Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 05/01/07-1
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TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA
SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 05/01/07-1
Prime Minister Abe in Washington:
12) US, Japanese leaders strengthen trust, build friendship: now on
a first name "George-Shinzo" relationship
13) President Bush treats Prime Minister Abe to cheeseburger lunch
to promote US beef
14) Abe meets 70 former JET teachers who served in Japan
15) Laura Bush, Akie Abe carry out their own diplomacy as First
Abe in the Middle East:
16) Japan-Saudi oil deal: Abe proposes using Okinawa to set up
oil-reserve tank field
17) Agreement to establish consultative organ to help expand
Japanese investment in Saudi Arabia
18) Japan, UAE agree to establish cabinet-level economic council to
meet once a year
19) In Abu Dhabi, Abe praises anti-terror contributions of MSDF
operating in the Indian Ocean
20) JBIC to invest 120 billion yen in Abu Dhabi to secure stable oil
21) At defense chief's meeting, Kyuma to ask US for information of
F-22A state-of-art aircraft
22) Abe Cabinet support rate jumps 8 points to 43%, far exceeding
33% non-support rate, in Mainichi poll
23) Nikkei poll: Abe Cabinet support rate leaps 10 points to 53%
compared to March survey
12) Prime Minister Abe travels to US to strengthen trust with US
President Bush, placing relationship on "George-Shinzo" first-name
YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
Eve., April 28, 2007
By Hiroshi Matsunaga in Washington
In his summit meeting with President Bush on the morning of April 27
(late night in Japan) at the president's mountain retreat, Camp
David, in Maryland, Prime Minister Abe confirmed that the two
countries would keep in step on North Korea's nuclear and abduction
issues. In addition, the two leaders promised to cooperate on the
realignment of the US forces in Japan and on Iraq reconstruction, as
well as on the (global) environment problem. The first trip to the
United States by the prime minister, who aimed at broadening the
Japan-US alliance, ended as a complete success.
The president in the summit meeting clearly stated that at the time
of considering whether to take North Korea's name off the list of
terrorist-supporting states, "we will factor in consideration of the
abduction issue." On the six-party talks, he also stated, "In this
process, we must not weaken our strong feelings toward the abduction
In Japan, there has been strong concern that as the US changes to a
conciliatory stance, Japan might be isolated and find itself alone
in taking a hard-line stance toward North Korea by giving priority
to the abduction issue. For that reason, the president placed
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emphasis on the abduction issue, and he took a stance of heightening
pressure, while carrying out the six-party agreement. The Japanese
side highly appreciated that stance.
At the joint conference after the summit meeting, the two leaders
called each other by their first names, "George" and "Shinzo." They
made the public appeal that through their talks, a relationship of
personal trust had been built. The president during the summit
meeting reportedly had proposed, "We should call each other by our
first names." The president invited the prime minister to visit his
own ranch in Texas the next time they meet in the US.
13) Bush serves Abe American cheeseburger, stressing safety of US
MAINICHI (Page 8) (Full)
April 28, 2007
Chiyako Sato, Washington
US President George W. Bush served Prime Minister Shinzo Abe an
American cheeseburger at a luncheon on April 27. The issue of US
beef exports to Japan is one of the issues between Japan and the
United States. Washington has called on Tokyo to open its market.
Bush softly played up the safety of US beef, saying, "American beef
is tasty and reasonable."'
Bush responded to the request by Montana senators that US steaks be
served Abe. At a press conference ahead of luncheon Bushed stated:
"Japanese people will be happy if they eat US beef. Of course we are
prepared to serve the prime minister and the delegation accompanying
him delicious burgers."
A group of 24 bipartisan senators sent on April 20 to the president
a letter calling for opening Japan's market. However, Bush appears
to have limited himself to a series of "performances" aimed at
domestic audiences. A source accompanying Abe said, "The president
seemed that he was relying on the prime minister" about the issue.
14) Prime Minister Abe and First Lady meet Americans who had
experienced international exchange program, from which Japan experts
have been born
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
Eve., April 28, 2007
In order to promote international exchange, Prime Minister Abe and
his wife Akie on April 27 held a discussion session with
approximately 70 Americans who had experienced the JET program,
under which young foreigners are invited to Japan as English
language teachers. The prime minister broke the ice with a joke:
"When one hears the word 'JET,' one thinks of a jet aircraft, but
what the two have in common is they both shorten the distance
between Japan and the United States."
Since the founding of the JET program in 1987, it has spawned many
Japan experts, such as former senior Asia director of the National
Security Council, Michael Green. The prime minister posed with each
participant for a keepsake photograph.
Akie, who also was at the event, had been pursuing her own
diplomatic schedule since the day before, such as having lunch with
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Lynn Cheney, the wife of the vice president.
(Washington, Yasuo Kurai)
15) Japan's First Lady Akie Abe engages in active diplomacy
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
April 28, 2007
Chiyako Sato, Washington
Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is engaged in
active diplomacy in the United States. With First Lady Laura Bush,
as her guide, Akie visited George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate.
The two had lunch together there. They also held an informal meeting
with students of Gallaudet University for people with visual and
In Mount Vernon, Laura Bush said, "I'm glad that I was able to take
Mrs. Abe to this historic place." Akie Abe responded: "I was
impressed that the people of the United States, including many
children, were studying history."
Later in the evening, ahead of the dinner party hosted by the
president and his wife, presents were exchanged between the four.
Bush gave Abe a flight jacket with the name of Camp David on its
back and other presents. The prime minister and his wife gave them a
cushion Akie made with a picture of the Bush family's two dogs, as
well as a baseball signed by Sadaharu Oh.
16) Prime minister suggests to King Abdullah idea of using oil
reserve base in Okinawa as Saudi Arabia's business hub
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Excerpts)
April 30, 2007
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had dinner with Saudi Arabian King
Abdullah on the night of April 28, local time. In the meeting, Abe
proposed allowing Saudi Arabia to use the oil reserve base in
Okinawa Prefecture as its business hub. The two agreed to have the
matter discussed at the cabinet-minister level.
At the oil reserve base in Okinawa, 5.25 million kiloliters of oil,
about 10 days' supply, is stored. Prime Minister Abe proposed that
some of the tanks at the base would be offered to Saudi Arabia.
If both sides sign a contract, Japan will be able to buy the stored
oil on a priority basis in time of emergency. Meanwhile, Saudi
Arabia will also be able to significantly cut costs when exporting
oil to Asia and the West Coast by keeping oil in Japan.
Abe and Abdullah also agreed on the need for the two countries to
enhance their bilateral cooperative relations in wider areas, not
limited to the economic area.
17) Prime minister proposes initiative to offer oil tanks in Okinawa
to Saudi Arabia
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
April 28, 2007
TOKYO 00001926 004 OF 008
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived at Riyadh, the capital of the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by a government plane on the afternoon of
April 28, local time. In the first destination of his tour of five
Middle Eastern countries, the prime minister met Crown Prince sultan
the same day, in which he proposed an initiative to jointly keep
stored crude oil. By boosting mutually dependent relations with
Saudi Arabia, Japan aims to ensure the stable supply of oil. Saudi
Arabia is expected to accept the offer.
Under this initiative, Japan would offer its tanks in Okinawa for
oil reserves to Saudi Aramco free of charge. In peacetime, the
state-run Saudi Arabian company keeps oil in the tanks for
distribution. When Japan sees oil imports suspended, Japan would be
allowed to purchase the reserved oil on a priority basis. Japan has
never stored oil in such a form before.
In trade in crude oil with oil producing countries in the Middle
East, Japanese wholesale companies usually go and collect product by
using a tanker. Should Saudi Arabia keep a large stock in Japan, it
will be able to demonstrate close ties with Japan. Other oil
producing countries might fall in suit with Saudi Arabia. In such a
case, Japan's energy security will be ensured. Japan pins high hopes
on the joint storage initiative.
18) Japanese, UAE leaders agree to set up economic council for
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 1) (Full)
April 30, 2007
Nakayama, Abu Dhabi
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE),
met with President Khalifa at the Presidential Palace for about 30
minutes on April 29. The two leaders agreed that Japan and the UAE
would set up a joint economic ministerial committee to strengthen
bilateral economic relations. They also agree on the need to reach
at an early date an agreement in the ongoing negotiations on
concluding a free trade agreement (FTA) between Japan and the Gulf
Cooperation Conference (GCC) composed of six Gulf oil producing
The envisioned joint economic committee would meet once a year in
principle to discuss measures to improve the investment and business
environments, to promote bilateral cooperation for stable energy
supply, etc. In the meeting, Abe stated: "It will be possible for
the two countries to establish an ideal partnership by the UAE
supply oil to Japan and Japan offering technical and financial
cooperation to the UAE."
19) Prime Minister Abe in Abu Dhabi gives words of encouragement to
MSDF for cooperation in anti-terrorist mop-up operations in Indian
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Abridged)
April 30, 2007
By Hiroshi Matsunaga in Abu Dhabi
TOKYO 00001926 005 OF 008
Prime Minister Abe, who is in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) on the evening of April 29 (Evening of same day, Japan time)
inspected the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyer
"Suzunami" and supply ship "Hamana," which are engaged in refueling
operations for American and British vessels in the Indian Ocean,
based on the Anti-terror Special Measures Law, and he gave words of
encouragement to the crews of the two vessels. This is the first
time for a prime minister to have inspected the units dispatched to
the Indian Ocean for cooperation in anti-terrorist mop-up operations
since MSDF units were first dispatched in Nov. 2001.
The Suzunami and Hanami left Japan in March, and are now continuing
with their Indian Ocean operations. The Prime Minister in his
instructions stated: "Since my taking office, I have been thinking
that I must by all means visit the units serving overseas and
directly express my appreciation for their services. Your activities
have received high praise internationally, and as the
commander-in-chief, I feel extremely proud."
He stressed: "Accompanying the transition to a Defense Ministry,
peacekeeping operations have been made a main duty of the
Self-Defense Forces (SDF), and the SDF is being called on to
actively tackle such. I would like to open for Japan a new page on
the front line of providing international contributions."
20) JBIC to provide Abu Dhabi 120 billion yen in loans to secure
crude oil supply
ASAHI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
April 29, 2007
Riyad, Minoru Nagata
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will introduce a
system of providing a loan to a state-run petroleum company of Abu
Dhabi, a member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), under a condition
that it supplies crude oil to Japan on a stable basis. Both
countries are now undertaking coordination of views with the
possibility of Japan providing 1 billion dollars or approximately
120 billion yen in loans within the year. This system will likely
become a new form of Japan securing crude oil at a time when it
finds it difficult to directly get involved in development of oil
fields due to the rising nationalism among oil-producing countries.
The agreement will be reached between JBIC Governor Kyosuke
Shinozawa, who is joining Prime Minister Abe on his visit to the
Middle East, and the top person at Abu Dhabi National Oil Company
(ADNOC) on Apr. 29. The prime minister and a 180-member delegation
of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) are visiting
Middle East nations with the aim of promoting broad-based business
and exchanges of technology.
ADNOC has never introduced foreign capital because of its rich
funds. However, it has changed its policy to procure funds from
foreign countries in order to strengthen production capacity while
oil prices are staying high.
Since ADNOC has not made its various financial statements open, it
is difficult for it to procure funds from the market. The JBIC will
for the first time directly provide the company with funds in
cooperation with Japan's private banks. Loans will be provided using
low interest rates available for overseas resources development.
TOKYO 00001926 006 OF 008
ADNOC will sign a long-term crude oil trade contract with Japan's
oil company in return for receiving loans and repay debts from the
costs of the crude oil to Japan. The scale of the planned loan - 1
billion dollar - is one of the largest among loans provided by the
ADNOC will invest procured funds in new development and expansion of
oil fields to reinforce production capacity. If this joint
development project turns out to be a success, it will boost the
amount of crude oil Japan independently develops. The ratio of
independently developed crude oil to the total imports is about 10
%. The government wants to raise the ratio to 40% by 2030.
21) FX candidate: Japan to ask US for F-22A data
SANKEI (Page 4) (Full)
April 28, 2007
Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma will meet with US Defense Secretary
Gates in Washington on April 30 and will then ask the United States
to provide detailed information about the F-22A Raptor, a
state-of-the-art stealth fighter, as a potential candidate model for
the Air Self-Defense Force's follow-on mainstay fighter (FX). Kyuma
will also ask Gates to work on the US Congress to review a US law
that prohibits the United States from exporting the F-22A. The ASDF
wants the F-22A adopted. However, the problem is its cost as the
F-22A is reportedly priced at approximately 25 billion yen per unit.
Japan is likely to dicker with the United States while involving the
defense industry, with an eye to the Defense Ministry's process of
screening and selecting the FX in the summer of next year.
"There has been no disclosure of information in detail, so I'd like
to take every opportunity to ask (the US side) for disclosure,"
Kyuma told a news conference yesterday. The Defense Ministry will
pick the F-4's follow-on fighter model by the summer of next year.
The ministry has already narrowed down its selection to six models
and asked their manufacturers to provide information about their
models. However, the United States does not allow even information
disclosure for exports. Japan has therefore yet to obtain detailed
information about the F-22A's performance.
The ASDF yesterday conducted its first joint training with US Air
Force F-22A fighters, which are temporarily deployed to the US
Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, in airspace south of
Okinawa's main island. The Defense Ministry's aim was to determine
the F-22A's performance through dogfight simulations.
"I believe that the F-22A Raptor is the world's strongest fighter,"
ASDF Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami said in a press conference.
Japan's introduction thereof will likely bring about backlashes from
China and North Korea. "In order to deter war," Tamogami said, "it's
important to make them think we're strong." He also noted, "If we do
as they say, we can't maintain our national interests."
22) Poll: Cabinet support rate rises to 43%
MAINICHI (Top play) (Abridged)
April 30, 2007
The Mainichi Shimbun conducted a telephone-based nationwide public
opinion survey on April 28-29. The rate of public support for Prime
TOKYO 00001926 007 OF 008
Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet was 43%, up 8 percentage points from
the last survey conducted in March. The nonsupport rate was 33%,
down 9 points. The approval rating topped the disapproval rating for
the first time since January. Among reasons given for supporting the
Abe cabinet, there was an increase in the proportion of those who
think something can be expected of the prime minister's leadership.
Among those who do not support the Abe cabinet, there was a decrease
in the proportion of those who negative about the prime minister's
leadership ability. The figures show the public's positive ratings
for the prime minister's reform efforts, including his government's
introduction of a bill to reform the nation's public service
personnel system in the face of opposition.
The Abe cabinet's approval rating scored 67% in a survey right after
its debut in September last year, but it showed a downward spiral
thereafter. In the latest survey, however, the Abe cabinet's support
rate rose for the first time in seven months since its
In addition to his leadership, there seem to be some other factors,
such as a series of summit talks on the diplomatic front, including
the Japan-US summit on April 27 and the Japan-China summit on April
11. Furthermore, Abe was also proactive with his visits to local
districts in Japan to see their circumstances. His face is now
finally visible to the public, and this apparently boosted public
support for his cabinet.
In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party stood at 29%, up 2 points from the last
survey. The leading opposition Democratic Party (Minshuto) was at
16%, also up 2 points from the last survey. The New Komeito, the
LDP's coalition partner, was at 5%, the same as in the last survey.
The Japanese Communist Party was at 2%, down 1 point. Those with no
particular party affiliation accounted for 42%, down 5 points.
23) Poll: Abe cabinet's support rate rebounds to 53%, up 10 points
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 1) (Full)
April 30, 2007
The rate of public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his
cabinet reached 53% in a public opinion survey conducted by the
Nihon Keizai Shimbun on April 27-29. The figure rose 10 percentage
points from the last survey conducted in March. The Abe cabinet's
support rate, which had shown a downward trend since its
inauguration in September last year, has now stopped falling and
marked a substantial rebound for the first time. The nonsupport rate
was 37%, down 8 points. The approval rating topped the disapproval
rating for the first time in two months.
The most common reason given for supporting the Abe cabinet was "the
prime minister is trustworthy" at 44%, followed by "because it's an
LDP-led cabinet" at 28%, and "it's clean" at 16%. Among those who do
not support the Abe cabinet, the most common reason was "the prime
minister lacks leadership ability" at 49%. This figure, however, was
down 8 points from the last survey. The proportion of those who
picked "it's unstable," which was in second place until the last
survey, was 27%, also down 8 points, with 38% picking "its policies
The support rate among men rose 13 points to 51%. In addition, the
TOKYO 00001926 008 OF 008
support rate among women also rose 7 points to 53%. The approval
rating topped the disapproval rating in all age brackets. Among
those in their 20s and 30s, however, the support rate remains on the
The Abe cabinet's sharp recovery in public support appears to be
ascribable to the cease for the present of criticism over some
cabinet ministers' inappropriate remarks or murky political funds
reports and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's reinstatement of
postal rebels. Abe has now come out with his own initiative to
reform the nation's educational and public service personnel
systems. In addition, the public seems to give positive ratings to
his diplomatic efforts, such as his first visit to the United States
In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the LDP
stood at 43%, up 2 points. The leading opposition Democratic Party
of Japan (Minshuto) also rose 3 points to 21%. The New Komeito, the
LDP's coalition partner, was at 6%. The Japanese Communist Party was
at 4%, and the Social Democratic Party (Shaminto) at 3%.
The survey was taken by Nikkei Research Inc. over the telephone on a
random digit dialing (RDD) basis. For the survey, samples were
chosen from among men and women aged 20 and over across the nation.
A total of 1,559 households with one or more voters were sampled,
and answers were obtained from 865 persons (55.5% ).