Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 02/01/08

DE RUEHKO #0262/01 0320127
P 010127Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)

4) Global warming: Japan to obtain emission rights from China, India
and other countries through ODA program (Nikkei)

5) Former Prime Minister Mori in Ethiopia discusses upcoming Africa
aid conference (Nikkei)

6) To defuse whaling issue, Japanese and Australian foreign
ministers propose bilateral experts talks (Asahi)

Stew over poisoned Chinese dumplings:
7) Poisoned processed foods imported from China become new bilateral
issue for Japan, following joint gas-field development problem
(Tokyo Shimbun) 6
8) Ministry of Health and Labor probing both Chinese imported
processed meat products and American beef (Akahata) 7

Political agenda:
9) Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa, reading political tea
leaves, decides to change party strategy and push for Diet
dissolution in the fall or later (Asahi)

10) Government and ruling parties, in bid to have provisional tax
bill passed this fiscal year, signals they are wiling to make
revisions in the bill (Nikkei)
11) Some in Democratic Parry of Japan (DPJ) still want to push for
reducing the gasoline tax despite recent political derailment of
party's strategy (Nikkei)

12) Educational panel hands Prime Minister Fukuda their final report
of recommendations that include adding moral education to the
curriculum (Yomiuri)

Economic and labor affairs:
13) Prime Minister Fukuda spars with Bank of Japan Governor Fukui
over subprime loan impact (Nikkei)
14) New growth strategy touted by government panel would search
abroad for skilled and talented workers needed in Japan (Nikkei)
15) Tokyo high court rules that unequal pay for men and women is
discriminatory (Tokyo Shimbun)
16) Reform of civil service system plan is ready but the bureaucracy
is resisting (Sankei)



Asahi: Mainichi: Yomiuri: Sankei: Tokyo Shimbun: Akahata
More-food poisoning cases from Chinese gyoza dumplings reported:
Health ministry orders 19 companies that imported foods from China
to check items other than gyoza as well; JT received complaint from
consumers six months ago

Greenhouse gas emissions: Government to obtain emissions credits
from China, India through ODA

TOKYO 00000262 002 OF 011


(1) China-made gyoza dumplings: There are no borders for food
(2) Education Revitalization Council gone with Mr. Abe

(1) Poisonous gyoza dumplings: Japan, China should rush to determine
cause of poisoning
(2) False information disclose: Mechanism allowing flexible response

(1) China-made gyoza dumplings: Toughen system to protect food
(2) Additional interest rate cuts in U.S.: Unusual decision intended
to avert crisis

(1) Food poisoning from Chinese gyoza dumplings and responsibility
of companies, administrators
(2) Cornered FRB further cuts interest rate

(1) Diet deliberations on special-purpose road construction revenue:
Good opportunity to reallocate revenues for other uses
(2) Managerial position in name only: Use McDonald's case as
springboard to broader discussion on work

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Poisonous China-made gyoza dumplings case is a life-threatening
(2) U.S. lowers interest rate: Search for ways to strengthen

(1) Shimbun Akahata marks 80th anniversary: Carries truth and
courage, observing tradition

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, January 31

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 1, 2008

Met Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Iwaki at the Kantei.

Met Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura in the Diet building.

Attended an Upper House Budget Committee meeting.

Arrived at the Kantei.

Attended the Upper House Budget Committee meeting.

TOKYO 00000262 003 OF 011

Attended a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy at
the Kantei.

Attended a meeting of the Education Rebuilding Council. Later,
attended a get-together of the council.

Returned to his official residence.

4) Gov't eyes buying emissions credits from China, India, other
countries via ODA

NIKKEI (Top play) (Abridged)
February 1, 2008

The government will set out to obtain greenhouse gas emission
credits from foreign countries through its official development
assistance (ODA) programs in order for Japan to attain its Kyoto
Protocol goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Japan recently
agreed with India, Sri Lanka, and Egypt to trade ODA projects for
emission credits under the United Nations' newly endorsed emissions
trading system. Japan will also negotiate with China and African
countries. The government is also aiming to hold down its fiscal
burden since the cost of ODA-based trading for emission credits is
lower than that of market-based emissions trading. Other advanced
countries are also likely to utilize ODA-based mechanisms for
emissions trading.

The U.N.-introduced emissions trading system is called the Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM), an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol
allowing industrialized countries to extend financial or technical
cooperation to developing countries so as to reduce their emissions
as an alternative to more expensive emission reductions in their own
countries. Japan will trade emissions under this system. In the
Kyoto Protocol, Japan promised to achieve a reduction of 6 PERCENT
from 1990 levels in its greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and
2012. The CDM is seen as an effective way for the Kyoto Protocol
signatories to meet their respective goals.

So far, a CDM-examining board of the United Nations has not allowed
ODA-based emissions trading. That is because the U.N. board
considered developing countries' concern that advanced countries may
only aim for emission credits and reduce their ODA budgets for road
and other infrastructure construction projects.

However, the United Nations has now switched to reckon in emission
credits at the request of Japan and other advanced countries only if
ODA recipient countries agree. Japan has been showing a downturn
trend of its ODA projects overseas. However, Japan's fiscal 2006
spending on eco-related ODA projects overseas accounted for 30
PERCENT of its total budget for ODA programs.

It is now difficult for Japan to achieve its Kyoto Protocol goal. As
it stands, Japan will go ahead of Europe and apply to the United
Nations for its authorization of trading with developing countries
for emissions quotas based on ODA projects leading to emission cuts
in these countries.

The government is expecting to obtain emission credits from Sri
Lanka in February through Japan's ODA projects in that country.

TOKYO 00000262 004 OF 011

Japan has invested in a Sri Lankan project to utilize gas from
coconut shell charcoal plants for power generation, thereby reducing
carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 52,000 tons. India is now
undertaking a subway project in Dehli. In this project, Japan will
help India reduce its CO2 emissions with its efficient use of
energy. In addition, Japan has already agreed with Egypt to trade
emissions with a wind-power generation project in the eastern part
of that country.

Meanwhile, the government will shortly negotiate in full swing with
China and African countries as well. Japan will end its new yen
loans to China in the current fiscal year. However, many of Japan's
continued projects in China are leading to CO2 cuts. Japan will aim
for emission credits with these projects.

In July this year, Japan will host the summit meeting of Group of
Eight (G-8) nations at Lake Toya in Hokkaido. The G-8 summit is
expected to focus on African development and global environmental
issues. The government is also looking into the possibility of
increasing its ODA budget for Africa. Japan is going to negotiate
with African countries over possible CO2-reducing projects for
emissions trading.

5) Former Prime Minister Mori: Tokyo will produce results in TICAD

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 1, 2008

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori of the ruling Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP), now visiting Ethiopia, delivered a speech as the
Japanese government's envoy in a general meeting of the African
Union (AU) at noon Jan. 31 (the night of same day, Japan time).
Speaking in it of the fourth Tokyo International Conference on
African Development (TICAD) to be held in May in Yokohama, Mori
said: "Japan wants to make the conference a place to produce
concrete results." He also revealed that Tokyo would reflect views
of African nations in the Group of Eight summit, which will take
place in July at Lake Toya in Hokkaido. He announced that Tokyo
would provide food aid worth 4.1 million dollars (approximately 430
million yen) to Kenya through the World Food Program, mainly for

6) Foreign Minister Koumura suggests setting up an experts panel to
deal with whaling issue

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
February 1, 2008

Foreign Minister Koumura late yesterday met with visiting Australian
Foreign Minister Smith at the Foreign Ministry's Iikura Guesthouse
in Tokyo. In the session, Koumura, in an effort to resolve the
whaling issue over which the two countries are disputing, told
Smith, "It's important for experts from the two countries to discuss
the issue cool-headedly." In response, Smith indicated a willingness
to set up such a panel.

Japan and Australia had their first foreign ministerial since the
Rudd administration was inaugurated. Speaking of Japan's research
whaling, Smith said, "The Australian government and its people think
whaling is unnecessary." On the other hand, Smith indicated a
certain degree of understanding toward Japan's position.

TOKYO 00000262 005 OF 011

The two foreign ministers agreed to implement a cabinet-level
strategic dialogue among Japan, the United States, and Australia as
swiftly as possible. The strategic dialogue would be a trilateral
forum for the foreign ministers to discuss measures to deal with
terrorism and security affairs in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan,
the U.S., and Australia have already strengthened their partnership,
as seen in their first three-way summit held in Sydney last

Koumura and Smith also exchanged views on an "action plan" for the
two countries to facilitate security cooperation in such areas as
peacekeeping operations. They reconfirmed the policy of promoting
talks to realize a bilateral economic partnership agreement (EPA).

7) Consumer-oriented policy already facing testing time: Another
thorny issue with China, following joint gas field development

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
February 1, 2008

The food poisoning from Chinese gyoza dumpling has directly dealt a
blow to the Fukuda administration's policy slogan. Prime Minister
Fukuda in a policy speech given only recently came up with a policy
of attaching importance to working people and consumers in a policy
speech. If he does not take any measures to wipe away anxieties over
food safety, his policy could be reduced to an empty slogan. With
Chinese President Hu Jintao's Japan visit close at hand in the
spring, the food safety issue is pressing hard relations between
Japan and China.

Fukuda on Jan. 31, stressed his intention to determine the cause of
the poisoning and do his utmost to prevent the escalation of the
damage, noting, "We must determine the present situation and the
extent of the damage the incident has caused. We must also take
preventive measures. We must immediately take whatever measures we
can take now."

Regarding the safety of Chinese foods, a joint paper issued at the
Japan-China high-level economic dialogue between cabinet ministers
of both countries held in December last year incorporated a Chinese
participant's declaration that China will attach importance to the
safety of food and manufactured products. However, tainted foods
escaped watchful eyes.

The government immediately held a related-ministers' meeting and
decided to take measures to prevent a recurrence. However, it is
extremely difficult to fully check ever-increasing imported foods.
The prime minister has called for unifying entities responsible for
consumer administration with a consumer agency initiative in mind.
If the administration cannot prevent tainted foods from being
imported, public mistrust in it is bound to grow.

Tokyo and Beijing have started coordination with the possibility of
State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi
visiting Japan between late February and March to pave the way for
President Fu's Japan visit. Reciprocal visits by top leaders of the
two countries will move into full swing with the aim of establishing
a mutually-beneficial strategic relationship.

As the first step for preparation for President Hu's visit to Japan,
Deputy Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei visited Japan on Jan. 31 and

TOKYO 00000262 006 OF 011

held talks with Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura. Such issues as
the joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea were on
the agenda, but the food safety issue was also put on the agenda on
short notice.

Regarding a possible impact of the food poisoning issue on bilateral
relations, Koumura told reporters, "The food poisoning is not a
matter that would worsen diplomatic ties between the two

He also pointed out possible impacts of the incident, such as
consumers refraining from buying Chinese foods, saying, "Since food
safety is the greatest matter of concern, various effects will be
felt by people."

8) Food federation urges Health Ministry to tighten checks on U.S.
beef, Chinese dumplings

AKAHATA (Page 5) (Full)
February 1, 2008

Zenkoku Shokkenren (the national liaison association to protect the
safety of food and health of the people) yesterday asked the
Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) to tighten checks on
food such as U.S. beef, as well as to continue the current subsidy
system for blanket BSE testing. Regarding the case of Chinese frozen
gyoza dumplings found to have been contaminated with an organic
phosphorus agricultural chemical, the group urged the ministry to
improve its inspection system.

The Japanese government, despite objections from Japanese consumers
and producers, has allowed U.S. beef from cattle 20 months of age or
younger to be imported on the condition that all specified risk
materials be removed. But several violations of the bilateral beef
trade agreement have been found, raising concerns about the safety
regime of the U.S.

On January 12, the government announced that U.S. beef from 21
month-old cattle had been imported and that some of it had already
been sold. Executive Officer Masaaki Sakaguchi and others complained
that U.S. beef imports should be banned again since the U.S. plants
are not observing safety procedures.

An MHLW official explained that the U.S. meatpacker in question
found afterward that it had made data entry errors in its shipment
control computer program.

Also referring to a case in which even meat from downer cattle was
put on the market in the U.S., Shokkenren emphasized that the
ministry should take a resolute attitude toward the U.S., which has
not taken perfect safety measures.

On the incident of China-made food poisoning, the association urged
the MHLW to increase inspectors and improve inspection stations,
with one member remarking: "It is a problem that Japan has stopped
inspecting all boxes containing U.S. beef, though violation cases
have been discovered. Japan should strengthen its inspection system
when imports arrive in Japan."

9) Ozawa shifts focus to bringing about Lower House dissolution in
fall or later to preserve momentum

TOKYO 00000262 007 OF 011

ASAHI (Page 1) (Abridged)
February 1, 2008

Major opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto)
President Ichiro Ozawa will shift his focus to Lower House
dissolution for a snap general election in the fall or beyond.
Although he has aimed at an April crisis for resulting in an early
Diet dissolution, the just-ended battle over a stopgap bill has
deprived him of powerful ammunition to force Prime Minister Fukuda
into dissolving the Lower House. Ozawa has also concluded that
Fukuda is determined not to dissolve the chamber until after the G8
Lake Toya Summit in July. Envisaging that the DPJ's presidential
race will take place before September, Ozawa will shift to a
long-term strategy with the aim of preserving his grip on the

Ozawa made a speech before a study group for junior lawmakers
yesterday in which he indicated that elections in Japan and the
United States would occur around the same time when the Chinese
economy would become visibly chaotic. He apparently tried to present
the view that Lower House dissolution and a general election would
be in the fall or later by citing the Nov. 4 U.S. presidential

In order to force Lower House dissolution in April, Ozawa had
intended to realize a drop in the gasoline price following the
expiration of the provisional tax rate and to submit a censure
motion against the prime minister timed with the ruling bloc's use
of a two-thirds majority override vote. It turned out, however, that
although the DPJ succeeded in forcing the ruling bloc to withdraw
the stopgap bill, the speaker and president of the two houses of the
Diet have effectively sealed off the DPJ's strategy of lowering the

Discontent with Ozawa is simmering in the DPJ due to his skipping of
a vote on a refueling special measures bill in a plenary session
followed by the party's defeat in the Osaka gubernatorial race.
Although Ozawa will continue searching for ways to lower the
gasoline price, a failure to force the prime minister into Diet
dissolution might take a heavy toll on his momentum in the party.
For this reason, Ozawa on Jan. 30 urged Secretary General Yukio
Hatoyama to work out a compromise proposal with the Diet speaker and
president for bringing the stopgap legislation issue to a

10) Government, ruling parties aim to create fait accompli on
gasoline tax

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
February 1, 2008

Following the agreement between the ruling and opposition parties on
the handling of the current provisional tax rates for resources for
road construction, including the provisional gasoline tax, attention
is now being paid to how a bill revising the Special Taxation
Measures Law will be modified. Prime Minister Fukuda referred to the
possibility of revising the legislation. He aims to make passage a
fait accompli. However, differences remain between the ruling and
opposition camps on such issues as whether the bill should be
modified or not, when and the scope of the modification. The two
sides are likely to be forced to grope for a way to settle the issue
with an eye on public opinion, as well as on views inside and

TOKYO 00000262 008 OF 011

outside their parties.

In a House of Councillors Budget Committee session yesterday, Fukuda
asked both ruling and opposition parties to do their best to enact
the legislation before the end of the current fiscal year. He also
revealed the perception that the terms of provisional tax rates
might be shortened, saying: "It is true that maintaining the law for
another 10 years contradicts the principle of decentralization. We
will secure consistency if efforts for decentralization are pushed
ahead with." It was the first time for Fukuda to mention the
possibility of modifying the bill. His aide said: "It was his
message to the opposition bloc in an attempt to support consultation
between the ruling and opposition camps."

Views on deliberations on revising the bill were raised also in
meetings of the factions in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP). Former Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa of the Machimura
faction emphasized: "We should discuss the opposition's plan to
shift the revenues for road construction to the general budget and a
plan to set up an environment tax." Taku Yamasaki sought faithful
and earnest response to revising the bill.

However, there are differences of opinion even in the ruling
coalition over such specific points as the timing for revising the
bill and the contents of a revision. LDP Secretary General Bunmei
Ibuki believes that the bill will be passed by the Lower House
without any revision and that the ruling and opposition parties will
discuss a revision of the bill at the Upper House. The LDP Upper
House executive has taken a position that the revision issue should
be resolved in the Lower House.

The New Komeito, the LDP's coalition partner, which proposed a
setting up a consultative organ of senior members of the ruling and
opposition parties, has a heightened sense of alarm toward
consultation between the ruling and opposition blocs, with one
member saying, "Promotion of consultations may accelerate a trend of
forming a grand alliance between the LDP and Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ)."

11) DPJ group calling for reducing gasoline prices in hot water

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 1, 2008

A group calling for reducing gasoline prices, which is made up of 50
junior House of Representatives members of the main opposition
Democratic Party (DPJ or Minshuto), is now being forced to review
its strategy. The group led by Hiroshi Kawauchi made about 1,700
banners, which say "Cut gasoline prices by 25 yen." They set up a
picket in the Diet in defiance of the stopgap bill retaining the
provisional tax rates for another 10 years. However, since the
ruling and opposition parties reached an agreement by the good
offices of the leader of the two Diet houses, it has now become
difficult to reduce gasoline prices in April.

There is a cool view in the largest opposition party that the
group's mission is over. Many in the party are now asserting that
the party should emphasize a plan to shift the revenues for road
construction to the general budget. The DPJ, therefore, intends to
set up a new unit on the tax system. The party has set up a
taskforce on revenues for road projects and provisional tax rates,
which is headed by Deputy President Naoto Kan. The DPJ's strategy

TOKYO 00000262 009 OF 011

appears to be wavering.

12) Education Rebuilding Council final report proposes making moral
education an official subject immediately

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
February 1, 2008

The government's Education Rebuilding Council, chaired by Ryoji
Noyori, met for the last time at the Prime Minister's Office last
evening and presented Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda with its final
report. The report lists priority proposals that have been mentioned
in the first to third reports but have not been implemented, such as
making moral education an official subject and measures for
increasing academic achievement. It also calls for establishing a
new organization in the government responsible for evaluating
schools' progress on implementing tasks. The council, established in
October 2006 under the initiative of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,
will now dissolve after completing its role.

The final report is composed of: (1) what must be taught, (2)
teachers and schools, (3) education support systems, (4) reforms of
higher education, and (5) education involving society. The report
also lists two categories: what must be done immediately and what
must be studied. The "immediate" category includes making moral
education an official subject; posting to elementary schools
teachers to exclusively teach such subjects as science, arithmetic,
and physical education; and conducting 30 PERCENT of university
classes in English. The "study" group includes the establishment of
a sports agency; the flexible operation of the 6-3-3-4 system; the
requirement of cell-phone filtering.

The report also urges the Education Ministry and other relevant
government agencies, local governments, and boards of education to
craft plans to steadily implement the tasks.

Based on the proposal, the government plans to establish a new,
follow-up organization in the cabinet as early as this month.

13) Fukuda, Fukui make comments on subprime crisis

NIKKEI (Page 5) (Full)
February 1, 2008

In a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy yesterday,
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said on the impact of the U.S. subprime
mortgage crisis: "The financial markets across the world remain
volatile. The U.S. economy is also slowing down. It is important to
be ready to take speedy action in response to the situation." He
stressed the necessity for the government and the Bank of Japan
(BOJ) to jointly cope with the situation according to future moves
of the Japanese economy.

Fukuda also expressed his eagerness to promote the reform of the
financial market from a medium-term point of view, saying: "Set off
by the subprime fiasco, I would like to examine risks in the
Japanese economy in a cool-headed manner and address reform with a
sense of urgency."

Meanwhile, BOJ Governor Toshihiko Fukui said: "It is necessary to
look at the real state of the economy not with a sense of fear but
calmly." The BOJ, while admitting that the Japanese economy is

TOKYO 00000262 010 OF 011

slowing down, has insisted that the virtuous cycle mechanism
regarding production, income, and expenditures has been maintained.
Private-sector members see the central bank's view as somewhat
unreasonable. In response, Fukui made a counterargument.

14) Economic panel in new growth strategy calls for accepting more
foreign skilled workers

NIKKEI (Page 5) (Full)
February 1, 2008

The government's Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy approved the
outline of a new economic growth strategy in its meeting yesterday.
To draw the vitality of a growing Asia into Japan, the panel
proposes establishing a system to accept students and highly skilled
workers. It also calls for introducing the system in the financial
and capital markets at an early date. On the management of the macro
economy, the panel confirmed the need for the government and the
Bank of Japan to jointly deal with turmoil in the market.

Reflecting Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's ideas, the new strategy
places emphasis on human resource training and employment expansion.
As measures related to globalization, which is indispensable for
Japan's growth in the future, the panel calls for arranging a system
to accept foreign trainees to have them learn high technology, as
well as foreign students. It will also look into introducing English
education at elementary schools as a compulsory subject.

As measures for employment expansion, the panel suggests increasing
the number of children admitted to nurseries and enabling working
women to take childcare leave several times. For elderly persons,
some measures will be taken to improve their skills.

In a press conference after the meeting, State Minister in Charge of
Economic and Fiscal Policy Hiroko Ota said that the growth strategy
aims at growth starting from households.

Private-sector members of the panel listed measures that should be
implemented at an early date. Under the current system, only
Japanese shares are subject to listed investment trust funds in
principle, but the panel suggests expanding the scope of subjects.

The panel will work out specific measures based on the outline of
the strategy by this spring. It plans to reflect such measures in
the government's annual policy guidelines on economic and fiscal
policy due out in June.

15) Plaintiffs in gender-based wage discrimination suit seeking
compensation from Kanematsu win reversal in Tokyo High Court

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Excerpts)
February 1, 2008

Six female workers at the trading house Kanematsu Corp. (based in
Tokyo's Minato Ward), including former employees, had carried their
appeal to the Tokyo High Court against Kanematsu seeking a combined
380 million yen in damages caused by different wages being paid to
men and women. Yesterday, the Tokyo High Court overturned the Tokyo
District Court's decision on four of the six plaintiffs, confirmed
that wage gap is discrimination, and ordered the company to pay them
a total of 72.5 million yen.

TOKYO 00000262 011 OF 011

Presiding Judge Yoshiaki Nishida recognized that four workers have
gained work experience and have expertise, and that they have
handled the same difficult job as their male colleagues have. The
judge ruled that there is no grounds for the pay disparity and that
such disparity violates the Labor Standards Law, (which stipulates
the principle of paying the equal pay for equal work for men and

As for the remaining two plaintiffs, the judge dismissed their
appeal, citing such reasons as their length of service was below 15
years and their positions did not require any expertise.

The lower court ruled that (different hiring courses and treatment
between men and women) violates the Constitution's Article 14
stipulation that all are equal before the law and banning gender
discrimination. But at the time of 1985, when Kanematsu introduced
the dual career track system, the Equal Employment Law simply
obligated firms to make efforts to stop gender-based discrimination.
So, the court did not decide whether that system was illegal.

The plaintiffs are six women who joined the company during
1957-1982. Under the company's dual career track system, men were
installed in corporate services positions while women engaged in
clerical duties. But in 1997, when the amendment to the Equal
Employment Law came into effect, the company adopted a system that
allowed workers to change tracks.

16) Resistance continuing against reform of public servant system

SANKEI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
February 1, 2008

The government's Council on Comprehensive Reform of the Public
Servant System yesterday compiled a report indicating the direction
of reform for the time being. Attention is now shifting to how far
the government will reflect in a bill what is written in the

But the reform is certain to face resistance from the central
government bureaucracy and Diet members with links to certain
government ministries and agencies. Depending on how the report will
be modified in the government and the ruling parties, there is the
fear that the report will become merely a dead letter. Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda's seriousness and leadership toward reform is
about to be tested.

The report was drafted by council member and former Economic
Planning Agency Director-General Taichi Sakaiya. Sakaiya proudly
said yesterday, "If it is implemented as is, it will lead to major
reform." But the report faced a number of difficulties before it was

The initial draft of the report penned by Sakaiya and political
commentator Yayama Taro, both of whom are seen as reform-promoters,
specified a ban on contacts between Diet members and national
government employees in principle. But this ban was rewritten as
"restrictions on contacts" by setting strict rules for contacts; as
a result, the report was significantly toned down.


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