Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 02/14/08
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 02/14/08
1) Top headlines
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)
4) Ambassador Schieffer apologizes to Okinawa governor for the
alleged rape incident, hands over personal letter to the victim and
5) Foreign Minister Koumura lodges protest with U.S. Ambassador
Schieffer over rape incident in Okinawa, calls on U.S. to "take
preventive measures seriously" (Sankei)
6) Ambassador Schieffer: U.S. military to tighten rules to prevent
future incidents (Asahi)
7) Ambassador Schieffer calls the Okinawa incident "extremely
painful" and promises full cooperation in resolving the alleged rape
8) Citizens group protests rape incident near U.S. embassy (Asahi)
9) Reacting to Okinawa incident, Democratic Party of Japan head
Ozawa calls for revision of Status of Forces Agreement (Sankei)
10) Misawa Air Base commander: "Sexual violence is unforgivable"
11) Marine suspect denies that he raped the schoolgirl after she
rejected his advances (Asahi)
Defense and security affairs:
12) U.S., Russian military aircraft flying south of Japan have close
13) Tokyo carries out a late-night antiterrorist drill (Tokyo
14) Defense Ministry panel discusses Ishiba proposal of unifying
military and civilian components in the ministry (Mainichi)
15) LDP starts study of permanent law for SDF overseas dispatch,
focusing on issue of easing rules on use of weapons (Yomiuri)
16) Ruling parties decide to speed up passage of tax-related bills,
including gasoline tax, without revisions (Nikkei) 11
17) Prime Minister Fukuda's appointment of new prime ministerial
assistant not sitting well with some lawmakers in ruling camp
18) LDP's Koga joining group going to Iwojima (Iwoto) to pay respect
to soldiers who died in battle (Mainichi)
1) TOP HEADLINES
Debate begins on lowering age of majority to 18
Type of asbestos previously thought unused in Japan found in 14
facilities as insulation, soundproofing
Livelihood panel proposes mechanism to seize profits unfairly
obtained by malicious sales tactics
TOKYO 00000394 002 OF 012
Livelihood panel proposes unifying food labeling laws to display
China's garbage increased 13-fold over last decade
Justice Minister Hatoyama: "False accusation not appropriate in
7,000 people rally in Ginza, Kasumigaseki calling for elimination of
(1) U.S. presidential race heating up
(2) Namdaemun gate fire
(1) Central Social Insurance Medical Council proposes medical fee
(2) Relief measures for those suffering from violation of human
rights by public power more important than human rights protection
(1) Adulthood set at 18 in civil law and international standards
(2) U.S. government must reinforce discipline at bases
(1) Is Kasumigaseki going to open or close Japan?
(2) Treatment of hospital doctors needs to be improved
(1) Proposed medical fee hike not enough for hospital doctors
(2) School textbooks for Japanese school in Shanghai seized: China
needs to respect international rules
(1) Securities company executives arrested for manipulating stock
(2) East Timor president attacked
(1) Road construction revenues must be incorporated into general
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime minister's schedule, February 13
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 14, 2008
Visited the Keihin Branch Oguro Office of the Kawanishi Warehouse
Co. in Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama.
Visited the imported food quarantine and inspection center in the
TOKYO 00000394 003 OF 012
Yokohama Quarantine Station in Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama.
Visited the Yokohama Research Institute of the Japan Agency for
Marine-Earth Science and Technology, with Senior Vice Science and
Technology Minister Matsunami.
Met Yokohama Mayor Nakata at the Yokohama Grand International
Visited the Pacifico Yokohama in Nishi-ku to have a preliminary look
for the TICAD meeting.
Arrived at his official residence.
Set up the signboard of the preparatory office for unification of
consumer affairs administration in the Cabinet Office, with Senior
Vice Minister Nakagawa of the Cabinet Office, Deputy Chief Cabinet
Secretary Futahashi, and others. Later, visited the exhibition hall
of panels related to Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.
Issued an official appointment to Special Advisor Ito at the Kantei.
Followed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura. Later, joined by
Cabinet Intelligence Director Mitani. Followed by Futahashi and
Assistant Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saka.
Met Foreign Ministry Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director
General Saeki. Followed by Cabinet Office Special Advisor Okuda,
Ito, Saka, and others. Later, met Deputy Foreign Minister Sasaki and
Met those who served as political section chief of press companies
at a soba restaurant in Nagata-cho.
Returned to his official residence.
4) U.S. envoy offers apologies for U.S. Marine's rape
MAINICHI (Page 1) (Full)
February 14, 2008
Okinawa Gov. Nakaima, right, hands a letter of request to U.S.
Ambassador to Japan Schieffer, left, during a meeting in the wake of
an Okinawa-based U.S. Marine's rape of a junior high school girl.
(Photo taken at 12:46 p.m., Feb. 13, by Takeshi Noda at the Okinawa
prefectural government office)
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Schieffer and U.S. Forces Japan Commander
Wright called on Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima at the Okinawa
prefectural government office yesterday afternoon and offered
TOKYO 00000394 004 OF 012
apologies for an Okinawa-based U.S. Marine's rape of a junior high
"I regret the incident," Schieffer told Nakaima. "We will fully
cooperate with the governor and investigative authorities," he
added, "and we will do all we can to bring about justice." With
this, he stressed his intention to take steps for the thoroughgoing
prevention of a recurrence. He also said, "We hope the suffering of
the victimized girl and family will be healed as early as possible."
The ambassador entrusted the governor with a letter to the girl and
her family. The governor handed a letter to the ambassador,
requesting the U.S. government to disclose preventive measures to
the people of Okinawa Prefecture.
After that, Schieffer answered questions from reporters and
clarified a plan to review the U.S. military's education of its
personnel as a preventive step. Asked if the incident would affect
the planned relocation of Futenma airfield, he only said, "I hope
not, but if it (Futenma relocation) is affected, then we will
5) Koumura protests U.S. serviceman's rape to U.S. envoy, calls on
"preventive steps to be taken seriously"
SANKEI (Page 3) (Full)
February 14, 2008
Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura called in U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Schieffer and U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) Commander Wright to the
Foreign Ministry yesterday evening and lodged a strong protest
against the rape of a junior high school girl in Okinawa. "We have
asked the U.S. many times to enforce discipline," Koumura said.
"Nevertheless," he went on, "the incident took place." He added:
"It's very regrettable. I'd like to ask you to make earnest,
continuous efforts to prevent such an incident from recurring."
"Personally," Schieffer replied, "I'm very much shocked." He added:
"It's very terrible that a 14-year-old girl is victimized in an
incident like this. I want to convey our heartfelt regret to the
Japanese people." With this, he indicated that the United States
would fully cooperate to investigate the incident.
"I want you to review the preventive measures you've taken in the
past to see if they were effective," Koumura said. In response,
Wright said: "The incident is very heartbreaking. I have ordered
that we check our educational programs in the past."
According to the Foreign Ministry, USFJ provides educational
programs, such as: 1) U.S. servicemen, after their arrival in Japan,
will be provided with a training course of sessions on the
Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Okinawa's culture
before their base assignments; 2) base commanders will brief those
newly assigned personnel on principles and rules; and 3) base
commanders will periodically meet to share information about
incidents and accidents and discuss preventive measures. In Okinawa,
U.S. military authorities patrol downtown areas where trouble can
easily occur, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rice will shortly visit Japan.
She is scheduled to arrive in Japan on Feb. 27 after attending the
newly South Korean president's inaugural ceremony to be held in
Seoul. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will meet with her and request
TOKYO 00000394 005 OF 012
6) U.S. Ambassador expresses plans to tighten discipline among U.S.
military personnel, possibly including strengthened curfew
ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
February 14, 2008
Unites States Ambassador to Japan J. Thomas Schieffer yesterday met
with Foreign Minister Koumura at his ministry and declared that in
response to the recent alleged rape of a junior high school girl by
a U.S. Marine stationed in Okinawa, the U.S. will review and enforce
tighter discipline among U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) in all respects.
The U.S. will review the educational programs and measures to
prevent a recurrence of similar incidents that are provided
separately by the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
Also, the U.S. will review quickly such plans as to tighten curfew
for military personnel, their dependents and American base workers.
Stricter conditions for military personnel to live off-base will be
imposed, given that the rape suspect lives off-base.
Schieffer briefed Koumura on an outline of the review. After the
session, the Ambassador told reporters: "The measures we have taken
to prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence will be reviewed
and further tightened." The Ambassador went on to say that the
"discipline not only for the Marines but also for (the Army, Navy,
and Air Force) will also be reviewed in all respects."
According to one U.S. Embassy official, the U.S. will tighten
discipline for USFJ separately from the general discipline the
Department of Defense (DOD) sets for U.S. military personnel
stationed abroad. As to when the new measures that will be formed
after discussion with DOD will be put into practice, this official
said: "It is unknown, but it will be handled as a top priority
Because there is no end to sexual crimes committed by U.S. military
personnel stationed in Japan, the U.S. has now concluded that the
current preventive measures are insufficient. However, how to
tighten the current measures in concrete terms has yet to be made
clear. Attention is focused on whether the U.S. can come up with a
fresh set of effective measures.
The current measures are offered separately by the Army, Navy, Air
Force, and Marine Corps. The measures consist mainly of two parts:
(1) educational programs and (2) measures to prevent accidents and
crimes. Under educational programs, U.S. military personnel at the
sergeant-1st-class rank or below (and all Marines) who arrive in
Japan without family receive lectures about the Japan-U.S. Status of
Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Okinawan culture before they are
installed in their posts.
The preventive measures include the "liberty card system," under
which various colors of cards are issued to young U.S. military
personnel to restrict their going off-base at night and the
"off-limits," which temporarily bans U.S. military personnel from
visiting certain areas and shops where problems frequently take
place. In order to prevent accidents and incidents relating to
drinking, military service members at the staff sergeant rank or
below who are stationed without family and whose term of service in
TOKYO 00000394 006 OF 012
Japan is less than one year are prohibited from possessing personal
vehicles and driving. Also, restrictions are imposed on the kinds of
liquor and the amount of liquor they can drink.
Major steps taken by USFJ to prevent accidents and incidents
? Arrival program (All Marines are obligated to take lectures about
SOFA and Okinawan culture)
? Unit orientation (The commander of each unit briefs new arrivals
on discipline and rules.)
? Regular meeting of unit commanders (Information about accidents
and incidents are shared and preventive measures are discussed.)
Measures to prevent accidents and incidents
? Restrictions on leaving bases at night (Liberty card system). The
red card is usually given to all Marines at the sergeant rank or
below. They are banned from being off-base from midnight until 5:00
a.m. except for official duties.
? A temporary nighttime curfew for military personnel
? Ban on visiting certain areas or shops temporarily (Off-limits)
? Military officers in civilian clothing patrol the shopping and
entertainment districts and give military personnel daily guidance.
? Soldiers who arrived at their posts without family are banned from
possessing personal vehicles and driving, and the kinds of liquor
they can drink and the amount are limited.
7) U.S. Ambassador Schieffer on rape incident: Such are always
"extremely painful"; Promises full cooperation
ASAHI (Page 34) (Full)
February 14, 2008
In response to the alleged rape of a junior high school girl by a
U.S. Marine Corps staff sergeant in Okinawa, Foreign Minister
Masahiko Koumura met U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer at
the Foreign Ministry yesterday. Koumura requested that the U.S. make
serious and continuous efforts toward tightening discipline and
preventing a recurrence of similar incidents. In response, the
ambassador indicated the U.S. would offer full cooperation, saying:
"Whether it is in Japan or the United States, this kind of incident
is extremely painful."
After his meeting with Koumura, Ambassador Schieffer met the press
and said: "All military personnel in Japan feel sorry and distressed
by this. .... All Americans in Japan, no matter whether they are
military personnel or not, and particularly, those parents who have
children feel saddened and pained." He stressed that his heart went
out to the victim and her family.
After arriving in Okinawa, Senior Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori
Onodera met Marine Corps Bases Japan Commander Lt. General Zilmer at
the ministry's Okinawa office in Naha yesterday and asked the U.S.
to take necessary measures to enforce tighter discipline among
service members and to prevent a recurrence of similar crimes.
Zilmer replied: "We take the situation seriously. We will do our
utmost to strictly enforce discipline and prevent a recurrence of
Onodera reportedly stressed the need for a thorough education
TOKYO 00000394 007 OF 012
program for U.S. military servicemen, remarking: "Some (among those
related to the U.S. military) might still have the wrong feeling
that Okinawa is a territory under occupation. I want you to
undertake a complete education program."
Onodera also met Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima at the
prefectural government office. Nakaima handed a letter addressed to
Foreign Minister Koumura over to Onodera.
The letter expressed regret over the alleged rape incident and asked
the Foreign Ministry to work on the U.S. side to publicize the
details of the effective steps it will take to prevent a recurrence
8) Citizens group gathers near U.S. Embassy to protest rape
ASAHI (Page 34) (Full)
February 14, 2008
In protest against the alleged rape incident of a junior high school
student by a U.S. Marine in Okinawa, about 40 people gathered near
the U.S. Embassy in Minato Ward, Tokyo, yesterday, to demand an
apology by President Bush and a removal of U.S. bases from Japan.
Putting up a placard, the demonstrators shouted: "We never forgive
crimes committed by U.S. soldiers;" and "How long will these same
things go on?" They also read letters of protest in front of the
embassy and then handed the letters over to an embassy staff
Miho Nagahashi, 59, from Niho City, Tokyo, was enraged: "The
repetition of this kind of incident angers me. Similar incidents
have occurred many times, but looking at the responses made by Japan
and the U.S., I can't help feeling that similar crimes could happen
any time. I want the U.S. military to withdraw from Japan."
9) DPJ Ozawa expresses willingness to revise Japan-U.S. Status of
SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
February 14, 2008
In reference to the alleged rape of a junior high school girl by a
U.S. Marine Crops staff sergeant in Okinawa, Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa stated in an interview in Oyama
City, Tochigi Prefecture, that his party would launch a discussion
on revising the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. He said: "It
is important to revise the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement and
establish a system under which Japan can deal with crimes (committed
by U.S. military personnel) under equal judicial procedures."
10) "Sexual assault is unforgivable," says Misawa Air Base
ASAHI (Page 34) (Full)
February 14, 2008
Following the rape of a middle school girl in Okinawa by a U.S.
Marine, Misawa Air Base Commander O'Shaughnessy sent to commanders
of all units a message noting that sexual assault is intolerable.
The message was sent by e-mail or in written form.
TOKYO 00000394 008 OF 012
According to the press office of Misawa Air Base, the message was
sent on the evening of Feb. 12, seeking stronger discipline from all
U.S. military sources, including civilians working at the base.
Unit commanders were asked to confirm that all the troops read the
11) U.S. Marine denies rape
ASAHI (Page 34) (Full)
February 14, 2008
U.S. Marine Corps staff sergeant Tyrone Hadnott, 38, based in
Okinawa, has been arrested on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old
middle school girl. Hadnott stated during questioning by Okinawa
Prefectural Police that while he sought a sexual relationship with
her, she rejected his advances, and he did not assault her, Asahi
Shimbun has learned. The prefectural police are carefully
investigating the incident, by analyzing the car and a jumper they
seized from the suspect's house.
Hadnott was arrested around 10:35 p.m. on Feb. 10 on suspicion of
raping the girl in a car parked on the road. He has so far admitted
to pressing himself against her and touching her in the car.
However, the police said that he is denying the charges, saying,
"She refused my advances, and I did not force myself on her."
Regarding the allegation that he took the girl to his house by
motorcycle after meeting her in Okinawa City and then drove her
around afterward, Hadnott explained: "I did not force her. She did
not appear to be upset." He also allegedly said, "I did not do
anything to threaten her."
However, the prefectural police suspect that the terrified girl
sought help from her friend by cell-phone and tried to escape while
she was in his car.
12) U.S., Russian warplanes in close encounters
MAINICHI (Page 3) (Full)
February 14, 2008
WASHINGTON-A U.S. fighter jet intercepts a huge Russian bomber --
the U.S. Navy has released an Associated Press (AP) photo of that
scene. On Feb. 9, U.S. and Russian forces were engaged in close
encounters over the sea south of Japan, a U.S. military official
testified before Congress on Feb. 12. The scene is reminiscent of
the coldest days of the Cold War.
According to the official, four Russian Tupolev 95 (Tu-95) bombers
flew at a low altitude over the USS Nimitz, a U.S. nuclear-powered
aircraft carrier, when she was on a training mission. The flattop
scrambled four F-18 fighter jets to intercept them as one of them
buzzed her. On Feb. 9, a Russian bomber violated Japan's airspace
over the sea south of the Izu Islands. The U.S. military believes
that the airspace violator is one of those four Russian bombers. The
official voiced concern, saying the Russian air force is now as
active as it was in the Cold War.
13) Midnight terrorist attack drill at Tokyo Station
TOKYO 00000394 009 OF 012
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
February 14, 2008
In the run-up to the Group of Eight Summit (G-8), the Tokyo
Metropolitan Police Department and the Tokyo Fire Department
conducted a joint drill assuming that the Shinkansen has been
attacked by terrorists. The drill took place on the Tokaido
Shinkansen tracks at JR Tokyo Station from the night of Feb. 13
through early morning of the 14th.
The no. 16 track and a real bullet train carriage were used for the
drill. The drill was conducted based on the assumption that many
passengers had collapsed in a running bullet train bound for Tokyo
Station. Fire fighters in protective suits rescued seriously injured
persons after evacuating other passengers. Then the public security
mobile investigation squad of the Tokyo police, which specializes in
nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) attacks, determined that the
suspicious object was sarin, and recovered the object. Riot
policemen then washed the car.
The Tokyo police view that the main battlefield for security for the
G-8 is Tokyo. They are conducting antiterrorism drills and
strengthening cooperation with private companies.
14) Defense Ministry's reform council debates unification of
civilian and uniformed groups in the ministry
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
February 14, 2008
The Defense Ministry's Reform Council (chaired by Naoya Minami,
advisor to Tokyo Electric Co.) held its fifth meeting yesterday at
the Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) and focused its
discussion mainly on the private proposal of Defense Minister
Shigeru Ishiba, who proposes a structural unification of the
internal bureaus (civilian group) and the ground, maritime, and air
forces (uniformed group).
The Ishiba proposal would reorganize the internal bureaus and the
Self-Defense Forces (SDF) into three components: "building defense
capabilities"; "operations"; and "public relations, including Diet
deliberations and briefings." The aim is to change the current
situation in which the internal bureaus have predominance over the
SDF, as well as to establish civilian control by politicians. In the
meeting, such views were expressed as: "We should first make it
clear what kind of inadequacies exist in the current set up."
15) LDP starts studying SDF dispatch permanent law; Relaxing
weapons-use rules a likely point of contention
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Abridged slightly)
February 14, 2008
The Liberal Democratic Party's joint taskforce on permanent
legislation on international cooperation, chaired by former LDP Vice
President Taku Yamasaki, met yesterday and started studying the
possibility of a permanent law governing the overseas dispatch of
the Self-Defense Forces. The LDP and the New Komeito intend to
launch their project team as early as Feb. 27 with an eye on the new
Antiterrorism Special Measures Law, scheduled to expire in January
2009. The LDP intends to submit a bill to the current Diet session.
The party also plans to establish a dialogue with the major
TOKYO 00000394 010 OF 012
opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) to discuss
At yesterday's meeting, Yamasaki said:
"We would like to pave the way for a permanent law so that our
international contributions will not end with the expiration of the
new antiterrorism law. We want to a complete plan during the current
Diet session for deliberations."
The current Antiterrorism Special Measures Law stipulating the
Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean
is temporary legislation good only for one year. There is a view in
the ruling camp that establishing a permanent law is more pragmatic
than repeatedly enacting time-limited special measures laws. In
order to enact the law in the next extraordinary Diet session the
fall, the contents of the planned bill must be nailed down during
the current session.
Chances are becoming stronger that the battle between the ruling and
opposition camps over the maintenance of the provisional tax rate on
gasoline will be settled in March. Focusing on a permanent dispatch
law, the government and ruling coalition want to launch a framework
for policy talks with the DPJ in April if possible. Yamasaki
expressed his eagerness to hold talks with the DPJ before submitting
a bill. Once a bill is presented, calls for extending the current
Diet session beyond the June 15 expiry are likely to grow stronger.
Some DPJ lawmakers, mostly conservative members, hold positive views
toward permanent legislation. One ruling party member said: "Even if
the DPJ does not respond to our call for talks on permanent
legislation, we can shake up the largest opposition party."
Easing the rules on the use of weapons would be the biggest bone of
contention in discussing the permanent legislation. SDF personnel on
overseas missions are allowed to use weapons only for justifiable
defense and purposes. There is a view in the LDP that in the event
foreign troops in the same operation or UN personnel are attacked,
the SDF should be allowed to rush over and use weapons to provide
protection for them.
The ruling and opposition camps are deeply divided on whether to
require a UN resolution for SDF dispatch. The dominant view in the
ruling and ruling camp is that the government should be allowed to
make decisions independently on sending SDF troops in compliance
with requests from other countries even without UN resolutions.
16) Ruling coalition to forgo revision of provisional tax rates bill
in Lower House
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
February 14, 2008
The ruling parties decided yesterday on a policy of forgoing a
modification in the House of Representatives of a bill revising the
Special Taxation Measures Law, which includes measures to retain the
current provisional rates for gasoline and other road-related taxes,
the main focus of attention in the current Diet session. They are
determined that the environment has not been created for them and
the main opposition Democratic Party (DPJ or Minshuto) to hold talks
on revising the government's bill. While considering a revision of
the bill in the House of Councillors, the ruling coalition
TOKYO 00000394 011 OF 012
prioritizes passing the bill through the Lower House before the end
of the current fiscal year. Since a battle over the scheduling of
deliberations is intensifying between the ruling and opposition
camps, there is no mood for holding a dialogue.
LDP Deputy Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda expressed strong
suspicion about the DPJ's work of drafting its own bill,
counterproposals toward the government's bill, saying: "I wonder
about the logical compatibilities in their bill."
In a meeting yesterday of its shadow cabinet, the DPJ adopted an
interim report on a bill to reform the provisional taxation system,
which stipulates that the special account of road-related taxes
should be integrated into the general account and that measures
should be created to cover local government's revenue shortfall
stemming from abolition of the provisional tax rates. The main
feature of the bill is to create measures to cover the tax revenue
shortfall in local governments -- about 900 billion yen -- due to
abolition of subsidies for projects from the government. Hosoda,
however, said: "It is impossible to start implementing such measures
The LDP leadership is concerned that the DPJ may prevent the bill
from clearing the Diet before the end of this fiscal year by gaining
time with consultations on revising the bill. Therefore, the DPJ
began taking a strategy of placing priority on promotion of
deliberations with an eye on the bill's passage by the Lower House
The four opposition parties -- the DPJ, Japanese Communist Party,
Social Democratic Party, and People's New Party -- affirmed in a
meeting of their Diet affair chiefs that they would oppose a plan to
begin this week deliberations on the government's bill. Referring to
the fact that the ruling coalition proposed a deliberation on a
revision on the government's bill, as well as on the fiscal 2008
budget bill, the DPJ's Yamaoka said in a press conference: "It's
As a result, the ruling camp agreed in a meeting of the Lower House
Steering Committee last evening to start deliberations on the 19th,
giving up its plan to being this week. The Lower House Financial
Affairs Committee will state debate on the 20th. However, senior
ruling coalition member expressed displeasure, saying: "It will be
very difficult to get the bill passed by the Lower House before the
end of February" with and eye on Diet testimony by unsworn witnesses
and public hearings.
17) Prime Minister Fukuda appoints Tatsuya Ito as his special
advisor on social security issues to secure solid political
foothold; Possibility of creating discord
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Slightly abridged)
February 14, 2008
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda yesterday appointed former Financial
Services Minister Tatsuya Ito, a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
lawmaker, as his special advisor on social security and handed a
written appointment to him. For Fukuda, who appointed last September
when he took office, most of the Prime Minister's Office (Kantei)
staff, whom former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had picked, it was the
first time to appoint a special advisor, who acts as a most useful
second. It seems that he has finally gained his political footing
TOKYO 00000394 012 OF 012
for the leadership under his office after nearly five months after
Since last December, Fukuda appointed former Japan Business
Federation Chairman Hiroshi Okuda as special advisor to the cabinet
(naikaku-tokubetsu-komon), and former Ambassador on Global
Environment Mutsuyoshi Nishimura and Kazumasa Kusaka as special
advisors to the cabinet (naikaku-kanbo-sanyo). With the appointment
of Ito as his special advisor, Fukuda has finally filled the key
posts in the Kantei.
Fukuda set up the post of special advisor on social security issues,
aiming at restoring public confidence in his cabinet by plying up
its effort to review the entire social security policy, including
the pension systems. Ito was chosen because he is a policy
specialist but he will keep at arm's length the social
security-related offices, according to a government official. Fukuda
told reporters last night: "I think he is an appropriate person to
serve in the post since he knows well the structure of government
and social security issues."
Ito will be also responsible for managing the government's National
Council on Social Security, as well as offering views to Fukuda. The
Prime Minister expects him to support Health, Labor and Welfare
Minister Yoichi Masuzoe based on his experience of bringing an
agreement between the government and ruling parties last August on
the pension-records fiasco.
However, Ito is believed to have close ties with former Economic and
Fiscal Policy Minister Heizo Takenaka, who promoted a structural
reform policy in the former Koizumi government. He and former LDP
Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa share a policy that the fiscal
system should be reconstructed through economic growth and cutting
expenditures, not by increasing taxes. Therefore, some said that
Nakagawa might have recommended him to Fukuda. There is a view that
Nakagawa may strengthen influence over a battle over whether to hike
the consumption tax since Ito will manage the National Council on
Social Security, which also discusses the fiscal resources issue.
18) Koga travels to Iwojima (Iwoto) to attend memorial ceremony for
those who fell in battle
MAINICHI (Full) (Page 5)
February 14, 2008
Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Makoto Koga, who chairs the
party's election steering committee, visited Iwoto (Ogasawara
Village, Tokyo) to pay respects to the spirits of those who fell in
battle on behalf of the Japan Association of Bereaved Families of
the War Dead, which Koga chairs. He there participated in the
ceremony for the war dead. Since the reversion of the island to
Japan in 1968, the association has paid its respects there 12 times,
but this is the first time for the current chairperson to make the