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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 05/29/07

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 290234Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
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RUALSFJ/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA//J5/JO21//
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
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RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7193
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 3252
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 4410

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 TOKYO 002371

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 05/29/07
Part-2


Index:
11) Abe cabinet beset with woes, starting with pension issue and now
shock of key cabinet member's suicide

12) Ruling, opposition camps clash on TV talk show over pension
issue, scandals

13) New Komeito reluctant to back LDP candidates calling for
revision of Article 9 of Constitution

14) Abe Cabinet support rate dips to lowest point ever, 36 percent,
in latest Asahi poll

15) Mainichi poll: Abe support careens to record low for his
administration, 32 percent, with non-support rate now at 44 percent

16) Nikkei poll: Abe Cabinet's popularity plunges to 41 percent,
with 49 percent of the public unhappy with prime minister's job
performance

17) Voters looking more to Minshuto (42 percent) than LDP (33
percent) in next election, according to Mainichi poll

18) Nikkei poll queries public of collective self-defense and finds
39 percent prefer the status quo

19) China's new foreign minister expresses concern to Foreign
Minister Aso about planned visit to Japan by former Taiwanese
president Lee Teng-hui

20) Aso meets Burmese counterpart

21) China to cooperate with Japan on abduction issue by providing
information on victims, and possibly accepting Megumi Yokota's
daughter as grad student

22) Japan decides to send election observers to E. Timor under PKO
assignment

Articles:
11) Failing pension system taking heavy toll on Abe cabinet

SANKEI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
May 29, 2007

The Social Insurance Agency's (SIA) record-keeping errors have begun
taking a toll on the Abe administration. In an attempt to quell
public criticism, the government has come up with relief measures,
such as the elimination of the statute of limitation enabling
pensioners to receive benefits appropriately. But those steps have
apparently failed to soften public outrage. Support ratings for the
Abe cabinet have plummeted in recent public opinion polls. Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe is busy devising new steps, such as taking
relief measures ahead of schedule. However, such an approach might
end up enhancing the impression that his administration's steps are
all makeshift measures.

"I have come to the conclusion that we need to respond to the matter
speedily," Abe said last night, explaining why he has ordered the
ruling coalition to introduce a bill to the ongoing Diet designed to
abolish the statute of limitation regarding pension premiums. He

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also indicated that he has ordered an effort to clarify the
responsibilities of past SIA chiefs, saying, "Those who have left
the failing system uncorrected must feel responsible."

Unexpectedly strong public outrage toward the SIA's record-keeping
errors has forced Abe to take a new response. The government and the
ruling coalition initially intended to come up with such steps as
ending the statute of limitation and reexamining some 50 million
cases not integrated into the basic pension numbering system in a
bid to put an end to the SIA's blunder. They also planned to
counterattack the major opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of
Japan), blaming the lax management of the system on the SIA labor
union that supports Minshuto.

But the government and the ruling coalition's relief measures lacked
uniqueness, as they were a rehash of what the SIA has already done,
except for ending the statute of limitation. In addition, those
steps were insufficient to underline the government's eagerness to
address the issue based on pensioners' claims.

The government's failure to present a clear timeline for reexamining
erroneous records has sparked concern that a shift to the envisioned
Japan Pension Corporation would allow the SIA's blunder fade into
oblivion. The government's original relief measures fueled public
criticism rather than quell it.

12) May 27 broadcast of "Hodo 2001" on missed pension benefit
payouts: Kan - "It is embezzlement"; Katayama - "Integration of
pension numbers, creation of system took place when Kan was MHLW
minister"

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
May 28, 2007

Toranosuke Katayama, secretary general of Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) members in the House of Councilors, and Acting Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) head Naoto Kan discussed the issue
of missing pension premium payment records.

-- What is your view on the missed pension benefit payouts stemming
from the missing pension premium payment records?

Kan: "It is embezzlement to receive premiums and not pay benefits."

Katayama: "Pension numbers were integrated into a basic pension
number system in 1997. This system was created when Mr. Kan was the
health, labor and welfare (MHLW) minister. If the system were
proper, this problem would not have occurred."

Kan: "The MHLW minister when pension numbers were integrated was
former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The SIA conducted surveys
from 1998 through 2006. They intended to get away with it without
disclosing the survey results, if opposition parties had not pursued
the case this time. The SIA should be dismantled and turned into a
revenue agency along with the National Tax Agency. According to the
government proposal, only its status will be privatized. This would
make the locus of responsibility unclear."

Katayama: "The DPJ wants to keep its officials' status intact .
However, if they remain public servants, officials' morale will
remain low."

TOKYO 00002371 003 OF 008

Yokohama Mayor Hiroshi Nakata: "The problem is not who created the
system but that the SIA has no sense of being involved. Unless it is
fully privatized so that its own mistakes are reflected in its staff
members' salaries, SIA officials will never have a sense that they
are responsible."

-- What about the alleged bid-rigging involving the Japan Green
Resources Agency?

Kan: "Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka said that the
allegation is very regrettable. However, the presence of Mr.
Matsuoka is very regrettable. People know who is behind the
scenes."

Katayama: "The investigative authorities are ferreting out the case.
It is not necessary for Mr. Matsuoka to step down as a cabinet
minister."

Kan: "Prime Minister Abe is defending the agriculture minister, who
is accountable for the matter, which is tantamount to saying that it
is all right to keep bid-rigging as it is."

13) New Komeito's Ota checks LDP on constitutional revision,
expressing reluctance to back candidates who advocate revising
paragraph 2 of Article 9

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
May 28, 2007

New Komeito leader Ota referred to the Upper House election set for
this summer on a TV-Asahi talk show on May 27 and checked the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) call for constitutional revision.
Ota noted: "If (LDP candidates) make assertions that are
fundamentally different from our party's, for instance allowing the
exercise of the right to collective defense or deleting paragraph 2
of Article 9 of the Constitution, and rejecting environmental
rights, it is only natural that our party will be reluctant to back
them." When asked about Prime Minister Abe's intention to make
constitutional revision a campaign issue for the Upper House
election, Ota again pointed out: "It's meaningless to emphasize
constitutional revision without mentioning the substance."

14) Poll: Cabinet support rate hits low of 36 PERCENT

ASAHI (Page 1) (Abridged)
May 29, 2007

Ahead of this July's election for the House of Councillors, the
Asahi Shimbun conducted its third telephone-based public opinion
survey on May 26-27, in which the support rate for Prime Minister
Abe and his cabinet was 36 percent with the nonsupport rate at 42
percent. The Abe cabinet's support rate nosedived from the May 19-20
survey, in which the support rate was 44 percent with the nonsupport
rate at 36 percent. The cabinet support rate had rebounded in April
and afterward. This time, however, nonsupport topped support again.

Among women, the Abe cabinet's support rate substantially fell from
48 percent in the last survey to 36 percent in the survey this time,
with its nonsupport rate at 37 percent. Among those who support the
New Komeito, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's coalition

TOKYO 00002371 004 OF 008


partner, the Abe cabinet's support rate was 35 percent, with its
nonsupport rate at 45 percent. Among New Komeito supporters, the
nonsupport rate topped the support rate for the first time.

In the past three surveys, respondents were also asked which
political party they would vote for if an election were to be held
now for the House of Councillors. To this question, the proportion
of those who picked the LDP was 28 percent in the first survey
(taken May 12-13), 31 percent in the second survey, and 26 percent
in the latest third survey. The proportion of those preferring the
leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) was 21
percent in the first survey, 21 percent in the second survey, and 25
percent in the third survey. The LDP was above the DPJ in the past
surveys. This time, however, the DPJ closed in on the LDP. In
electoral districts as well, the two parties are close, with the LDP
at 29 percent and the DPJ at 26 percent.

Respondents were further asked which side between the ruling camp
and the opposition camp they would like to see hold a majority as a
result of this summer's House of Councillors election. In response,
28 percent chose the ruling camp (36 percent in the last survey),
with 48 percent preferring the opposition camp (43 percent in the
last survey). Asked about the desirable form of government, 32
percent chose an LDP-led coalition government (37 percent in the
last survey), with 33 percent opting for a DPJ-led coalition
government (31 percent in the last survey). As seen from these
figures, the LDP and the DPJ are almost on a par.

In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the LDP
stood at 29 percent (34 percent in the last survey), with the DPJ at
18 percent (14 percent in the last survey).

The survey was conducted over the telephone on a computer-aided
random digit dialing (RDD) basis. Respondents were chosen from among
the nation's voting population on a three-stage random-sampling
basis. Valid answers were obtained from 1,031 persons (61 percent).

15) Poll: Cabinet support rate lowest at 32 percent, down 11 points;
Nonsupport up to 44 percent

MAINICHI (Top play) (Abridged)
May 28, 2007

The Mainichi Shimbun conducted a telephone-based nationwide public
opinion survey on May 26-27. The rate of public support for Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet was 32 percent, down 11
percentage points from the last survey taken in April. It is the
lowest figure for the Abe cabinet since coming into office in
September last year. The nonsupport rate for the Abe cabinet was 44
percent, which is the highest figure for the Abe cabinet. The
nonsupport rate topped the support rate in the latest survey, as
well as in the surveys taken in February and March. In the survey,
respondents were also asked which party between the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party and the leading opposition Democratic Party of
Japan (Minshuto) they would like to see win in this summer's
election for the House of Councillors. In response to this question,
the DPJ led the LDP for the first time. Respondents were further
asked which political party and which political party's candidate
they would vote for if an election were to be held now. To this
question as well, the DPJ was above the LDP both for proportional
representation blocs and for electoral districts. This shows that

TOKYO 00002371 005 OF 008


the nation's voting population is taking a severe view of the fact
that the government has lost its records of 50.95 million people's
payments into its public pension plans.

Among LDP supporters, the Abe cabinet's support rate was 66 percent,
down 11 points. Among those with no particular party affiliation,
the Abe cabinet's support rate was 20 percent, down 10 points. These
two groups were major factors that led to the substantial drop in
the cabinet support rate. Among those who support the LDP's
coalition partner, New Komeito, the cabinet support rate was 60
percent, up 8 points.

In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the LDP
stood at 25 percent, down 4 points. The DPJ was at 19 percent, down
3 points. Among other political parties, the New Komeito was at 5
percent, the same as in the last survey, with the Japanese Communist
Party at 3 percent, up 1 point. Those with no particular party
affiliation accounted for 44 percent, up 2 points.

16) Poll: Cabinet support plummets to 41 percent

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 1) (Abridged)
May 28, 2007

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun conducted a public opinion survey on May
25-27, in which the rate of public support for Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe and his cabinet was 41 percent, the lowest figure for the Abe
cabinet, showing a sharp drop of 12 percentage points from the last
survey conducted in April. The nonsupport rate for the Abe cabinet
was 44 percent, up 7 points. The nonsupport rate topped the support
rate for the first time in two months. In the survey, respondents
were also asked if they appreciated the Abe cabinet's job
performance. In response to this question, 49 percent answered "no,"
with 33 percent saying "yes."

The Abe cabinet's approval rating continued to show a downward trend
after its inauguration in September last year. In the last survey,
however, it rose 10 points and was seen to have stopped declining.
The sharp drop in the cabinet support rate this time can be taken as
reflecting the government's failure to record payments into its
public pension plans as a possible point at issue in this summer's
election for the House of Councillors. In addition, it is apparently
affected by the public's dissatisfaction with the Abe cabinet's
attitude over the issue of politics and money.

In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party stood at 41 percent, down 2 points. The
leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) rose 2
points to 23 percent.

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 1,496 households with one or more voters were sampled,
and answers were obtained from 917 persons (61.3 percent).

17) Poll: 42 percent want DPJ victory, topping LDP for 1st time

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Full)
May 28, 2007


TOKYO 00002371 006 OF 008


In the latest public opinion survey conducted by the Mainichi
Shimbun, respondents were asked which political party they would
like to win this summer's election for the House of Councillors.
This is the fourth time this question has been asked since December
last year. In response, 42 percent opted for the leading opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto), up 6 percentage points from
the last survey. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party was at 33
percent, down 5 points. Other political parties were at 20 percent,
up 2 points.

In the past three surveys, the LDP was 2 points higher than the DPJ.
This time, however, the DPJ topped the LDP for the first time.

Respondents were also asked which political party or which political
party's candidate they would vote for in their respective
proportional representation blocs if an election were to be held now
for the House of Councillors. In response to this question, 35
percent chose the DPJ, with 28 percent picking the LDP. Among other
political parties, the New Komeito, the LDP's coalition partner, was
at 6 percent, with the Japanese Communist Party at 4 percent, the
Social Democratic Party (Shaminto) at 3 percent, and the People's
New Party (Kokumin Shinto) at 1 percent. In electoral districts, the
DPJ marked 30 percent, with the LDP at 26 percent and independents
at 15 percent. The DPJ was above the LDP both in proportional
representation blocs and in electoral districts.

18) Poll: 39 percent support current constitutional interpretation
over collective self-defense

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
May 28, 2007

In the latest public opinion survey conducted by the Nihon Keizai
Shimbun on May 25-27, respondents were asked if they thought the
government should change its current constitutional interpretation
that prohibits Japan from exercising the right of collective
self-defense. In response to this question, 39 percent answered
"no," with 25 percent saying "yes" and 22 percent insisting the
Constitution should be revised to allow Japan to participate in
collective self-defense. As seen from these figures, public opinion
was split over the advisability of reviewing the government's way of
reading and interpreting the Constitution over collective
self-defense.

Among those who support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, "no"
accounted for 34 percent, topping all other answers. However, 29
percent chose constitutional revision, with 27 PERCENT preferring
reinterpretation.

19) New Chinese foreign minister expresses concern about planned
Japan visit by former Taiwanese President Lee

ASAHI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
May 29, 2007

Jun Tabuse, Hamburg

Foreign Minister Aso and his new Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi
held their first meeting in Hamburg on May 28, local time. In
reference to the private visit to Japan by former Taiwanese
President Lee Teng-hui scheduled to begin on May 30, Yang expressed

TOKYO 00002371 007 OF 008


apprehension about a negative impact on Japan-China relations. On
another topic, Aso briefed Yang on a new Japanese post-Kyoto global
initiative proposed by Prime Minister Abe last week. In response,
Yang said: "I hope the two countries will join hands on this
challenge."

According to informed sources on the Japanese side, Yang expressed
concern about Lee's planned visit to Japan, saying: "I am concerned
that the visit might be politicized and could hinder Japan-China
relations." Aso replied: "I have been informed that he will not take
part in political activities but will engage in sightseeing and
cultural exchange." He then said: "There is no change in the
Japanese government's position as specified in the Japan-China joint
statement."

20) Burmese foreign minister explains extended house arrest of Aung
San Suu Kyi to Foreign Minister Aso

ASAHI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
May 29, 2007

Jun Ibuse, Hamburg

Foreign Minister Aso met Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win at a
Hamburg hotel on the morning of May 28. Officially admitting the
Burmese decision to extend the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, a
leader of the democracy movement there, Nyan Win said: "If the
United States had removed the sanctions against our country, there
would have been the option of releasing her. This was a difficult
decision for the sake of our national security." The Burmese
government had not officially admitted that it decided to extend the
house arrest of Suu Kyi. Aso sought her release, saying: "Unless the
democratization process is promoted, there will be no economic
growth in Burma."

21) China mulling providing info on "abductees" to Japan

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
May 28, 2007

Satoshi Saeki, Beijing

China is considering the possibility of cooperating with Japan to
resolve the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea, for
instance, by gathering information on victims of abductions and
missing Japanese people via its own information networks, a source
familiar with Japan-China relations revealed on May 27.

On the collection of information on victims of abductions, China
reportedly plans to conduct a broader investigation to include a
portion of certain missing people (dozens of people) and provide the
results to Japan. China also is considering accepting abductee
Megumi Yokota's daughter Kim Hye Gyon, who is studying at Kim Il
Sung University, as a master's student at Beijing University so that
she can easily meet with Shigeru Yokota and his wife Sakie.
Moreover, an idea is being floated that Chinese experts will conduct
a DNA analysis of the remains handed by North Korea to Japan as
Megumi's "ashes."

Until recently the Chinese side had assumed the stance that the e
resolution of the abduction issue."

TOKYO 00002371 008 OF 008

China appears to have concluded that progress on the abduction issue
will have a good effect on such processes as energy aid to North
Korea. In addition, China seems to be speculating that doing so will
give momentum to the move for strengthening Japan-China relations,
which have been brought back on the track owing to Premier Wen
Jiabao's recent successful visit to Japan.

Yet, there is the possibility that North Korea may react against
China's offer of information as interference in domestic affairs.
Whether China's plan will be put into practice depends on whether
coordination between China and North Korea will go smoothly.

22) Japan to send election monitors to East Timor

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
May 28, 2007

The government intends to dispatch an election monitoring team in
accordance with the United Nations Peacekeeping Cooperation Law to
East Timor for its general election slated for June 30. Preparations
are underway to send a dozen or so officials from the International
Peace Cooperation Headquarters and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the general election, a fierce battle is expected between the
largest political party, the Revolutionary Front for an Independent
East Timor, and the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction
led by former President Gusman.

SCHIEFFER

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