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Cablegate: Parties Vie for Labor Support

VZCZCXRO7597
RR RUEHFK RUEHGH RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #0067 0090912
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 090912Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0847
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1009
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 7077
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 5995
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 4066
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 7773
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 9043
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 5378
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0316
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6420
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 6848

UNCLAS TOKYO 000067

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DOL FOR ILAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV JA
SUBJECT: PARTIES VIE FOR LABOR SUPPORT


1. (U) Political turnout was impressive at the Japanese Trade
Union Confederation's (JTUC-Rengo) annual new year's party
January 7. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Ichiro Ozawa both
attended and addressed hundreds of guests, as did Minister of
Health, Labor, and Welfare Yoichi Masuzoe, Acting DPJ
President Naoto Kan, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary
General Bunmei Ibuki, New Komeito leader Akihito Ota, Social
Democratic Party President Mizuho Fukushima, and People's New
Party Secretary General Hisaoki Kamei.

2. (SBU) Interlaced with standard new year's greetings,
barbed remarks flew as politicians got up, one by one, to
speak to assembled labor and business leaders, Diet members,
and the media. After Minister Masuzoe stressed his
determination to address the problems in the pension system,
DPJ Acting President Kan criticized the LDP's efforts, only
to hear LDP Secretary General Ibuki compare the DPJ's policy
pledges to catalog shopping -- implying that what one is
shown is not always what arrives in the mail. Nearly every
speaker promised to improve work-life balance while framing
the challenges Japan faces with hot-button references to
people's economic worries, including the uncertainties of the
U.S. subprime loan situation and Japan's widening gap between
rich and poor.

3. (SBU) PM Fukuda's remarks were self-deprecating and
acknowledged the battering he has taken over the pension
system issue, but they contained a clear message. The labor
movement is not enemy territory, he said, and he expressed
his strong desire to work with the DPJ and other parties to
accomplish "good things."

4. (SBU) Comment: Rengo is a traditional stronghold for the
DPJ, but with an election expected in 2008, all the parties
are courting labor.
DONOVAN

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