Search

 

Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 03/18/08

VZCZCXRO7671
PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #0722/01 0780811
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180811Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2636
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/USDOT WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5//
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
RHMFIUU/HQ PACAF HICKAM AFB HI//CC/PA//
RHMFIUU/USFJ //J5/JO21//
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
RUAYJAA/CTF 72
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 9085
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 6693
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 0366
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 5199
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 7297
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2261
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 8308
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 8878

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TOKYO 000722

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR E, P, EB, EAP/J, EAP/P, EAP/PD, PA;
WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION;
TREASURY/OASIA/IMI/JAPAN; DEPT PASS USTR/PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
SECDEF FOR JCS-J-5/JAPAN,
DASD/ISA/EAPR/JAPAN; DEPT PASS ELECTRONICALLY TO USDA
FAS/ITP FOR SCHROETER; PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR;
CINCPAC FLT/PA/ COMNAVFORJAPAN/PA.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA

SUBJECT: DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS 03/18/08

INDEX:

(1) Poll on Fukuda cabinet, BOJ nomination, gas tax (Tokyo Shimbun)

(2) Government delays submission of nominee for BOJ boss: LDP
struggling erratically, miscalculating DPJ's move (Asahi)

(3) Kasumigaseki confidential: Senior Defense Ministry officials may
again be reshuffled? (Bungei Shunju)

(4) Defense Ministry to launch new body for procurement reform
(Nikkei)

(5) Japan-U.S. alliance must be reaffirmed (Nikkei)

ARTICLES:

(1) Poll on Fukuda cabinet, BOJ nomination, gas tax

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
March 17, 2008

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage. Parentheses denote the results of the
last survey conducted Feb. 9-10.)

Q: Do you support the Fukuda cabinet?

Yes 33.4 (35.6)
No 50.6 (44.5)
Don't know (D/K) + no answer (N/A) 16.0 (19.9)

Q: (Only for those who answered "yes" to the previous question)
What's the primary reason for your approval of the Fukuda cabinet?
Pick only one from among those listed below.

The prime minister is trustworthy 26.1 (18.0)
Because it's a coalition cabinet of the Liberal Democratic Party and
New Komeito 8.9 (10.9)
The prime minister has leadership ability 3.0 (2.3)
Something can be expected of its economic policies 3.4 (4.3)
Something can be expected of its foreign policies 6.6 (3.9)
Something can be expected of its political reforms 2.4 (1.9)
Something can be expected of its tax reforms 1.2 (4.0)
Something can be expected of its administrative reforms 2.7 (1.7)
There's no other appropriate person (for prime minister) 44.1
(50.0)
Other answers (O/A) 1.1 (0.8)
D/K+N/A 0.5 (2.2)

Q: (Only for those who answered "no" to the first question) What's
the primary reason for your disapproval of the Fukuda cabinet? Pick
only one from among those listed below.

The prime minister is untrustworthy 9.0 (11.0)
Because it's a coalition cabinet of the Liberal Democratic Party and
the New Komeito 5.0 (6.8)
The prime minister lacks leadership ability 36.7 (26.1)
Nothing can be expected of its economic policies 17.8 (22.8)
Nothing can be expected of its foreign policies 1.7 (2.3)
Nothing can be expected of its political reforms 10.2 (10.9)
Nothing can be expected of its tax reforms 7.1 (7.0)

TOKYO 00000722 002 OF 007


Nothing can be expected of its administrative reforms 6.9 (6.2)
Don't like the prime minister's personal character 4.3 (4.9)
O/A 0.4 (0.6)
D/K+N/A 0.9 (1.4)

Q: The government has asked the Diet to approve its proposal to
appoint Bank of Japan Vice Governor Toshiro Muto, who was
administrative vice finance minister, to the post of BOJ governor,
while the DPJ and other opposition parties had already opposed his
promotion to the post. What do you think about the government's
action?

Appropriate 37.2
Not appropriate 40.7
D/K+N/A 22.1

Q: The DPJ and other opposition parties see Muto's career as a
problem in that he served in the posts of Budget Bureau director
general and administrative vice minister at the Finance Ministry. Do
you think there is a problem with his career for the post of BOJ
governor from the perspective of BOJ policies?

Yes 36.8
No 42.3
D/K+N/A 20.9

Q: The BOJ governor's term is up to Mar. 19. If the next BOJ
governor is not appointed by then, the post of BOJ governor will be
vacant. What do you think about this?

Such a situation should be avoided 61.5
Unavoidable 32.2
D/K+N/A 6.3

Q: The recent collision of a Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis
destroyer with a fishing boat has left the fishing boat's two
crewmen missing. Do you appreciate the government's action after the
accident?

Yes 20.0
No 73.4
D/K+N/A 6.6

Q: The gasoline tax currently has a provisional tax portion of 25
yen per liter (for road construction and other road-related
purposes). If the Diet decides by March to extend this provisional
taxation, the road-related budget will be ensured. Meanwhile, if the
provisional taxation is not extended, the gasoline price will go
down by the extra tax portion. However, the road-related budget will
decrease. Do you think it would be better to extend the provisional
taxation, or do you otherwise think it would be better not to extend
it?

Better to extend it 29.3 (31.6)
Better not to extend it 61.0 (57.1)
D/K+N/A 9.7 (11.3)

Polling methodology: The survey was conducted across the nation on
Mar. 15-16 by Kyodo News Service on a computer-aided random digit
dialing (RDD) basis. Among randomly generated telephone numbers,
those actually for household use with one or more eligible voters
totaled 1,473. Answers were obtained from 1,023 persons.

TOKYO 00000722 003 OF 007

(2) Government delays submission of nominee for BOJ boss: LDP
struggling erratically, miscalculating DPJ's move

ASAHI (Page 4) (Almost full)
March 18, 2008

Prime Minister Fukuda has failed to keep the March 17 deadline set
by the ruling parties for putting forward a new nominee for Bank of
Japan (BOJ) governor. He is insisting on the promotion of Deputy
Governor Toshiro Muto to governor. The Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ or Minshuto) is rejecting Muto. With the LDP leadership, which
is responsible for exploring a settlement line, misjudging the moves
of the prime minister and the DPJ, it has become even more difficult
to find a settlement line.

Approach to prime minister

The primary candidate for BOJ governor in the second proposal was
Muto, though five days had already passed since the disapproval of
the government proposal for promoting Muto to governor.

Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)

SIPDIS
informally sounded out the view of DPJ Secretary General Yukio
Hatoyama, noting: "The prime minister has determinedly said that the
continuity of BOJ operations is important. In view of the current
international financing, the prime minister appears to think that
there should be continuity in the personnel line-up. We would
appreciate if the DPJ looks into the possibility of having either
incumbent Governor Fukui or Deputy Governor Muto stay on in their
posts."

The prevailing view in the ruling camp up until that day was that it
would be unavoidable to replace Muto. Former Chief Cabinet Secretary
Kaoru Yosano said, "It would be reckless to come up with the
candidate rejected in the Upper House." An increasing number of New
Komeito members also took the view that the result that the
government proposal was disapproved must be taken seriously, as
President Ota said. Diet Policy Committee Chairman Tadamori Oshima
asked the prime minister to resubmit his plan by March 17 so that
Diet approval could be secured before the tenure of incumbent
Governor Fukui expired. He took the view that a person other than
Muto be selected.

However, the LDP's effort has begun to go astray with the prime
minister insisting on nominating Muto. The government extended the
4:00 p.m. deadline for two hours and looked into the possibility of
choosing a business leader, based on the premise that Muto be picked
as deputy governor in that case. Ibuki at a meeting of LDP
executives said, "It would be difficult to select a candidate unless
conditions for a candidate, the government's stance and coordination
with the DPJ coincide." Though the prime minister gave up the idea
of resubmitting a personnel plan on the 17th, he revealed his
determination to continue efforts to choose a candidate so that Diet
approval can be obtained by the 19th.

Some ruling party members have begun voicing a question. One senior
LDP Diet Policy Committee member said, "The LDP's approach this time
is very sloppy. It may be the only solution for Mr. Shirakawa to
continue to serve as acting governor."

Even DPJ members are amazed. Acting Diet Affairs Committee Chairman

TOKYO 00000722 004 OF 007


Azumi looked puzzled, when he said, "It is unbelievable for the LDP
to waste one whole day when the incumbent governor's tenure will
expire soon." President Ozawa told his aide, "The government has no
resourcefulness."

Approach to DPJ: Lack of channels;

DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka on the morning of
the 17th received a phone call from Oshima, calling for talks
involving their secretaries general as well. However, Yamaoka
snubbed the proposal, noting, "I already know what Mr. Ibuki has to
say. This is no time for holding a ceremonial meeting. I want them
to propose a name which we can accept."

Oshima has been responsible for talks with Yamaoka. However, Ibuki's
role has been all the way along to promote Muto to governor, based
on the prime minister's will.

A meeting between Oshima and Yamaoka, joined by Ibuki and Executive
Council Chairman Nikai, took place in Yokohama City on the evening
of February 21. Ibuki for the first time revealed his party's plan
to select Muto as governor. When Yamaoka expressed disapproval,
Ibuki said, "Mr. Yamaoka, you do not need to do anything. We have
already made an arrangement."

Ibuki thus hinted that he has another channel aside from that with
the DPJ. The DPJ read Ibuki's intention as indicating that not only
would sources at the BOJ and the Finance Ministry work on President
Ozawa, they would also work on the anti-mainstream group of DPJ
rebels. They had their eye on the roll call vote for the selection
of BOJ personnel, which requires Diet approval, and the DPJ leaders
thus called on the members to follow the party's policy.

As a result, the nomination of Muto was smoothly voted down with
only a few abstaining from voting as the Upper House plenary session
on the 12th. Looking back on this, Ibuki during a commercial TV
talks show on the 12th noted: "We optimistically thought that the
DPJ would make a decision from a broader perspective. Though we
secretly discussed various matters, it remained unclear who would

SIPDIS
make a final decision on the matter in the DPJ."

Following the miscalculation, Oshima was quick to follow up the
outcome of the voting. He met with Yamaoka on the 13th and told him
that he was utterly shocked. Oshima along with Yamaoka then asked
the prime minister's side to make a decision by the 17th. They
envisaged a scenario of reaching a settlement by replacing Muto out
of the judgment that it would be impossible to settle the issue with
the promotion of Muto to governor.

At that time, too, Ibuki was secretly considering a plan to extend
the tenure of Fukui by amending the BOJ Law. Since the prime
minister gave up submitting a second plan on the 17th, some DPJ
members are beginning suspect that he could propose amending the BOJ
Law, which stipulates that priority be given to a decision by the
Lower House, as one senior DPJ member put it.

(3) Kasumigaseki confidential: Senior Defense Ministry officials may
again be reshuffled?

BUNGEI SHUNJU (Page 236) (Full)
April 2008


TOKYO 00000722 005 OF 007


While the Defense Ministry was still reeling from the arrest and
indictment of former Administrative Vice Minister Takemasa Moriya,
who joined the former Defense Agency in 1971, the ministry was again
shaken by the collision between the Maritime Self-Defense Force's
Aegis destroyer Atago, which went into commission last spring, and
the fishing boat Seitoku Maru.

There is an undeniably possibility that the accident will directly
affect the appointments of senior ministry officials, including that
of Minister Shigeru Ishiba, who may resign or stay on. The ministry
in January shuffled the lineup of senior officials. If the ministry
is forced to reshuffle the lineup, it could have an impact on the
selection of administrative vice ministers in the future.

Incumbent Administrative Vice Minister Kohei Masuda, who entered the
former Defense Agency in 1975, is now serving still in his first
year in that post. The dominant view in the ministry is that he will
likely serve there for at least two years. Ishiba and Masuda have a
basic plan that the vice minister's post will be first go to the
Secretariat Director General Kimito Nakae, who joined the former JDA

SIPDIS
in 1976, followed by Defense Policy Bureau Director General
Nobushige Takamizawa, who came into the Ministry of Finance in 1978
and later transferred to JDA from the Financial Services Agency, and
finally by Operational Bureau Director General Hideshi Tokuchi, who
entered the former JDA in 1979.

Masuda has been worried that Ishiba may resign as defense chief to
take responsibility for the Aegis collision. When the MSDF submarine
Nadashio and a fishing boat collided in 1998, then Defense Agency
Director General Tsutomu Kawara stepped down from his post to take
responsibility.

Opposition parties have called for the replacement of Ishiba to take
responsibility for the recent accident. If Diet deliberations on the
fiscal 2008 budget and budget-related bills are taken as a
"hostage," there is no doubt that Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and
Ishiba will be forced to make a tough decision.

In case Ishiba resigns, there would be some debate about whether
administrative officials should be retained or not. It has already
been decided that MSDF Chief of Staff Eiji Yoshikawa will be
replaced. The move indicates the Defense Ministry's desire to put an
end to the matter as early as possible. Some in the government and
ruling parties are calling for a removal of Justice Minister Kunio
Hatoyama, besides Ishiba, when the cabinet is shuffled sometime in
April after the budget and budget-related bills clear the Diet.

(4) Defense Ministry to launch new body for procurement reform

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
March 18, 2008

The Defense Ministry has worked out a plan to reform its system of
procuring equipment for the Self-Defense Forces in the wake of its
former vice minister's bribery case over Yamada Corporation and
other scandals. The Defense Ministry plans to set up a new
organization that is exclusively in charge of overseeing total costs
for its procurement of mainstay equipment from development to
purchase and maintenance. In addition, the Defense Ministry plans to
enter into direct contracts with overseas manufacturers for
procurement. The ministry is also aiming to attain a 15 PERCENT
reduction of procurement costs by fiscal 2011.

TOKYO 00000722 006 OF 007

The Defense Ministry's project team, headed by Parliamentary Defense
Secretary Minoru Terada, will finalize and release the plan within

SIPDIS
the month.

The newly planned organization will be set up in the Equipment
Procurement and Construction Office (EPCO), which is under the
defense minister's direct control. The Defense Ministry has failed
to grasp total costs in many cases, and its wasteful procurement has
been pointed out. The new organization will integrate information
about procurement costs and other factors for making a decision on
whether to go ahead with development or mass production. EPCO will
also establish an import control division as a point of contact with
overseas manufacturers in order for the Defense Ministry to conclude
more direct contracts with overseas manufacturers without trading
companies.

(5) Japan-U.S. alliance must be reaffirmed

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
March 16, 2008

By Hisayoshi Ina, senior writer

The governments of Japan and the United States will release a second
joint security declaration possibly in late 2009. Although the
declaration is needed today in view of the international situation,
the two countries plan to delay it for two years because of domestic
circumstances.

The two countries issued their first security declaration
reaffirming the bilateral alliance in 1996, 12 years ago. During
that period, there have been the following strategic changes in the
environment surrounding Japan and the United States:

First, setting aside its influence on the situation in Tibet, China
has grown faster than expected.

In terms of purchasing power parity, China's GDP has surpassed that
of Japan. In contrast, Japan's position has declined. Japan's GDP
accounts for less than 10 PERCENT of the global total today.

Second, the confrontational structure on the Korean Peninsula has
changed.

The 1996 joint declaration was penned amid concern over a
contingency on the Korean Peninsula. That is why an agreement was
reached on the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation and the
Law on Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan was enacted following
the joint declaration.

North Korea has now become a nuclear power -- a grave reality. A
bilateral alliance usually takes steps to enhance deterrence.
Nevertheless, not only South Korea but also the United States have
taken reconciliatory positions following a nuclear test by North
Korea. The basic course adopted by the new South Korean
administration of President Lee Myung Bak is unchanged.

Third, the resurgence of a strong Russia and the rise of India also
signify geopolitical shifts.

Fourth, the world has changed since 9/11. Japan has dispatched

TOKYO 00000722 007 OF 007


Self-Defense Force troops to the Indian Ocean and Iraq under the
Antiterrorism Special Measures Law and the Iraq Special Measures
Law. The two laws are based on the Law on Situations in Areas
Surrounding Japan.

The Japan-U.S. security arrangements could become an inert alliance
unless Tokyo earnestly discusses with Washington ways to deal with
the changes. A second joint declaration reaffirming the bilateral
alliance I feel is necessary.

A reaffirmation between the two countries should result in a shift
in the Japanese government's interpretation of the right to
collective self-defense that would lead to a permanent law allowing
the SDF to engage in international cooperation activities. It is
also important to keep the promise to construct a Futenma
replacement facility by 2014.

The Fukuda administration is reluctant to change the current
interpretation of the right to collective self-defense. As far as
moves by the New Komeito and the Democratic Party of Japan are
concerned, chances seem slim (for the government to change its
interpretation of the right to collective defense). But things could
turn out differently.

Opinion polls indicate that there is a possibility for both Japan
and the United States to have administrations led by their
respective Democratic Party. But if Democratic Party of Japan
President Ichiro Ozawa's UN-centered diplomacy should become Japan's
policy, the Japan-U.S. alliance could fall apart.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama, who originally came from Hawaii, has more
sensitivity to Japan-U.S. relations than Hillary Clinton does.
Whether it be Obama or Clinton that takes power, a traditional
Democratic foreign policy team occupying Washington would be less
friendly to Japan than a Republican team.

At that point, the swinging of the pendulum would kick in, as was
the case with the 1996 Japan-U.S. joint declaration.

Japan-U.S. relations were then driven by a centrifugal force as a
result of the economy-oriented policy of the Clinton administration
that was launched in 1993. Afterward, the pendulum swung back to the
center.

Unless a similar development unfolds in 2009 between the Democratic
administrations of Japan and the United States, the Japan-U.S.
alliance could turn into another U.S.-ROK alliance of the former Roh
Moo Hyun era.

Although reaffirming the Japan-U.S. alliance is far from Ozawa's
policy intent, President Richard Nixon was able to make a historic
visit to China in 1972 because he was anticommunist. This political
paradox is often related. But it really happened.

The assumption that the alliance might deepen under Democratic
administrations in both countries is not necessarily unrealistic.
The new declaration could be issued by (DPJ President Katsuya) Okada
and Obama.

SCHIEFFER

© 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>>

ALSO:

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>>

ALSO:

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>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC