Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 03/03/08

DE RUEHKO #0559/01 0630823
P 030823Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Poll on Fukuda cabinet, political parties, provisional gas tax,
Aegis accident (Mainichi)

(2) Fukuda's two competing advisors - Yosano, Nakagawa (Asahi)

(3) Interview with LDP Administrative Reform Promotion Headquarters
Chairman Koki Chuma; Cabinet personnel affairs agency necessary
(Tokyo Shimbun)

(4) Defense Ministry reviewing communication system to enable speedy
reports to Prime Minister's Office on emergencies (Yomiuri)

(5) Extremely regrettable: Koumura (Okinawa Times)

(6) Impermissible: Okinawa Defense Bureau chief (Okinawa Times) 8
(7) USFJ bans carrying firearms off base: U.S. consulate (Okinawa

(8) U.S. Consulate General releases statement saying carrying
firearms outside bases is prohibited in principle (Ryukyu Shimpo)

(9) Consul General Maher waited in coffee shop while citizens
protested (Okinawa Times)

(10) Japan strengthening ties with Israel to deal with the North
Korean nuclear issue (Nikkei)

(11) Editorial: Changing relations between Israel and Japan

(12) Interview with Kazuhiro Suzuki on significance of deployment of
the U.S. nuclear powered aircraft carrier George Washington (Chuo

(13) Century of private-sector exchange between Japan, U.S.;
Dispatch of intellectuals softens friction; Pop culture is driving
force for exchange between new generations; Drop in number of young
people studying in U.S.; Concern about inward-looking stance


(1) Poll on Fukuda cabinet, political parties, provisional gas tax,
Aegis accident

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Full)
March 3, 2008

Questions & Answers
(T = total; P = previous; M = male; F = female)

Q: Do you support the Fukuda cabinet?

Yes 30 (33) 28 31
No 51 (45) 58 43
Not interested 19 (18) 14 25

Q: (Only for those who answered "yes" to the above question) Why?

TOKYO 00000559 002 OF 016

Because the prime minister is from the Liberal Democratic Party 36
(27) 36 37
Because something can be expected of the prime minister's leadership
9 (9) 8 9
Because there's something stable about the prime minister 37 (36) 32
Because something can be expected of the prime minister's policy
measures 14 (21) 17 11

Q: (Only for those who answered "no" to the above question) Why?

Because the prime minister is from the Liberal Democratic Party 7
(9) 6 7
Because nothing can be expected of the prime minister's leadership
40 (29) 41 38
Because there's no fresh image about the prime minister 8 (10) 9 6
Because nothing can be expected of the prime minister's policies 44
(50) 42 47

Q: Which political party do you support?

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 26 (28) 24 27
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 23 (24) 30 17
New Komeito (NK) 4 (5) 4 4
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 3 (3) 3 3
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 2 (2) 2 1
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0 (1) 0 0
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0 (0) 0 0
Other political parties 1 (0) 0 2
None 39 (37) 35 43

Q: In addition to the gasoline tax, the current rate of provisional
taxation on gasoline has been maintained for road construction and
other road-related infrastructure projects over the past 34 years.
This provisional gas taxation is now a point of contention in the
current Diet session. This provisional tax is to expire at the end
of March. Do you support continuing the provisional tax rate in
April and after?

Yes 27 29 24
No 66 67 66

Q: The ruling and opposition parties have now agreed to reach a
conclusion by the end of March on legislation intended to continue
the current additional gasoline tax. Do you think the House of
Councillors should take a vote on this legislation by the end of

Yes 44 48 41
No 49 49 50

Q: Do you support the idea of revising the provisional tax bill
through talks between the ruling and coalition parties?

Yes 78 79 77

TOKYO 00000559 003 OF 016

No 17 19 15

Q: In December last year, the government created a midterm plan to
outlay 59 trillion yen for road construction and other road-related
infrastructure projects over the next 10 years. Do you support this
road-related spending plan?

Yes 19 20 17
No 75 76 73

Q: The Maritime Self-Defense Force's Aegis destroyer Atago collided
with a fishing boat, leaving its two fishermen missing. Do you
appreciate the government's response to this accident?

Yes 2 3 1
Yes to a certain extent 19 15 23
Not very much 33 31 36
No 41 48 35

Q: Do you think Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba should resign over
the Aegis accident and his ministry's way of dealing with it?

Resign at once 4 6 3
Resign after taking appropriate measures to deal with the accident
45 44 45
Make efforts for preventive measures instead of resigning 39 39 40
It's strange to call for his resignation 8 10 7

Q: Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama has asked an advisory panel to
discuss the advisability of amending the civil code to lower the age
of majority from 20 to 18. Do you support this?

Yes 36 44 28
No 60 52 66

Q: (Only for those who answered "yes" to the foregoing question)

Because 18 is old enough to take responsibility 29 28 31
Because young people can realize their responsibilities at the age
of 18 62 60 65
Because the age of 18 is the mainstream in Western countries 9 12

Q: (Only for those who answered "no" to the foregoing question)

Because young people are still mentally immature at 18 69 73 66
Because I fear that young people will be legally allowed to drink
and smoke at the age of 18 16 15 16
Because I fear that young people will be legally allowed to enter
into agreements on consumer and other loans without their parents'
permission 14 12 16

(Note) Figures shown in percentage, rounded off. "0" indicates that

TOKYO 00000559 004 OF 016

the figure was below 0.5 PERCENT . "No answer" omitted. Figures in
parentheses denote the results of the last survey conducted Jan.

Polling methodology: The survey was conducted Mar. 1-2 over the
telephone across the nation on a computer-aided random digit
sampling (RDS) basis. Answers were obtained from 1,043 persons.

(2) Fukuda's two competing advisors - Yosano, Nakagawa

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged)
February 29, 2008

Takashi Tonakoshi, Akira Uchida, Hiroshi Samejima

Four months have passed since a one-on-one dialogue between Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda and the major opposition Democratic Party of
Japan's (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa ended in failure. Fukuda still
has hope of forming a grand alliance (with the DPJ).

"Whether we will join hands depends on whom we will choose as a
partner. Under the current divided Diet, it is difficult to enact
bills into law no matter what they are. I wonder if other countries
can trust such a Japan?" On Feb. 24, Fukuda made these remarks in
Seoul, which he was visiting, apparently to try again to woo Ozawa
with the idea of establishing a grand alliance.

Fukuda's believes the only way to resolve the current lopsided Diet
is to form a grand alliance. His idea has the backing of former
Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano and former ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa. Yosano is
on friendly terms with Tsuneo Watanabe, the chair of the Yomiuri
Shimbun group who acted as a go-between last fall to set the stage
for Fukuda and Ozawa to hold talks to discuss the idea of a grand
coalition. Meanwhile, Nakagawa has won the favor of former Prime
Minister Yoshiro Mori, who likewise acted as a go-between for such

Fukuda meets with Yosano and Nakagawa every time he faces an
important political situation. This is evidence that Fukuda is
looking for an opportunity to challenge again the idea of forming a
grand coalition.

Yosano and Nakagawa, who are seen as Fukuda's confidants for
realizing a grand coalition, are on cat-and-dog terms. In fact, when
Yosano, who favors hiking the consumption tax, declared, "We need to
dramatically hike the consumption tax," Nakagawa, who attaches
importance to economic growth, was quick to counter Yosano's idea,
arguing, "Only a handful of people are in favor of raising taxes."

In January, rumors flew around over the question of extending the
term of the current provisional tax rate for gasoline. The situation
at the time was so tense about a feud between Fukuda and Ozawa.
Around then, Yosano dropped in at the Prime Minister's Official
Residence (Kantei) and told Fukuda: "Insisting on retaining the
current provisional tax rate could lead to abandoning the dialogue
line with the DPJ. If you make concessions even slightly, there will
emerge a slight opportunity to form a grand alliance."

When Fukuda was dealing with the drug-caused hepatitis problem last
year, Yosano handed Fukuda a suggestion containing plans that were
close to what the defendants and the DPJ were calling for. Based on

TOKYO 00000559 005 OF 016

Yosano's suggestion, the government drafted a bill.

Weeks later, however, Fukuda, seeing stock prices dive and his
approval ratings plummet+, shifted emphasis to reforms.

In February, House of Representatives member Tatsuya Ito, who is
close to Nakagawa, was appointed for the post of prime ministerial
advisor in charge of social welfare. This appointment was analyzed
by political watchers in Nagata-cho that Fukuda shifted emphasis to
economic growth.

Sometime in February, when Ito visited Yosano to exchange greetings
on the occasion of assuming the post of prime ministerial advisor,
Yosano told Ito: "Don't be a member of the neoclassical economists
group." What was referred to the neoclassical group by Yosano means
those LDP members, including Nakagawa, who places emphasis on
economic growth.

Yosano recently joined a study group led by Hiroyuki Sonoda, deputy
chair of the LDP Policy Research Council. The group is called "Group
to Consider and Implement What Is Correct." What is correct for
Yosano at present is, needless to say, raising taxes. Yosano has no
interest in a government that is unwilling to raise taxes.

Yosano said. "The Okada-led DPJ was brave enough to emphasize the
need to raise the consumption tax 2-3 PERCENT , but Mr. Ozawa threw
away the idea of raising taxes. It is impossible for one party to
handle fiscal reconstruction singly. In this sense, forming a grand
alliance is not an unlikely idea." He has begun considering using
the notion of raising the consumption tax as a tool to attract the
anti-Ozawa group in the DPJ. But recently Yosano said on a radio
program: "I have no intention of acting as a liaison between Fukuda
and Ozawa."

"Work that only politicians can handle is piling up." This remark
came from Nakagawa when he faced Fukuda at the prime minister's
office on the morning of Feb. 28. Nakagawa advised Fukuda to
strategically address, from a politician's viewpoint instead of the
bureaucracy's perspective, problems facing the administration, such
as selection of a successor to the Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor,
reform of the Civil Service System, and the collision of an Aegis
destroyer and a fishing boat.

Nakagawa is of the opinion that only three approaches can resolve
the currently divided Diet: forming a grand alliance; holding policy
consultations, and realigning political parties. Such thinking is
also held by Yosano.

But the idea of hiking the consumption tax is not a tool that
Nakagawa wants to use to woo some of the DPJ to the LDP side.
Instead, he plans to woo them with the concept of reforming the
bureaucracy at Kasumigaseki. "Even though we are calling for raising
taxes, no bills for that end will ever be approved without the
endorsement of the DPJ," said Nakagawa. He approached Fukuda, acting
as if he was willing take the place of Yosano, in whom the
bureaucracy has faith.

At a meeting of the LDP National Strategy Headquarters, Nakagawa
said, "We will draft a bill and discuss it in the party." He also
indicated his determination to ready a lawmaker-initiated bill if
the government-sponsored basic bill intended to reform the civil
service system should be watered down. In this, he bared his

TOKYO 00000559 006 OF 016

confrontational stance toward the bureaucracy. Nakagawa advised
Fukuda to take a second look at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure
and Transport-initiated foreign capital restrictions on airports.
His advice was accepted (and the restrictions removed from the

Nakagawa's position is close to some members of the DPJ with an
anti-bureaucracy bent. At the end of last year, Nakagawa, along with
former DPJ President Seiji Maehara, called on Fukuda and emphasized
the study results of the Maritime Basic Law that bureaucrats had

Over the selection of a successor to the BOJ governor, too, Nakagawa
gives consideration to the DPJ, noting, "I don't think the prime
minister will push the appointment of someone opposed by the DPJ."

Nakagawa openly displays his rivalry with Yosano.

An LDP lawmaker close to Fukuda said, "The prime minister, in terms
of his policy approach, lies between Yosano, who prioritizes fiscal
reconstruction, and Nakagawa, who focuses on economic growth." The
Diet member analyzed that Fukuda, somehow keeps a balance in the
party by playing off the two veteran lawmakers, who are as
incompatible as oil and water, against each other.

But seen from another angle, because of such internal circumstances,
Fukuda remains unable to come up with his own strong policy imprint.
Reform of the civil service system and the issue of raising the
consumption tax are both important policy subjects which neither
Yosano nor Nakagawa can give way on. Fukuda has yet to make clear
his position toward those two issues.

Should Fukuda fail to keep the two in balance, the one who is
defeated could become a leading player in rallying anti-Fukuda and
anti-Ozawa forces.

(3) Interview with LDP Administrative Reform Promotion Headquarters
Chairman Koki Chuma; Cabinet personnel affairs agency necessary

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
February 29, 2008

A fierce tug-of-war is going on in the government and ruling
coalition over reform of the civil servant system. The newspaper
interviewed LDP Administration Reform Promotion Headquarters
Chairman Koki Chuma, who is in a position to unite the party on the

-- The government's council on comprehensive reform of the civil
servant system has produced a report calling for the establishment
of a cabinet personnel affairs agency to exclusively handle
personnel affairs related to public servants, as well as for
restricting contacts between lawmakers and bureaucrats. What is your
view of it?

"The proposals are based to some extent on what has been discussed
for years by the Administration Reform Promotion Headquarters. I can
give pretty high marks to it."

-- The cabinet personnel affairs agency vision has drawn criticism
saying that it would infringe on the cabinet ministers' authority
over personnel affairs.

TOKYO 00000559 007 OF 016

"In order for the Prime Minister's Office (Kantei) to take the
initiative, authority over personnel affairs must be placed under
the cabinet. To do so, something like a cabinet personnel affairs
agency is necessary."

-- If contacts between bureaucrats and lawmakers are restricted,
government officials might become even more reluctant to present

"'Restrictions' is not the right word. Information must be exchanged
under a set of rules. It means bureaucrats must contact lawmakers
after obtaining approval from their respective cabinet ministers. It
is designed to prevent government officials from carrying out
spadework behind the back of cabinet ministers in a direction
different from that of the cabinet. It would also be able to prevent
lawmakers from calling in division directors just to force their
views on them."

-- The report also calls for the abolition of the fast-track career

"This area must be worked out further. We must think of
qualifications and a screening system that can truly determine
individuals who are fit to bear responsibilities for the country.
Civil servants' jobs cannot always be judged by figures, and that
worries some LDP members."

-- The propriety of granting basic labor rights, including the right
to strike, to civil servants is also being discussed.

"The party has yet to make its decision, but I personally think such
rights should be granted to them. The merit system should naturally
come with basic rights under certain conditions.

-- Receiving the report, the government is planning to present to
the current Diet session a bill amending the National Civil Service
Law. Some in the LDP and government offices seem to be eager to make
it toothless. There are cautious views in the Administrative Reform
Promotion Headquarters as well.

"There is no need to give heed to resistance by some government
officials. An overwhelming majority of the executives supported the
plan at an Administrative Reform Promotion Headquarters meeting.
There won't be a major setback."

(4) Defense Ministry reviewing communication system to enable speedy
reports to Prime Minister's Office on emergencies

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
March 2, 2008

The Defense Ministry has outlined revisions of its communication
system for emergencies, reflecting on its delayed report to the
defense minister of the recent collision between the Maritime
Self-Defense Force destroyer Atago and a fishing boat.

Under the new system, officers will be obligated to also make
reports on emergencies to the Prime Minister's Office and local
governments concerned. Further, the ministry will exemplify
emergency cases and present specific actions to be taken.

TOKYO 00000559 008 OF 016

Under the current system, emergencies are classified into three
groups - normal, serious, and minor cases - and specific actions are
shown for each group. However, observers have pointed out that
confusion could occur because there are an increasing number of
cases in which a subjective judgment on which type the incident is
categorized is required on the scene. In the Atago collision
incident, the incident should have been labeled as a serious case,
and the Maritime Staff Office should have directly informed the
defense minister of the accident. But the information was conveyed
to the defense minister via the ministry's internal bureau.

The ministry intends to abolish this classification system and
instead present more specific examples of emergencies, such as an
accident resulting in damage to property and a death accident, so
that information will be automatically relayed.

Under the new system, ministry officers will be mandated to relay
information to the defense ministry "immediately" after an accident,
instead of "within one hour" as specified in the current system.
This change is based on this view of Defense Minister Ishiba: "I do
not think it is permissible even if a report is made within an

Currently, the ministry is required to report to the Prime
Minister's Office on emergencies "when necessary." Under the new
system, the ministry will be required to inform the cabinet's
information-collection center and cabinet secretaries of
emergencies. The ministry will also be asked to relay information to
local governments involved.

The ministry's current communication system for emergencies was
issued by the vice defense minister. Following the Atago incident,
the system was promptly reviewed to obligate ground, maritime, and
air staff officers to make reports directly to the defense minister.

(5) Extremely regrettable: Koumura

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 2) (Abridged)
March 1, 2008

TOKYO-Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura stated before the House of
Representatives Budget Committee during its meeting on Feb. 29 that
it is "extremely regrettable" that Japanese employees working at a
U.S. military base left the base while carrying guns at a U.S.
military commanding officer's order. Koumura clarified that he had
requested the U.S. government to enforce discipline in a
thoroughgoing way. Koumura referred to the matter for the first
time. He was replying to a question asked by Mikio Shimoji, an
independent member of the House of Representatives.

The Foreign Ministry's Status of U.S. Forces Agreement Division,
according to its account, inquired of the U.S. Embassy in Japan on
Feb. 26 about the factual circumstances. At the same time, the
division made a request to the U.S. Embassy, saying: "If that is
true, it's regrettable. They are prohibited from carrying any guns
off base, so we want to make sure of this matter."

In response, the U.S. Embassy explained on Feb. 28: "It seems that
there was an order differing from what they should do, so the order
has been withdrawn. The order was retracted 27 hours after it was
issued." The division repeatedly requested the U.S. Embassy to

TOKYO 00000559 009 OF 016

enforce official discipline in an appropriate way.

(6) Impermissible: Okinawa Defense Bureau chief

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 2) (Abridged)
March 1, 2008

An Okinawa-based U.S. Marine Corps provost marshal recently ordered
Japanese security guards to carry guns with them off base. In this
regard, the Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau Director
General Ro Manabe has indicated that there is a problem under the
Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). "That is
impermissible," Manabe told a regular press conference on Feb. 29.

"We think it is an act that is already questionable in connection
with the SOFA's provisions," Manabe noted in the press conference.
"In our understanding, it is impermissible to have local security
guards carry guns with them off base," Manabe added. With this, he
indicated that the Defense Ministry, if and when the provost
marshal's order is confirmed, would call on the U.S. military to
retract the order.

(7) USFJ bans carrying firearms off base: U.S. consulate

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 2) (Full)
March 1, 2008

On the issue of an Okinawa-based U.S. Marine Corps provost marshal
having had Japanese base workers carry guns with them off base, the
U.S. Consulate General in Okinawa released a statement in written
form on Feb. 29, saying U.S. Forces Japan basically prohibits
Japanese security guards from carrying firearms with them off base.
This is the first time that the United States has officially
admitted to the problem. At the same time, the statement also
stressed that the order has already been retracted.

(8) U.S. Consulate General releases statement saying carrying
firearms outside bases is prohibited in principle

March 1, 2008

Japanese security guards working for the U.S. Marines military
police in Okinawa have been moving about in civilian areas outside
U.S. bases while carrying loaded firearms. Regarding these
incidents, the U.S. Consulate General in Naha released a statement
on Feb. 29 that went: "The U.S. Forces Japan basically prohibits
Japanese guards from carrying firearms outside U.S. bases. The
February 11 instruction (to travel between civilian areas while
carrying firearms) was withdrawn within 27 hours." The statement,
however, stopped short of mentioning in what way (the Japanese
guards) actually carried the firearms in civilian areas.

Okinawa Defense Bureau Director-General Ro Manabe said in a regular
press conference on February 29: "In the past, there has never been
any overture to allow (Japanese guards to carry firearms outside
U.S. bases). We regard it as an act that could be a problem in terms
of Status of Forces Agreement. We asked that the order be withdrawn.
The act of (Japanese) guards carry firearms in performing their
duties outside the U.S. bases should never happen."

"As a step to respond to concerns over the February 11 instruction

TOKYO 00000559 010 OF 016

to Japanese guards in Okinawa to carry firearms when moving between
U.S. bases, U.S. Forces Japan and their members are reviewing the
implementation of the basic policy (banning carrying firearms
outside the bases)," the U.S. Consulate General in Naha said in its
statement. The statement does not touch on specifics, however.

(9) Consul General Maher waited in coffee shop while citizens

March 1, 2008

On February 28, the Okinawa Times morning edition reported in its
social section: "U.S. Consul General for Okinawa Kevin Maher, who
refused to see (a civic group representative), citing his tight
schedule, enjoyed a long coffee break near the Consulate General."
On February 29, Maher gave his own explanation of the situation,
saying it had not been reported correctly.

Maher explained that when he tried to return to the Consulate
General after a meeting with a guest at a restaurant near the
Consulate General, he found the entrance to the Consulate General
blocked by citizens groups, so he "waited at the coffee shop to
avoid a clash." It was for security reasons and, according to Maher,
he "did not enjoy the coffee break."

(10) Japan strengthening ties with Israel to deal with the North
Korean nuclear issue

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
March 3, 2008

Japan has begun strengthening relations with Israel. The two
countries are geographically far away from each other, and neither
country is rich in natural resources. A point of common interest
between the two countries is the North Korean issue. Israel wants to
prevent the proliferation of nuclear arms by North Korea to Israel's
enemies next door, while Japan wants to tap into Israel's powerful
intelligence-gathering system.

"North Korea is a country far away from Israel, but we are concerned
about nuclear proliferation. We want to share information." Prime
Minister Olmert of Israel thus said to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
at the Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) on the night of
Feb. 27 in referring to the North Korean issue. He indicated his
enthusiasm toward working together with Japan.

According to an official involved, the meeting lasted for some 70
minutes, of which 20 minutes were devoted to a one-on-one dialogue
between Fukuda and Olmert, joined only by interpreters. Apparently,
they exchanged views on classified intelligence, such as the
suspicions that North Korea was providing military technology to
Syria and Iran.

Olmert is the first Israeli prime minister to visit Japan in 11
years. The two prime ministers issued a joint statement, the first
between the two countries, which emphasized the importance of
cooperation. Japan recognized Israel as a state in 1952, but it had
cautiously kept a certain distance from Israel partly because of its
dependence on Middle Eastern countries for oil. But Fukuda has now
moved relations with Israel forward.

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Why are the two countries now moving toward a cooperative
relationship? The reason lies in the North Korea problem. The North
has delayed declaring its nuclear programs (as promised to the
U.S.), an action required in the second-phase approach, but
suspicions also have emerged that the DPRK might have cooperated
with Syria in the area of nuclear development. Syria is one of
Israel's neighboring enemies. If the suspicions are true, Israel
would be vitally threatened.

There was also a rumor that North Korea cooperated with Iran in the
military area. Israel's desire thus is to prevent North Korea from
proliferating nuclear and other weapons to the Middle East by
joining hands with Japan.

For Japan, cooperation with Israel on sharing intelligence, for
instance, is alluring, given that Japan is rapidly expanding its own
intelligence-gathering and security systems by establishing the post
of intelligence analyst in the Cabinet Office next fiscal year.
Israel has the Mossad, which is seen as one of the leading
intelligence agencies in the world. A Japanese official in charge of
security affairs had this wish: "Through exchanges with Israel, we
would like to improve our country's intelligence-gathering
capabilities, as well as enhance measures to counter terrorism."

However, if Japan gives the impression that it is tilting toward
Israel, Arab countries could react negatively. Perhaps for this
reason, the joint statement between Japan and Israel was apparently
intentionally focused on bilateral ties and referred to an early
realization of the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity, a scheme
introduced by Japan to help the Palestinians, based on consideration
for the Arab states.

How will Japan secure its national interests in cooperation with
both Israel and Arab countries? Japan is going to be tested for its
delicate diplomatic sense shortly.

(11) Editorial: Changing relations between Israel and Japan

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
March 3, 2008

It has been 60 years since Israel declared its independence in 1948.
At a time when his country celebrates this 60th anniversary, Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited Japan. The Israeli leader
exchanged views with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on Middle East
peace. Olmert emphasized the need to prevent nuclear development and
proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction by Iran, Syria, and
North Korea. During his Japan visit, Olmert concentrated his efforts
on diplomatic issues, as well as on the improvement of economic ties
with Japan.

Israel has now been rapidly changing to an industrial country. It is
crucial for Japan to be aware of that change in order to understand
the Middle East situation. It is also important for Japan's foreign
policy toward the Middle East.

Israel's gross national product (GDP) per capita seems to have
exceeded 22,000 dollars in 2007 -- 2.5 times the level of 20 years
ago. Reasons for the increase in per-capita GDP are that foreign
investment in Israel has increased, and that the country's tech
sector, including information and telecommunications, and bio-tech
have flowered since the 1993 peace agreement with the Palestinian

TOKYO 00000559 012 OF 016

Liberation Organization (PLO). Another reason for the economic
growth is that Israel was able to secure a high-quality workforce by
accepting 1.15 million immigrants from Russia and other countries
between 1990 and 2005.

At the Japan National Press Club, Olmert said his country aims to
become a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) within 18 months. At the same time, the economy
of the Palestinian autonomous region has deteriorated, and
unemployment in the region has become increasingly serious. Due to
this gap, a cycle of attacks between terrorists and the Israeli
military have continued, resulting in the unstable political
situation in the Middle East region. In order also to bring about
lasting peace to the region, it is necessary to promote economic
development in the Palestinian territories. In this regard, Olmert
expressed anew high expectations for the role of Japan, which is a
major donor of aid to the Palestinians.

Although Arab nations' antagonism toward Israel remains deep-rooted,
their boycott against foreign companies operating in Israel has lost
momentum. The Arab countries have now given top priority to
expanding foreign investment in their countries, as well as to
improving communications infrastructure. Arab nations are in an age
of relying on such major companies as Intel and Microsoft, which
have invested in Israel and have production bases in it.

China has promoted technical cooperation with Israel, which has been
called the 51st state of the United States. Amid environmental
changes caused by economic globalization, there is enough room for
Japan to promote fresh cooperation with Israel.

(12) Interview with Kazuhiro Suzuki on significance of deployment of
the U.S. nuclear powered aircraft carrier George Washington

March 2008 (Abridged slightly)

The USS George Washington will be deployed at Yokosuka in August
2008. It will be the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier deployed
in Japan. How will the safety of the aircraft carrier be ensured?
Based on Japan's security policy and peace and security in East
Asia, the magazine interviewed Japan-U.S. Security Treaty Division
Director Kazuhiro Suzuki of the Foreign Ministry North American
Affairs Bureau.

Maintenance of peace and security in East Asia

First, tell us about the recent challenges facing the Japan-U.S.
security setup.

Suzuki: The Japan-U.S. security setup has long been functioning as
the cornerstone for maintaining the peace and security of Japan and
its environs and protecting the lives and property of the Japanese
people. At the same time, as is shown by missile launches and a
nuclear test by North Korea, there still remain unstable and
uncertain factors in East Asia. Given the situation, it is essential
to make greater efforts to enhance the deterrence and trust of the
Japan-U.S. security setup. To do so, the governments of Japan and
the United States have launched a variety of efforts.

For instance, the two countries have been pushing ahead with defense
cooperation to deal with the threat of ballistic missiles. The two

TOKYO 00000559 013 OF 016

countries succeeded in jointly intercepting a mock ballistic missile
at sea near Hawaii in December 2007. The realignment of U.S. forces
in Japan is designed to resolve two difficult problems: maintaining
the deterrence and alleviating local burdens. Several projects are
underway to implement the Japan-U.S. agreement reached in May 2006.
In replacing the Kitty Hawk with the nuclear-powered George
Washington this summer, close cooperation between Japan and the
United States and a sense of trust and cooperative relations with
local people are all essential.

Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier capable of conducting long-term

What is the significance of replacing the Kitty Hawk with the
nuclear-powered carrier?

Suzuki: The U.S. Navy has 11 aircraft carriers and of which 10 are
nuclear-powered. All of them will be nuclear-powered in the future.

Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are capable of conducting
long-term operations because their fuel does not have to be
exchanged for about 25 years and also because they can reach maximum
power in several minutes. Armed with the highly capable
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet is
expected to continue contributing significantly to the peace and
security of Japan and the region.

It is also expected to benefit the local economy as well. The U.S.
Navy estimates that the continued deployment of an aircraft carrier
in Japan will generate economic benefits worth 7.6 billion yen to
8.7 billion yen annually, utility costs, supplies, and capital
investment combined.

Safety proven by objective facts

What about the safety of nuclear-powered flattops?

Suzuki: It is my rule to point out objective facts in response to
such a question. Facts in the past eloquently tell the safety of
U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Since the 1960s, U.S.
aircraft carriers have made over 1,300 port calls in Japan, yet they
have caused no nuclear accident. Further, every time an aircraft
carrier enters a Japanese port, both Japan and the United States
monitor the environment. Any abnormal levels of radioactive
contamination harmful to human health have not been detected.

To begin with, a nuclear-powered carrier has always about 5,000
people aboard, so maximum consideration is given to safety. Nuclear
reactors in a carrier are surrounded by four sturdy walls, and the
crew, including the captain, is strictly selected through vigorous
training and tests. Furthermore, while in ports, the nuclear
reactors are usually out of operation and a carrier is not repaired
or its fuel is exchanged while in Japan. This is clearly specified
in the U.S. government's fact sheet presented to Japan.

Ensuring safety in cooperation with the U.S. and local residents

Should an accident occur, is the government fully prepared and it is
ready to work closely with local governments?

Suzuki: The government thinks it is important to replace (the Kitty
Hawk) with the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier by securing safety

TOKYO 00000559 014 OF 016

and making people feel at ease, while obtaining understanding and
cooperation from local residents. From this viewpoint, Japanese and
U.S. government agencies and organizations concerned, including the
city of Yokosuka, have repeatedly discussed since September 2006
safety measures regarding the nuclear aircraft carrier.

The talks have produced some concrete results. For instance, the
U.S. Navy and the city of Yokosuka have signed a mutual assistance
agreement specifying cooperation between the two bodies in times of
disasters. In November 2007, based on a scenario in which a minute
amount of radiation leaked, Japan and the United States conducted a
joint drill covering an initial report and the public announcement
of information with the participation for the first time of the U.S.
Navy. There are also plans to train Japanese base workers on
nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Such efforts are intended to
forge relations of trust and cooperation at the local level
supporting the foundation for the stable presence of U.S. forces in

For the sake of the safety and giving peace of mind to the people,
the government will continue addressing issues in close cooperation
with the United States and local governments in order to be prepared
against every situation.

(13) Century of private-sector exchange between Japan, U.S.;
Dispatch of intellectuals softens friction; Pop culture is driving
force for exchange between new generations; Drop in number of young
people studying in U.S.; Concern about inward-looking stance

ASAHI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
March 3, 2008

Links between people of Japan and the U.S. in various fields, such
as culture, the arts and sciences, and the economy, have sustained
bilateral relations, which have been rocked fiercely due to various
setbacks, including the two world wars and economic disputes. The
Japan Society, the largest Japan-U.S. exchange organization, will
hold a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of its founding
in Tokyo on March 4. On this occasion, Asahi Shimbun explored the
meaning of and challenges facing private-sector exchanges between
the two countries.

A documentary film titled "John and Shige" is now being shot in the
U.S. The film depicts how human exchanges have sustained bilateral
relations, based on the 50 years of association between John D.
Rockefeller 3rd (1906-1978), who served as executive director at
the Japan Society for 18 years, and Shigeharu Matsumoto (1899-1989),
the founder of the International House of Japan (Minato Ward,

Hiroharu Hayasaki (33), a filmmaker active in the U.S. noted, "The
Bush administration is legitimizing its Iraq policy, citing the U.S.
occupation of Japan as a successful case. However, the reason for
the U.S. success in the postwar governance of Japan is that private
citizens played a major role in confidence-building between the
victor nation and the defeated country.

John D. Rockefeller 3rd was born in an era when Japan began
attracting a lot of attention as a modern state in the East. He met
Matsumoto at an international conference held in Kyoto in 1929.
Matsumoto at the time was harboring a desire to become an
international journalist.

TOKYO 00000559 015 OF 016

Matsumoto was reunited with Rockefeller in 1951, when he came to
Japan with the John Foster Dulles Mission. Rockefeller talked to
Matsumoto, impelled by the idea that a bridge would be needed for
private-sector exchanges between the two countries. The
International House of Japan was then founded, assisted by the
Rockefeller Foundation. Rockefeller 3rd took office as executive
director of the Japan Society, though his efforts to promote
bilateral exchange were temporarily interrupted by the war.
Rockefeller 3rd became the best friend of Matsumoto. They did their
utmost to promote the Japan-U.S. intellectual exchange program for
reciprocal exchanges of academics and scholars.

At first, part of the meaning of the U.S. setting up such a program
was to implant democracy in Japan, the bastion of anti-communism,
following the Korean War, according to an aide to the Rockefeller
family. However, the program was eventually joined by a wide range
of human resources, including Fusae Ichikawa, Eleanor Roosevelt, the
wife of a former U.S. president and social activist, and writer
Shusaku Endo. Michael Ausline, fellow at the American Enterprise
Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), said, "Human exchanges
like that have played a role of softening political and economic
friction between Japan and the U.S."

Senator Jay Rockefeller, the eldest son of Rockefeller 3rd,
emphatically said, "When Japan-U.S. friction was fierce, about 20
Japanese companies established operations in my constituency West
Virginia. That is because local citizens actually visited Japan and
gained a deep confidence in those companies after seeing their
actual production sites."

Interest in Japanese culture ranging from foods to robots has
dramatically deepened over the past decade. The driving force was
pop culture represented by animated movies and comics. "Cosplay"
(dressing up in outlandish garb) events were held in various parts
of the U.S. The sales of DVDs of animated movies and comics reached
60 billion yen a year.

Douglas McGray (32), who visited Japan on the Japan Society's
private-sector exchange program, released an essay in a foreign
relations magazine in 2002, in which he referred to this trend as
"cool." He introduced Japan as a country that is dominating the
world with "soft power" amid the recession.

In a survey Professor Napia of Tufts University conducted on fans of
Japan's animated movies in the U.S., 65 PERCENT -75 PERCENT of
respondents noted that their interest in Japan deepened due to
animated movies. Napia said, "This is not just a boom. It is
connected with the trend of rediscovering Japan."

However, according to a survey by the Japan Foundation, the number
of those studying Japanese at U.S. schools fell about 16 PERCENT
during the 2003-2006 period. A person in charge at the foundation
said, "The objective of learning Japanese for most of those who
learn Japanese was just to follow comics and animated movies. Their
interest in Japan will not expand." The number of researchers on
Japan also dropped significantly from 1995 through 2005.

Japanese people's interest in the U.S. is also declining. According
to the U.S. Institute of International Education, Japanese who study
in the U.S. has dropped from the peak level of fiscal 1997.
Japan-U.S. Educational Commission Executive Director Satterwhite

TOKYO 00000559 016 OF 016

pointed out, "One reason is that Japan's birthrate is declining.
Young people in Japan are losing interest in foreign countries. They
are increasingly taking an inward-looking stance."

However, some take an optimistic view. Alexandra Monroe, who held an
exhibition of Takashi Murakami, a champion of pop culture, in 2005
said, "Americans are fascinated by the complexity and abstract
nature of Japanese culture. Interest in Japanese culture will spread
in the future."


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