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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 01/15/08

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 11 TOKYO 000116

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: DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS 01/15/08

INDEX:

(1) MSDF getting ready at high pitch for refueling mission
(Yomiuri)

(2) New refueling support legislation enacted; Government speeding
up preparations for resuming operation (Asahi)

(3) Iwakuni mayoral election following resignation of mayor opposed
transfer of U.S. carrier aircraft: Ruling parties making desperate
effort, putting USFJ reorganization on line; LDP candidate lacks
name recognition (Tokyo Shimbun)

(4) Long-term strategy essential for Japan's international
contributions in personnel (Nikkei)

(5) Real international contribution cannot be seen: Government
unable to forget trauma of the Gulf war (Asahi)

(6) DPJ puts off "decisive battle with ruling coalition," fails to
take advantage of opposition's majority in Upper House (Mainichi)

ARTICLES:

(1) MSDF getting ready at high pitch for refueling mission

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Full)
January 12, 2008

Now that the Diet has enacted a new antiterrorism special measures
law, the government is preparing at a high pitch to send a Maritime
Self-Defense Force squadron back to the Indian Ocean on a refueling
mission. It is now over two months since the MSDF pulled out.
Tensions remain high in the Indian Ocean and its periphery. The war
on terror is expected to be a long battle. However, the law is not
expected to be extended in a year. The Diet is still likely to be in
turmoil over the MSDF's refueling mission.

Prime Minister Fukuda said with a smile on the evening of Jan. 11:
"I think that the Diet discussed this matter for a total of about 80
hours in both houses. I also participated in the Diet deliberations
for about 30 hours. I believe that we've held enough discussions."

After the new antiterrorism special measures law was enacted,
Defense Minister Ishiba ordered the Joint Staff Office chief and the
Maritime Self-Defense Force chief of staff to prepare the MSDF to
resume refueling activities.

On Jan. 16, the government will call an ad hoc cabinet meeting to
adopt a masterplan for MSDF activities under the law.

The MSDF will dispatch two vessels to the Indian Ocean. One of the
two MSDF ships is the Oumi, a supply ship based at Sasebo, and the
other is the Murasame, a destroyer based at Yokosuka. "We normally
need three weeks," an MSDF staff office says. "But," the MSDF
officer added, "we will get ready in about two weeks." The two MSDF
vessels are expected to leave Japan on Jan. 24 for the Indian Ocean
in order to resume refueling activities there in mid-February.
According to the masterplan, the MSDF is to send a total crew of no
more than 500. However, the two ships will have a total of some 300
personnel onboard. They will stay in the Indian Ocean until the end
of June. Ahead of the scheduled dispatch, the MSDF will send two

TOKYO 00000116 002 OF 011


liaison officers to the Bahrain-based headquarters of multinational
naval forces.

In November last year, the Antiterrorism Special Measures Law
expired. Under that law, the MSDF was engaged in refueling
activities in the Indian Ocean for about six years from December
2001. During that time, the MSDF carried out a total of 794 fuel
supplies for naval vessels from 11 countries and provided them with
a total of approximately 490,000 kiloliters.

Under the newly enacted law, the MSDF will conduct refueling
activities for naval vessels from six countries engaged in maritime
interdiction operations in the Indian Ocean, including the United
States, Britain, France, and Pakistan. The MSDF, under the new law,
is expected to be tasked with refueling activities as well as under
the now-expired law.

"The MSDF's withdrawal affected other countries," says a senior
Foreign Ministry official. In particular, Pakistani naval ships
depended on MSDF fuel supplies. They often returned to ports in
Pakistan for fuel. The Pakistani government asked Japan to come back
at an early date, saying the efficiency of their operations was down
40 PERCENT . French ships also became less efficient in their
operations because they had to take 36 to 48 hours on average for
receiving fuel at ports in coastal countries, according to the
Foreign Ministry official.

What is serious to Japan is its lack of information, resulting from
its sending of no liaison officers to the headquarters in Bahrain.

After the MSDF's pullout from the Indian Ocean, there were some
scenes where tensions ran high. In Pakistan, there were riots. In
addition, Iranian boats provoked U.S. Navy ships in the Straits of
Hormuz, which is situated at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

Japan has posted no liaison officers to the headquarters in Bahrain.
This is why Japan has had almost no real-time information and could
not take any quick action, a government source says.

Foreign Ministry officials, as well as Defense Ministry officials,
point out a merit of the new antiterrorism law. They say Japan will
be able to obtain information about security situations in the
Middle East and South Asia by sending liaison officers to the
headquarters.

Japan to exchange notes for no fuel diversion

In the Indian Ocean, the MSDF provided fuel to vessels from
multinational forces for their maritime interdiction operations
(MIO). However, MSDF-supplied fuel was alleged to have been used for
military operations in Iraq. This alleged fuel diversion was taken
up in Diet deliberations.

The Defense Ministry therefore intends to prevent fuel diversion in
resuming the MSDF's refueling activities. To begin with, the Defense
Ministry will coordinate even more strictly at the Bahrain-based
headquarters of multinational forces engaged in MIO. The MSDF used
to make oral checks on how much fuel its supply ship provided and
what refueled ships were doing on their respective missions. From
now on, however, the Defense Ministry will format a database to keep
records. When providing fuel to foreign supply ships, the MSDF will
ask these foreign supply ships to specify the names of vessels to be

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refueled.

The Defense Ministry will also create a mechanism for the case where
the possibility of fuel diversion cannot be ruled out. In this case,
the defense minister, not the MSDF liaison officers, will decide on
whether to provide fuel.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry will exchange official notes with
the countries concerned in order to prevent fuel diversion. This
exchange of note specifies that their naval vessels receiving MSDF
fuel are engaged in maritime interdiction operations and that the
MSDF will carry out refueling services in order to help them with
their maritime interdiction operations.

The question, however, is the perfect prevention of fuel diversion
is feasible. "We have no choice but to believe their declaration," a
government source says. The government will actually forgo
after-refueling checks.

Meanwhile, the new antiterrorism law is temporary legislation with a
one-year time limit. Accordingly, the government will need to extend
the law within this year in order for Japan to continue the MSDF
mission after the law's expiry. Otherwise, the government will need
to pave the way to permanent legislation allowing Japan to send the
Self-Defense Forces for overseas missions.

The LDP had initially planned to create a law with a two-year time
limit. However, New Komeito, the LDP's coalition partner, insisted
that the legislation should be limited to one year from the
perspective of civilian control because it does not require the
government to ask the Diet for its prior approval of MSDF
activities. The LDP accepted New Komeito's assertion. Some LDP
lawmakers, however, are voicing concerns about the case where the
MSDF will be driven to pull out again in a year. "We were in a
hurry," an LDP lawmaker said. "But," this ruling lawmaker added, "we
should have set the time limit at two years for steady activities."

(2) New refueling support legislation enacted; Government speeding
up preparations for resuming operation

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged slightly)
January 12, 2008

Extra efforts for preventing Japanese oil being used for other
purposes

The government-sponsored refueling support bill allowing the
Maritime Self-Defense Force to resume its refueling operation in the
Indian Ocean cleared the Diet with its re-adoption in a House of
Representatives plenary session on Jan. 11. The government will now
step up its preparations for resuming SDF activities in
mid-February. Procedures for redeploying MSDF personnel and
coordination with concerned countries are already underway. The
United States, Pakistan and other relevant countries have also
released statements welcoming Japan's step to resume MSDF
activities.

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba on the afternoon of Jan. 11 issued
orders to the Joint Staff Chief of Staff, MSDF Chief of Staff and
others to make preparations, such as selecting personnel for the
dispatch.


TOKYO 00000116 004 OF 011


Expressing his eagerness to resume the refueling operation at the
earliest possible time, Ishiba in a press conference revealed a plan
to dispatch the supply ship Oumi and the destroyer Murasame from the
MSDF Yokosuka base.

It is projected that making preparations for the departure will take
a couple of weeks and the cruise from Japan to waters in the Indian
Ocean for activities will take additional three weeks. The Ministry
of Defense (MOD) is planning to send a group of some 300-400 MSDF
personnel, about the same size as that sent under the expired
Antiterrorism Special Measures Law.

The government intends to adopt at a cabinet meeting next week an
implementation plan specifying the size of the MSDF unit and the
duration of the operation. The personnel are expected to stay in the
Indian Ocean until the end of June. Under the new law, the duration
can be re-extended until the legislation expires next January.

Once the implementation plan is adopted by the cabinet meeting, MOD
will draw up operational plans, such as specific areas of
activities. This will be followed by Defense Minister Ishiba's order
for the SDF dispatch based on Prime Minister Fukuda's approval.

At the same time, the Foreign Ministry will begin work to exchange
notes specifying conditions for free-of-charge refueling support
with such countries as the United States and Britain. Under the old
law, allegations surfaced that Japanese oil had been diverted for
use other than Operation Enduring Freedom. Leaning a bitter lesson
from this, the government plans to ask other countries once again
not to use Japanese fuel for other purposes. "It's vital that
everyone sticks to this rule," Foreign Minister Koumura said in a
press conference yesterday afternoon.

As a step to prevent diversion, the MSDF plans to record the action
plans of the ships that would receive Japanese oil. The MSDF will
continue refueling the oiler that raised suspicions, as necessary.
Ishiba revealed a plan to check indirect refueling as well, saying:
"The MSDF will refuel foreign supply ships. We would like to get a
handle on how Japanese oil is eventually used."

Concerned countries release welcoming statements

Manabu Kitagawa, Islamabad

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sadiq of Pakistan, the only Islamic
country taking part in the U.S.-led operation to interdict the
transport of weapons and drugs in the Indian Ocean, stated on Jan.
11: "We welcome Japan's step to resume its refueling operation. We
would like to continue cooperating on the war on terror."

The Pakistani Navy has deployed 200 troops and a naval vessel
carrying helicopters to the Indian Ocean on a permanent basis.
Before the MSDF's withdrawal from the Indian Ocean last November,
the Japanese government had insisted that Japan's withdrawal would
hamper the naval operations, citing the Pakistani vessel's need for
high-octane gasoline. But the Pakistani spokesman indicated that the
suspension did not adversely affect the operations because the U.S.
Navy has operated an alternate supply ship.

For Pakistan, which is on the front line of the war on terror,
antiterrorism measures are more vital than conducting maritime
operations. Former President Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in late

TOKYO 00000116 005 OF 011


last December. What appeared to be a suicide attack on Jan. 10 on
Pakistani police in Lahore killed 26 individuals. According to a
research institute in Pakistan, 1,306 terrorist attacks occurred in
2007, compared to 657 in 2006.

Ambassador to Japan Haron Amin of Afghanistan, a beneficiary of the
maritime interdiction operations, released a statement saying:
"Japan's step will send a powerful message bringing hope to the
international community and Afghan people combating terrorism." But
the Afghan public has little interest in the resumption of the
MSDF's refueling operation. They are focused on the threat of the
Taliban, the national enemy.

An Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman described the year 2007 as the
bloodiest year since the Karzai administration was launched. Battles
and terrorist attacks killed 145 Afghan solders, 235 foreign
servicemen, and over 800 police officers.

Afghan Presidential Office spokesman Herawi strongly called for
Japan's support in military and police equipment as well as for its
participation in the military-civilian provincial reconstruction
team run by NATO, saying: "We would like to ask for more effective
antiterrorism measures by Japan."

U.S. also expresses hope

Yoichi Kato, Washington

U.S. State Department Japanese Affairs Director James Zumwalt
welcomed the enactment of the new antiterrorism legislation on Jan.
10 (Jan. 11, Japan), saying: "The U.S. government is hoping that
Japan will again be able to contribute to (activities) by the
coalition of the willing."

Zumwalt also noted about Japan's refueling operation: "It is
extremely vital in the war on terror. We truly welcome Japan's
support." He also simply indicated that it was too premature to tell
what effects the suspended refueling operation would result in.

Meanwhile, President Ralph Cossa of Pacific Forum, a U.S. think
tank, indicated that it would not harm the U.S.-Japan alliance,
saying: "There is no one in the U.S. government who blames the
Japanese government for the suspended refueling operation."

DPJ's Oe walks out of session before taking vote

House of Councillors member Yasuhiro Oe of the major opposition
Democratic Party of Japan walked out of the Upper House plenary
session on Jan. 11 before the refueling legislation was put to a
vote. Oe is also opposed to abolishing the current provisional
tariff on the special resources for building and improving road.
After the plenary session, Oe explained: "I have repeatedly
indicated that international cooperation is necessary. I made the
extremely difficult decision."

(3) Iwakuni mayoral election following resignation of mayor opposed
transfer of U.S. carrier aircraft: Ruling parties making desperate
effort, putting USFJ reorganization on line; LDP candidate lacks
name recognition

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
January 15, 2008

TOKYO 00000116 006 OF 011

The mayoral election in Iwakuni (Yamaguchi Prefecture) -- a city in
commotion over the transfer of U.S. carrier-based aircraft to a
local base as part of the reorganization of U.S. forces stationed in
Japan (USFJ) -- is expected to be officially announced on Feb. 3 and
take place on Feb. 10. The election follows the resignation of Mayor
Katsusuke Ihara, who was opposed to the transfer, after a
confrontation with the city assembly. Ihara and Lower House member
Yoshihiko Fukuda of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who is in
favor of the transfer, have declared their candidacies. The LDP,
however, is harboring a sense of crisis that a delay in the aircraft
transfer would adversely affect the Japan-US alliance.

Ihara in 2006 proposed and then held a local referendum to call into
question the propriety of transferring the U.S. jets from Atsugi
Naval Air Station to Iwakuni Air Station.

Nearly 90 PERCENT of the voters opposed the transfer. Getting a
boost from the election result, Ihara defeated his rival candidate,
who was in favor of the transfer, in a mayoral election held about a
month later.

The state then cancelled the allocation of about 3.5 billion yen as
a subsidy for the construction of a city hall. Ihara countered by
submitting a budget bill featuring the issuance of special exemption
bonds instead of depending on a subsidy. However, the Assembly
repeatedly voted down the bill.

Ihara stepped down on Dec. 28 only to declare his candidacy on Jan.
4 for a mayoral election. He is staging an election campaign to once
again challenge the acceptance of USFJ realignment.

Fukuda comes from Iwakuni City. After serving as an assembly member
of the city and a Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly member, he was
elected for the first time in the Lower House election in Sept.
2005. Diet members elected from local constituencies support Fukuda.
However, since Ihara's name recognition is high, senior officials of
the LDP campaign headquarters are bracing themselves, with one
saying, "We are going to have a tough battle."

Since Ihara has neither sought recommendations nor support from any
political party, the DPJ has opted for voluntary voting. Some local
governments have shown understand toward Ihara for opposing the
government's approach of pressing ahead with USFJ realignment by
using a carrot-and-stick strategy.

The by-election in the Lower House Yamaguchi No. 2 constituency
following Fukuda's declaration to run in the Iwakuni mayoral
election is also drawing attention. That is because it is the first
national election after the inauguration of the Fukuda
administration. It is also characterized as a preliminary skirmish
to the next Lower House election.

The DPJ has already decided to field Hideo Hiraoka, who ran in the
2005 Lower House election from the Yamaguchi No. 2 constituency and
was elected in the proportional representation system.

The ruling parties are now selecting a candidate. Names, such as
Upper House member Yoshimasa Hayashi elected from Yamaguchi
Prefecture, have been floated. However, if Hayashi runs, a
by-election for an Upper House seat has to be held. In that case,
selecting a candidate will likely be fraught with difficulty.

TOKYO 00000116 007 OF 011

The LDP intends to do its utmost for the mayoral election for the
time being with one senior member of the campaign headquarters
saying, "We must first deal with the mayoral election. The Lower
House by-election is something to be tackled after that."

(4) Long-term strategy essential for Japan's international
contributions in personnel

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Slightly abridged)
January 12, 2008

Hiroyuki Akita

Japan will soon resume its refueling mission in the Indian Ocean,
finally making a fresh start in its international contribution (to
the war on terror) after a brief hiatus. But this is just a start,
and Japan must not slacken its international efforts.

Prime Minister Fukuda's mixed feelings

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda displayed no sense of elation, knowing
full well that the resumption cannot be called progress.

According to one of his aides, the prime minister after making his
first trip to the United States last November began seriously
concerned about how the divided Diet -- where the ruling bloc
controls the Lower House and the opposition dominates -- is
affecting Japan's international relations. "My visits to the U.S.
and Asian countries have made me acutely realize the high hopes
those countries have for Japan," Fukuda said during a meeting held
at the beginning of the year of the three major economic
organizations. His comment gave a glimpse of his inner feelings.

In the 1991 Gulf war, although Japan contributed $13 billion to
cover war expenses (of the multinational forces), it came under a
shower of criticism as a country that "thinks everything can be
solved by throwing money at it." Learning a lesson from that
experience, Japan sent supply ships and Aegis vessels to the Indian
Ocean following the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Japan also dispatched Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel to Iraq,
where civil war still continues, becoming fully engaged in human
contributions.

Three and a half months have passed since the launching of the
Fukuda administration. What Japan should discuss now is a long-term
strategy that would illustrate how best to use the SDF and
contribute personnel to international efforts to bring peace and
stability to the world.

In the lopsided Diet, the many hours of debate were mostly focused
on the opposition camp's pursuing its suspicion that the fuel
supplied by Japan to other countries' vessels (in the Indian Ocean)
might have been consumed for purposes other than the Afghan war. As
a result, no in-depth, solid debate on national security ever took
place. The next session of the Diet will likely focus on the
question of permanent legislation for the overseas dispatch of the
SDF, but if the Diet turns out to be an arena for political strife,
Japan will find its international status sinking even lower.

Japan's international involvement continues to shrink. The number of
personnel Japan has sent to United Nations-led peacekeeping

TOKYO 00000116 008 OF 011


operations (PKOs) in the Golan Heights, Nepal, and other locations
has totaled only 53. At one point Japan's budget for official
development assistance (ODA) was number one in the world, but ODA
has been cut some 40 PERCENT over the past decade as of fiscal
2007.

One country's international involvement is linked to its presence in
the world. China in this context is making a strategic move.

China's participation in UN-related peace-keeping operation (PKOs)
has sharply expanded since 2000, and the number of Chinese
participating in PKOs has reached 1,820, or 34 times Japan's.
Speaking of this increase, a Chinese government official explained:
"We are contributing to the world because we would like other
countries to have a good image of China." But the countries to which
China has sent its personnel include Sudan and Congo, which produce
such natural resources as oil and rare metals. China is apparently
trying to build close ties with natural resources-producing
countries in preparation for a future shortage of energy.

Japan-U.S. alliance gradually strained

Japan's setback in its international contributions is also straining
its alliance with the U.S., the cornerstone of its national
security.

"Which is the more responsible country, Japan or China? If this
question crops up in the U.S. government, I have no choice but to
answer 'It's China,'" said a U.S. government official in speaking of
China's sudden increase in the number of personnel who take part in
PKO's when he visited Japan last year. The official explained how
severe the mood in Washington toward Japan was. His comment was
taken as advice to Japan, which now tends to be inward-looking.

However, it is incorrect to simply conclude that Japan should
increase the number of the SDF personnel to be dispatched or just
expand its ODA budget. Unless the government demonstrates how
Japan's international contributions are linked to its national
interests, the public's support for such contributions will not last
long, given that tax money and Japanese personnel are involved in
them.

Canada's way of life, a country next door to the U.S. and deeply
interdependent with it, may be a good hint for Japan. Canada refused
to send its troops to the Vietnam War and the Iraq war that started
in 2003. Instead, it dispatched 2,500 troops to Afghanistan. Despite
the subsequent loss of 70 or more lives, Canada continues to station
troops in Afghanistan.

A Canadian government official commented: "The U.S. was displeased
with Canada's refusal to send troops to Iraq, but it accepted
Canada's choice of focusing its energies on Afghanistan. Proactive
participation in PKO broaden the choices when it comes to security
relations with the U.S."

Japan hosts this year's Group of Eight (G8) summit conference (at
Lake Toya, Hokkaido). The summit will focus on environmental issues.
How far can Japan display its leadership there? In the upcoming
ordinary session of the Diet that is to open on Jan. 18, Japan needs
to fully discuss what it can contribute to the international
community.


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(5) Real international contribution cannot be seen: Government
unable to forget trauma of the Gulf war

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
January 12, 2008

Former Prime Minister Abe made a remark that could be taken to mean
that he would step down if the Maritime Self-Defense Force's (MSDF)
refueling mission in the Indian Ocean had not been resumed. Prime
Minister Fukuda also had to unusually use the ruling coalition's
two-thirds Lower House overriding vote in order to resume the
refueling mission. What on earth was the refueling mission? In
explaining why the resumption of the refueling mission is necessary,
the prime minister only took foreign countries' point of view into
consideration, such as that "The way other countries look at Japan
may change unless Japan resumes the operation. It is absolutely
necessary for Japan to resume it." In the Diet debate conducted for
about three months, no clear account was given on how the refueling
mission will lead to eradicating terrorism.

In discussions on Japan's international contribution, the so-called
Gulf trauma is often referred to.

In the Gulf War in 1991, the Japanese government offered 13 billion
dollars in financial aid, but the Kuwait, a party concerned, did not
appreciate it after the end of the war. Some government officers
still remember this bitter experience. They apparently believe that
international contribution is not offering money but putting out
efforts, that is, the dispatch of Self-Defense Force (SDF), setting
aside the essential question of what real international contribution
is.

The MSDF refueled war vessels from member countries of the
multinational force in the Indian Ocean over the past six years.
This service, for which Japan used 22 billion yen in government
money, was ridiculed as a free gas station on the sea. Foreign
Minister Koumura said: "Japan has disbursed as much as 140 billion
yen (to assist civilians), the second largest amount in the world,"
but it is questionable to what extent Japan's operation was known.
The ambassador of a country concerned confessed: "Before I came to
Japan, I had not known about Japan' refueling operation."

The antiterrorism law was enacted, but since the law is valid only
for one year, the government and the ruling coalition focus on
permanent legislation to enable the dispatch of SDF troops overseas.
They want to start a discussion on the legislation in the ordinary
Diet session to start on Jan. 18, in a bid to launch policy talks
with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

Between the government and DPJ President Ozawa, though, there is a
wide perception gap. Ozawa sets forth the adoption of a resolution
at a UN Security Council meeting or a UN general assembly as the
precondition for dispatching the SDF under a permanent law, but the
government and the ruling camp assume rear support for the
multilateral force.

It is essential to consider how to obtain public consensus on
standards for SDF dispatch overseas, but even in about 80 hours of
deliberations on the new antiterrorism bill in both chambers, no
clear course for that was worked out.

(6) DPJ puts off "decisive battle with ruling coalition," fails to

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take advantage of opposition's majority in Upper House

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
January 12, 2008

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto)
forwent the submission of a censure motion against Prime Minister
Yasuo Fukuda and the party did not take resort to physical
resistance on the Diet floor. Although the surface reason is that
the DPJ adopted a strategy of preparing for "a decisive battle in
the spring," the real reason is that there was discord in the party
itself over such basic tactics as how its Lower House members should
cast their ballot. As a result, the DPJ's credentials to run a
government have come into question. There is a view in the ruling
coalition that the DPJ has just forgone the fight for the time
being. Like the Prime Minister, the DPJ's intrinsic value will be
questioned in fierce battles over bills related to the state budget
for fiscal 2008.

DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka on the morning of
Jan. 11 phoned Keiko Itokazu, independent Upper House member, and
told her: "I want you to leave the plenary session when the
vote-taking is started without casting you ballot against the DPJ's
bill."

At the plenary Upper House session held soon after Yamaoka called
Itokazu, the DPJ-drafted bill was approved by a slim margin of two
votes owing to Yamaoka's effort to persuade her. It is also come to
light that the opposition camp controls the Upper House by a small
margin.

The DPJ aims to turn up the heat on the ruling coalition with such
issues as policy for the daily lives of people and the issue of
maintaining the provisional gasoline tax and the pension-records
mess.

Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama stated in a press conference on

SIPDIS
Jan. 11:

"We will use (a censure motion against the prime minister) regarding
issues directly linked to the daily lives of people. In that sense,
using a censure motion regarding provisional tariff (for tax
revenues for road projects) is the easiest for the public to
understand. The opposition parties will move closely together to
force the Prime Minister to dissolve the Lower House."

However, the People's New Party favors maintaining of the
provisional gasoline tax. The Social Democratic Party also has yet
to make its position clear. Due to its lack of efforts to lay the
groundwork for other opposition parties, the DPJ failed to put off
voting on the antiterrorism special measures bill instead of voting
it down. There is now a weak-spiritedness in the party about what
will happen next. In order to win the decisive battle when it comes,
it is indispensable for the DPJ to overcome the weak points that let
other opposition parties' intentions undercut its own strategy.

Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii criticized DPJ
President Ichiro Ozawa's abstention from voting in the Lower House
on the new antiterrorism bill, noting: "As the leader of the largest
opposition party, he has been irresponsible." SDP Secretary General
Yasumasa Shigeno also pointed out: "It is not good that he was not
in the session at the significant moment." Ozawa's abstention from

TOKYO 00000116 011 OF 011


voting may not only strengthen public doubts in his capability of
assuming the political reins but also become a factor to destroy the
solidarity of the opposition camp.

DONOVAN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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