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Cablegate: Tokyo Media Reaction - State of Union Address

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 000242

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR I/RF, PA/PR/FPC/W, IIP/G/EA, EAP/PD, R/MR,
EAP/J, EAP/P, PM;
USTR FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
TREASURY FOR OASIA/IMI;
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA;
CP BUTLER OKINAWA FOR AREA FIELD OFFICE;
PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO JA
SUBJECT: TOKYO MEDIA REACTION - STATE OF UNION ADDRESS

1. LEAD STORIES: All Wednesday morning papers gave top
play to the ruling coalition's submission to the Lower
House of a bill to extend by two months the provisional
gasoline tax.

2. "How to Deal with Remaining Fissures" The liberal
Asahi editorialized (1/30): "...There were no sincere
words in the President's State of the Union address
about the fissures he created between the U.S. and the
rest of the world.... It is undeniable that 9/11 was
the biggest challenge for the Bush administration. The
President enjoyed overwhelming support from the
American people just after the attacks. However, his
support rate has since declined to 30 percent. His weak
support appears to indicate that the President's
approach to the 'war on terrorism' has failed.
President Bush expressed confidence that the surge in
Iraq has achieved 'unimaginable success.' Sectarian
conflict there has lessened, and the U.S. military is
sustaining fewer casualties. However, no one can
believe that the war on terrorism in general has been a
success.... We agree with the criticism of a Democratic
governor that the U.S. has fewer friends and more
enemies."

3. "Bush Should Be Aware of the Danger of Self-
Righteousness" The liberal Mainichi argued in its
editorial (1/30): "...In his State of the Union
address, President Bush focused on the economy and the
war in Iraq. However, it is regrettable that the speech
lacked new policy proposals or innovative vision.... It
is the responsibility of the person who started the war
in Iraq to show a clear path toward an end to the
conflict during his remaining term in office.... The
Bush administration advocated the idea of changing the
world by U.S. power alone. We hope that the President
will realize the danger of self-righteousness before
his term comes to an end."

4. "Administration in Twilight Bears Heavy
Responsibility" The moderate Yomiuri wrote in an
editorial (1/30): "President Bush's last State of the
Union address illustrated the difficulties the U.S. is
facing at home and abroad.... If the U.S. is slow to
take action on the subprime loan issue, the delay will
have an adverse effect on the global economy. The USG
and Congress should quickly make a decision on economic
stimulus measures and implement them to prevent the
U.S. economy from further slowing.... The President
failed to show a path toward a substantial withdrawal
of U.S. troops from Iraq.... Even though his
administration is nearing its end, we hope that
President Bush, as the leader of a global power
responsible for world peace and prosperity, will do his
utmost to break the impasse in Iraq."

5. "Bush Facing Challenge over Economy during Last Days
in Office" The economic-oriented Nikkei editorialized
(1/30): "President Bush, who experienced 9/11 the year
he took office, will go down in U.S. political history
as a wartime president. Though he was once supported by
a thriving economy, the economy has now gone off its
upward track. Although public order in Iraq is
improving, the future of the U.S. economy appears
increasingly dim. Bush's last State of the Union

TOKYO 00000242 002 OF 002


address illustrated the challenges the U.S. faces
today."

6. "Bush Needs to Exercise Leadership for Next
Generation" The conservative Sankei's editorial said
(1/30): "...It is natural that the President put the
major focus of his State of the Union address on the
economy. Concern about the U.S. economic slowdown,
which was triggered by the subprime loan crisis, is
having a serious impact on the global economy... The
speech was unsatisfactory, focusing as it did on
domestic issues and the economy while ignoring East
Asia and North Korea. However, there were some notable
points in the address. First, the surge in Iraq, which
was implemented despite opposition from Congress, is
gradually working, and public security and governance
there have improved. Second, the President took the
initiative in international cooperation in fighting
climate change, an area where the U.S. has been
criticized for being negative.... Whoever the next
president is, the U.S. cannot turn its back to such
issues as the war on terrorism, the global environment,
and the Middle East. We hope that President Bush will
exercise his leadership until his last day in office
for the sake of the next generation."

7. "Narrowing Gap Necessary" The liberal Tokyo Shimbun
contended in an editorial (1/30): "President Bush
delivered his last State of the Union address. The
speech was businesslike, as no comments on religion or
history was made. However, the address illustrated the
deep gap in U.S. society over such issues as the
economy and Iraq."

SCHIEFFER

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