Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 02/25/08

DE RUEHKO #0483/01 0560116
P 250116Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



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

Aegis collision:
4) Prime Minister Fukuda sees no need for Defense Minister Ishiba to
resign to take responsibility for the collision of an Aegis ship
with a fishing boat (Asahi)
5) Fukuda orders Defense Ministry reforms (Mainichi)
6) Ishiba on TV states that he will order ship's rules revised for
navigating in heavily traffic waters, as when the fishing boat was
struck by an Aegis (Tokyo Shimbun)

Okinawa incidents:
7) Effects of strict USFJ rules on off-base personnel unclear;
Restrictions could turn out to be a double-edged sword (Mainichi)
8) Okinawa Prefecture coming up with own set of ruled to counter
incidents by U.S. military personnel (Mainichi)
9) Central government, Okinawa have differences over how best to
stop recurrences of incidents by U.S. soldiers (Yomiuri)

10) LDP to sponsor legislation to ban possession of child
pornography and stiffen penalties in existing child-porn law

Korean affairs:
11) Newly inaugurated ROK President Lee to visit Japan April 21
12) Democratic Party of Japan forming new parliamentarian league for
"conciliation" with North Korea, will invite LDP lawmakers to join,
too (Sankei)

13) China proposes trilateral dialogue among China, U.S. and Japan,
possibly at the summit level (Nikkei)

Political affairs:
14) Yomiuri poll finds 68 PERCENT of the public have no trust in
politics, 60 PERCENT want two party system with each party
regularly take a turn at running the government (Yomiuri)
15) Diet hit by three sets of tough issues to tackle in weeks ahead:
appointing Bank of Japan governor; Aegis collision fallout; and
passing tax-related bills (Nikkei)
16) Fukuda ready to compromise and revise tax-related bills (Asahi)

17) LDP membership drops 7.5 PERCENT (Mainichi)
18) Former Prime Minister Koizumi is on the political move again

19) Government ready to use H2 rocket to launch commercial
satellites, including for U.S. and ROK (Nikkei) 13



Aegis duty crew spotted fishing boats but did not give instructions
to avoid them

Mainichi, Yomiurim, Sankei & Tokyo Shimbun:

TOKYO 00000483 002 OF 013

Miura arrested for 1981 shooting with FBI's discovery of new

China's export value expanded five-fold in six years after joining
WTO, outstripping U.S. to take second place

JCP Chairman Shii addresses an audience of 1,150, largest-ever, in
Kumamoto Prefecture's Hitoyoshi City; Participants include head of
the local medical association, conservative assembly members


(1) Proposals for building a society filled with hopes: How to help
"the working poor" to become economically independent

(1) 1981 shooting case in Los Angeles: Japan, U.S. need to make
clear their respective investigation rules
(2) Former ROK President Roh overly stuck to ideas and failed to
recognize realities:

(1) "Kizuna" satellite launched, but what are necessary now for
space development are select projects and focus efforts on selected
(2) 1981 shooting case in Los Angeles: U.S. FBI made a fresh move to
deal with the 27-year-old murder case

(1) Way to a low-carbon society: Japan needs to come up with own
ideas and policies ahead of G-8 Toyako Summit

(1) Government should consider early use of prepandemic vaccination
(2) Time to assess ShinGinko Tokyo's raison d'etre

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Arrest of Miura: We watch developments without any prejudice
(2) Government needs to work out basic policy on anti-quake
resistance of cultural assets

(1) Dangerous if government uses nuclear power generation as a trump
card to deal with climate change

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, February 23

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 24, 2008

Met advisor Ito at his official residence.
Afternoon Spend time at his official residence.

Prime Minister's schedule, February 24

TOKYO 00000483 003 OF 013

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 25, 2008

Spent time at his official residence.

Attended the wedding reception of Foreign Minister Koumura's eldest
son held at the Conrad Tokyo.

Returned to this official residence.

Went to the Kantei.

Departed from Haneda Airport for South Korea to attend presidential
inauguration of Lee Myung Bak.
(Local time)

Evening A
rrived in Seoul Air Base. Toured the Chong Gye River project in

Had an informal discussion with the accompanying press corps at the
Lotte Hotel in Seoul. Dined with South Korean political and business
leaders. Stayed overnight at the hotel.

4) Prime Minister Fukuda: No reason for Defense Minister to resign

ASAHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
February 25, 2008

Seoul, Nenya Etori

Asked by reporters accompanying him to Seoul about his view of the
opposition's call for the resignation of Defense Minister Shigeru
Ishiba to take responsibility for the collision between a Maritime
Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyer and small fishing boat, Prime
Minister responded yesterday with a clear statement: "It is
necessary for the person who knows well the Defense Ministry's
issues to take the lead in reforming the ministry and thus bearing
full responsibility." In view of the importance of stability of
internal politics also for foreign policy, Fukuda said he was still
enthusiastic about the notion of forming a grand alliance between
his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the largest opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto). He said: "It depends on
the other party."

Regarding the collision between the MSDF Aegis destroyer and fishing
boat, Fukuda pointed out:

"If the collision was caused due to the nature of the Defense
Ministry, the ministry should be drastically reformed. If (Ishiba)
is replaced without thinking, (reform) will not be carried out. A
new minister would have to study the issues from scratch. I do not
think we should take such meaningless action."

Fukuda underscored the meaning of a grand alliance, saying: "I
wonder whether foreign countries will trust Japan if our country

TOKYO 00000483 004 OF 013

cannot decide anything with them due the politically divided Diet.
This issue affects our national interests."

5) Reform team launched at order of prime minister: Aim is to
encourage Ishiba, by countering calls for his resignation

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
February 23, 2008

Following a flurry of scandals involving the Defense Ministry, a
Defense Ministry Reform Promotion Team was launched on Feb. 23,
based on Defense Minister Shigeru's cherished desire for a major
reorganization of his ministry. It was Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
himself who ordered Ishiba to put his initiative into practice,
apparently motivated by the desire to check the opposition bloc's
calls for Ishiba's resignation.

The team was originally scheduled to be launched on Feb. 19.
However, the plan has been put off due to the Maritime Self-Defense
Force's Aegis-equipped destroyer Atago's collision with the Seitoku
Maru, which took place the same day. The prime minister ordered the
launch of the team three days after the accident, apparently with
the aim of encouraging Ishiba. The Defense Ministry also gave
consideration to the administration, with one senior official
noting, "We did not want to have a fatal impact on the

Core members of the reform team are staff members under Ishiba's
direct jurisdiction. Fifteen mid-level officials, such as deputy
bureau directors general and division directors (six from internal
bureaus and nine SDF personnel), have been transferred to the
Minister's Secretariat. Compared with the existing study teams
responsible for such areas as civilian control, equipment
procurement, and intelligence and security, the newly established
team has Ishiba's strong imprint as the leader.

6) Ishiba reveals plan to require manual operation in waters with
heavy traffic

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
February 25, 2008

Appearing on a Fuji-TV program yesterday, in the wake of the
collision between the Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis-equipped
destroyer Atago and a fishing boat, Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba
said: "We will enforce a rule at once that (autopilot) must be
switched to manual operation once a vessel enters such waters."
Ishiba thus announced a plan to review the way SDF vessels cruise in
waters with heavy traffic.

The cause of the collision seems to be ascribable to the fact that
the Atago did not switch from autopilot to manual operation until
one minute before the collision, causing it to delay in taking
action to avoid the fishing boat.

Appearing on an NHK program, Ishiba also indicated that the ministry
will revise within this week an outline of the vice-administrative
minister notification system specifying the post-accident
communication setup and implement the revised system immediately.

7) U.S. military still not expected to tighten standards for living

TOKYO 00000483 005 OF 013

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
February 23, 2008

In the wake of an Okinawa-based U.S. serviceman's alleged rape of a
junior high school girl, the government has worked out a plan to
prevent similar incidents. The plan includes submitting an annual
report to base-hosting municipalities on the number of U.S. military
personnel and others living outside their bases. In Okinawa,
however, base neighbors are feeling uneasy about U.S. servicemen
living off base. Although Okinawa's base-hosting local communities
want the Japanese and U.S. governments to take effective steps, the
U.S. military is still not expected to tighten its off-base living

Currently, U.S. military personnel in Japan, civilian employees
working at U.S. military bases in Japan, and their dependents are
exempted from foreign registration under the Japan-U.S. Status of
Forces Agreement (SOFA). Instead, U.S. Forces Japan reports the
number of SOFA personnel entries into and departures from Japan once
every three months. Based on a bilateral agreement reached this
time, USFJ will reveal the number of U.S. military servicemen and
other off-base SOFA personnel in 129 municipalities across the
nation, including 22 in Okinawa Prefecture. However, the Japanese
government and USFJ have only agreed to "discuss" the standards for
living off-base. The Foreign Ministry explains that the Japanese and
U.S. governments have not yet agreed to tighten the standards. The
issue will be left to bilateral joint committee consultations.

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima appreciated the Japanese government
for its plan to take preventive steps. "The government took quick
action," he said yesterday. He also said, "There is no choice but to
tighten the off-base living standards." The incident this time took
place in the town of Chatan, which is an electoral district for
Kantoku Teruya, a member of the House of Representatives. Teruya
suggests the need to bar off-base living in principle.

In Okinawa, however, there are also industries that depend on bases.
Local realty businesses dealing in rental housing for U.S. military
personnel are expected to oppose the idea of tightening standards
for living off-base. "After the start of the Iraq war," one
Chatan-based real estate broker noted, "there are now fewer U.S.
servicemen living outside their bases." This broker added, "If the
standards are tightened, all of us will be affected."

8) Okinawa also works out 20-point plan

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
February 23, 2008

In the wake of an Okinawa-based U.S. serviceman's alleged rape of a
local junior high school girl, a panel of the Okinawa prefectural
government yesterday worked out a 20-point plan to prevent similar

The plan includes requesting the U.S. military to restrict its
off-base hours for more of its personnel, step up responsibilities
and penalties for the supervisors of discipline violators, and
tighten discipline for those living off base. In addition, the plan
proposes setting up automobile license plate number readers near
U.S. military bases. It also suggests the need for the Japanese and
U.S. governments to compensate victims on their respective

TOKYO 00000483 006 OF 013


9) Difference in degree apparent between government, Okinawa toward
preventive measures following rape incident

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
February 23, 2008

Following the recent case of a Marine having raped a junior-high
school girl in Okinawa and other crimes by Marines, the government
yesterday announced a package of its measures to prevent similar
incidents. The package indicates a willingness to strengthen
restrictions regarding U.S. military personnel's off-base residences
and moves, but it ended up just listing subjects for future
consideration. There is still a gap between the government's
measures and the requests being made by Okinawa. The government
plans to continuously work out specific preventive measures in
meetings of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee and on other occasions.

Speaking before reporters yesterday, Prime Minister Fukuda expressed
his determination to do his best to obtain understanding from
Okinawa. Fukuda said: "It will be difficult to prevent (incidents by
Marines) without local communities' cooperation. It is imperative
for the three parties concerned (the governments of Japan and the
U.S., as well as the Okinawa government) to jointly make efforts to
prevent incidents." The government's package notes: "The U.S. side
should reconsider its various preventive measures," and indicates
that outgoing restrictions should be tightened. The package also
includes a plan under which the Japanese and U.S. governments will
study a review of the current standards for U.S. soldiers and their
families to live outside bases.

But the set of preventive measures mapped out and released by
Okinawa prefecture the same day calls for such specific measures as
expansion of curfew hours and of those areas subject to
restrictions, and publication of clear standards for off-base

10) LDP mulling amending law to ban possession of child pornography

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Full)
February 24, 2008

Eriko Horii

In an effort to prevent the proliferation of child pornographic
images via the Internet, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
on Feb. 23 decided to amend the Law for Punishing Acts Related to
Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The LDP intends to add to
the law a new provision prohibiting "simple possession," a term that
is defined as individuals collecting pornographic images and
pictures not for sale but for their own use. The LDP also plans to
discuss punishment provisions. The LDP intends to submit an
amendment to the law, which will be drafted by a suprapartisan group
Diet members, to the current session of the Diet, but some in the
ruling and opposition parties are cautious about establishing
punishment provisions, with one member arguing, "Ambiguity still
remains about the definition of immorality or obscenity. (Such
punishment provisions) could lead to expanding the right to

The LDP will set up by the end of the month a subcommittee to be

TOKYO 00000483 007 OF 013

headed by former Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama. An idea being
floated in the LDP to deal with simple possession without any
intention of selling or providing child pornography is to establish
a provision banning "possession of electronic records." Discussion
on punishment provisions at the subcommittee will focus on how to
levy fines. Given cases where images are sent unsolicited as seen in
spam emails, punishments will be limited to cases where individuals'
intention of collecting (child pornography) is clear. Whether to
regulate child pornography in animation and manga is expected to be
put on hold because of strong opposition that regulating it would
violate the freedom of expression.

Last year, the United States government called for a ban on simple
possession of child pornography on the ground that the international
community needs to join hands to deal with this matter. Justice
Minister Kunio Hatoyama stated at a session on Feb. 4 of the Upper
House Budget Committee that there is need to establish a punishment
provision on simple possession.

The current law took effect in 1999. Regarding pictures, images, and
videos of pornography involving children (below 18), acts subject to
punishments include production and sale, possession for the purpose
of sale or offer, and disclosure on websites. If individuals possess
them without any intention of selling or providing them to someone,
such possession is not subject to punishment.

When the law was amended in 2004, the ruling parties drafted a
revision bill that included a provision prohibiting simple
possession, but heeding cautious views voiced in the opposition bloc
against the provision, the ruling bloc dropped it and got the
revision bill approved.

The LDP aims to submit to the current Diet session a revision bill
that will be drafted by Diet members from both ruling and opposition
parties. But there seem to be cases where individuals are not aware
of the fact that images were sent unsolicited. Assuming such cases,
a senior member of the major opposition Democratic Party of Japan
argued: "There is the possibility that the right to investigate will
be broadened unnecessarily."

11) South Korean President Lee to visit Japan on April 21

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 25, 2008

Katsuhiro Kuroda, Seoul

An inauguration will be held for new South Korean President Lee
Myung Bak on Feb. 25. Joining as guests will be Japanese Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and
dignitaries from many other countries. According to an informed
South Korean source, Japan and South Korea have agreed that
President Lee will visit to Japan on April 21-22. He will stop over
in Japan on his way back from the U.S. (April 14-20). He will visit
Japan as a state guest on another occasion.

The inauguration will be held on the morning of Feb. 25 in front of
the Diet Building in Seoul, with 45,000 prominent figures from
various circles and general public in attendance. From abroad, about
200 representatives will attend, including Chinese State Councilor
Tang Jiaxuan and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, besides
representatives from Japan and the U.S. President Lee will hold

TOKYO 00000483 008 OF 013

meetings with Fukuda, Rice and other participants from abroad on the
first day of his assumption of office.

Japan will send more than 100 dignitaries to attend the ceremony,
indicating Japan's expectations on the Lee administration for
improvement in bilateral ties. Included among Japanese government
envoys will be former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, former Prime
Minister Yoshiro Mori (chairman of the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians'
Union), former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Taro Aso,
and Democratic Party of Japan Deputy President Naoto Kan. DPJ
President Ichiro Ozawa already met Lee on Feb. 21.

Japan and South Korea have agreed on the need to revive the
suspended reciprocal visits between both sides' leaders. After Lee
visits Japan in April, the Japanese government plans to invite the
president to the Lake Toya Summit to be held in Japan in July.

President Lee has expressed his desire to establish a mature
relationship with Japan without calling for Japan's apologies or
self-reflection and without being bounded by any formalities. As a
president who places emphasis on economics, the new president has
emphasized a practical diplomacy focusing on actual benefits to the
country. Lee is expected to take such a stance in his meeting with

12) DPJ launches study group conciliatory to North Korea, also eying
cooperation with LDP

SANKEI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
February 23, 2008

Interested lawmakers from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and
the People's New Party (PNP) yesterday launched a study group to
address issues related to the Korean Peninsula. The group aims at
normalizing diplomatic relations with North Korea, as well as
resolving the issues of the North's past abductions of Japanese
nationals and ongoing nuclear and missile development programs by
promoting mutual exchanges with North Korea. The group plans to look
into visiting Pyongyang. It also intends to join hands with Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) member Taku Yamasaki, supreme advisor to the
party's subcommittee on Korean Peninsula issues, which is seeking a
North Korea visit, and other members. Members of a suprapartisan
group of Diet members dealing with the abduction issue have been
alert at the moves by LDP and DPJ members calling for conciliation
with North Korea. Participating in its kick-off meeting were 15 DPJ
members and one PNP member. The study group appointed DPJ
International Bureau chief Tetsundo Iwakuni as chairman, DPJ House
of Councillors member Yoshihiro Kawakami as chief of the
secretariat, DPJ Vice President Hajime Ishii and Yoshio Hachiro,

foreign minister in the shadow cabinet, as advisors, and PNP Vice
President Shozaburo Jimi as vice president.

Iwakuni emphasized in the meeting the importance of dialogue with
the North in order to resolve the abduction and nuclear issues. He
then implied he had in mind a plan to form a suprapartisan
parliamentary group, like the dormant Japan-North Korea Friendship
Promotion League.

Iwakuni also expressed his hopes for realizing a visit by a
delegation led by DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa to North Korea in the
future. Kawakami reported that he met with Yamasaki to discuss the
possibility of cooperation on Feb. 21. He then told reporters: "I do

TOKYO 00000483 009 OF 013

not deny the need for pressure, but we would like to effectively
resolve the abduction issue in another way." Iwakuni plans to meet
Yamasaki next week to discuss a coalition, including a visit to
North Korea by a suprapartisan delegation with the LDP.

13) China sounds out Japan, U.S. on possibility of regular
trilateral dialogue, positing such being at the summit level

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
February 23, 2008

Ken Sato in Beijing

It was learned yesterday that the Chinese government has sounded out
the Japanese and U.S. governments about establishing a regular
dialogue of the three countries, including the United States. The
dialogue would be a venue for discussion of such topics as
environmental issues, energy policies, and policy toward North
Korea. In addition to participants at the vice foreign minister and
bureau director-general levels, top leaders and foreign ministers
would conceivably join, too. The aim is to build momentum for policy
coordination among the three countries, and apparently, there is
motivation by China to drive a wedge into the now strong Japan-U.S.

At present, there are various bilateral arrangements for dialogues
at the vice-ministerial level between Japan and the U.S., Japan and
China, and the U.S. and China. If such are widened to become
trilateral dialogues, it could lead to strengthening cooperation
centered on the three countries on the diplomatic stage. The
combined GDP of the three countries as of 2006 made up approximately
40 PERCENT of world GDP, so the policy cooperation also could be
seen as stabilizing the global economy, as well.

14) Poll: 68 PERCENT don't trust politics

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Abridged)
February 24, 2008

Two out of every three persons are distrustful of present-day
political parties or politicians and dissatisfied with politics that
does not reflect their votes cast in elections, the Yomiuri Shimbun
found from its annual public opinion survey of the nation's voting
population on their political mindsets. In the survey, the
proportion of those who want the ruling and opposition parties to
change places at times was a little over 60 PERCENT among all
respondents and reached 40 PERCENT even among those who support the
ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.
The survey shows that an increasing number of people would like to
see a big change in politics.

The survey was conducted Feb. 16-17 on a face-to-face basis.

In the survey, respondents were asked if they trusted present-day
political parties or politicians in Japan. In response, "very much"
and "somewhat" totaled no more than 30 PERCENT , with "not very
much" and "not at all" totaling 68 PERCENT . Respondents were also
asked if they thought their votes cast in elections are actually
reflected in politics. To this question, "yes" accounted for 29
PERCENT , with "no" at 67 PERCENT .

Respondents were further asked if they thought it would be better to

TOKYO 00000483 010 OF 013

see the ruling and opposition parties change places at times. In
response to this question, 63 PERCENT answered "yes," with 27
PERCENT saying "no." Among LDP supporters, "no" accounted for 53
PERCENT , but "yes" accounted for 40 PERCENT . Among those who
support the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto),
91 PERCENT answered "yes."

15) Stormy developments expected in Diet over budget bill, Aegis
accident, and appointment of new BOJ governor

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
February 25, 2008

Starting today, Diet debates will head toward a climax with the
House of Representatives soon approving the fiscal 2008 budget bill
and a bill amending the Special Taxation Measures Law, including the
maintenance of the provisional road-related tax rates. Although the
ruling bloc is aiming to obtain Lower House approval this month, the
stormy developments have hit the Diet owing to such factors as an
MSDF Aegis destroyer's collision with a fishing boat and the ongoing
row with the opposition camp over the appointment of a new Bank of
Japan governor, which requires Diet approval.

Liberal Democratic Party Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Tadamori
Oshima yesterday gave a speech in the city of Hachinohe in Aomori
Prefecture in which he highlighted the need to get the budget bill
and the bill amending the Special Taxation Measures Law approved by
the Lower House before the end of February. He said: "We will make
utmost efforts, aiming at Feb. 28. We will also have to send the tax
bill to the House of Councillors at the same time."

The ruling camp is planning to hold a subcommittee meeting on Feb.
27-28 ahead of taking a vote on the budget bill with the aim of
obtaining Lower House approval along with the tax bill on Feb. 29 at
the same time. After being sent to the Upper House, a budget bill
will be automatically enacted in 30 days. Given the situation, in
order for the fiscal 2008 budget to clear the Diet within the
current fiscal year, it will have to obtain Lower House approval by
March 2. But because March 1 and 2 fall on a Saturday and Sunday,
respectively, the ruling camp desperately wants to get the bill
passed by the Lower House before the end of February.

Meanwhile, the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)
plans to put up do-or-die resistance, arguing that it is premature
to bring the bill to a vote. In the event, the ruling bloc railroads
the budget bill through the Lower House this month, the opposition
camp may consider reneging on the mediation agreement worked out by
the heads of the two Diet chambers specifying "to reach a certain
conclusion within the current fiscal year" regarding the budget and
budget-related bills. Upper House deliberations are expected to face
rough going.

With the Aegis destroyer collision accident, opposition parties are
set to press the ruling camp to reveal all details, and they plan to
pursue Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba's responsibility during
intensive Lower House Security Committee deliberations on Feb. 26.
The Diet affairs chiefs of the opposition parties are scheduled to
meet this evening to confirm a policy course of seeking intensive
deliberations in the Lower House Budget Committee.

Although the ruling camp plans to reject the opposition bloc's call
for Lower House Budget Committee intensive deliberations, some are

TOKYO 00000483 011 OF 013

concerned about a possible public backlash. The ruling bloc is
nervous because any misstep could throw the Fukuda administration
into a tighter spot.

Lower House Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Takashi
Sasagawa and his Upper House counterpart Takeo Nishikawa are
expected to formally agree today on procedures for hearing views of
candidates replacing the BOJ governor and deputy governor, whose
terms are set to expire on March 19. As such, the government plans
to present a personnel action plan to the opposition bloc on Feb. 26
or later.

Although the ruling camp has sounded out the DPJ on promoting Deputy
Governor Toshiro Muto to the governor's post, there are some
objections in the DPJ. Some fear that if a BOJ appointment plan is
presented toward the end of the month when the battle between the
ruling and opposition camps on the budget bill intensifies, the two
sides will not be able to discuss matters calmly. At the same time,
an LDP Diet Affairs Committee member said: "If a personnel plan is
presented in early March, the post of BOJ governor might remain
unfilled temporarily." The government and ruling bloc will likely
find it difficult to handle the matter.

16) Prime minister positive toward revising provisional gas tax rate

ASAHI (Page 1) (Almost full)
February 25, 2008

Regarding a bill amending the Special Tax Measures Law, including an
extension of the provisional rate on the gas tax for special-purpose
road construction revenues, Prime Minister Fukuda, now visiting
South Korea to attend incoming President Lee Myung Bak's
inauguration, yesterday evening told reporters traveling with him:
"There may be a ruling by the Speaker. Revisions will be made, and
the budget and related bills will be passed by the end of the fiscal
year. I would deliberate on the bill while keeping all this in
mind." He thus indicated a stance of responding to a call for a
revision to the amendment bill in a flexible manner.

The prime minister said, "I would most appreciate if the bill is
passed into law without any revisions. However, given the
deliberations in the Diet, there are various views on the issue. It
is inconceivable that there will be no proposals."

Former Prime Minister Koizumi in a speech given on Feb. 22 noted,
"If the prime minister says that the ruling parties should listen to
the views of opposition parties and ready a good bill, by giving in
where necessary, a proposal for a revision will be made by members
of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)."

Regarding Koizumi's statement, the prime minister said, "I will take
it seriously." He also said to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or
Minshuto), "I want them to finalize their views. Otherwise, I do not
know what revisions can be made to the bill. It would be troublesome
if the opposition parties cannot finalize their proposals, while the
ruling parties readied a bill." He thus urged the DPJ to come up
with a counterproposal.

17) LDP members decrease by 7.5 PERCENT , down for tenth consecutive

TOKYO 00000483 012 OF 013

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
February 23, 2008

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) revealed on Feb. 22 that
its membership decreased by 7.5 PERCENT , or to 1,102,460, from the
number the party had in 2007. The number of party members has
dropped for ten years in a row. The main reason for the drop is a
decrease in the occupational chapters. A senior LDP member said

"It can't be helped, because the trend started when recruiting party
members ceased to affect one's placement on the party's slate of
candidates for the Upper House proportional representation

Of the top five Diet members who recruited a large number of new
party members, four were "assassins" who secured their seats in the
2005 House of Representatives election, and former postal rebels,
who were reinstated in the LDP. The four apparently recruited a
large number of new members with the next Lower House election in

The five were Lower House members Kotaro Nagasaki, Seiko Noda,
Mitsuo Horiuchi, Hiroshi Moriyama, and Yasuhiro Ozato. Nagasaki was
an assassin. Noda, Horiuchi, and Moriyama were former postal rebels
who rejoined the party. Nagasaki and Horiuchi are rivals in the
Yamanashi No. 2 constituency.

The LDP had 5.46 million members at its peak in 1991.

18) Former Prime Minister Koizumi in meeting denies early Lower
House dissolution

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
February 23, 2008

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) gave a speech in a seminar held last night in
Hachioji, Tokyo, by the LDP's House of Representatives member Koichi
Hagiuda. In it, Koizumi indicated his negative view about an early
dissolution of the Lower House. He said:

"The dominant view is that the Lower House will not be dissolved
until the end of the July Group of Eight (G8) summit at Lake Toya in
Hokkaido. Recently, however, the mood is that it is not too late to
dissolve the Lower House even after (Fukuda) takes part in next
year's G8."

Referring to deliberations on revising the government's bill to
retain the current provisional road-related provisional taxes,
Koizumi pointed out:

"The opposition camp should present counterproposals and reach a
conclusion through discussion. If Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda asks
the LDP to compile a good idea with a view to integrating the
special account for road-related taxes into the general account, the
LDP will follow the prime minister and compromise."

According to Koizumi's office, it was the first time for him to
deliver a speech in a meeting held by a Diet member after he left
the prime minister's post. He plans to give a speech in a meeting
next month of other Lower House member. There is speculation in

TOKYO 00000483 013 OF 013

political circles that Koizumi has restarted his political

19) H-2A rocket: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in negotiations with
U.S., South Korean companies for first order for commercial

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
February 25, 2008

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has released a plan to start the launch
of a domestically built H-2A rocket that can carry a commercial
satellite in fiscal 2008. The company has already entered final
talks with communications companies of the U.S. and South Korea. It
will likely receive an order for a rocket-launching project as early
as March. The National Space Agency succeeded in launching the No.
14 H-2A rocket on Feb. 23. The satellites that were launched in the
past were all for use by the government, such as observation
satellites. Mitsubishi, which took over the project in the spring
last year, will enter the private-use satellite market, an area that
has been monopolized by foreign rocket manufacturers, on the
strength of reduced costs.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries President Kazuo Tsukuda told a Nikkei
reporter that the success of the launch of the No. 14 H-2A rocket
has boosted the competitiveness of the rocket on the global market
with strengthened technical reliability. He also revealed that the
company is expected to receive an order to launch a commercial
satellite by Feb. 2009. Though he steered clear of revealing the
name of the negotiating partner, the plan appears to be launching a
communications satellite using the H-2A rocket for various data


© 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>>