Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 02/06/08

DE RUEHKO #0319/01 0372252
P 062252Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Editorial - Assistance to Afghanistan: Time to reconsider new
framework (Asahi)

(2) Iwakuni mayoral election: Focus on U.S. jet redeployment

(3) Research whaling facing financial pinch (Asahi)

(4) Obstacles to investigative cooperation between Japan, China in
case of poisoning outbreak caused by tainted Chinese dumplings

(5) DPJ lawmakers alarmed at leadership's decision to relegate to
Ozawa Muto's promotion to BOJ governor (Asahi)

(6) Investigations into Defense Ministry bribery scandals at final
stage; Can prosecutors delve deeper into Defense Ministry bribery
scandals? (Sentaku)


(1) Editorial - Assistance to Afghanistan: Time to reconsider new

ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
February 6, 2008

The situation in Afghanistan makes us harbor concern that there may
be a repeat of Iraq's failure. The security situation in that
country in particular is worsening. In January, the only luxury
hotel in the capital Kabul where the Norwegian foreign minister was
then staying came under a terrorist attack, which led to a gunfight.
In the southern region of Afghanistan, the vice governor was killed
by a suicide bomber. Both incidents have left us with the impression
that the Taliban is growing more powerful.

Over three years have passed since the Karzai government was
inaugurated, but the Afghan national army has yet to stand on its
own feet. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), a military campaign led
by the United States, is still working to mop up the Taliban, while
the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a team composed
of troops from 38 countries centering on the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO), has contributed to maintaining public order in
the country.

However, the efforts by the ISAF seem insufficient, given that
combat with the Taliban is escalating particularly in the southern
part of the country. Countries that have sent troops to the ISAF
have seen some of their troops' lives sacrificed in security
operations one after the other. The United States asked NATO members
to send more troops, but no country responded. President Bush was
eventually forced to make up his mind to send 3,200 more American
troops to Afghanistan.

It is hard to say that the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and the
reconstruction of that country are going smoothly. At a time like
this, an international conference of countries wishing to assist the
reconstruction of Afghanistan has begun in Tokyo. Thirteen Afghan
cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Spanta, are attending
the conference. We think it is a good opportunity to discuss ways to

TOKYO 00000319 002 OF 008

rebuild Afghanistan and obtain more international assistance.

Japan, as the host nation of the upcoming Group of Eight Summit in
Lake Toya, Hokkaido, in July, has taken on the task of managing
international efforts like this for Afghanistan.

It is time to reconsider the current framework for assistance to
Afghanistan, including the area of public law and order in that
country. Now that the current assistance framework has run into a
brick wall, the situation in that country is unlikely to be resolved
by military strength alone.

The Taliban is not a group of a single nature. Some of the Taliban
are radicals who are plotting international terrorist acts, while
others are moderate. There are calls in the Karzai government and
European countries for exploring ways to have a dialogue with the

Who is the real enemy? How can military operations and assistance be
combined to the benefit of the daily lives of the Afghan people? And
which country will play what role? The international community needs
to revamp the current framework. A new framework should be created
in a way that lets the United Nations take the lead.

Taking advantage of the ongoing international conference, Japan must
demonstrate its leadership to deepen fundamental discussions. It
also should link the outcome of discussion at the conference to
talks at the upcoming G8 Toyako Summit and use it as the starting
point for peace building in Afghanistan.

To our regret, however, the Japanese government and lawmakers appear
less interested in Afghan issues ever since Japan decided to resume
its Maritime Self-Defense Force's (MSDF) refueling mission in the
Indian Ocean.

At the conference, Foreign Minister Koumura reported on Japan's
resumption of the refueling mission in the Indian Ocean and declared
that Japan would offer 110 million dollars more aid to Afghanistan.
Apparently, the foreign minister, by so saying, tried to underscore
that Japan remains at the battle line, but he seemed to lack the
enthusiasm to lead debate in order to break the impasse in
reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan.

Although Prime Minister Fukuda has declared that Japan would become
a state contributing to peace-building, that sort of message has not
yet been transmitted sufficiently to the international audience.

(2) Iwakuni mayoral election: Focus on U.S. jet redeployment

AKAHATA (Page 3) (Full)
February 6, 2008

If local people say nothing, Iwakuni will become the biggest of all
U.S. air stations in Asia... On Feb. 10, the city of Iwakuni in
Yamaguchi Prefecture will elect its new mayor. In the meantime, the
Japanese and U.S. governments are pushing their planned redeployment
of U.S. carrier-borne fighter jets to the U.S. Marine Corps' Iwakuni
Air Station in the process of realigning U.S. forces in Japan. This
has now become "the biggest point at issue" in campaigning for the
election, according to former Iwakuni Mayor Katsusuke Ihara. Two
years ago, Iwakuni polled its residents on this issue. In that local
referendum, the city's population voted down the proposed

TOKYO 00000319 003 OF 008

redeployment of U.S. carrier-borne fighter jets to the Iwakuni base.
The mayoral election has now become a dead heat between Ihara, who
is saying "no" to the U.S. jet transfer for the sake of local
residents, and a pro-redeployment candidate who was a House of
Representatives member of the Liberal Democratic Party.

"They will come. Some people may say things like this. But if we
easily accept them, we can't tell them to go home even if the actual
noise is hard to stand. We will have to stand it for decades. Then,
who is to blame for that?" With this, Ihara strongly warned of the
redeployment of U.S. carrier-borne fighter jets to the Iwakuni base.
He may well say so. If Iwakuni City accepts the government's
realignment plan, the city will become the biggest of all U.S.
airbases in Asia, outstripping the U.S. forces' Kadena Air Base in
Okinawa Prefecture, which is said to be the biggest of all U.S.
airbases in the Far East when it comes to the scale of aircraft and
troop deployment.

It is clear that there will be even more serious noise damage and
more crimes. The Japanese and U.S. governments plan to move U.S.
carrier-borne fighter jets from the U.S. Navy's Atsugi base in
Kanagawa Prefecture to Iwakuni. They made several thousand
airstrikes in the Iraq war. Iwakuni is going to be reinforced
further as an outpost to threaten global peace.

To begin with, what triggered the mayoral election? It was because
the central government has cut 3.5 billion yen in subsidies to
Iwakuni for use in the construction of a new city hall, the aim
being to force Ihara to cave in. In May 2006, the Japanese and U.S.
governments agreed on the U.S. military realignment. Before that,
the government had decided to subsidize Iwakuni City's new office
building project. Ihara presented his city government's budget
proposal to the city's municipal assembly as often as five times.
However, the city's municipal assembly rejected it every time with a
majority of votes from pro-redeployment members. Ihara therefore
chose to resign as mayor, and he is running in the election to ask
again for the judgment of his city's voting population.

The key man who proposed the plan to relocate carrier-borne aircraft
to Iwakuni is former Administrative Vice Defense Minister Takemasa
Moriya, and the one who unilaterally cut the subsidy was also
Moriya. He has been arrested in a bribery case.

"My baby is going to die." With this, a neighbor of the Atsugi base
complained about the roaring of Atsugi-based fighter jets. "I
thought about doing something about the Atsugi base," Moriya was
quoted as saying in the November 2007 issue of Gendai. Moriya then
proposed moving the Atsugi-based aircraft to Iwakuni. Moriya also
revealed that his U.S. counterpart had said that it was a good

If Moriya really thought to relocate the Atsugi-based carrier-borne
fighter jets to Iwakuni for that reason, Iwakuni people may well
wonder if he did not care about the babies in their city.

Moriya gave incentive money to local governments that cooperated on
the U.S. military realignment, and he also cut off the government's
subsidization of local governments that would not cooperate. "I
wonder if it's appropriate to do such a thing." With this, Hiroshima
Prefecture's Governor Yuzan Fujita criticized Moriya's way of doing
things. Hiroshima Prefecture neighbors Yamaguchi Prefecture.

TOKYO 00000319 004 OF 008

"It's strange that a local government raises an objection to
national defense." With this, Osaka Prefecture's Governor-elect
Tohru Hashimoto spoke for the LDP-backed candidate. "I can't believe
he is a lawyer," Ryukoku University Professor Kiichiro Tomino said.
It is only natural that Hashimoto came under fire from critics.

In the United States, the southern Florida city of Jacksonville
polled its residents in November 2006 over the U.S. Navy's plan to
relocate its carrier-borne jets to the city. The poll found that 60
PERCENT of the city's population were against that plan. As a
result, the relocation plan was left up in the air.

Based on law-provided authority, a local mayor says things to the
government. That is only natural. Yet, there is a candidate that
denies it. Can the citizenry of Iwakuni entrust that candidate with
its municipal administration? Local autonomy and democracy will be
called into question in the election.

(3) Research whaling facing financial pinch

ASAHI (Page 9) (Full)
February 2, 2008

Japan's research whaling is strapped for money. The Institute of
Cetacean Research (ICR), an incorporated body for research whaling,
failed to pay off its debt in its settlement of accounts for fiscal
2006 (October 2006 through September 2007). The ICR borrowed 3.6
billion yen from the state coffers as an interest-free operating
fund. However, the ICR has yet to repay 1.0 billion yen of that
loan. Last year, a fire broke out on a whaler. In addition, there
was also a fatal accident involving a crewman. Japan's whaling fleet
therefore had to suspend operations. Its catch of whales has now
decreased. As a result, there was a drop of 20 PERCENT in the
marketing of whale meat. This is the immediate cause of the ICR's
failure to pay off its debt. However, there are some other factors
behind that. The ICR recently increased its whale catch, which
resulted in adding to the cost of running the whaling fleet. In
addition, the market prices of whale meat products during 2005 -
2005 dropped greatly.

The 3.6 billion yen was obtained as a short-term loan from the
Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation (OFCF), an incorporated body
under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Ministry. The ICR borrowed the money at the beginning of FY2006,
intending to pay it back at the end of the fiscal year. But it could
not completely pay it off, and is now going to repay the remaining
1.0 billion yen in four-year installments from FY2007.

The OFCF's lending is funded from the state coffers. In a way, the
OFCF's interest-free loan to the ICR is tantamount to the
government's de facto funding of the ICR. The ICR's borrowing from
the OFCF began in fiscal 2001, along with the whaling fleet's
increased catch. The ICR first borrowed 1.2 billion yen from the
OFCF that fiscal year. However, the ICR borrowed more money from the
OFCF as the catch of whales increased. In the past, the ICR used to
borrow money from the private sector. Interest rates, however, have
been so high that the ICR has given up.

The ICR increased its Southern Ocean whaling durning 2005-2006 from
the initially planned catch of 440 whales to 850. The increase was
intended to step up its ecological survey of whales. The ICR also
increased its market supply of whale meat by a little over 30

TOKYO 00000319 005 OF 008

PERCENT . There is no need for the ICR to make a profit since it is
a public undertaking, so it cut the prices of whale meat products by
20 PERCENT on average. As a result, the market turnover of whale
meat was down about 6 PERCENT from the preceding year.

Meanwhile, the cost of whaling rose 10 PERCENT , mainly because the
ICR increased its whaling fleet from 5 whalers to 6. In addition,
the time devoted to research whaling has been prolonged. "I think we
probably lowered the whale meat prices too much," one of the ICR's
officials noted.

The ICR posted a deficit of 700 million yen in its fiscal 2006
settlement of accounts. In usual years, the ICR used to have a
surplus of double-digit million yen to pay back into the state
coffers. In FY2006, however, the ICR had no surplus at all. The
Fisheries Agency's Long-Distance Fisheries Division, which overseas
research whaling, and ICR officials attributed the deficit to the
outbreak of a fire on a whaler and other unexpected troubles that
took place last year. "If we get back to the normal pace," one ICR
official said, "we will restore the balance."

However, U.S. and other foreign environmentalist activists have been
standing in the way of Japan's research whaling this year, as well.
Japan has therefore stopped whaling for now. If this is prolonged,
the market will have less whale meat supply. As a result, the ICR's
balance could go from bad to worse.

(4) Obstacles to investigative cooperation between Japan, China in
case of poisoning outbreak caused by tainted Chinese dumplings

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Full)
February 6, 2008

A number of people fell sick after eating Chinese frozen dumplings
that were found later contaminated with the pesticide methamidophos.
Meanwhile, another organic phosphorus pesticide, dichlorvos, was
also detected in a package of frozen dumplings yesterday. Police are
increasingly of the opinion that the product was contaminated with
the pesticide in China. Given this, investigative cooperation with
Chinese authorities is indispensable, but there are a number of
problems lying ahead.

A senior police officer said: "Instead of just pushing ahead with
investigation, we would like to make arrangements so that our nation
will be able to take proper steps." The officer indicated that they
are aiming to uncover the main cause of the incident and to hammer
out preventive measures, in addition to the major goal of
identifying suspects through investigations. Further, police have
decided to disclose new pieces of information on poisoned frozen
products in a positive manner.

Police have adopted such a policy because investigations are now
being carried out both in Japan and China. It is also because, like
the methamidophos case, they now judge that the product in question
is likely to have been contaminated with the chemical during the
process of producing and packaging in China.

At the outset of a meeting yesterday on joint investigation held by
the National Police Agency yesterday, Criminal Affairs Bureau
Director General Tsuyoshi Yoneda emphasized: "It is necessary for us
to cooperate with China. We have already started coordination to
work together with Chinese public security investigation

TOKYO 00000319 006 OF 008

authorities." Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Chien-chao also
said in a regular press conference yesterday: "The Chinese side will
positively study (investigative cooperation) if it contributes to
clearing up the cause of the incidents." But there are various
obstacles stand in the way of cooperation.

The governments of Japan and China signed last December a treaty on
Japan-China investigative cooperation to enable their investigators
to exchange information without diplomatic intermediates. But the
approval procedures needed in the Diet have yet to be taken, so the
treaty has not yet come into effect. Both sides have to carry out
ineffective investigations through diplomatic channels in the
conventional way. The two countries cooperated in investigating a
case in which four members of a family were killed by a Chinese man
in Fukuoka in 2003. In the current case, however, it is suspected
that a toxic substance was intentionally mixed in with the food
product in China, so a senior policy officer voiced skepticism of
the effect of joint investigation, saying: "I wonder to what extent
Chinese authorities will disclose to Japan information
disadvantageous to their country."

In China, investigators hear circumstances from local employees at
Tianyang Food Processing, which produced the dumplings in question,
and check the manufacturing, packing, and shipment process. The
National Police Agency intends to give priority to domestic
investigations for the time being, even while keeping in mind also
the possibility of dispatching its investigators to China. One
agency official said: "It will be meaningless even if investigators
go to China before carrying out a thorough investigation in the

(5) DPJ lawmakers alarmed at leadership's decision to relegate to
Ozawa Muto's promotion to BOJ governor

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged slightly)
February 6, 2008

Fierce bargaining is underway in the major opposition Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) regarding the selection of the next
Bank of Japan governor. Although the party leadership has relegated
the matter to President Ichiro Ozawa with an aim of avoiding
internal confusion, some in the party are highly alarmed at the
prospect of Ozawa joining hands with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
The matter is complicated because there is strong opposition in the
working group responsible for the matter to the option of promoting
Deputy Governor Toshiro Muto, a former administrative vice-finance
minister, to the top BOJ post.

The DPJ, which has become the largest party in the House of
Councillors, has established a subcommittee to study government
proposals on key positions requiring Diet approval. The panel is
chaired by Yoshito Sengoku, a former chairman of the Policy Research
Committee. Under the system, the committee is required to report its
results to an executive meeting for a final decision.

The leadership, however, has adopted a policy course of making a
decision on the appointment of the BOJ governor that would disregard
the subcommittee. Ozawa, Deputy President Naoto Kan, Secretary
General Yukio Hatoyama and another party executive met on Jan. 18
and decided to relegate the matter to Ozawa. In order to avoid a
vacuum in the BOJ governorship, they recognized the need to iron out
differences in views by receiving informal plans from the government

TOKYO 00000319 007 OF 008

in advance.

When the subcommittee met on Jan. 31, many members voiced their
discontent, one saying, "The four executive officers have no
authority to leave the matter to the party president." The
subcommittee again met on Feb. 5 and set a policy course of
following a set of procedures. They fear that if Ozawa negotiates
the matter with the prime minister, even through a third party, a
rehash of the grand coalition fiasco might follow.

The party leadership will not allow the subcommittee to take the
lead because Sengoku and others are negative about Muto's promotion,
calling for the separation of fiscal and monetary policies.
Subcommittee member and Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Susumu
Yanase even said in a press conference on Feb. 1: "Separating fiscal
and monetary policies is the party's policy."

If Muto is the only one recommended by the government, chances are
that the subcommittee will convey its disapproval to an executive
meeting. If Ozawa rubber-stamps it, the party might then be held
responsible for causing a vacuum in the governorship. Ozawa needs a
convincing explanation in order to overturn the subcommittee's
decision. Unconvincing logic would cause confusion in the party.

Although Kan has urged the government to produce several plans
apparently in an effort to bring the matter to a soft landing, the
party has yet to come up with a roadmap that would lead to a
conclusion of the problem. Meanwhile, Ozawa reportedly told his
aides: "The practice of former government officials landing
lucrative jobs in the private sector after retirement is not good.
Keeping that in mind, I will consider the matter after the proposal
comes from the cabinet. Why is everyone making such a fuss over

(6) Investigations into Defense Ministry bribery scandals at final
stage; Can prosecutors delve deeper into Defense Ministry bribery

SENTAKU (Page 98) (Full)
February 2008

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo Public Prosecutors
Office is now at the final stage of its investigations into
political circles in connection with the Defense Ministry's
corruption scandals. The special investigation task force, which
released former Administrative Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya
on bail, after having indicted him twice, has now put all its
prosecutors into Moriya's channels of communication to political
circles. A source familiar with the prosecutors said:

"The aim of the investigations is to shed light on vested interests
connected with Okinawa. Over projects on the relocation of U.S.
Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, House of Representatives member
Mikio Shimoji, who is from Okinawa, has been at odds with successive
defense chiefs, including Fumio Kyuma. Prosecutors appear to be
thinking that in order to shed light on this, it is necessary for
them to investigate the full picture of the vested interests

In late last year, the special investigation squad called a senior
Okinawa Defense Bureau official in question to the Tokyo Public
Prosecutors Office. A source familiar with the public prosecutors

TOKYO 00000319 008 OF 008

office said:

"Prosecutors seem to have severely pursued him on such points as his
having leaked the draft of the base relocation plan to local
companies. Prior to this, the prosecutors and about ten
administrative officials went to Okinawa and confirmed that the
senior Okinawa Defense Bureau official, Moriya, and Shimoji had held
a secret meeting in connection with the alleged leak. Moriya
entrusted to Shimoji the tasks of the land reclamation needed for
the relocation of Futenma Air Station and the evacuation of the
base. The special investigation squad is focusing its attention on
the ballooning of the interests held by Shimoji."

The prosecutors also seem to have obtained information from a
private secretary to Kyuma, who has been locking horns with Shimoji.
They appear to have questioned the secretary about allegations of
construction of an incinerator in Okinawa. They have gradually been
following the trail that is leading them to the politicians.

However, there appears to be an obstacle to filing charges against
the politicians. The source revealed: "Chief Public Prosecutor
Tetsuya Ito told Hiroyuki Yagi, chief of the special investigation
squad, that the deadline for the investigations should be Feb. 29.
Yagi was told that he would be replaced at that time," All eyes are
now on the moves in February by the Yagi-led special investigation
task force.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>


Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC