to
discuss China. Japan-China relations have been put on the road to
improvement through Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's recent visit to
Japan. We also expect the two leaders to discuss a grand vision for
the Asia-Pacific region, including how to build a favorable
trilateral relationship between Japan, the US, and China.

(2) Abe's first visit to US as prime minister: Need to rebuild trust

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 5) (Full)
April 25, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will tomorrow make his first visit as
prime minister to the United States. A delicate gap is developing
between Japan and the United States over the handling of such issues
as North Korea. During the planned summit meeting with President
Bush, Abe must rebuild the trust relationship between the two
countries and confirm it.

It has been seven months since Abe assumed the post of prime
minister and before he makes his first visit to the US. During that
time, Abe traveled to China, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

Most past prime ministers gave the highest priority of their
diplomatic calendars to their visits to the US, considering that
country an ally playing a important role for Japan's security. They
also deemed it decisively important in terms of Japan's peace and
security for the leaders of the two countries to build a personal
relationship of trust.

TOKYO 00001852 003 OF 007

Conversely, Abe's decision to put off his US visit reflected the
existence of the firm and stable relationship of security
cooperation between Japan and the US.

At the top of Abe's diplomatic calendar was his visit to China. This
approach brought about improvement in Japan-China relations, as
evidenced by such events as Premier Wen Jiabao's recent visit to
Japan. Meanwhile, when it comes to Japan-US relations, the two
countries have been in a relatively good mood as seen in such events
as the Japan-US summit held on the edge of the summit meeting of the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in last November and Vice
President Dick Cheney's visit to Japan this past February. At this
point Abe's initial decision seems to have been right, but this does
not mean Japan is free from any worry.

For instance, a challenge for Japan in the area of security
cooperation with the US is on the horizon. A major concern for Japan
at present is that Washington appears to be narrowing its final goal
in the ongoing negotiations with North Korea to nuclear
nonproliferation and has become less eager to work together with
Japan to resolve such important issues for Japan as the
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a resolution of the
abduction issue.

Behind this move by the US is the change in the power balance in the
US Congress. The Democratic Party, which dominates Congress as a
result of the midterm elections last November, is severely pursuing
the Bush administration for its failure on Iraq policy. It is no
wonder that driven into a corner, the Bush administration is trying
to score diplomatic points from negotiations with North Korea.

However, if Japan-US relations became cool, that would simply give
an opportunity to North Korea. Tokyo and Washington need to reaffirm
strong ties at this point.

Presumably, Abe will convey various domestic moves to Bush in order
to demonstrate the closeness of security relations with the US.

In doing so, Abe should convey to Bush that domestic public opinion
is severely divided over such questions as the extension of the Iraq
Special Measures Law, deliberations on the national referendum bill
intended to set the procedures for constitutional revisions, and a
study of cases concerning the exercise of the right to collective

On the so-called "comfort women" issue, there is an argument that it
is a human rights issue like the abduction issue. Given this, Abe
should not leave criticism of Japan as it is if he hopes to maintain
trust in Japanese diplomacy around the world. We hope to see Abe
endeavor to calm down the uproar in the US via dialogue with the
leading members of the Congress and media.

(3) Prime minister's first US visit: Wartime comfort women issue
smoldering; Gaps in awareness of human rights

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
April 25, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shored up his footing through such
efforts as his visit China, which has paved the way for improved
relations with that country, which had deteriorated during the
previous administration. Now he will pay his first visit to the US
as prime minister on Apr. 26-27.

TOKYO 00001852 004 OF 007

There is a concern about his visit to the US, namely the so-called
wartime comfort women issue. Large-scale demonstrations planned by
Korean organizations will likely be canceled due to the massacre at
Virginia Tech by a South Korean student. However, a gathering will
be held at a hotel in a suburb of Washington DC on the evening of
Apr. 26. A resolution criticizing Japan submitted to the US House of
Representatives in January has magnified to cast somewhat of a pall
over the prime minister's visit to the US.

"There has been an argument claiming that there was coercion by the
former Japanese Imperial Army. However, there has been no fact that
endorses the allegation."

This remark on the comfort women issue made by the prime minister on
Mar. 1 was controversial. The New York Times reported that Japan is
distorting the truth and hurting its honor. Other dailies also
carried critical comments. The image of Abe lacking awareness of
human rights has taken on its own life.

The prime minister has become increasingly impatient, wondering why
they do not understand him when he said he would stand by the 1993
Kono statement.

The prime minister, who has been negative toward the Kono statement
from the beginning, has worked out how to deal with the issue and
decided that he would continue the stance taken by Kono but
recognize coercion in the narrow sense of the term. Dividing
coercion into the narrow sense of the term and the broad sense of
the term and denying it in the narrow sense follows this logic.
However, such statements by former Ambassador to Thailand Kunihiko
Okazaki and others have muddled the issue and raised US distrust in
the prime minister.

Describing the atmosphere at the Prime Minister's Office (Kantei) at
that time, one aide to the prime minister said, "The issue has
strayed into a labyrinth." The perception of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MOFA) is that there is little chance of Japan winning in
discussions on this issue. When Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Junzo
Matoba reprimanded MOFA officials over the worsened situation,
saying, "Do not let the prime minister offer any more apologies,"
MOFA was enveloped by a somber mood.

The divergent views stem from a gap in the perception of the issue.
About that time, US Ambassador Schieffer pointed out to Chief
Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, "If the matter is left
unattended, it will become a serious issue." One former senior US
government official advised: "The US can defend Japan over the
Yasukuni Shrine issue. However, it is not possible to do so over the
comfort women issue, which involves human rights. Japan will lose
support for the abduction issue." The indirect reason for the views
of the Kantei and MOFA being divergent is the decline in President
Bush's political clout following the Democratic Party's victory in
the midterm congressional elections in the last fall.

The prime minister, Foreign Minister Taro Aso, and Shiozaki met on
Mar. 9 in the prime minister's office and unified the
administration's stance into giving top priority to calming the
situation. The prime minister corrected his stance and said on an
NHK program two days later, "I would like to offer an apology to
former comfort women from the bottom of my heart."

However, the issue continues to smolder. Deputy Chief Cabinet

TOKYO 00001852 005 OF 007

Secretary Hakubun Shimomura, who is in a position of supporting the

prime minister, rehashed the criticism half a month later, saying,
"There was no direct involvement by the military."

The prime minister took a chance. He telephoned President Bush on
Apr. 3 and explained his sentiment, "I sincerely sympathize with the
former comfort women." The Kantei and MOFA were of two minds about
whether the prime minister should telephone the president or not.
They were concerned that the president might make an accusing
remark. However, their concern proved unfounded.

Regarding the lesson of the comfort women issue, one senior MOFA
official said, "Washington welcomes Prime Minister Abe's
conservatism, but it is wary that it could leading to reactionism.
The comfort women issue is an indication of such concern. The prime
minister must be careful not to fall into reactionism."

(4) Abe-Bush summit expected to serve as new milestone; Domestic and
international situations call for enhanced Japan-US alliance

SANKEI (Page 13) (Abridged slightly)
April 25, 2007

By Yoshio Okawara, former Ambassador to the United States, currently
president of the Institute for International Policy Studies

A chance to deepen personal friendship

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who visited Japan on April 11-13,
described his trip as "ice-melting" in contrast to Prime Minister
Abe's "ice-breaking" visit to China last year. The two leaders
released a joint statement on specific ways to build "strategically
and mutually beneficial relations," such as launching an economic
ministerial dialogue and cooperation on the environment and energy.
I am delighted that Japan-China relations, which have been referred
to as cold politically and hot economically, are finally headed for
their "normal temperature."

However, with serious bilateral issues like the development of gas
fields still left unsolved, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun's comment that
there still lies frozen ground beneath the surface must be kept in
mind. Following his meeting with Wen, Prime Minister Abe will visit
the United States on April 26-27. Washington, which was visibly
concerned about the interrupted Japan-China summit talks during the
Koizumi administration, is expected to positively evaluate the new
developments between Tokyo and Beijing.

Since assuming office, Abe has been extremely busy, visiting Asian
countries and the European Union. For this reason, speculation had
been rife that his US trip would not occur until the Golden Week
holiday period in early May. But true to his words expressing his
desire to swiftly visit the US once the budget clears the Diet in
order to defuse US concerns over his ministers' criticism of the US
Iraq policy and the debate on Japan's nuclear option, Abe has
decided to visit there before the holiday period. I welcome his

It is significant that President Bush will host a family dinner at
the White House and a summit at Camp David to welcome Abe and his
wife instead of ceremonial events, given his friendship with former
Prime Minister Koizumi. They will contrast sharply with the
ritualistic ceremonies held during Chinese President Hu Jintao's
visit to Washington just a year ago.

TOKYO 00001852 006 OF 007

Three major changes in domestic and international situations

President Bush seems to be hoping to further advance Japan-US
relations supported by his strong relations of trust with former
Prime Minister Koizumi. His desire comes from profound changes in
the domestic and international situations.

First, the Bush administration now finds it difficult to implement
its policies due to stiff opposition from Congress, which has been
controlled by the Democrats since the midterm elections last fall.

Second, although military operations in Iraq have succeeded,
deteriorating security in the country and a delay in the
reconstruction of the country have resulted in growing criticism in
the US - a major cause of the Republicans' defeat in the midterm
elections. President Bush has asked for sending additional troops to
Iraq, while Congress is calling for a swift withdrawal from the
country. In addition, given a lack of progress on Iran's nuclear
development and the six-party talks on North Korea, the
administration is under a storm of criticism from hardliners for
making concession after concession.

US force realignment

Third, the dim economic outlook resulting from such factors as high
oil prices, sluggish consumer spending, and the slow housing market
has sparked strong public distrust of the government's economic

In the United States, fierce skirmishes are already underway in the
run-up to the 2008 presidential election. Senators Hillary Clinton
and Barack Obama have reportedly raised 26 million dollars and 30
million dollars, respectively, for the election. Former
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney tops the Republican list with
20.63 million dollars. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who
is most popular of all prospective Republican candidates, has
reportedly raised 15 million dollars. National attention on three
individuals - Hillary Clinton, who seeks to become the first female
president, African-American Barack Obama, and New Mexico Governor
Bill Richardson of Hispanic origin - suggests that American politics
is at a turning point, according to Harvard University Professor
Akira Irie.

Under such circumstances, President Bush is being pressed to enhance
cooperative relations with US allies on the diplomatic front. He is
also certain to pin big hopes on his summit with Abe.

Abe has also taken a series of steps, such as the Defense Agency's
upgrade to ministry status, a two-year extension of the Iraq Special
Measures Law, and the establishment of an expert council to study
collective defense, to push the Japan-US cooperative system forward.
The question is Japan's response to the ongoing US efforts to
realign US forces in Japan. I am worried that there are no prospects
for the long-standing issue of relocating the US Marine Corp's
Futenma Air Station to Nago.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss bilateral cooperation
on global warming, energy, and other economic areas. I earnestly
hope that the upcoming summit will serve as a new milestone for
closer Japan-US relations.

(5) Poll of HS kids: Japanese less eager than Americans, Chinese, S.

TOKYO 00001852 007 OF 007

Koreans; Only 8% in Japan want to advance in the world

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Full)
April 25, 2007

High school students in Japan are less eager than those in the
United States, China, and South Korea to climb the ladder of
success. This became known from a survey conducted by the Japan
Youth Research Institute to probe and compare the motivations of
high school students in the four countries. In the survey,
respondents were asked what they would like to do in the future. In
Japan, the proportion of those who would like to enter public
service was down about 22%age points from a previous survey
conducted in 1999. This shows facts about the mindset of Japanese
high school students who cannot have a clear-cut objective.

The survey was conducted from October through December 2006 with a
total of 5,676 high school students in Japan, the United States,
China, and South Korea. In the survey, they were asked about their
awareness of things in store for them, such as their future courses,
goals in life, and jobs.

"Do you want to become important?" In response to this question,
those who answered they "strongly think so" accounted for 34.4% in
China, 22.9% in South Korea, and 22.3% in the United States. In
Japan, the proportion of those thinking that way was only 8.0%.

Respondents were also asked about jobs they would like to do in the
future. In Japan, the proportion of those aspiring to become
lawyers, judges, university professors, and researchers was down
from the 1999 survey. In particular, the proportion of those who
want to become public servants was down to 9.2%, showing a
substantial drop from 31.7% in the last survey. The proportion of
those who "don't know" rose 6.2 points to 9.9%

Tamotsu Sengoku, president of the institute, says: "Japanese do not
face hardship in finding enough to eat, so high school students
don't have the ambition to become important. In addition, the (high
prestige) jobs are losing their attractiveness or authority."


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