Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 01/11/08

DE RUEHKO #0103/01 0110808
P 110808Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) New antiterrorism bill to be enacted today, leaving impression
that DPJ was fighting windmills (Yomiuri)

(2) U.S. State Department welcomes passage of antiterrorism
legislation (Mainichi)

(3) Upper House deliberations on refueling assistance bill end after
only scratching the surface (Asahi)

(4) Application of Article 59 of Constitution to new refueling
legislation (Tokyo Shimbun)

(5) Editorial: DPJ's attitude in Diet beyond comprehension (Nikkei)

(6) Season for LDP factions to increase membership (Yomiuri)

(7) Legislature part 1 (b): Fear of overheated scattering of
pork-barrel largesse (Yomiuri)

(8) Diet lopsided (Part 3): Fukuda determined to override upper
chamber (Yomiuri)


(1) New antiterrorism bill to be enacted today, leaving impression
that DPJ was fighting windmills

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Abridged)
January 11, 2008

The new antiterrorism special measures bill is to be put to a second
vote in the Lower House plenary session today and be passed into law
three months after it was submitted to the Diet. During that time,
the major opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the first
party in the Upper House, spent its time running about in confusion
in handling the legislation. The government and the ruling bloc,
helped by Prime Minister Fukuda's persistence, somehow managed to
enact the bill, however. They still have the task of addressing
future challenges to the management of the Diet, such as closer
cooperation between the executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic
Party's (LDP) Lower House and Upper House Caucuses.


"The DPJ does not have a single-party majority in the Upper House,
so we should have exchanged views in a more detailed manner with
other opposition parties," the DPJ's Deputy President Kan said at a
press briefing yesterday, humbly reflecting on the fact that the
party was wavering in its responses during the current session of
the Diet, for instance, at one point the party threw away its
initial policy of carrying over the new antiterrorism bill to the
next Diet session.

Other opposition parties are still angry at the DPJ.

The Japanese Communist Party's (JDP) Chairman Shii criticized the
DPJ at a press conference: "The DPJ helped the LDP twice in the
final days (of the Diet session). First, it submitted a
counterproposal, and next, it turned around its initial policy of
rejecting (the new antiterrorism bill) and instead decided to carry

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over the bill to the next Diet session. Although (DPJ President
Ozawa) said he was confronting the ruling bloc, the party's
confrontational stance lacked substance."

The People's New Party's (PNP) Secretary General Hisaoki Kamei
warned the DPJ at a press briefing prior to the ordinary Diet
session to be convened on Jan. 18: "It is necessary to be humble in
working in the Diet."

The DPJ's initial strategy toward the new antiterrorism legislation
was that "the opposition parties, which control the Upper House,
would buy time in the Upper House in order to force the ruling bloc
to scrap the bill and instead accept the entirety of the DPJ's
counterproposal," as one senior DPJ lawmaker put it. In October,
Ozawa in an article for a monthly journal declared that if the DPJ
took over the government, he would like to realize Japan's
participation in the International Security and Assistance Force
(ISAF), but he concluded that the Maritime Self-Defense Force's
(MSDF) refueling operations in the Indian Ocean was a violation of
the Constitution. Ozawa instructed his party members to prepare a
counterproposal that would reflect his views.

Many members of the party, however, raised objections to Ozawa's
idea, and drafting a counterproposal was not easy. Many opposed the
submission of the counterproposal. At one point, the party decided
to defer submitting it. In the one-on-one meeting with Prime
Minister Fukuda, Ozawa aimed at forming a grand coalition with the
LDP, but their conversation bore no fruit, so, eventually Ozawa's
strategy fell apart.

After the fuss caused by Ozawa when he offered his resignation as
president to take responsibility for the failure of his idea of
forming a grand coalition, the DPJ continued to appear to be
wavering in its responses to the new antiterrorism bill.

At a time when the DPJ introduced its counterproposal in the Upper
House at the end of December, Ozawa was discussing his strategy of
carrying over both the new antiterrorism bill and the
counterproposal to the next Diet session with DPJ Upper House Caucus
Chairman Azuma Koshiishi, Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji, and
other DPJ executive officers.

One executive DPJ officer gave this explanation about the purpose of
the submission of the counterproposal: "We aimed at giving the
impression that the ruling bloc was high-handed by letting it put
the antiterrorism bill to a second vote despite the opposition
bloc's call for carrying over the antiterrorism bill to the next
Diet session. This was also related to the party's decision to
forego submitting a censure motion against the prime minister."

The last tactic to demonstrate its resistance against the
antiterrorism legislation was easily frustrated.

LDP uneasy about cooperation between its Upper House and Lower House

The government and the ruling bloc gave the highest priority to the
adoption of the new antiterrorism bill in the Diet and steered the
Diet in an aggressive fashion.

LDP Secretary General Ibuki made this critical remark at a general
meeting yesterday of his Ibuki faction: "The DPJ should have come up

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with its counterproposal a little more early. It appeared to be
maneuvering for party interests because it introduced its
counterproposal at the end of the Diet session." LFP Upper House
Caucus Chairman Otsuji told reporters: "Taking a second vote (on the
antiterrorism legislation) in the Lower House is a right action
stipulated in the Constitution."

Prime Minister Fukuda from the beginning signaled his intention to
re-adopt the legislation in the Lower House. Fukuda's determination
contained those who were cautious about taking a second vote on the
legislation in the ruling bloc with one New Komeito member arguing,
"How about carrying over the bill to the upcoming regular Diet

An optimistic view now emerging in the LDP is that if the ruling
bloc assumes a tough stance in the Diet from now on, as well, the
DPJ's responses to the Diet would be weak.

However, the LDP, too, has the task to address in terms of how
closely its members of the Lower House and Upper House will work

At a time of re-extending the term of the current Diet session in
last December, the LDP Upper House Caucus assumed that the DPJ would
defer discussion and insisted from the beginning that the Diet
session be extended to sometime in January, but the LDP Lower House
Caucus, in anticipation of the DPJ's concessions, called until the
last moment for extending the session to the end of the year. But
the LDP eventually decided to extend the term broadly. Members in
the LDP Upper House Caucus are unhappy with the LDP Lower House
members, with one Upper House member arguing, "The Lower House
members do not understand that it is impossible to expect the DPJ to
behave as if it were living up to the LDP's expectations."

(2) U.S. State Department welcomes passage of antiterrorism

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Full)
Eve., January 11, 2008

Hiroshi Wada in Washington

Japan Desk Director James Zumwalt of the U.S. Department of State,
meeting on Jan. 10 with the Japan press corps, welcomed the
impending enactment of the new Antiterrorism Special Measures Law.
He expressed his expectation for an early resumption of the
(Maritime Self-Defense Force) refueling mission (in the Indian

(3) Upper House deliberations on refueling assistance bill end after
only scratching the surface

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged slightly)
January 11, 2008

Deliberations in the House of Councillors on the
government-sponsored refueling assistance bill stopped short of
shedding light on the oil diversion allegation and discussing the
contents of the bill mainly because the major opposition Democratic
Party of Japan spent much time pursuing a series of scandals
involving the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and also because many
contentious points had already been discussed in the House of

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Representatives. At the same time, as seen in heated discussions on
the option of enacting a general law on the overseas dispatch of the
Self-Defense Forces, there are signs of new security debate between
the ruling and opposition camps.

Deliberations on oil-diversion and cover-up allegations lose

Some 60 days have passed since the bill cleared the House of
Representatives on November 13. In Upper House deliberations, the
DPJ and other opposition parties put high priority on pursuing the
series of scandals involving former Administrative Vice-Defense
Minister Takemasa Moriya. Conducting Moriya's sworn testimony
following that in the Lower House, the upper chamber successfully
elicited the names of the lawmakers who had been present at a party
from the former vice-defense chief. The Upper House undoubtedly
achieved certain results.

But the chamber's efforts to shed light on allegations that Japanese
oil had been diverted for use in the Iraq operation and that MOD had
covered up the underreported fuel the MSDF supplied to a U.S. supply
ship lost steam in the end.

MOD's survey of 794 refueling operations for six years' time found
that some 20 PERCENT of the oil had gone to ships that were engaged
in multiple operations, such as the Iraq operations.

MOD disclosed voluminous data, including a supply ship's logbook,
that was largely blacked out. The barrier of military secrecy was
thick. The government brushed aside the diversion allegation on the
strength of clear denials by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas
Schieffer and other key U.S. government officials. It was difficult
to pursue the allegation further.

In 2003, the MSDF underreported the fuel it provided to a U.S. oiler
and left the amount uncorrected, allowing cabinet ministers to make
mistaken replies. Some opposition members pointed out the
involvement of senior officials of the then Defense Agency. Despite
that, MOD's conclusion held the Maritime Staff Office accountable.

Last night, reporters at the Prime Minister's Official Residence
(Kantei) asked Prime Minister Fukuda if the new refueling bill had
been discussed thoroughly. In response, the prime minister said with
confidence: "There were many similar questions, and I think that
means it was debated thoroughly."

Debate on general law gaining steam

The validity of the refueling assistance legislation is one year.
Operation beyond that period requires an additional legal step.
Feeling limits to the approach of repeatedly enacting special
measures laws for SDF overseas missions, the government and ruling
parties have come up with the idea of enacting a general law
(permanent law) enabling the government to dispatch the SDF as
necessary. The matter was discussed actively in the course of Upper
House deliberations.

Before the Upper House Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
yesterday, Prime Minister Fukuda expressed strong eagerness for
enacting general legislation, saying: "It is vital to let other
counties know that Japan is eager to extend international
cooperation. Japan must carry out activities appropriately so as not

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to be labeled as a free-rider relying heavily on other countries'

SDF-officer-turned-LDP-lawmaker Masahisa Sato also said on Jan. 8:
"The government must clearly present its basic thinking about
international activities to the Japanese people and the
international community." In response, Chief Cabinet Secretary
Nobutaka Machimura stated: "Many members not only from the ruling
camp but also from the opposition bloc mentioned the need for
general legislation. I think there is a positive environment for

When Prime Minister Fukuda and DPJ President Ozawa discussed forming
a grand coalition, they also agreed on the need to enact a general
law. There are positive views in the DPJ as well. The government and
ruling parties also want to break the deadlocked talks with the DPJ
by using general legislation.

(4) Application of Article 59 of Constitution to new refueling

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Full)
January 11, 2008

The new antiterrorism special measures bill is expected to be put to
a second vote in the plenary session of the Lower House on Jan. 11
and passed into law by a majority vote of members of the ruling
parties. It is the first time in 57 years for the Lower House to put
a bill voted down in the Upper House to a second vote in the Lower
House, by applying the regulation provided under Article 59 of the
Constitution. The Tokyo Shimbun asked two experts who are for and
against the move about the appropriateness of the application of the
Article 59

Article 59 (vote on bills and supremacy of the Lower House)

1. A bill becomes a law on passage by both Houses, except as
otherwise provided by the Constitution.
2. A bill which is passed by the House of Representatives, and upon
which the House of Councillors makes a decision different from that
of the House of Representatives, becomes a law when passed a second
time by the House of Representatives by a majority of two-thirds or
more of the members present.
3. The provision of the preceding paragraph does not preclude the
House of Representatives from calling for the meeting of a joint
committee of both Houses, provided for by law.
4. Failure by the House of Councillors to take final action within
sixty (60) days after receipt of a bill passed by the House of
Representatives, time in recess excepted, may be determined by the
House of Representatives to constitute a rejection of the said bill
by the House of Councillors.

For: Koji Murata, professor at Doshisha University; Decision on
whether to exercise the Article depends on political will

-- Do you think it is appropriate for the ruling parties to put the
bill to a second vote in the Lower House?

"Whether to apply the Article or not is the matter of a political
will. Whether this bill is worth undergoing a second vote depends on
individuals' judgments. In terms of procedures, there is no problem
about the ruling parties exercising Article 59, based on the prime

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minister's decision."

-- Is it worth applying the Article to the new refueling

"It has become worthy of doing so. Since former Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe declared that he would stake his political career on the
bill, international interest in the matter and its importance has
heightened. It is only natural for the opposition camp to oppose to
such a determination by the prime minister. Since the legislation
has been made a contentious issue, whether the bill obtains Diet
approval has become something like a litmus test of Japan's
international contributions and future relations between Japan and
the U.S."

-- The opposition camp is criticizing the move, claiming that it
lacks a national consensus.

"The typical pattern of public opinion on the security issue is that
those who are for, against and do not know account for one-third of
respondents, respectively. Since the issue is not directly related
to people's lives, clear-cut public opinion will not be formed. As
such, it does not make sense to say that Article 59 should not be
exercised until public opinion is formed."

-- A point has been made that putting the bill to a second vote is
contrary to the public will shown in the Upper House election last

"The major point at issue in the Upper House election was the
pension issue. If the ruling parties proceed with pension reform
without lending an ear to the opposition camp, they would be
ignoring the public will. However, this is not the case here this."

-- There is the possibility of the ruling parties repeatedly putting
bills to a second vote in the future.

"It is unusual that the Lower and Upper Houses are controlled by
different camps. It is also unusual that the ruling parties account
for two-thirds of the members of the Lower House. It is important to
realize that we should not consider such coincidences as a
conventional case."

-- Do you think even bills directly related to people's lives should
undergo a second vote?

"The public would strongly react to the idea of exercising the
Article for bills directly related to voters' lives, such as the
gasoline tax. Public support ratings for the cabinet are bound to
drop further. Prime Minister Fukuda would be negative toward the
idea, even though doing so is legally possible."

Koji Murata: Born in Kobe in 1964. Graduated from Doshisha
University. Studied at George Washington University. Graduated from
the Kobe University Graduate School of Law. Serving in the present
position since 2005, after serving as an associate professor at
Hiroshima University. Fields of specialization are American
diplomacy and security policy studies. 43 years old.

Against: Setsu Kobayashi, professor at Keio University; Bill should
be scrapped in principle, since it does not reflect public will

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-- The ruling parties will adopt the new refueling legislation in a
second vote in the Lower House. What is your view on that?

"I cannot believe it. Given the results of opinion polls, there is
no public opinion supporting a resumption of the refueling
operations (in the Indian Ocean by the Maritime Self-Defense Force).
They insist that since they have a majority of two-thirds in the
Lower House, they are entitled to use the second-vote right. It is
an offense to democracy."

-- The ruling parties are insisting that putting the bill to a
second vote is the right given by the Constitution.

"Putting a bill to a second vote should be a special exception.
Article 59 of the Constitution provides that a bill becomes a law on
passage by both Houses. And yet, the LDP asserts that it is a usual
practice to put a bill to a second vote in the Lower House in the
event it is voted down in the Lower House. The two-chamber system is
a method of correctly reflecting public will, by having two
chambers, instead of one. Bills should be killed if they fail to
obtain approval from both Houses."

-- In reality, the ruling parties have a two-thirds majority in the
Lower House.

"The premise of that regulation is that since the Lower House can be
dissolved, it is constantly subject to the public will. However, the
LDP suffered a crushing defeat in the Upper House election last
year. The ruling parties' two-thirds majority in the Lower House
reflects the public will of two years ago. If Prime Minister Fukuda
insists that it is important to pass the legislation, he should
dissolve the Lower House to gain a two-thirds majority."

-- What is your view on the necessity of the refueling operations?

"Concerned cabinet ministers had warned that if the new legislation
were not passed into law, Japan would find itself isolated in the
international community. However, nothing like that has happened.
Americans want to end the war. It was careless of former Prime
Minister Abe and Prime Minister Fukuda to have made a commitment to
the U.S."

-- There is the possibility of the ruling parties repeatedly putting
bills to a second vote in the future.

"It is not possible to exercise the two-thirds majority right in a
casual manner. The public would think it arrogant if the Diet gives
approval in a second vote without public support. They can do it if
they like, and set the conditions for being defeated in a Lower
House election."

Setsu Kobayashi: Born in Tokyo in 1949. Graduated from the Keio
University Graduate School of Law. Attorney since 1989, after
serving as guest researcher at Harvard University. Fields of
specialization are the Constitution and modern politics. Attorney.
58 years old.

(5) Editorial: DPJ's attitude in Diet beyond comprehension

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
January 11, 2008

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The government's new antiterrorism bill designed to enable the
Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) to resume its refueling mission
in the Indian Ocean was voted down yesterday in the House of
Councillors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee by an
opposition-bloc majority. It was a too-late decision made by the
Upper House. The bill is expected to be rejected at an Upper House
plenary session today and then will be brought back into the House
of Representatives for a revote the same day. In its plenary
session, the bill will be finally passed by the ruling camp's
two-thirds overriding vote.

The MSDF refueling operation naturally must be resumed quickly,
because it is Japan's key contribution to fighting terrorism. But
the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) prolonged the deliberations on
the bill until the last moment and caused the suspension of the
refueling mission for a long period. The DPJ's attitude in the Diet
is totally incomprehensible. The DPJ is not just an opposition party
but is in partial charge of managing the affairs of state as the
main party in the Upper House. The party should be more aware of its

Prior to the start of deliberations on the new antiterrorism bill in
the Upper House, the Nikkei continued to emphasize the need for the
ruling and opposition camps to find common ground through talks in a
sensible way, adding that if it is difficult to do so, the Upper
House should quickly express its intention. Regrettably, such
expectations were betrayed, and a decision was made to extend the
extraordinary Diet session.

It was late last year when the DPJ finally submitted its
counterproposal. The party should have submitted it much earlier.
The DPJ counterproposal conditionally allows the dispatch of Ground
Self-Defense Force troops to Afghanistan to assist civilians there.
But it is hard to say at the present point of time that the DPJ
proposal is an effective, appropriate policy. There are objections
even in the DPJ.

Even at the last moment of the Diet session, the DPJ failed to take
proper steps. It initially intended to force the government to carry
its new antiterrorism bill and the DPJ counterproposal over to the
next ordinary Diet session. But it is irrational that the party did
not demonstrate the intention of the Upper House during the two
months of deliberations. Even the significance of the existence of
the Upper House may be questioned. Since the Japanese Communist
Party and the Social Democratic Party strongly opposed continued
discussion, the DPJ had to make a policy switch to take a vote on
the bill in the current session. It is a matter of course that the
DPJ is criticized as being swayed by party interests.

Once the new antiterrorism bill is passed in the Diet today, the
focus of attention will be shifted to deliberations on a budget bill
in the ordinary Diet session to be convened on Jan. 18. The Liberal
Democratic Party and the DPJ will inevitably clash head-on over what
to do about the provisional gasoline tax rate, but unless the budget
bill is passed into law by the end of March, financial losses may be
generated, and eventually great confusion may be caused. The ruling
and opposition parties are now required to take a responsible
attitude in order to prevent confusion in the people's daily lives.

(6) Season for LDP factions to increase membership

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)

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January 11, 2008

Factions in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are now
working on increasing their membership. The Koga and Tanigaki
factions, which were derived from the former Miyazawa faction, are
expected to merge. The factions have likely been motivated to
prepare for the political situation after the next House of
Representatives election, as they have predicted that Prime Minister
Yasuo Fukuda will give them a certain level of understanding for
their moves as he became LDP president backed by eight factions,
excluding the one headed by Taro Aso.

Election Committee Chairman Makoto Koga, who heads a faction, told
reporters yesterday: "Along with the (Tanigaki faction), our faction
will continue to support the Fukuda government and will take the
lead in rebuilding the LDP." Policy Research Council Chairman
Sadakazu Tanigaki, who also heads a faction, stated in a meeting of
his faction: "I would like to discuss with Mr. Koga creating a
faction that would be acceptable."

Koga and Tanigaki will hold a meeting on Jan. 16 to confirm the
merger plan. The membership of the expanded faction will total 61,
on a par with the second largest Tsushima faction (membership of

Former Policy Research Council Chairman Nobuteru Ishihara joined the
Yamasaki faction last December. The faction is expected to expand
its membership. Some take the view that faction head Taku Yamasaki
let Ishihara join his faction to seek to constrain Economy, Trade
and Industry Minister Akira Amari and former Secretary General
Tsutomu Takebe, who are influential in the faction.


The Tsushima, Ibuki and Aso factions have boosted their memberships.
The reason for the increase is that they believe larger factions
will receive more cabinet and party posts than smaller ones when the
cabinet and party executive posts are reshuffled. Depending on the
outcome of the next Lower House race, political realignment might
occur. With that in mind, a Koga faction member said: "It would be
easier for large factions to take political leadership."

A senior member of the Machimura faction, to which Fukuda used to
belong, noted: "If our faction broadly expands the membership, we
will come under criticism from other factions." Therefore, the
faction has taken a cautious stance toward the expansion of its
membership, only recruiting House of Councillors members elected
last July.

The factions have called mostly on lawmakers who do not belong to
any faction to join them. But some lawmakers with no factional
allegiance have taken part in the policy study group called "New
Breeze," which is led by Takebe.

There is also a move by a cross-factional study group. The Ibuki
faction deputy chief, Shoichi Nakagawa, and conservative lawmakers
formed a study group they call the "true conservative policy
association." The group has given rise to much speculation that it
may support Aso in the party's next presidential race.

Number of members of LDP factions

Faction Lower House members Upper House members Total
Machimura 59 25 84

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Tsushima 46 22 68

Koga 38 8 46
Yamasaki 37 3 40
Ibuki 21 7 27
Aso 15 3 18
Nikai 14 2 16
Koumura 14 1 15
Tanigaki 12 3 15
No faction 49 10 59

(7) Legislature part 1 (b): Fear of overheated scattering of
pork-barrel largesse

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Abridged slightly)
January 9, 2008

Measures to improve services to the public can easily obtain
agreements from various parties. Amid the widespread observation
that dissolution of the Lower House and a snap election would be
imminent, lawmakers are beginning to float policies that have a
strong flavor of bringing in pork-barrel largesse.

Catchy headlines

The LDP's organ newspaper on Jan. 1 featured articles on
agricultural policies with such headlines as "Another 111 billion
yen secured in budget" and "LDP will protect agriculture and farm
villages." LDP printed 1.5 million copies and distributed them in
rural areas from the end of the year through the beginning of the
new year. There are 111 billion yen in additional
agriculture-related budgetary funds earmarked in the fiscal 2007
supplementary budget and the fiscal 2008 draft budget.

The fiscal 2008 draft budget was adopted at a cabinet meeting on
Dec. 24. About 20 farmers gathered the same day in Meiwa Town, Gunma
Prefecture, where there are vast stretches of paddy fields and pear
farms. Former Agriculture Minister Yoshio Yatsu looked at the
farmers and successively proposed the amounts of subsidies the LDP
would pledge: "We will give 50,000 yen to those who have reduced
acreage. Those who are going to do so from now will get 30,000 yen.
We will give additional 50,000 yen to those who grow feed-grain

As if it were driven by the DPJ, the government made another
decision to pay lump-sum money to farmers who pledge to adjust
production over a long period of time. It also plans to pay
additional lump-sum money to farmers who grow non-stable rice, such
as feed-grain rice, recognizing such as crops grown as a result of
reduced acreage.

Takashi Shinohara, a Lower House member of the DPJ, was making an
impassioned speech with data in his hand in Ukiha City in the
southeastern part of Fukuoka Prefecture: "You see how government
policies have become close to the DPJ's policies. However, we will
directly pay 1 trillion yen to farmers. The government would pay
only 200 billion yen in all. This is only one-fifth of the amount
the DPJ will pay." About 300 farmers in the audience were listening

Shinohara, a former bureaucrat of the agriculture ministry, is often
invited as a speaker to meetings of his peer lawmakers. LDP
supporters who wanted to listen to the DPJ's policy were also seen

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among the audience.

DPJ is the party to consult with first

There have been a number of cases in which the DPJ's moves
determined the government's and the ruling camp's policy decisions.

A proposal for lowering the level of the payment of welfare
benefits was floated in the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare
(MHLW) in November last year. The proposal was made, following the
report an experts council compiled. The report noted that the level
of a livelihood assistance portion in welfare benefits is higher
than actual living expenses of low-income households.

Makoto Yuasa (38), secretary general of the Moyai Support Center for
Independent Life, an nonprofit organization that provides
consultation for those who have trouble making a living, such as
working poor or homeless people, launched a campaign to oppose
lowering the level of the payment of welfare benefits. Yuasa, first
of all, asked the DPJ to provide an opportunity for his group to
report on the actual situation of poor and needy people. The DPJ
pledged to invite Yuasa to a meeting of the DPJ's welfare and labor

Yuasa told a New Komeito lawmaker, "The DPJ pledged to us that it
will listen to what we have to say." The New Komeito then decided to
invite Yuasa to its division meeting.

On Nov. 30, Yuasa met with Hidehisa Otsuji, former welfare minister
and chairman of the LDP Upper House Caucus, in the Diet building.
After telling Otsuji that he has also worked on the DPJ and the New
Komeito on the issue, Yuasa said to Otsuji, "Please constrain the
welfare ministry from taking unrestrained actions." Otsuji
understood Yuasa's request and said, "Taking a toll on the socially
weak is not good." He then telephoned Director General Hidekazu
Nakamura of the Social Welfare Bureau of the MHLW and asked him to
reconsider the plan.

The MHLW in December decided to put the plan on the back-burner.

No results produced

Of 13 bills the DPJ submitted to the Upper House during the current
session, only one was enacted. It was an amendment to the Natural
Disaster Victims Relief Law, which it submitted jointly with the
LDP-sponsored bill.

Hiroshi Kawauchi, senior vice chairman of the Lower House Diet
Affairs Committee, who is out in the forefront in negotiations
between the ruling and opposition camps in the Diet, said, "Our
bills do not even get a chance to be deliberated in the Lower House.
We should work on the ruling parties for policy talks with the
resolve that we must by all means realize our policies."

The primary role of legislature is to enable the ruling and
opposition camps to find common ground while cooperating or
confronting at times, so that bills that are necessary for the
people are passed into law. However, since the DPJ has brought to
the forefront its basic strategy of snatching administration, by
driving the Fukuda administration into an early dissolution of the
Lower House and a snap election, it is difficult for it to shift its
policy course to flexibly cooperation with the ruling camp.

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Masashi Waki, senior vice chairman of the Upper House Diet Affairs
Committee, said, "The ruling parties are responsible for passing
bills. If the DPJ opposes bills we submit in the Upper House, we
must overcome their opposition, by putting them to a second vote in
the Lower House for approval by a two-third majority of the ruling
parties. This is not a tricky move but the royal road."

Both the ruling and opposition camps remain unable to find a
breakthrough, though they are dissatisfied with the present
situation of legislature. It is the people who will have to pick up
the tab for this policy impasse.

(8) Diet lopsided (Part 3): Fukuda determined to override upper

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
January 11, 2008

The city of Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture is where the Maritime
Self-Defense Force locates the headquarters of its Yokosuka fleet. A
number of destroyers are lined up there in port. There is also a
supply ship there named "Tokiwa."

In November last year, the Antiterrorism Special Measures Law
expired. The MSDF wound up its refueling mission in the Indian Ocean
and pulled out. It is now over two months since then. "If we could
come back after handing over our duties to the next ship, that would
have been the 100 PERCENT attainment of our mission. I feel as if I
had left my heart behind." So saying, MSDF Master Chief Petty
Officer Akio Masuda, 48, bit his lip. He was engaged in the
refueling mission.

A new antiterrorism bill is now before the Diet. The legislation is
for Japan to send an MSDF squadron back to the Indian Ocean for
refueling activities. Today, it will be enacted with a majority of
two-thirds or more in a second-time vote of the House of
Representatives. This second vote, as allowed under Article 59 of
the Constitution, will be invoked for the first time in a half a

The Defense Ministry is working night and day to load the outbound
MSDF vessels with supplies. Normally, MSDF crewmen get two
preventive shots before departure. This time, they will have a
second shot at sea on their way to the Indian Ocean. "It normally
takes one month to get ready for departure," an MSDF staff officer
said. "But," he went on, "we're not allowed any more blank periods."
He added, "We'd like to get ready in two weeks."

The Diet is now lopsided, with the ruling parties dominating the
House of Representatives and the opposition parties controlling the
House of Councillors. This parliamentary distortion is casting a
shadow over Japan's foreign and security policies. After
discontinuing the MSDF refueling mission, the government desperately
sought understanding from various countries. Katsutoshi Kono, 53,
director general of the Operations and Plans Department of the
Maritime Staff Office, and other MSDF officers visited the U.S.
Pacific Fleet in Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Defense in
Washington for a week from Dec. 2 last year to explain Japan's
political situation.

Kono said: "The opposition parties are against the refueling

TOKYO 00000103 013 OF 013

legislation. But the Constitution provides for the House of
Representatives to override with a second vote. It's up to the prime
minister's decision."

A U.S. Navy officer responded: "I understand the political situation
in Japan. I hope you will come back after going through democratic

Last fall, the ruling parties were wavering over whether to take a
second vote in the House of Representatives. That is because they
feared that the prime minister might be driven to dissolve the Lower
House and call a general election if the leading opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) passed a censure motion against
the prime minister in the House of Councillors. New Komeito, the
LDP's coalition partner, was opposed to voting again on the bill.

In September last year, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister
Takehiko Endo, whose illegal receiving of state subsidies was
brought to light, resigned when the DPJ was poised to submit a
censure motion against him in the House of Councillors. A censure
resolution has no legal force. In 1998, however, the House of
Councillors passed a motion censuring Fukushiro Nukaga, the then
director of the Defense Agency. As a result, Nukaga resigned. His
case was a trauma for Endo.

The atmosphere, however, began to change. That was because the LDP
and the DPJ were in turmoil over the initiative to form a grand
coalition. DPJ President Ozawa, meeting the press on Nov. 4,
clarified his intention to resign as DPJ head. He said, "It would be
hard to win the next election for the House of Representatives."

Many people in the LDP took it that the DPJ was not ready yet to
fight seriously.

Makoto Koga, chairman of the LDP's Election Strategy Council, has
rejected a call for an early dissolution of the House of
Representatives. "The Constitution provides a second-time vote,"
Koga said in his Nov. 24 speech. He added: "If we can do so when
necessary, there's no need to panic. We must also think to serve out
our term in the House of Representatives."

On the evening of Dec. 11, Prime Minister Fukuda invited New Komeito
President Ota to his official residence. Fukuda then told Ota that
he was determined to have the new antiterrorism bill pass the Diet
during its current session. Ota was sure that Fukuda would not
dissolve the House of Representatives even if he was censured in the
House of Councillors.

The DPJ decided not to submit a censure motion against Fukuda in the
House of Councillors even if the House of Representatives overrides
the House of Councillors' rejection of the new antiterrorism bill.
That is because a censure resolution would lose its weight if it
ends in vain.

The Diet has been warped over the past five months. But Fukuda made
up his mind to unseal the lower chamber's second-time voting with a
majority of two thirds to override the upper chamber's decision.


© Scoop Media

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