Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 03/21/08

DE RUEHKO #0765/01 0810123
P 210123Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



USFJ incidents:
1) U.S. serviceman AWOL from Yokosuka Navy Base may have been
involved in the slaying of local taxi driver (Tokyo Shimbun)
2) Credit card of missing U.S. serviceman found in slain taxi
driver's vehicle (Asahi)
3) Location of taxi driver's slaying is near the base on street
where few walk and residents fear to go out at night (Tokyo
4) Two sons of U.S. military family arrested by Okinawa police for
robbing taxi (Mainichi)

Defense Ministry incidents:
5) 80 to be punished by Defense Ministry today for Aegis and other
incidents, including Defense Minister Ishiba, who will return part
of pay (Tokyo Shimbun)
6) Report on Aegis accident to be released today will not touch on
the cause, being criticized as slap-dash (Mainichi)

7) Both ruling and opposition camps are lined up on penalizing
possession of child pornography (Tokyo Shimbun)

8) Japan proposing draft plan at TICAD Africa aid conference that
opens today in Gabon (Asahi)

9) Assistant Secretary Hill expects U.S., Japan, ROK consultations
prior to next meeting of Six-Party Talks (Asahi)

China connection:
10) Government carefully watching developments in Taiwanese
presidential election (Nikkei)
11) Japan agonizing over how to respond to China's violent actions
against Tibetan rioters; Incidents may have impact on President Hu's
pending visit to Japan (Tokyo Shimbun)

12) Prime Minister Fukuda's administration losing momentum fast as
criticism, even in ruling camp, mounts over handling of Bank of
Japan, road revenue issues (Nikkei)


1) U.S. sailor likely involved in Yokosuka murder

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Top play) (Full)
March 21, 2008

A U.S. serviceman stationed at the U.S. Navy's Yokosuka base is
suspected of being involved in a recent Yokosuka murder case,
according to what was revealed yesterday by U.S. military sources to
Japanese investigative authorities. In the murder case, Masaaki
Takahashi, a 61-year-old taxi driver, was found stabbed to death on
the night of Mar. 19 in the city of Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Kanagawa prefectural police have also secured similar information.
The local police are carefully investigating the incident. At the
same time, the police have requested the U.S. military to cooperate
with local investigative authorities.

According to U.S. Navy sources, goods believed to belong to a
Yokosuka-based U.S. serviceman were found in the taxi.

The U.S. serviceman, assigned to a Yokosuka-based ship of the U.S.

TOKYO 00000765 002 OF 009

Navy, did not return to the base when the ship left port, according
to the sources. His whereabouts are still unknown, the sources said.
The U.S. military is hurrying to find out his whereabouts and
provided such information to Japanese investigative authorities.

According to police investigations, Takahashi was found bleeding on
the driver's seat of a taxi parked on a street in Yokosuka City's
Shioiricho at around 9:20 p.m. Mar. 19. In his neck was a
20-centimeter kitchen knife. The police had an autopsy performed on
the body. As a result, the police discovered that Takahashi died
from blood loss resulting from damage to the thoracic aorta. In the
taxi was money amounting to more than 60 thousand yen believed to be
from passengers. Cash in his suit was also left as is.

The prefectural police suspect that Takahashi was stabbed possibly
by the last passenger he picked up that day in Tokyo.

According to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, U.S.
military personnel who commit crimes in Japan are to be held by the
U.S. military before they are indicted if they are already under
U.S. custody. In 1995, however, the SOFA's operation was improved.
In the case of heinous crimes, Japan and the United States have
agreed that the U.S. military will favorably consider Japanese
requests for a pre-indictment transferal.

In January 2006, a Yokosuka-based U.S. sailor was arrested on
suspicion of slaying a 56-year-old woman of Yokosuka City and taking
her money. At that time, the U.S. government agreed to transfer the
suspect on a charge of murder as the first case of turnover in the
SOFA's improved application.

In August this year, the USS George Washington, a U.S.
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, will arrive at Yokosuka for
deployment. The George Washington will be the first nuclear-powered
aircraft carrier to be based at Yokosuka. However, the incident, if
the missing U.S. serviceman is involved, will likely affect the
flattop's Yokosuka deployment.

2) U.S. serviceman's credit card found in slain driver's taxi

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
March 21, 2008

A man was found dead in a taxi in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa
Prefecture, on the night of March 19. The Kanagawa Prefectural
Police, which is investigating this murder case, said yesterday that
a credit card was found in the car. The cardholder is believed to be
a U.S. serviceman stationed at the U.S. Navy's Yokosuka Naval Base
near the scene of the murder. The prefectural police are searching
for the serviceman to question him. The U.S. Naval Forces Japan also
is searching for the man.

The prefectural police have begun searching for the man on a murder
charge. The police yesterday announced that the man found dead in
the taxi was the taxi driver Masaaki Takahashi (61), who lived at
1-chome, Higashi Shinagawa, Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo.

According to the police investigation, Takahashi was found slain in
his parked taxi, whose engine was still operating, at a corner of a
residential area at Shioiri Town, Yokosuka City, around 9:20 p.m. of
March 19. His neck slit deep by a 20-centimeter kitchen knife,
Takahashi lay strapped into the driver's seat, the police said.

TOKYO 00000765 003 OF 009

As a result of an autopsy, it was discovered that Takahashi died of
blood loss because of stab wound on the thoracic aorta. Reportedly,
the knife point reached the upper part of his lung. With no signs of
a struggle in the car, the prefectural police assume that Takahashi
sitting in the driver's seat was stabbed to death all of sudden.
When Takahashi's body was found, the taxi meter was set at "payment"
and the meter rate was 17,000 yen. Several tens of thousands of yen
were discovered in Takahashi's jacket and trousers, and some sixty
thousand yen, which seemed to be his proceeds, was found in a box
beside the driver's seat.

Takahashi had worked for the Anzen Taxi Company's (at Shinjuku Ward,
Tokyo) Shinagawa Office since 2000. According to a company staffer,
Takahashi frequently waited for customers around Haneda Airport.

The prefectural police investigated the inside of the taxi and
discovered a credit card. The police identified the cardholder as a
U.S. serviceman assigned to the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base. According
to informed sources, the serviceman is a petty officer and a crew
member of a cruiser deployed in the Yokosuka base. Reportedly, the
serviceman did not board a cruiser that already left Yokosuka and
has been missing for several weeks. The U.S. Forces Japan also is
searching for the serviceman to question him.

The headquarters of the U.S. Naval Forces Japan yesterday responded
to an interview with the Asahi and made this comment: "The U.S. Navy
will cooperate in every possible way with the Japanese side."

3) Location of slain taxi driver near U.S. base on a street few
people use and local residents fear to go out at night

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 31) (Excerpts)
March 21, 2008

A scream pierced the night on a rainy street in a residential area.
The incident was the knife slaying of a taxi driver in an area close
to Yokosuka Navy Base in the city of Yokosuka in Kanagawa
Prefecture. Suspicion arose the next day that an American serviceman
stationed at that base may have been involved, and things began to
move. In January 2006, there was an incident in which a part-time
female office worker (then 56) was robbed and killed by a sailor
from that base. Fear then arose among the local residents.

A young woman (21) who lives close to the scene of the crime gave
this direct account, with an expression of fear on her face: "I
heard someone scream three times. When I looked out there was a taxi
stopped outside my home, and I saw the male driver slumped over with
his seat belt still on."

The scene of the crime is a residential street with few passers by.
The taxi was parked in a dimly lit area with its lights out.
According to the woman, the taxi meter light registered "payment,"
and the lights inside the cab were lit. A self-employed male (59),
who is the woman's father, said: "The rain was heavy, so we did not
notice cars passing by. Since it is not a street people use to pass
through, we were surprised." The residential street where the crime
took place is less than a kilometer away from Yokosuka Navy Base.
The 2006 murder took place about 1.5 kilometers away from that
street in a back street behind a busy commercial street. "We fear
going out at night in this area, too," said the self-employed male.

TOKYO 00000765 004 OF 009

4) Okinawa police arrest U.S. servicemen's sons for taxi robbery

MAINICHI (Page 31) (Full)
March 21, 2008

Okinawa prefectural police announced on Mar. 18 that they had
arrested the sons of Okinawa-based U.S. servicemen for taxi

One of the two arrested boys is a 15-year-old boy of a Marine, and
where he lives is unknown. The other is an Air Force serviceman's
son, 16, who is a high school student and lives at Yaeshima 1,
Okinawa City. According to investigations, the two boys are
suspected of stealing a cash box with about 5,400 yen near the
driver's seat when exiting the taxi on a street in Okinawa City's
Minamitobaru at around 10:15 p.m. Mar. 16.

5) 80 MOD officials to be disciplined: Ishiba to return part of his

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
March 21, 2008

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba will discipline a large number of
Ministry of Defense (MOD) and Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF)
officers, including such senior key personnel as Vice MOD Minister
Kohei Masuda and MSDF Chief of Staff Eiji Yoshikawa and other MSDF
personnel over a series of blunders involving the MSDF, such as the
Aegis destroyer's collision with a fishing boat. He has also firmed
up his decision to announce that he will return part of his salary
as defense minister to the national treasury. Senior Vice MOD
Minister Akinori Eto and Parliamentary Secretaries Terada and
Akimoto will also return part of their salaries.

Punitive actions in relation to the collision, the leak of key data
on the Aegis vessel, and a fire on the escort ship Shirane will be
released in a package. About 80 personnel will likely be punished.
Yoshikawa will be transferred.

Regarding the collision, senior officers at the Maritime Staff
Office and Self-Defense Fleet Headquarters, as well as Masuda and
Yoshikawa, will be subject to punishment for the accident and
follow-up measures, such as a delay in reporting to Ishiba.

Regarding the intelligence leak, an MSDF major had already been
arrested and indicted on suspicion of violating the intelligence
protection law under the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and
Security. More than 50 personnel will be punished.

Concerning the fire on the Shirane, it has been found that a
combination refrigerator/warmer was brought into the Combat
Information Center without permission. The captain will be punished
for that.

6) Interim report on Aegis collision, which is to be released today,
will not mention cause of collision

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
March 21, 2008

Ryuko Tadokoro

TOKYO 00000765 005 OF 009

The Ministry of Defense (MOD) will today release an interim report
on the Maritime Self-Defense Force's (MSDF) Aegis vessel Atago's
collision, a report on the leakage of information about the Aegis
system, and a report on a fire on the destroyer Shirane. The reports
are expected to not mention the cause of the collision and the cause
of the fire on the Shirane and instead conclude that the causes
cannot be identified. By releasing the reports, the Fukuda
administration, which is losing the grip on power as seen in such
events as its failure to choose a new Bank of Japan governor before
the deadline, wants to put an end somehow to a series of misconducts
involving the MOD and dodge the opposition bloc's pursuit of the
government's responsibility. However, criticism has already been
voiced, even in the MOD, with one official arguing, "It is a
slapdash approach to release the report without identifying the

According to informed sources, the report on the Atago's collision
will neither specify the cause of the collision nor the conclusion
that the Atago was responsible for the collision. Because the
lieutenant commander who was on duty when the Atago collided with a
fishing boat and several other crewmembers also on duty at the time
are under investigation by the Japan Coast Guard, MOD has yet to
question them. So, the report will simply refer to testimonies
obtained from others and the records obtained from equipment, such
as the radar.

As for the cause of the fire on the Shirane, an internal survey
concludes that there is a strong possibility that a device that can
warm and cool, which is someone's personal belonging, was highly
likely the cause of the fire, but the report will likely conclude
that it is allowed to bring in personal belongings without obtaining
permission but that the cause of the fire is unidentified. Regarding
the leak of information about the Aegis system, the report, based on
the findings already obtained from a joint investigation by the
Kanagawa Prefectural Police and the MSDF's police, will come up with
how information was leaked out and simply point out violations of
internal rules.

By releasing the reports on three different cases, which occurred
from last year to early this year, the MOD intends to hurriedly
punish the concerned officers.

7) Ruling, opposition blocs in agreement on punishing simple
possession of child pornography

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
March 21, 2008

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the New Komeito and the
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) are aiming at amending
the Law Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child
Pornography, and for Protecting Children for the purpose of stemming
the spread of child pornography over the Internet. The LDP and the
New Komeito will seek a ban on the simple possession of child
pornography. The DPJ will also consider specific measures, setting
up a taskforce next month.

Now that the ruling and opposition camps are in agreement on banning
simple possession, moves to strengthen the regulation will likely

The law was enacted in 1999, sponsored by lawmakers. However, a ban

TOKYO 00000765 006 OF 009

on simple possession of child pornography was not incorporated out
of concern that it could escalate the range of investigative

However, among G-8 nations, only Japan and Russia do not ban the
simple possession of child pornography. According to an opinion poll
the Cabinet Office conducted in September 2007, 90.8 PERCENT of
respondents replied that the simple possession of child pornography
should be regulated. U.S. Ambassador to Japan Schieffer also asked
Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama to toughen the regulation.

New Komeito in December last year established a project team to
consider a revision of the law. The panel agreed to make simple
possession of child pornography subject to penalty. The LDP also
reached a unanimous decision to place a ban on simple possession at
a meeting of a subcommittee set up this month. A majority of
participants said that such an act should be made subject to
punishment. The LDP and the New Komeito will aim at submitting a
bill amending the law to the current Diet session.

The DPJ will hold the first meeting of the taskforce in early April.
It will aim at reaching a consensus for amending the law, after
studying the situation of child pornography and sorting out problems
with the existing law.

8) Preparatory meeting for TICAD starts; Verification of assistance
to Africa incorporated in Japan's draft declaration

ASAHI (Page 5) (Full)
March 21, 2008

Toru Tamagawa, Libreville

A ministerial-level preparatory meeting for the upcoming Tokyo
International Conference on African Development (TICAD), which Japan
will host in Yokohama City in May, yesterday kicked off in Gabon's
capital city of Libreville in West Africa. Japan unveiled for the
first time a draft of a "Yokohama Declaration," guidelines for
assistance to Africa, which Japan plans to adopt at the upcoming
TICAD. According to an official involved, the draft mentions the
need for the TICAD and the Group of Eight (G-8) Toyako Summit in
Hokkaido in July to work together, as well as a system for verifying
how assistance is implemented.

The two-day preparatory session is chaired either by Foreign
Minister Koumura or Senior Vice Foreign Minister Onodera. In the
session, details of the draft will be discussed. Onodera said in a
speech: "We will steadily reflect the results of the
ministerial-level meeting as well as the TICAD summit meeting slated
for May in future talks on development of Africa."

The draft of the Yokohama Declaration mentions the need to
accelerate economic growth through the construction of social
infrastructure and the need to establish human security backed by
peace and development. The draft also refers to climate change and
calls on participants to support the "Cool Earth 50," a concept put
up by the Japanese government.

Regarding Japan's policy of attaching importance to economic growth,
critical views were voiced by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
with one NGO member arguing: "It will only benefit the government
and a portion of the wealthy people. It will not save a large number

TOKYO 00000765 007 OF 009

of Africans suffering from poverty."

9) Assistant Secretary of State Hill positive about resuming
trilateral talks among Japan, U.S., ROK before next round of
six-party talks

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
March 21, 2008


U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, America's chief
delegate to the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue,
on March 19 met the press and indicated he hopes to resume
trilateral talks among the chief negotiators in the six-party talks
from Japan, the Untied States, and South Korea. Japan and South
Korea are also positive about resuming such talks. Hill predicted:
"The three countries' representatives will meet before the next
round of the six-party talks."

10) Government paying close attention to Taiwan's presidential

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
March 21, 2008

The Japanese government is now watching with mixed feelings how
Taiwan's president election, which will take place tomorrow, will
turn out. The government is paying close attention to it because
speculation has been rife that depending on the results of the race,
Taiwan might distance itself from Japan, while moving closer to

A dead heat is now being carried out between two candidates: Ma
Ying-jeou of the opposition Nationalist Party, who advocates a
policy of holding a dialogue with China, and Frank Hsieh of the
ruling Democratic Progressive Party, a former premier, who favors
Taiwan's independence. The Japanese government's formal position is
that Japan hopes that the stability of Taiwan Strait will be
maintained, according to the Foreign Ministry.

From this viewpoint, for Japan, it is desirable that Ma will win the
race. Although Hsieh is believed to be more moderate than incumbent
President Chen Shui-bian, he sticks to his view that Taiwan should
join the United Nations under the name of Taiwan.

However, Hsieh studied at Kyoto University and speaks Japanese. He
is a Japan expert. When he visited Japan at the end of last year, he
stressed: "Japan and the United States are most important friends of
Taiwan. We need to come up with common defense goals and build a
relationship with common interests."

Meanwhile, Ma studied at Harvard University and is a U.S.
specialist. He has an historical view of the war that is close to
that of China. He criticized visits to Yasukuni Shrine by then Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi. A source familiar with Japan-Taiwan
relations said: "Ties between Taiwan and China and between Taiwan
and the U.S. will be even closer," if Ma is elected. With this in
mind, when Ma visited Japan last fall, he met with lawmakers from
the ruling and opposition parties. He tried to erase his image of
being anti-Japanese.

TOKYO 00000765 008 OF 009

Japan does not expect that the movement in Taiwan for becoming an
independent state will accelerate. It also does not want to see
close ties between Taiwan and China upset the balance in Japan's
relations with China, the U.S., and Taiwan. Therefore, government
officials intend to pay close attention to the movements of the new

11) Government agonizing over how to deal with Tibetan issue,
finding it hard to take wait-and-see attitude toward human right
issue; Incident could affect President Hu's Japan visit

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
March 21, 2008

The government is agonizing over how to respond to the series of
riots in Tibet. It basically takes the view that the incident is
China's internal problem. However, if the riots do not subside,
China is bound to come under international criticism in connection
with human rights violations. The matter could affect President Hu
Jintao's Japan visit slated for early May.

The government asked Beijing to allow officials at the Japanese
Embassy in Beijing to enter the area of the riot from the standpoint
of protecting Japanese nationals. However, Beijing did not comply
with the request, citing that the incident is a domestic issue.
Foreign Minister Koumura made a statement criticizing China:
"Although it is an internal problem, it is only natural for the
international community to take interest in human rights issues.
China should be more transparent about its own account, as well."

The U.S., which takes a harsh stance toward human rights issues, has
indicated its concern over the situation. However, it is still
watching how the situation will develop, according to a Foreign
Ministry source. The EU is expected to discuss the possibility of
boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games at a
foreign ministerial meeting later in the month. If the situation
worsens, international opinion will likely stiffen at once.

The government by all means wants to avoid a situation in which Hu's
visit takes place while the unrest in Tibet is continuing. If the
government takes a tepid approach toward Hu at such a time, it could
come under international criticism. On the other hand, if it takes a
harsh stance, it could strain bilateral relations, as happened in
the cases of the issue of gas-field development in the East China
Sea and the tainted Chinese-made frozen gyoza dumpling incident.

For this reason, Foreign Minister Koumura intends to bring up this
issue at a meeting with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is
scheduled to visit Japan in mid-April, and directly ask the Chinese
government to peacefully resolve the situation in Tibet. However,
with the Chinese side indicating no signs of softening its stance,
Koumura revealed his distress, "With President Hu's Japan visit
close at hand, to what extent Japan should toughen its stance is a
difficult issue."

12) Ruling coalition members appear to be distancing selves from
Prime Minister Fukuda, criticizing him for handling of BOJ chief
appointment, willingness to compromise on highway tax revenues

KIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
March 21, 2008

TOKYO 00000765 009 OF 009

The cohesiveness of the government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is
starting to unravel. Some members of the government and ruling
parties are now criticizing the prime minister for the way he
handled the issue of selecting a candidate for the next governor of
the Bank of Japan. Ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers
with vested interested in road construction projects are now
expressing distrust of Fukuda for his response to consultations on a
revision of the government-drafted bills on highway tax revenues. If
the trend of LDP members distancing themselves from Fukuda picks up
speed, the political situation might become fluid at the end of this
month when the provisional gasoline tax law will expire.

Yesterday morning, Yosano Kaoru, a former chief cabinet secretary,
and Hidenao Nakagawa, a former LDP secretary general, called
separately at the Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei). They
seemed to have exchanged views with Fukuda on such issues as the
appointment of new BOJ governor and highway tax revenues.

After his meeting with the prime minister, asked by reporters about
his view on the vacancy of the top seat at the central bank,
Nakagawa tacitly criticized the Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ)
response, saying: "The prime minister is taking the situation
seriously. The situation is not the prime minister's

It is the fact, though, that many in the government and ruling camp
are pointing the finger of blame at the prime minister. The reason
is that Fukuda after putting it off until March 18, finally picked
as his candidate for the BOJ governorship Koji Tanami, who also had
served in the Finance Ministry as did Toshiro Muto, whose nomination
had been earlier rejected by the largest opposition party for that

Gen Nakatani of the Tanigaki faction told the press on March 19: "He
should have held prior consultations." In a meeting of the Ibuki
faction, headed by Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki, views questing
Fukuda's handling the matter were raised. A former cabinet minister
said: "The prime minister cannot read the atmosphere."


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