Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 02/28/08

DE RUEHKO #0528/01 0590811
P 280811Z FEB 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Editorial - U.S. Secretary of State Rice's visit to Japan: Time
for Japan, U.S., ROK to work in closer cooperation (Sankei)

(2) Editorial: Secretary Rice's visit to Japan -- Steady efforts
needed to maintain Japan-U.S. alliance (Yomiuri)

(3) Citizen's group stages protest movement against U.S. consul
general outside window (of coffee shop) (Ryukyu Shimpo)

(4) Okinawa citizens group stages protests against U.S. Consul
General Maher, while drinking coffee at a shop, for being "too busy"
to meet them (Okinawa Times)

(5) Defense Minister Ishiba in hot seat (Yomiuri)

(6) Pressure on Ishiba growing over destroyer collision blunders

(7) Atago chief navigator questioned for four and a half hours

(8) Twenty-first century equivalent of 1980s Maekawa (Structural
Reform) Report: Risk factors of Japanese economy discussed at first
experts panel meeting; Challenge to structural reform is
government's ability to implement (Nikkei)


(1) Editorial - U.S. Secretary of State Rice's visit to Japan: Time
for Japan, U.S., ROK to work in closer cooperation

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 28, 2008

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is visiting Japan.
Following her courtesy call on Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and other
Japanese leaders, she met with Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura.
After attending the inauguration of a new South Korean president and
then traveling to China, she stopped over in Japan after a year and
four months absence. Japan and the U.S. held their first foreign
ministerial since last September, when Koumura was visiting the
United States.

In South Korea, Rice met with new President Lee Myung Bak and
reportedly the two leaders agreed to repair relations between the
two countries. Meanwhile, Rice happens to be visiting Japan at a
time when bilateral ties are basically in good shape but mutual
distrust and doubts are on the other hand arising over the recent
alleged rape of a junior high school girl by a U.S. Marine in
Okinawa and the North Korea policy including the abduction issue.

We expect Japan and the U.S. in their long foreign ministerial
yesterday would reach sufficient agreement not only on rebuilding
bilateral ties based on specific steps but also on revamping
cooperation among Japan, the U.S., South Korea, which share the same

In order to advance the North Korea policy as well as the security
policy for Northeast Asia, Japan, the U.S., and South Korea vitally
need to work in close cooperation, but trilateral cooperation has

TOKYO 00000528 002 OF 009

suffered a significant setback in the days of former South Korean
President Roh Moo Hyun, who prioritized the so-called "sunshine
policy" toward Pyongyang. Now is time for the three countries to
rebuild a trilateral coalition.

Coincidentally, America's prestigious New York Philharmonic
Orchestra was invited to North Korea and held its first concert in
Pyongyang. If the North Koreans wanted to use this concert to
impress the rest of the world as the icy relations between the U.S.
and North Korea thawing out, that would have been their
miscalculation. No one sides with the pro-Pyongyang General
Association of Korean Residents in Japan's (Chongryon) organ paper's
analysis saying that that concert ushers in a reorganization of
international order in Northeast Asia and the international

The U.S. government allowed the NY Philharmonic to perform in the
North, but U.S. White House Press Secretary Perino condemned North
Korea for its suppression of human rights, noting: "We must not
forget that North Korea has systems that treat people in a cruel
manner, and that the people of that country do not live a free and
affluent life because of starvation and coercion."

Referring to the Six-Party Talks, Rice played up her stance of
urging Pyongyang to come up with a complete and correct declaration
of its uranium enrichment programs over the proliferation of nuclear
weapons. But we hope to see her reaffirm that an easy removal of
North Korea from America's list of state sponsors of terrorism could
seriously damage the trust relationship between Japan and the U.S.

Japanese leaders exchanged views also on China policy with Rice, who
came here after her tour of China. Japan and the U.S. need to boost
their cooperation in strategic terms to deal with such issues as
Taiwan in the future, as well, given that China is markedly gaining
power in military and economic areas.

(2) Editorial: Secretary Rice's visit to Japan -- Steady efforts
needed to maintain Japan-U.S. alliance

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Full)
February 28, 2008

In order to maintain the Japan-U.S. alliance, close dialogue and
steady efforts by both parties are indispensable. U.S. Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Japan can be seen as part of such

In her meetings with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Foreign Minister
Masahiko Koumura, and Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, Rice
apologized over the alleged rape of a junior high school girl in
Okinawa by a U.S. Marine. She also stressed that the United States
would do its utmost in cooperation with Japan to prevent a
recurrence of similar incidents.

The Japanese government and U.S forces in Japan have announced
"interim measures" to prevent crimes committed by U.S. military
personnel in Japan. The measures include: announcing the number of
U.S. military personnel who live on and off military bases, and the
screening criteria for allowing individuals to live off base;
implementing patrols conducted jointly by the U.S. forces and local
governments; and installing security cameras.

TOKYO 00000528 003 OF 009

As effective steps, more importantly, improving educational programs
to discipline young U.S. military members may be necessary.

The U.S. Marine Corps requires its personnel to take a two-day
seminar on the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, and the
culture of Okinawa Prefecture when they first arrive at their bases
in the prefecture. But the one-time only course is insufficient. It
is necessary to hold such seminars more regularly to educate U.S.
military personnel that incidents could potentially impair the
Japan-U.S. alliance.

Ishiba and Rice reaffirmed that Tokyo and Washington would proceed
steadily with the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, which the two
sides agreed in May 2006.

Iwakuni City in Yamaguchi Prefecture is expected to agree to accept
the plan to relocate U.S. carrier-based aircraft from the U.S.
Atsugi Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture to the U.S. Marine Corps'
Iwakuni air Station since the mayor opposing the plan was defeated
by a candidate in favor of it in the recent mayoral election. In a
bid to ease the burden of the U.S. military bases on its residents,
Okinawa Prefecture should respond to the relocation of the U.S.
Marine Corps' Futenma air station to another location within the
prefecture in a positive manner. If 8,000 U.S. Marines in Okinawa
move to Guam, it might lead to preventing misconducts and crimes
committed by U.S. military personnel.

Regarding the North Korean nuclear issue, Tokyo and Washington
agreed through a series of talks to strengthen the trilateral
partnership between Japan, the United States, and South Korea, which
was stalled under the government of former South Korean President
Roh Moo Hyun. The three countries will carry out coordination to
frequently hold director general-level meetings from now on.

North Korea has refused to provide a "complete and correct
declaration of all its nuclear programs. It is important that China,
which chairs the six-party talks, plays a more constructive role.

Before arriving in Japan, Rice held talks with her Chinese
counterpart in Beijing. She urged China, which provide energy and
other resources to North Korea, to use all its possible influence on
Pyongyang. Japan also needs fortify its ties with China to help
bring about a mutually beneficial relationship.

The Japan-U.S. alliance must take the strategic step of promoting
China, which is rapidly becoming a superpower, to take a responsible
role as a member of the international community.

China's military budget has exhibited double-digit growth for 19
consecutive years. Improving the transparency of that nation's
military capabilities and defense policy is absolutely necessary for
regional stability in Asia. China also must abide by international
regulations on intellectual property rights and trade, and take
steps to guarantee the safety of its exported food products.

Japan and the United States should closely cooperate to persuade

(3) Citizen's group stages protest movement against U.S. consul
general outside window (of coffee shop)

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 27) (Abridged)

TOKYO 00000528 004 OF 009

February 28, 2008

Photo of protestors with banner reading in English, "Maher, get out
of Okinawa"

In response to the incident of a junior high school girl being raped
by a U.S. serviceman, the Okinawa Citizens' Network to Seek World
Peace on Feb. 27 held a protest against the U.S. Consulate General
in Okinawa in Urasoe City. Since Consul General Kevin Maher, prior
to the protest movement, had gone out to a restaurant close by, one
of the Network members reacted sharply, saying, "He would not
respond to our protest, and went out to eat." The front of the
restaurant then became the scene in which the group repeatedly
shouted out (at Maher inside). The protest activity was scheduled to
begin at one o'clock that afternoon. About 40 minutes before that,
Maher, accompanied by several other persons went out. Network
co-leader Natsume Taira tried to talk to him, but the Consul General
waved him aside and continued to the restaurant several hundred
meters away.

After that, the Consul General moved from the restaurant to a nearby
coffee shop, but the Network members, having passed along their
protest letter to a staffer at the consulate general, move to the
front of the shop. For about 40 minutes, they stood outside the
glass window shouting out (at Maher). An alarmed policeman followed
them over to deal with the situation, and shoppers and drivers were
staring at the scene with alarmed faces.

The reason why Representative Taira did not get a meeting with
Consul General Maher was the fact that he had been arrested for
disturbing the peace while engaged in a protest act in 2006. Maher
said, "Mr. Taira said he wanted to hand over the protest letter by
himself, but I thought that if I met someone who had carried out an
improper protest, we could not have a cool-headed discussion."

Taira rebutted the Consul General by saying: "To bring up my arrest
record shows a lack of human rights awareness. I requested a meeting
on behalf of the Network, but since I could not get on his schedule,
the handing over of the protest letter was limited to one person.

(4) Okinawa citizens group stages protests against U.S. Consul
General Maher, while drinking coffee at a shop, for being "too busy"
to meet them

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 23) (Full)
February 28, 2008

An Okinawan citizens group yesterday visited the U.S. consulate
general in Naha to protest the series of sexual assaults by U.S.
military personnel. The group spotted at a coffee shop nearby Consul
General Kevin Maher, who had refused to meet the group, citing he
was "too busy". The group then staged a protest right there, holding
up a banner in front of the coffee shop, causing an uproar. Okinawa
Citizens' Network to Seek World Peace co-leader Taira criticized
Maher, saying: "He makes fools of prefectural residents. He should
have spared some time to meet the group."

The Network sought in advance a meeting with Maher, but as
spokesperson at the consulate general reportedly said: "We want you
to mail us your protest note. The consul general cannot spare the
time since he is very busy." Taira said in a strong tone: "We
arranged the meeting to hand over the protest note to the consul

TOKYO 00000528 005 OF 009


The U.S. consulate spokesperson, however, said: "The group did not
have an appointment (to meet the consul general)." The consulate
general spokesperson, questioned by the Okinawa Times, said: "The
consul general does not meet those who have been arrested for an
illegal protest." Mr. Taira, who was once arrested for his action to
prevent the construction of a base but never prosecuted, fiercely
reacted, saying: "I know now how lacking he is in awareness of human

Okinawa Human Rights Association Secretary General Nagayoshi said:
"It is inconceivable to reject a meeting because someone who
requested it was once arrested. The incident exposes well the true
nature of base power."

(5) Defense Minister Ishiba in hot seat

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
February 28, 2008

Vice-Defense Minister Kohei Masuda held a press conference last
night regarding the fact that the Ministry of Defense (MOD) had
questioned the chief navigator of the MSDF Aegis destroyer Atago
that collided with a small fishing boat (on Feb. 19) before
investigations by the Japan Coast Guard (JCG). In the press meeting,
Masuda admitted the possibility that the MSDF had provided the
ministry with false information. Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba,
who has repeatedly indicated that he would not hesitate to resign if
there were any cover-ups, now stands at bay.

In the press conference last night, a reporter asked Masuda, "Do you
think there was some falsehood in the Defense Ministry's
explanations?" In response, Vice-Minister Masuda said: "I cannot
rule out that possibility."

Earlier, yesterday morning, Defense Minister Ishiba attended a Lower
House Budget Committee sub-panel meeting in which he said: "The
Defense Ministry questioned the Atago's chief navigator without
obtaining approval from the Japan Coast Guard, and it was not
necessarily appropriate." He thus indicated that MOD had not
obtained endorsement from the JCG before quizzing the navigator,
reversing its previous explanation.

On Feb. 22, Ishiba declared before the Lower House Security
Committee: "If there was any manipulation of information, I will
take responsibility as cabinet minister."

MOD previously explained that MSDF Yokosuka Regional Headquarters
had obtained approval from JCG Yokosuka district headquarters about
questioning the navigator. But the 3rd Regional Japan Coast Guard
Headquarters overseeing Yokosuka district headquarters denied such a
report in advance.

To begin with, there has been strong criticism in the government,
ruling coalition, and even in MOD about the fact that the ministry
called the chief navigator to its headquarters in Ichigaya before
the JCG launched an investigation. "They could be accused of having
made arrangements to obstruct the investigation and tell the same
story," an LDP lawmaker with ties to national defense interests

TOKYO 00000528 006 OF 009

The chief navigator was questioned by some 10 MOD and SDF
executives, including Defense Minister Ishiba, Vice-Minister Masuda,
SDF Joint Staff Chief Takashi Saito, and MSDF Chief of Staff Eiji
Yoshikawa. Ishiba did not reveal that he had questioned the
navigator himself until he was asked by Kiyomi Tsujimoto of the
Social Democratic Party at a Lower House Security Committee meeting
on Feb. 26.

Some have even begun to question if Ishiba has what it takes to be
defense minister, with a government source saying: "The defense
minister is deeply hurt because of his own acts. As chief of the
crisis management office, he should handle matters more

In the wake of Masuda's press conference last night, some in the
ruling camp, which has predominantly been defensive of Ishiba, have
begun whispering of his voluntary resignation. An Upper House LDP
executive said to reporters last night: "If Mr. Ishiba wants to step
down after the cause and other facts become clear, that cannot be

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura indicated at a press
briefing last evening that MOD had not attempted to tell the same
story, saying: "In my view, the defense minister did not have any
intention to cover up matters. As cabinet minister responsible for
the matter, it might be natural to be driven by the desire to get to
know the circumstances firsthand." At the same time, Machimura said:
"As for MOD's response to the accident, it should have taken action
after discussing the matter with the Japan Coast Guard first."

(6) Pressure on Ishiba growing over destroyer collision blunders

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Full)
February 28, 2008

One week after the collision between the Maritime Self-Defense Force
(MSDF) Aegis destroyer Atago and a fishing vessel, a number of the
Defense Ministry's improper responses have been exposed in
succession. The ministry has altered its explanations again and
again, including one about when the fishing boat was first spotted.
It has also been revealed that Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and
others had questioned the navigating officer of the destroyer but
had not announced they had carried such out. The opposition bloc is
calling on the defense minister to resign, with one lawmaker
remarking: "It is suspected that he tried to cover up unfavorable
facts about the accident." Pressure on Ishiba is growing stronger.

Ishiba approves inappropriateness

In a subcommittee meeting of the House of Representatives Budget
Committee meeting yesterday, Defense Minister Ishiba admitted that
he had questioned the navigating chief of the Atago at the defense
minister's office without the Japan Coast Guard's (JCG) permission
on the morning of Feb. 19, saying: "It was inappropriate." In a
press conference on Feb. 26, MSDF's Chief of Staff Eiji Yoshikawa
said: "We obtained approval (from the Japan Coast Guard) before
10:00 a.m. of Feb. 19." But the 3rd Regional Coast Guard
Headquarters later explained that the Defense Ministry contacted the
JCG central office in the afternoon," contradicting what Yoshikawa

In a news conference urgently held at the Defense Ministry last

TOKYO 00000528 007 OF 009

night, Vice Defense Minister Kohei Masuda withdrew the explanation
the ministry had earlier made about the ministry's notification to
the JCG, saying: "It cannot be confirmed." Masuda did not deny the
possibility that the ministry had given a false account.

It has also been learned that the defense minister questioned the
navigating officer, who had arrived at the Defense Ministry by
helicopter from the Atago, was held at the defense minister's office
starting about the noon of Feb. 19. About 10 senior officers,
including the vice defense minister and the MSDF chief of staff,
were present. The Defense Ministry had explained that the Maritime
Staff Office informed the defense minister of the accident.

Ishiba said in the subcommittee meeting yesterday: "The questioning
was conducted to enable the Defense Ministry to grasp the details of
the accident as soon as possible and provide an explanation to
external parties." But the ministry's questioning of the navigating
officer had been held back for more than six days. It is becoming
more suspicious that the Defense Ministry tried to cover up
unfavorable facts for it.

It was before the JCG searched his house that the navigating officer
moved from the Atago to Tokyo, so Masuda said: "There was no problem
legally." Even so, focusing on the fact that Maritime Staff Office
members talked on the phone with Atago crew members for more than 3
hours late night of Feb. 19 without the permission of the JCG, some
JCG members described such conversation as an act blocking the
investigation by the JCG. Discontent with the Defense Ministry is
growing in the JCG.

Information covered for eight and a half hours

The ministry's explanation about when the fishing boat was first
spotted changed again and again. On the evening of Feb. 19, the
ministry said it was two minutes before the collision. But on the
evening of Feb. 20, the two minutes were changed to 12 minutes.
Although Ishiba had received the altered information on the morning
of Feb. 20, he held it back for eight hours and 30 minutes. Ishiba
categorically said in a Lower House Security Council meeting on Feb.
22: "It should be natural for me to take responsibility if the
ministry is found to have attempted to conceal the truth or falsify
information." If suspicions increase that the ministry tried to
conceal the truth, calls for Ishiba to resign will inevitably grow

Moves for censure motion

In a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
defended Ishiba, remarking: "Since it was just after the accident
occurred, it was natural that the defense minister conducted
questioning to find out what had happened as the minister in
charge." But the prime minister also expressed his displeasure,
saying: "He should have contacted the JCG. Even in the ruling camp,
some members have begun to call for the defense minister's

Opposition parties are stepping up their attack against the defense
chief about unauthorized questioning. Democratic Party of Japan Diet
Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka criticized the questioning
session held behind the scenes, saying: "It is suspected that the
leaders (of the Defense Ministry) made a secret arrangement." House

TOKYO 00000528 008 OF 009

of Councillors members have begun to move to submit a censure motion
against the defense minister.

(7) Atago chief navigator questioned for four and a half hours

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Abridged slightly)
February 28, 2008

It became clear before dawn of February 26 that the Ministry of
Defense had transported by helicopter the chief navigator of the
MSDF destroyer Atago, who was on duty until right before it collided
with a small fishing boat, to the ministry for questioning on
February 19. At that point, a week had passed after the accident. At
that time, the MSDF Staff Office held a press conference in which a
senior officer explained: "We did not obtain approval from the Japan
Coast Guard (JCG)." About 20 minutes later, the officer corrected
what he just announced, saying, "MSDF Yokosuka Headquarters notified
the JCG about the transport." This has become MOD's official view.
MSDF Chief of Staff Eiji Yoshikawa also emphasized to the press that
afternoon that the force had obtained the endorsement of the JCG.

Later in the day, the Third Regional Japan Coast Guard Headquarters
rebutted that it had not approved the transport of the chief
navigator, shedding light on the conflicting views between the MSDF
and JCG.

The MSDF's explanation on the duration of the questioning of the
chief navigator also flip-flopped. The force initially explained
that the questioning started at 10:00 a.m. and lasted about one
hour. Nevertheless, it became clear from Vice-Defense Minister Kohei
Masuda's press conference last night that the chief navigator had
arrived at MOD shortly before 10:00 a.m. on Feb. 19 and stayed there
until around 2:33 p.m. to undergo questioning by senior MOD

MOD also initially announced that the Atago had first spotted the
ill-fated fishing boat "two minutes before" the collision. But that,
too, was changed to "12 minutes before," causing much confusion in
the ministry.

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba also told the Liberal Democratic
Party Defense Division meeting that started at 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 19,
the day the collision occurred, that the Atago had spotted the
fishing boat "two minutes before" the accident. But at around 8:00
p.m. that day, only three and a half hours later, Ishiba received
fragmentary information that it was not "two minutes before." From
11 p.m. on Feb. 19 through 2:47 a.m. on Feb. 20, MOD asked by phone
Atago crew members about the circumstances in order to verify the
information. Ishiba learned at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 20 that the MSDF
destroyer had spotted the fishing boat "12 minutes before" --
verified information.

Despite that, Ishiba did not correct the information at the LDP
Defense Division meeting that started at 5:00 p.m. on the same day.
As a result, the mistaken "two minutes before" information was left
uncorrected for a whole day.

(8) Twenty-first century equivalent of 1980s Maekawa (Structural
Reform) Report: Risk factors of Japanese economy discussed at first
experts panel meeting; Challenge to structural reform is
government's ability to implement

TOKYO 00000528 009 OF 009

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
February 27, 2008

The Experts Panel on Structural Changes and the Japanese Economy,
established under the government's Council on Economic and Fiscal
Policy (CEFP), held its first meeting yesterday. Participants held
discussions with an eye on how to reform the structure of the
Japanese economy. They will vet risk factors of the Japanese economy
seen in the financial system and the labor market amid power
relationships in the world economy undergoing a sea change following
the rise of newly emerging economies. Their aim is to map out a 21st
century equivalent of the 1986 Maekawa Report, which called for
shifting the structure of the economy to a domestic demand-led type.
Since the Japanese economy is losing steam, the government will face
the test of not only whether it can come up with an effective
formula but also whether it can implement it.

At the outset of the meeting, State Minister for Economic and Fiscal
Policy Hiroko Ota noted, "The Japanese economy needs scrutiny. I
would like you to discuss measures that can enable Japan to achieve
growth along with the world, which is growing dynamically."

The Cabinet Office during the meeting presented 11 items up for
consideration, including reflecting the fruits (of structural
reforms) in households and continuous creation of goods and services
that address potential demands from consumers. Many panel members
called for nurturing human resources acceptable to the international
community and consolidating systems, laws and corporate accounting

The Maekawa Report is a set of proposals for structural reforms
compiled by a study panel headed by former Bank of Japan Governor
Haruo Maekawa. It was issued in 1986 during the Nakasone cabinet.
The Maekawa proposals were aimed at averting international criticism
of Japan, which was amassing current profits through exports, as
well as to cope with the strong yen.

The present international environment is more complex, as can be
seen in the fact that the prices of resources are skyrocketing,
following developing economies' sudden rise of power. On the
domestic front, the declining population is working as a drag on
growth. Deflationary pressure is also deep-rooted. Under such
economic climate, the panel will discuss ways to put back the
Japanese economy on growth track. It is expected to map out a report
in June.

Japan must transmit its determination to fulfill its role as the
nation hosting the Lake Toya G-8 in Hokkaido. The report to be
issued by the panel will offer a key test of whether the Fukuda
administration can come up with economic policies with originality.


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