Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 02/15/08

DE RUEHKO #0413/01 0460756
P 150756Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) McCain and his view of Japan (Sankei)

(2) What is Fukuda administration's environmental diplomacy? (Part
2): Emergence from global warming; Need to think how to share costs

(3) Appointment of Ito as special advisor to the prime minister
creating stir in ruling camp (Nikkei)

(4) Discussion between Koichi Kato and Taku Yamasaki on North Korea
policy and political realignment (Mainichi)


(1) McCain and his view of Japan

SANKEI (Page 7) (Full)
February 9, 2008

Yoshihisa Komori, Washington

It now looks like Senator John McCain is the de facto nominee of the
Republican Party in the U.S. presidential race.

McCain brings to mind the time when he told me enthusiastically
about Vietnam. It was around the fall of 1989, shortly after my
arrival in Washington for my second assignment as a correspondent.

Two years before that, McCain had just become a Senator. However, he
was a captive for five and a half years during the Vietnam War. He
did not cave in to North Vietnam's cruel torture, and he returned as
a "war hero."

I myself spent nearly four years in Vietnam, so I proposed an
interview to McCain to hear his views of Vietnam. He readily
responded. To my surprise, he spared me a lot of time and talked
about the "just cause" of the Vietnam War. After that, he responded
to a number of interviews. After a while, I found that McCain was
strongly interested in Japan and the Japan-U.S. alliance.

In my interviews, McCain talked about Japan and the Japan-U.S.
alliance. Judging from his views in those days, his standpoint
toward Japan in his foreign policy paper, which was issued for the
presidential election, seems only natural. Former Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, when in office, pushed for "values-oriented diplomacy"
and an "arc of freedom and prosperity." McCain agreed with these
initiatives. In addition, Abe pushed a policy of strengthening the
Japan-U.S. alliance. This also seems to be in the same category as
McCain's standpoint.

In those days, McCain, working as a member of the Senate Armed
Services Committee, voted against all the trade-related bills that
were presented to the U.S. Congress against Japan when Japan and the
United States were in the midst of intensifying trade disputes.
Moreover, on the issue of the FSX (follow-on mainstay fighter
support plane) selection for the Air Self-Defense Force, McCain
bitterly blamed the "Japan bashing" moves of congressional
hardliners toward Japan. That was obviously because he gave thought
to the importance of Japan for the United States in the security

TOKYO 00000413 002 OF 008

In June 1990, when the Soviet Union's communist regime was about to
collapse, some in Japan presumed that the United States would no
longer need the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty if the military threat
from the Soviet Union disappeared. I asked McCain about this in my
interview. He answered as follows:

"Even if the Soviet threat diminishes or disappears, the U.S.
administration-irrespective of the Republican Party or the
Democratic Party-would think that the United States should
absolutely maintain its basic framework of bilateral security with
Japan in the two countries' common interests. Even the congressional
hardliners toward Japan over trade issues do not think at all that
there is no need for bilateral security arrangements with Japan."

"In addition to the Soviet threat, there are many other factors in
Asia like uncertainties and changes that need our bilateral defense
cooperation. These factors include changes in the Middle East and
the Persian Gulf, a crisis on the Korean Peninsula, and China's

That is why McCain strongly asked Japan to build up its defenses and
increase its burden as a step to strengthen the bilateral alliance.
Around that time, McCain submitted a bill to Congress, calling for
Japan to shoulder the entire burden of costs for stationing U.S.
forces in Japan. When the U.S.-led Gulf War broke out against the
Iraqi military's occupation of Kuwait under the Hussein regime,
McCain called for Japan to specific contributions. He criticized
Japan harshly for taking no action.

"We needed to stop Hussein's act of aggression. In that respect, our
European allies, the Soviet Union, and Arab countries recognized the
necessity of doing so, and they clarified their support for the
action taken by the United States. However, Japan is the only
country remaining uncommitted. The Japanese government's pro forma
clarification of support is nothing but subject to the world's
contempt and the United States' hostility."

"If Japan wants to remain a friend of the United States, and if
Japan wants to continue its economic interdependence with the rest
of the world, Japan will then have to take a stance that is
appropriate for an international state. Japan can no longer hide
behind the world's most flexible constitution or remain uncommitted
to any action on the pretext of an objection from a few

In this way, McCain expressed his expectations for Japan. People
call him moderate, but when it comes to these remarks, it does not
seem that they are right.

In those days as well, however, some people in Japan and the United
States were crying out against Japan's action for its defense
buildup and its overseas dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces as a
revival of militarism. I asked McCain about this point. He answered
as follows:

"Such arguments in Japan about military power and a revival of
militarism are groundless. Instead, I think Japan's passive pacifism
is a problem."

At that time, this expression clashed with arguments among those who
are distrustful and wary of Japan, like the New York Times'

TOKYO 00000413 003 OF 008

criticism of Japan in an editorial. Even now, that is still so.
McCain probably wanted Japan to take even more specific action to
strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance, consolidate its national
security as an "ordinary country," and contribute to international

Should Japan fail to answer such expectations, McCain would set
forth even more cutting criticism. His words would presumably be
quite a far cry from his moderate image.

(2) What is Fukuda administration's environmental diplomacy? (Part
2): Emergence from global warming; Need to think how to share costs

ASAHI (Page 17) (Slightly abridged)
February 7, 2008

(From the fifth panel discussion of the Asahi Shimbun's Council to
Discuss Asahi Shimbun's News Reports.)

Sanae Ariga, member of the Asahi Shimbun's Council to Discuss Asahi
Shimbun's News Reports: The Asahi Shimbun reported on a national
budget bill for fiscal 2008 created by the Ministry of Finance (MOF)
in an article dated Dec. 21 in the way to liken the budget bill to
an average citizen's household economy. This was a good approach to
make it easy for people to understand a budget bill. But it is
regrettable that the article was void of anything related to
diplomacy and international relations.

In an editorial dated Dec. 23, the Asahi dealt with a drop in
Japan's official development assistance (ODA) budget, writing that
Japan ranked as the number one among the ODA donors in the world at
one point in the past but that it will slide down to the sixth place
in three years. I feel something incompatible with Japan's efforts
to continue to be respected internationally by scattering money
across the world, but I think it is a good thing to retain a say as
a country contributing to the wellbeing of the world.

Kenichi Miyata, deputy editor in chief: In that editorial, we made
an issue of the decline in Japan's ODA budget, but when climate
change further advances in the future, measures for developing
countries that will be hit hard by high tides and droughts will
become far more costly than the past official development
assistance. Japan needs to think about another fund-raising system
to deal with that.

Kunio Kojima, member of the council: It is a good thing to bring up
the environmental issue with the start of the year. The
environmental issue is a very serious question. It is no easy matter
to establish greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by the time
of the (COP15) United Nations Climate Change Conference slated for
late 2009. A considerable amount of diplomatic efforts will be

In an editorial dated Jan. 3 titled "Resolve to emerge from global
warming," the daily emphasized the need for change by means of
technological capabilities. Indeed, Japan is excellent in its
technological power and has accumulated efforts for energy-saving.
But if every region and every industry in Japan is to shift to a
society that can overcome global warming, a large cost will be
required. Who will pay for it? I hope this problem will be taken up
next time.

TOKYO 00000413 004 OF 008

Takumi Sato, member of the council: The series "Eco wars" is worth
reading and educational. It was very good. As Council member Kumaoka
pointed out earlier, we have a fixed image about Africa. Likewise,
we have a preconceived idea about India. With the advancement of
information technology (IT), Japan and India are supposed to have
closer ties in the areas of politics and employment. I think more
space should be continuously given to reports on India than Africa.

Ichikawa, editor: India is a major political power and has a large
market. On the other hand, its relations with the United States are
not stable. It is difficult to ascertain in which direction that
country will move in terms of the economy, politics, and the
environment. We plan to intensively deal with that country together
with China.

Masahiko Yokoi, head of the Tokyo Head Office Editorial Bureau: l
think the problem of global environment is a challenge for Japan in
terms of its way of doing things being tested in the areas of
international politics, the economy, and technology. In our series
"The first year of the environmental era," which began with the
start of the year, we plan to deal with urban, energy, and food
problems. In another series "Changing earth," which has continued
since last year into this year, we will focus on areas suffering
from environmental problems. Writing reports in both respects as
well as reports on such diplomatic events as the G8 Toyako Summit,
we want to tell the readership that the environmental problems have
given us an opportunity to change our society overall.

-- Some papermaking companies were found to have tampered with their
blend ratios of recycled paper. What is your view about that?

Sato: When we separate paper scraps in our laboratory before
throwing them away, the volume of newspapers exceed others'. In an
article in the Asahi's morning edition dated Jan. 25, "Much time
required before restoration of the image of recycled paper," the
Asahi answered this question, "How much is the newspaper company
using recycled paper for their newspapers?" Indeed, the article
referred to that question but in a plain manner and simply said that
the Asahi's blend of recycled paper was "70 PERCENT on average."
The article failed to make clear whether the Asahi aims to achieve
100 PERCENT use of recycled paper in the future. If the daily
wanted to deal with the blend ratio issue from the environmental
point of view, it should have done so by revealing its stance as a
large user of recycled paper.

Sanae Ariga: professor at Hokkaido University Graduate School of
Agriculture; born in 1957

Kunio Kojima: vice chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate
Executives (Keizai Doyukai); born in 1937

Takumi Sato: assistant professor at Kyoto University Graduate
School; born in 1960; specializes in media history and information

(3) Appointment of Ito as special advisor to the prime minister
creating stir in ruling camp

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 15, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's appointment of former Financial

TOKYO 00000413 005 OF 008

Services Minister Tatsuya Ito as his special advisor on social
security issues is now creating a controversy in Nagata-cho and
Kasumigaseki. Lawmakers with vested interests in health and welfare
affairs in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are already
fiercely opposing the appointment of Ito, who has asserted that
social security expenses should be cut in order to avoid tax hikes.
The appointment will likely affect the political dynamics between
lawmakers placing priority on economic growth and others calling for
fiscal reconstruction, including a consumption tax hike.

It is said that the reason for Fukuda having created the new post in
charge of social security issues is to lighten the burden carried by
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe, who has been too
busy with the China-made tainted gyoza dumplings scare to deal with
the pension-records mess.

Former LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa strongly recommended
Ito as special advisor to the prime minister on social security
issues. Ito supported Nakagawa as assistant secretary general. He
dealt with the pension-records fiasco and took part in drafting a
bill to dismantle the Social Insurance Agency. In cooperation with
Heizo Takenaka, who served as minister of internal affairs and
communications and financial services minister, Ito formulated a
financial revitalization plan urging major banks to strictly dispose
of nonperforming loans. He revealed that he had received a telephone
from Takenaka, saying, "Good luck!"

The National Council on Social Security, which Ito will also manage,
is expected to discuss the question of whether the consumption tax
should be raised with an eye on a possible increase by fiscal 2009
in the government's share of expenditures for the basic pension. Ito
underscored again his view of not taking a position of tax hikes
coming first. He said: "In order to realize further economic growth,
I will continue my effort for spending reform."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura took precautions against
the role of Ito at a press conference yesterday, saying twice: "He
will not engage in economic and fiscal policy." However, a senior
New Komeito member said: "Hidenao Nakagawa, who favors an economic
growth policy, has tried to reverse direction." Many in the ruling
coalition are now taking this view.

In a meeting on Feb. 13 of former heath, labor and welfare
ministers, including Yuya Niwa, Hidehisa Otsuji of the LDP and
Chikara Sakaguchi of the New Komeito, objections were raised: One
participant said: "The appointment of a special advisor is
outrageous." Another: "I can't understand the prime minister's

They are concerned that if a view calling for reducing expenditures
strengthens, social welfare funds would be cut. Taking advantage of
the divided Diet, under which enacting government-sponsored bills is
difficult, there appears a move countering the government's policy
of constraining social security spending by ruling coalition members
representing vested interests in health and welfare affairs by
involving opposition parties.

A total of 109 legislators from all the parliamentary groups formed
a group to aim at a breakthrough in the crisis facing hospitals. The
group was launched on Feb. 12. Upper House LDP Caucus Chairman
Otsuji heads the group. The DPJ's Sengoku also joins as deputy head.
One senior member said: "The group's real aim is to lift the limit

TOKYO 00000413 006 OF 008

(220 billion yen) on social security costs."

(4) Discussion between Koichi Kato and Taku Yamasaki on North Korea
policy and political realignment

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
Evening, February 14, 2008

Amid vigorous nonpartisan activities on the back of the divided
Diet, a group of lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party, New
Komeito, Democratic Party of Japan, and Social Democratic Party
visited South Korea on Feb. 10-11. What is their plan to guide the
country's North Korea policy and make moves toward another round of
political realignment? Former LDP Secretary General Koichi Kato and
former LDP Vice President Taku Yamasaki, who headed the delegation
to South Korea, discussed those factors, moderated by Mainichi
senior writer Takakazu Matsuda.

-- What did the delegation achieve?

Kato: Japan-ROK relations chilled under the former Koizumi and Abe
administrations. The situation has changed significantly since Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda took office, resulting in a mood for talks. We
had direct talks with president-elect Lee Myung Bak, and as a
result, we were able to confirm that bilateral relations are likely
headed for a better direction. That was the greatest achievement.

Yamasaki: The visit to South Korea by the nonpartisan delegation
prior to the start of the new administration allowed us to show that
Japan's views are unified when it comes to foreign and security

-- Do you think it will favorably affect the six-party talks on the
North Korean nuclear issue?

Yamasaki: It will naturally affect them. Mr. Lee, too, pointed to
the need for Japan, the United States, and South Korea to work more
closely in order for the six-party talks to move forward.

Kato: It might be difficult to see good developments immediately.
Nuclear data allegedly provided by North Korea to Syria is a hot
topic in the U.S. Congress. North Korea always takes a wait-and-see
attitude after South Korea installs new president. Mr. Lee has
pledged to raise the North's per capita income to 3,000 dollars
within a decade if it denuclearizes fully and opens its society. I
think that is beneficial for North Korea in the long run.

Yamasaki: In order to raise the North's per capita income to 3,000
dollars in a decade, the Korean Peninsula must be denuclearized
within this year. The Bush administration wants to make achievements
on the foreign and security fronts this year, its final year. It is
also desirable for the Fukuda administration to define the
normalization of relations with North Korea as a top diplomatic
issue and march toward it until the fall, especially in view of a
possible Lower House dissolution. We urged Mr. Lee to go on the
offensive this year because the conditions are ripe. In response, he
expressed hope that Japan will play a more active role in the
six-party talks. Under the six-party "second-phase" agreement (on
North Korea's full nuclear declaration and disablement), the member
countries are required to provide North Korea with energy aid
equivalent to 1 million tons of heavy fuel. Japan has not joined it.
Mr. Lee raised a question about it.

TOKYO 00000413 007 OF 008

-- What should be done?

Kato: Several hundred South Koreans have been adducted to North
Korea. The South Korean government is trying to negotiate with the
North, make North Korea nuclear-free, and drag it out to the
international community. Japan, too, should simultaneously aim at
resolving the abduction issue and the denuclearization of North
Korea. It is important to make a shift from the Abe approach of not
discussing anything until after the abduction issue is settled
altogether to the Koizumi tactic of voluntarily visiting North Korea
to pursue a policy line of dialogue with that country.

-- Does Prime Minister Fukuda have that wish?

Yamasaki: Of course. Bringing the abduction issue to a complete
settlement is extremely difficult, and the definition of a
settlement is not clear, either. The prime minister should aim at
incremental progress for the time being. If Pyongyang presents an
abduction issue progress plan at a Japan-North Korea normalization
working group meeting under the six-party talks, Japan would assess
it and make efforts. It is important to embark on energy aid, as was
suggested by Mr. Lee. Depending on the kind of progress, Japan
should partially lift its economic sanctions on the North.

-- At this stage where there is no diplomatic relationship, isn't
parliamentarian diplomacy necessary, like Japan did in dealing with
China and the Soviet Union before?

Kato: It is necessary. Many years ago, major roles were played by
"LT trade" based on a semi-governmental agreement and a visit to
China by then Komeito Chairman Yoshikatsu Takeiri carrying the prime
minister's letter. (In 1990), then Deputy Prime Minister Shin
Kanemaru of the LDP and Japanese Socialist Party Vice Chairman
Makoto Tanabe jointly led a bipartisan delegation to North Korea.
That helped reduce tensions between the two countries. Now that the
Fukuda administration has been installed, I would like to make
efforts to realize a visit to North Korea by a nonpartisan
delegation in the near future, if not immediately.

-- Mr. Yamasaki, you could visit North Korea before that, possibly
later this month.

Yamasaki: That is unlikely. The expectation is that the first chance
would be when America delists North Korea as a state sponsor of
terrorism in exchange for the implementation of the second-phase
agreement by Pyongyang. Another would be April 13 when Japan's
economic sanctions expire. Progress on the abduction issue is
necessary for Japan to lift its sanctions, even partially. Although
"progress" must be agreed upon by the Japan-DPRK normalization
working group under the six-party framework, the spadework must be
done by lawmakers. That is why my role in the process is being

-- If you were to visit North Korea, that means you have Prime
Minister Fukuda's approval, correct?

Yamasaki: This time, I cannot visit that country independently.
Without the prime minister's approval, I won't have any negotiation

-- By the way, there is an observation that the members in the

TOKYO 00000413 008 OF 008

delegation to South Korea have their eyes on the next round of
political realignment.

Yamasaki: It was part of our efforts to build channels of
communication capable of making policy coordination.

-- Although both of you pin high hopes on the Fukuda administration,
its support rate is plummeting. What should be done to raise it?

Kato: Public support does not rise if plans are not put into action.
The prime minister cannot implement plans because of the divided
Diet. As a solution, he first opted for forming a grand coalition,
followed by a stopgap bill, and tried to ram it through the Diet
with numerical superiority. None of them worked. Our delegation to
the ROK was called a bibimbap (Korean rice mixed with seasoned
vegetables) group. Nonpartisan groups coming into the world and
working closely with each other is good.

-- The delegation included Yoshito Sengoku and Yukio Edano, both
former DPJ Policy Research Committee chairmen.

Kato: The delegation included a wide range of DPJ members. The two
major anti-Ozawa members were there. It was an interesting group, in
that respect.

-- Mr. Kato, you have been a liberal from long before. Mr. Yamasaki,
you have been regarded as a person of a conservative bent. When did
you become a liberal?

Yamasaki: I am clearly an advocate of constitutional revision.
However, I have been of the view that Japan cannot exercise the
right to collective self-defense unless the Constitution is revised.
I am also opposed to paying homage at Yasukuni Shrine. My position
has been consistent; the environment around me has shifted to the

-- What do the liberals aim at in terms of domestic affairs?

Yamasaki: They aim at correcting disparities and pursuing politics
kind to the weak. This is the position of the former conservatives,
though it is now hard to notice because of the "big government."

Kato: I think the foreign affairs liberals agree with the domestic
affairs liberals 70 PERCENT to 80 PERCENT of the time.

-- Do you think political realignment will not occur until after the
next general election?

Kato: I think it will occur after the election. Whether it is
political realignment or a grand coalition, lawmakers must join
hands based on principles.

Yamasaki: I agree. Political realignment is inevitable.


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