Search

 

Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 12/20/07

VZCZCXRO6150
PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #5615/01 3540126
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 200126Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0447
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/USDOT WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5//
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
RHMFIUU/HQ PACAF HICKAM AFB HI//CC/PA//
RHMFIUU/USFJ //J5/JO21//
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
RUAYJAA/CTF 72
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 7470
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 5074
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 8739
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 3789
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 5711
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0739
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 6788
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7505

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TOKYO 005615

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 12/20/07


Index:

1) Prime Minister Fukuda expects to improve relations with South
Korea under new conservative government (Yomiuri)

2) OECD projects that Japan's rank as international ODA donor will
slip to sixth place by 2010, with aid budget being slashed every
year (Asahi)

Political agenda:
3) Opposition camp to heighten pressure on the Fukuda government in
the Diet by tying it up with deliberations on other issues than the
MSDF refueling bill (Tokyo Shimbun)
4) New Komeito seeks to assert its own policy imprint in the
coalition government (Yomiuri)
5) Former Toyota Chairman Okuda to become key adviser to Prime
Minister Fukuda (Nikkei)
6) Shoichi Nakagawa's conservative study group in the Diet picks up
77 members from the Lower House (Asahi)

Defense and security affairs:
7) Defense Ministry aims to shave 300 billion yen in outlays for
defense equipment (Asahi)
8) Finance Ministry seeks to postpone procurement of Apache
helicopter for the GSDF (Sankei)
9) Defense Ministry to increase number of in-house procurement
specialists in the wake of defense procurement scandal involving
trading firm (Sankei)

10) Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura announces long list of
independent administrative corporations that will be scrapped, made
private or merged (Nikkei)

11) Australian government plans to monitor Japan's research whaling
with court battle over whale preservation expected to heat up
(Asahi)

Articles:

1) Government hopes for better relations with South Korea under Lee
administration; Prime Minister Fukuda to attend inauguration

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
December 20, 2007

The Japanese government anticipates improvement in its relations
with South Korea, with the victory of Lee Myung Bak, former Seoul
mayor, in the presidential election on Dec. 19. In a bid to revive
the suspended reciprocal visits between the Japanese and South
Korean leaders, the government is looking into Prime Minister
Fukuda's attendance of Lee's inauguration on Feb. 25.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura said in a press conference
yesterday: "We expect the new president will exert leadership so
that Japan-South Korea relations will be improved."

A senior Foreign Ministry official also said the same day: "Mr. Lee,
who comes from the business world, makes practical judgments. His
debut in the political world may change bilateral relations for the
better."

Relations between Japan and South Korea just after incumbent

TOKYO 00005615 002 OF 007


President Roh Moo-hyun came into office four years ago were in good
shape, with the leaders visiting each other's countries -- so-called
shuttle diplomacy. But relations rapidly worsened, affected by the
enactment by Shimane Prefecture of an ordinance setting "Takeshima
Day" and then Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine. In
April 2006, Japan and South Korea fell into a tense situation over
marine research in waters near the Takeshima (Dokdo) islets.

The inauguration of the Lee administration is likely to boost the
trend of improvement in bilateral relations, set off by then Prime
Minister Abe's visit to Seoul in October last year.

While maintaining the incumbent administration's soft line toward
North Korea, Lee has expressed his intention to offer economic
support after Pyongyang completely settles the nuclear issue. Given
this, a government official said: "Prospects are in sight for
cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea in the
six-party talks."

2) Japan expected to drop to sixth place in global ODA in 2010,
according to OECD projection

ASAHI (Top Play) (Excerpts)
Evening, December 19, 2007

Japan is expected to slip to sixth place as a global donor of
official development assistance (ODA) in 2010, according to a
projection by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Japan
had won first place in net ODA rankings for the10th straight year
until a decade ago but then slipped below the United States and
Britain in 2006. By 2010, Japan is expected to be surpassed by
Germany, France, and Italy. While Japan is slashing its ODA budget
due the country's severe fiscal situation, European countries are
steadily increasing ODA disbursements. Japan, which has long used
ODA as a primary foreign policy tool, will be pressed to review its
strategy.

The DAC annually provides ODA data on its 22 member countries. The
latest report estimates Japan's ODA disbursements in 2010 at 10.09
billion dollars, down 1.1 billion dollars from 2006. The ratio of
net ODA to gross domestic product (GDP) is also projected to drop
from the 0.25 PERCENT in 2006 to 0.21 PERCENT in 2010.

Because of the country's severe fiscal situation, Japan has been
cutting its ODA budget by 3 to 10 PERCENT since fiscal 2001.
Meanwhile, European countries have boosted ODA disbursements, given
their economic recoveries, as well as "growing awareness since the
9/11 terrorist attack that providing relief to the impoverished
elements in societies, who might turn into terrorists, is
necessary," according to a senior officer of the Foreign Ministry's
International Cooperation Bureau.

The government has aimed to make use of the ODA budget effectively,
allocating funds mainly to projects related to environmental
protection, such as forest management and energy conservation,
agricultural development, such as aid for soybeans production in
Brazil, and sanitation, such as controlling infectious diseases. In
part because of reduced ODA to China, Japan has distributed more ODA
to other regions than East Asia.

However, the Foreign Ministry is concerned about the slip in Japan's

TOKYO 00005615 003 OF 007


ODA ranking. Some members are calling for some measures to prevent a
decline of Japan's influence in the international community. A
senior Foreign Ministry official said: "We must take steps to
improve the quality of our ODA program, for instance, by narrowing
down the regions and sectors subject to the program and simplifying
procedures for yen loans."

3) Opposition camp to heighten pressure on ruling camp by pushing
deliberations on issues other than the refueling bill (Tokyo)

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Excerpt)
December 20, 2007

The four opposition parties, led by the Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ), are stepping up their pressure on the ruling parties by
pressing for deliberations on bills other than the new antiterrorism
special measure bill (refueling bill). The intention of the ruling
camp in re-extending the current Diet session to Jan. 15 -- an
unusual move for a session to cross over into the New Year - was to
make certain it could pass the new special measures bill. The
opposition camp believes strongly that it is unfair to extend the
Diet just to deliberate on one bill.

The DPJ in particular is disgruntled that two bills it had presented
and passed in the Upper House, one on banning pension money from
being used for other purposes and another on providing income
subsidies to farm families, were only deliberated on for nine and
seven hours, respectively, in the Lower House. In order to appeal to
the public that the DPJ is the party that gives priority to the
people's livelihoods, the party would like to show that it is
promoting legislation linked closely to their welfare.

This new policy course was endorsed yesterday when DPJ Diet Affairs
Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka met his counterparts in the
Japanese Communist Party, Social Democratic Party, and People's New
Party.

4) New Komeito strengthening policy requests, aiming at rebuilding
party image following Upper House defeat by giving priority to
people who work for a living

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpt)
December 20, 2007

The New Komeito has been strengthening its policy requests of the
Fukuda administration from the standpoint of giving priority to
people who work for a living (seikatsusha). Reflecting on the defeat
it experienced in the Upper House election, the party has been
revamping its stance, and this is one aspect of it. However, the
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has no choice but to give
consideration to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which has
become the dominant party in the Upper House, so whether it can go
along with the New Komeito's wish to change policy course is
unclear.

5) Toyota's Okuda to be advisor to Prime Minister Fukuda

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 20, 2007

The government decided yesterday to appoint Hiroshi Okuda, advisor
to Toyota Motor and former chairman of the Japan Business Federation

TOKYO 00005615 004 OF 007


(Nippon Keidanren), as a special advisor to the Cabinet. He will
give advice to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda as a private-sector
person. The government plans to issue the appointment as early as
Dec. 26. Okuda served as a member of the Economic and Fiscal Policy
Council in the Koizumi cabinet. He and Fukuda have enjoyed close
ties since Fukuda was chief cabinet secretary.

6) 77 lawmakers join study group led by Shoichi Nakagawa

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
December 20, 2007

A study group, chaired by former LDP Policy Research Council
Chairman Shoichi Nakagawa, met for the second time in the Diet
building yesterday. The group decided to call itself Shin
Hoshuseisaku Kenkyu-kai (True Conservative Policy Study Group). As
of yesterday, a total of 77 upper and lower house members from eight
factions, excluding the Tanigaki faction, plus independents joined
the group.

The study group was established in early December by Lower House
member Takeo Hiranuma and others under the banner of reuniting
conservative forces.

7) MOD to aim at reducing defense equipment costs by 300 billion
yen

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
December 20, 2007

The Ministry of Defense (MOD) announced yesterday that it would
reduce the defense equipment costs by introducing numerical targets.
The ministry will aim to reduce the costs by 3 PERCENT annually in
a five-year period from fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2011 by
purchasing equipment in bulk, extending the aircraft repair period,
and simplifying equipment to spend the saved costs on purchasing
other equipment. The equipment costs came to 1.8 trillion yen in
fiscal 2006. The ministry will aim at reducing 300 billion yen, or 3
PERCENT of it, by using these methods. The results will be
announced every fiscal year.

MOD will also increase the number of officials stationed in the
United States to check padded bills by defense equipment trading
houses from the current three to 10 starting in fiscal 2008.

8) GSDF to give up on including funds for 2.16 billion yen
helicopter in FY2008 budget

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 20, 2007

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) decided yesterday to reject the
Ministry of Defense's (MOD) request for funds in its fiscal 2008
budget for an AH-64D attack helicopter (commonly called the Apache
Longbow) for the Ground Self-Defense Force, a MOD source revealed
yesterday. The reason is the AH-64D helicopter's high price tag --
21.6 billion yen per unit, which is equivalent to the cost of two
fighter jets. MOF's decision is likely to create a stir in the way
defense equipment has been procured, which has often been pointed
out as being too high.

MOD began purchasing the AH-64D, reputed to be the world's strongest

TOKYO 00005615 005 OF 007


attack helicopter, in fiscal 2002 as the successor to the AH-1S
attack helicopter (dubbed the Cobra). The GSDF has procured a total
of 10 AH-64Ds as of this fiscal year. MOD planned to deploy a total
of 62 AH-64Ds in the future as replacements to the 84 AH-1S
helicopters.

But the unit price, which was originally 6 billion yen, is expected
to jump to 8.3 billion yen in fiscal 2008 due to the domestic
production of its parts. In addition, the helicopter's manufacturer,
Boeing Co., has decided to stop producing the AH-64D, putting a cap
on the GSDF's number of the Apache Longbows at 13.

The unusually high unit price of 21.6 billion yen also includes
MOD's step to shoulder the equipment investment for the Japanese
maker producing the AH-64D under license.

A senior MOD official commented: "The cost can be reduced
substantially by purchasing products in bulk in the initial year
instead of obtaining equipment in multiple years based on the
single-year rule."

9) MOD to increase procurement officers to review high-cost
equipment

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 20, 2007

The Ministry of Defense (MOD) held a meeting yesterday of the
project team chaired by Parliamentary Secretary for Defense Minoru
Terada to study how defense equipment should be procured, and
discussed ways to correct the ministry's structure to purchase
products at cost, as was exposed by defense contractor Yamada
Corp.'s bill-padding practice. In order to prevent trading houses
from overcharging for equipment by forging estimates, MOD has
decided to strengthen the checking system by adding seven import
procurement officers to the Equipment Procurement and Construction
Office in the United States, which is currently staffed with three.

At present, two import procurement officers are stationed in New
York and one in Los Angeles to research prices. MOD intends to
establish a 10-person checking system, such as by increasing the
number of officers in New York to four and that in Los Angeles to
three, to increase the inspection rate from the current less than 7
PERCENT to 33 PERCENT . In dispatching personnel, the ministry will
implement educational programs to enhance language skills and
expertise in such areas as business transactions in the United
States.

At the same time, in order to curb the equipment-related businesses
expenditures totaling 1.8 trillion yen, MOD has also decided to aim
at reducing the costs by 15 PERCENT by fiscal 2011.

10) Reform of independent administrative institutions: NEXI to
become a government corporation; 200 IAIs to be reduced to 86

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 20, 2007

A general agreement was reached yesterday in negotiations between
Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura and other cabinet
ministers that the present 200 independent administrative
institutions will be reduced to 86 by such means as privatization of

TOKYO 00005615 006 OF 007


merger. In his session with Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
Minister Akira Amari, Machimura proposed turning the Nippon Export
and Investment Insurance (NEXI) to a wholly-owned (100 PERCENT )
government corporation and Amari expressed the acceptance of the
proposal on the condition that the government will not sell its
owned shares in the corporation.

Machimura and Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Minister Tetsuzo
Fuyushiba confirmed a policy direction of delaying three years a
conclusion on privatizing the Urban Renaissance Agency (URA) and
Japan Housing Finance Agency. However since Administrative Reform
Minister Yoshimi Watanabe strongly opposed the idea, a final
decision will be made by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. Asked by
reporters about how he would handle such issues as URA
privatization, Fukuda responded last night: "If possible, I would
like to make decisions in the 21st." The outlook is however that the
privatization issue will be resolved as agreed by Machimura and
Fuyushiba.

Machimura and Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe
agreed to integrate the National Institute of Occupational Safety
and Health, Japan and the Japan Labor and Welfare Organization. They
also decided to reach a conclusion within one year on a review of
the management of Employment and Human Resources Development
Organization of Japan.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Kisaburo
Tokai told Machimura that his ministry would accept his proposals:
Merger of the National Research Institute for Earth Science and
Disaster Prevention and Japan Agency for Marine-earth Science and
Technology be merged; and merger of two university-related
independent administrative institutions. Machimura and Agriculture,
Forestry and Fisheries Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi agreed to
merge three independent administrative institutions.

11) Australia to monitor Japanese whalers with eye on future legal
action

ASAHI (Page 7) (Full)
December 20, 2007

Akihito Sugii, Singapore

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Environment Minister
Peter Garrett announced yesterday that their country would dispatch
customs vessels to monitor Japanese whale-research ships in the
Antarctic Ocean in the coming days. The customs vessels will collect
photographic and video evidence for use in support of future
Australian legal action to the International Court of Justice and
the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Smith stated at a press conference held in Canberra: "We cannot
scientifically justify the killing of whales." The customs vessels
are expected to monitor Japanese whalers for about 20 days.
Australia will also dispatch government aircraft which are used for
scientific research of the Antarctic Continent.

Smith said that the purpose of dispatch of the ships was
surveillance of whaling activities and collection of evidence, not
enforcement or intervention. He also stated that Australia would
create a new post in charge of preservation of whales, and that
Australia together with other anti-whaling countries would urge the

TOKYO 00005615 007 OF 007


Japanese government to suspend whaling, taking advantage such
occasions as the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

The Australian government reportedly notified the Japanese
government through the Japanese Embassy in Canberra.

Smith stated: "Australia places importance on close and friendly
relations with Japan. But this is something to which we can never
agree."

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's stance of not hesitating to dispatch
marine vessels and aircraft is not supported by opposition leader
head Nelson, who said, "Such would substantially damage our
relations with Japan."

Ships of the Institute of Cetacean Research (in Tokyo), which left
Shimonoseki Port in Yamaguchi Prefecture, have already arrived in
the Antarctic Ocean. The institute plans to capture about 850 mink
whales, 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales.

The institute has decided to take humpback whales starting this
year. However, Australia has strongly opposed to hunting them
because they are resources used to promote tourism in Australia.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura: Japan will explain need for
research-whaling in the future as well

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura stated in a press
conference yesterday:

"The Australian government announced the dispatch of airplanes and
ships. We have acknowledged there is a strong opposition against
(Japan's research-whaling). Japan wants to explain through
diplomatic channels the need for research-whaling in the future as
well."

He then revealed that the Japanese government would continue to seek
Australia's understanding.

SCHIEFFER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

New IPCC Report: ‘Unprecedented Changes’ Needed To Limit Global Warming

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes,” such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, says a special report that finds some of the actions needed are already under way, but the world must move faster… More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO:

Sulawesi Quake, Tsunami: Aid Response Begins

Oxfam and its local partners are standing by to deploy emergency staff and resources to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, as an estimated 1.5 million people are thought to be affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit on Friday. More>>

ALSO:

Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>

ALSO: