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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 03/26/08

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 11 TOKYO 000826

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: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 03/26/08


Index:

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

Political gridlock:
4) Gasoline price at the pump seems certain to drop as tax law
expires (Asahi)
5) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) not giving in an inch in stance
opposing tax bills (Yomiuri)
6) Gasoline stand assistance planned during the period when prices
will be in flux (Nikkei)
7) Prime Minister Fukuda's feud with DPJ President Ozawa continues
to grow as clashes over issues in the Diet continue (Nikkei)
8) Fukuda's own political base eroding as road-policy clique in the
Diet becomes more frustrated over expiring road-related tax bills
(Tokyo Shimbun)
9) Decision on next candidate for Bank of Japan governor likely to
come in early April (Yomiuri)
10) Fukuda faces new headache as the DPJ is likely to oppose the
candidate to head the Personnel Agency, as well (Tokyo Shimbun)

11) In Asahi interview, new Australian premier seeks diplomatic
solution to the whaling issue (Asahi)

Defense and security issues:
12) Three opposition parties drafting SOFA revision agree that USFJ
should hand over all U.S. military suspects before indictment
(Asahi)
13) Fukuda expresses intention to submit a permanent SDF overseas
dispatch bill to the Diet during the current session (Mainichi)
14) Government planning to dispatch SDF to various countries to
train personnel in peacekeeping skills (Asahi)

Foreign aid:
15) Government to assist Vietnam by training 1,000 scholars (Asahi)

16) LDP proposes expansion of TICAD-related ODA to Africa (Asahi)
17) MOFA to send actress Mayu Tsuruta to Sudan for TICAD public
relations (Asahi)

Articles:

1) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi:
Gasoline prices likely to fall; Provisional tax rates to expire

Mainichi:
Survey on metabolic checkups: Local governments cold toward
mandatory examinations

Yomiuri:
High school textbooks to become more difficult from 2009 after
cram-free education policy scrapped

Nikkei:
KDDI, Panasonic and other major corporations to review corporate
pension funds for higher yields

Sankei:

TOKYO 00000826 002 OF 011


Interview with former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui: No momentum
for unification of China and Taiwan

Tokyo Shimbun:
Supreme Court rejects retrial plea by Hakamada

Akahata:
JCP demands Ishihara's resignation over Shinginko Tokyo mess

2) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) Two party heads must make decision on revisions to road tax
revenues
(2) Is NHK an organ of state propaganda?

Mainichi:
(1) Governor, assembly must take responsibility for Shinginko Tokyo
(2) Amending Antimonopoly Law: Consumers must come first

Yomiuri:
(1) Clock running out for provisional gas tax rate
(2) Former Huser president found guilty

Nikkei:
(1) Political feud at cost of national livelihood unacceptable
(2) Former Huser head found guilty of falsifying
earthquake-resistance data

Sankei:
(1) Think twice before injecting additional funds into Shinginko
Tokyo
(2) Olympic torch relay: Dialogue should replace iron fist

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Ruling on fake condo data leaves many challenges
(2) Land price disparity expanding

Akahata:
(1) Fukuda administration must change policy course

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, March 25

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
March 26, 2008

08:46
Attended cabinet meeting at the Diet building.

09:51
Met at Kantei with Lower House member Yasufumi Tanahashi.

10:31
Met Central Institute of Politics President Ono.

11:00
Met with the ASEAN secretary general.

12:57
Met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Futahashi.

TOKYO 00000826 003 OF 011

14:50
Met with Vice Justice Minister Ozu.

15:11
Met with Ambassador in charge of Okinawa Affairs Imai and North
American Affairs Bureau chief Nishimiya. Met later with Nikkei
President Sugita and Managing Director Akiyama, followed by Deputy
Foreign Minister Sasae.

16:30
Met with LDP Foreign Affairs Research Commission Chairman Yamasaki
and Security Research Commission Chairman Nakatani.

17:19
Attended education reform meeting.

20:10
Returned to his official residence.

4) Gasoline prices likely to fall; Provisional tax rates to expire

ASAHI (Top play) (Abridged slightly)
March 26, 2008

With the provisional tax rates on gasoline and other products
scheduled to expire at the end of March, it now seems inevitable
that those rates will be scrapped temporality. The ruling and
opposition camps failed to break the deadlock in talks yesterday,
and it is now certain that deliberations in the House of Councillors
on tax-related bills including an extension of the provisional rates
will slip to April. With the ruling and opposition blocs remaining
wide apart over the road-related tax revenues, revision talks for
the enactment of the bills in the current fiscal year are also
likely to fizzle. The view is gaining ground in the ruling bloc that
the provisional rates must be reinstated early by taking a second
vote in the House of Representatives in late April. The focus is now
shifting to an April political scenario.

The gasoline tax is imposed when shipping, so it is likely to take
10 days for the market prices to fall. At the same time, there is a
possibility that some retailers will lower the prices starting on
April 1. The price of light oil, on which the tax is imposed when
selling, will drop on April 1. Without the provisional tax rates,
the central and local governments will lose 200 billion yen a month
in road revenues. The ruling camp has begun studying ways to make up
for the local governments' revenue shortfall.

The focus will be whether to take a second vote in the Lower House
in order to reinstate the provisional rates once they expire. Even
if the Upper House does not bring the tax-related bills to a vote,
the 60-day rule allows the Lower House to take another vote on April
29. The view is prevalent in the ruling bloc that taking a second
vote is the only way to prevent the lowered tax rates from being in
place beyond one month.

If the Lower House readopts the bills, the major opposition
Democratic Party of Japan intends to submit a censure motion against
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. Depending on how public trends shift,
the ruling camp might not be able to take a second vote, thus
dealing a greater blow to the Fukuda administration.


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In yesterday's meeting of Diet affairs chiefs of the ruling and
opposition camps, the LDP's Tadamori Oshima pressed the opposition
bloc to abide by the agreement to reach a certain conclusion within
this fiscal year. The DPJ's Kenji Yamaoka brushed aside Oshima's
argument, saying: "The ruling camp has thrown it into the
wastebasket, railroading (budget and other legislations) through the
Diet on February 29." Yamaoka proposed that each party discuss
revisions to the bills. The ruling camp proposed beginning
deliberations in an Upper House plenary session on March 26, but the
opposition camp did not agree to it. An Upper House plenary session
is not likely to open until March 28. It seems difficult for a
committee to begin discussing the legislation before March 31.

The idea is also circulating in the government to revive a stopgap
bill, submitted in January to extend the duration of the tax-related
bills. A high-ranking government official last night expressed his
hope for a revival of the bills. Nevertheless, unless the Upper
House votes down the legislation early, the stopgap bill will not be
able to clear the Diet before March 31.

5) DPJ remains hard-line on tax-related bills, refusing start of
talks within this fiscal year

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
March 26, 2008

The ruling and opposition camps continued coordination yesterday in
an effort to put to vote the government's tax code bills, including
one amending the Special Taxation Measures Law to maintain the
current provisional gasoline tax rate. But both sides failed to find
common ground. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has not backed
down on its tough stance of aiming to scrap the provisional tax
rate. The main opposition party informed the ruling camp of its plan
to refuse the start of deliberations on the bills within this fiscal
year.

Liberal Democratic Party's House of Councillors Diet Affairs
Committee Chairman Seiji Suzuki met his DPJ counterpart Susumu
Yanase in the Diet Building yesterday and asked that the DPJ should
agree to start deliberations on the tax-related bills at an Upper
House plenary session today. But Yanase refused it, saying: "Our top
priority is to end the provisional tax rate, so we will not respond
to starting deliberations within this fiscal year."

LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Tadamori Oshima and his DPJ
counterpart Kenji Yamaoka met yesterday afternoon, based on a
request made by House of Representatives Speaker Kono on March 24.
Yamaoka insisted that the government should give priority to the
DPJ's counterproposal that excludes seven special measures,
including the exemption of taxation on land transactions, from the
bill amending the Special Taxation Measures Law and pass it by the
end of this fiscal year. But Oshima said that the DPJ should promise
to take a vote on the government-sponsored amendment bill that
includes the measure to maintain the provision gasoline tax rate in
the Upper House within this fiscal year.

6) Measures to help gas stations: Ruling parties mulling
compensating oil retailers for revenue shortfall caused by
expiration of provisional gas tax rate

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
March 26, 2008

TOKYO 00000826 005 OF 011

The ruling parties yesterday started looking into measures to
provide relief to gas stations in readiness for an abolition of the
provisional gas tax rate starting in April. The cardinal feature of
envisaged measures is protecting retailers from incurring losses in
the event in which they are forced to sell gasoline they had
purchased before the expiration of the provisional gas tax rate that
would lower prices starting April 1. The likelihood is that the
government will compensate oil dealers for the revenue shortfall
that the expiration would cause.

The amount of gasoline eligible for compensation would be
determined, based on self-reported data. The period of compensation
will be until the stocks of oil retailers purchased before an
expiration of the provisional tax rate run out. Details will be
worked out later.

The ruling parties intend to adopt relief measures similar to the
Democratic Party of Japan's counterproposal. If it becomes certain
that gasoline prices become cheaper, the ruling parties will
complete the required consolidation of the legal base by the end of
March.

7) Party heads take no action, deepening division

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
March 26, 2008

Prime Minister: Little room for making concessions to DPJ

The battle between the ruling and opposition camps over the
provisional tax rate for special-purpose road construction revenues
has gone into the homestretch. At the same time, Prime Minister
Yasuo Fukuda, president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) President Ichiro Ozawa
have steered clear of playing up their stance on the issue on the
front stage. Are they determined to take no action? Or are they
unable to take action? With the division in the relationship of
trust between the two party heads deepening further, a scenario in
which the ruling and opposition camps suddenly reach an agreement
has failed.

The prime minister yesterday expressed to reporters his impatience
with the DPJ, which has been rejecting his call for revision talks:
"To be honest, I do not understand why they are rejecting my
proposal. I don't have even a clue at this stage." Former LDP
Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa in a speech yesterday lamented

SIPDIS
the present state of relations between Fukuda and Ozawa, noting,
"There is an impression that the mess over the selection of BOJ
governor has destroyed relations of mutual trust between them."

The prime minister is still eager to hold party head talks. That is
because he strongly believes that having a dialogue with the DPJ is
essential in order for his administration to achieve satisfactory
results in the divided Diet. He once again said yesterday, "It is
important for us to establish a discourse-based relationship."
However, his strategy of nestling up to Ozawa has run into a stone
wall, with Ozawa returning to a confrontational stand.

The predominant view is that swallowing the DPJ proposal would be
the only way to reach an agreement with that party on the issue of
revising road funds-related bills. However, chances are that if the

TOKYO 00000826 006 OF 011


prime minister decides to abolish the provisional rate, influential
members of the road policy clique in the Diet, including General
Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai and Election Committee Chairman
Makoto Koga, would start internally criticizing the prime minister.

Ozawa: Determined to confront prime minister with eye on party
presidential election

With the abolition of the provisional gas tax rate looking like it
may become reality, DPJ President Ozawa is visibly intensifying his
all-out attack mode. Referring to the past six months since the
inauguration of the Fukuda administration, he lashed out at Fukuda
at a press conference yesterday, "There have been no cases in which
the prime minister has implemented policies that brought out his own
ideas and principles to the forefront." Referring to the prime
minister's statement that he did not have a clue about Ozawa's
rejection of holding revision talks, Ozawa rebutted, "I don't
understand his stance as the president of the ruling party."

Ozawa also emphasized, "The prime minister said that the DPJ is
rejecting his call for talks. This utterly goes against the facts."
However, contrary to this statement, the discourse-based vision
reached between Ozawa and Fukuda, which has been in place since
their party head talks last fall, has disappeared completely.

8) Top post of National Personnel Authority may also be left vacant

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Abridged)
March 26, 2008

For the top post of the National Personnel Authority (NPA), the
government submitted to the Diet a plan to reappoint President
Masahito Tani. Following this, the Lower and Upper House Steeling
Committees will hold hearings with Tani regarding his policy stance
today. But the Democratic Party of Japan has yet to determine its
response.

The NPA is an independent administrative organization that performs
such duties as recommending salaries for national public servants
and implementing employment tests for such servants. Candidates for
the three top special posts requires Diet approval. One of the three
will be appointed to become NPA president.

Since Tani's term is set to expire on April 4, the government has
decided to reappoint him.

The two chambers of the Diet will take a vote on Tani's nomination
at their plenary sessions on March 28. The DPJ intends to make a
judgment after listening to his policy view. Four years ago,
however, the main opposition party raised opposition to the
appointment of Tani as NPA president.

The DPJ rejected the government's plan to promote former Bank of
Japan (BOJ) Deputy Governor Toshiro Muto to become BOJ governor. As
the main reason for its disagreement, the party cited that it had
opposed Muto's appointment as deputy governor five years ago.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura emphasized: "His
activities over the past four years should be evaluated." Given that
the ruling and opposition camps remain at loggerheads over the
gasoline tax and other issues, there is no guarantee that the DPJ
will give approval without a fuss.

TOKYO 00000826 007 OF 011

9) DPJ President Ozawa: New BOJ governor should be appointed in
early April

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
March 26, 2008

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa revealed the
view in a press conference yesterday that the government should
secure Diet approval of its nominee for the new governor of the Bank
of Japan to appoint the new governor before the BOJ holds a meeting
to decide its monetary policy slated for April 8-9. Referring to the
G7 conference of the finance ministers and central bank governors,
which is expected to take place in mid-April in Washington, Ozawa
said: "It is desirable that the BOJ governor will go there. We must
not make fools of the international community by playing up Japan's
uniqueness."

Asked about his view on the first six months of the Fukuda
government, Ozawa pointed out: "I have never seen such scenes before
as Prime Minister Fukuda's pushing his views, assertions and
policies all on his own decision."

Regarding Fukuda's criticism of the DPJ's response to Diet affairs,
Ozawa noted: "I want the (the prime minister) to accurately
acknowledge that his cabinet is only concerned with one of the two
Diet chambers."

10) DPJ lawmakers connected to road projects see Prime Minister
Fukuda's political footing weakening

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
March 26, 2008

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers who specialize in
highway construction affairs (doro-zoku) in the Diet have maintained
their opposition to any significant concession to the main
opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on the government
legislation amending the Special Taxation Measures Law that includes
an extension of the provisional tax on gasoline. Those LDP
road-policy specialists assume that Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
lacks the capability to consolidate talks and would make a decision
drastically revising the legislation.

A prominent LDP lawmaker connected to highway construction interests
rejected any compromise with the largest opposition party, saying:
"We must just push ahead..."

The highway clique in the Diet has strongly opposed: 1) an immediate
scrapping of the provisional tax rates; and 2) integrating the
special account from road-related taxes into general revenue funds.
They succeeded in making the ruling coalition incorporate the
wording that necessary road maintenance and improvement would be
steadily implemented in the revised bill the policy chiefs of the
ruling parties presented to the opposition on March 21.

LDP Election Committee Chairman Makoto Koga, the so-called "don" of
the highway-policy clique, took part on March 23 in the marathon
race to commemorate the opening of Ariake Sea coastal road in
Fukuoka, his home constituency. He there said: "(Road construction)
is necessary for future generations." On the 25tg, as well, he
discussed the matter with General Council Chairman Toshiro Nikai,

TOKYO 00000826 008 OF 011


who is also a highway-clique member, for more than one hour.

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi branded those lawmakers as
"forces of resistance." Under the Koizumi government, therefore,
they were forced to play the role of villains.

The former Koizumi government maintained a nearly 50 PERCENT
support rate even in its final period. Koizumi carried out
structural reform by suppressing the highway-policy clique with his
strong grip on the party following his landslide victory in the 2005
House or Representatives election. So, the highway clique had no
choice but to accept his policy of reallocating highway tax revenues
for other uses.

However, the LDP's factions, excluding the Aso faction, are now in
the highway-clique's corner. Under such circumstances, if the Fukuda
government regards the highway policy clique as "a force of
resistance," its political footing would collapse at a stroke. In
addition, the Fukuda cabinet's support rate has been declining.
Fukuda's momentum is increasingly weakening.

A senior DPJ member said: "If the prime minister fails to make a
decision on the abolishing of the provisional tax rates and the
integration of the special account of road taxes into the general
account, the public will ditch him."

It would appear that the circumstances now allow the highway-policy
specialists to keep their hard-line stance in the party.

But if that situation plays out, the daily lives of the people will
be affected when gasoline prices drop and the provisional tax rates
expire.

11) Australian prime minister expresses eagerness to resolve whaling
issue through diplomatic efforts

ASAHI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
March 26, 2008

(Sugii, Kono, Canberra)

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who returned the reins of
government to the Labor Party for the first time in 11 years in the
presidential election last November, responded to an interview to
Asahi Shimbun chief editor Yoichi Funahashi at his office in
Canberra on March 25. Commenting on the ongoing dispute between
Japan and Australia over the whaling issue, Rudd expressed his
eagerness to try to resolve the issue through diplomatic efforts,
instead of filing a complaint with the International Court of
Justice or other international court. He said: "I am optimistic
about resolving the issue through diplomatic efforts." Rudd
emphasized that the relationship with Japan is "indisputably one of
the key relations for the Australian government," indicating that he
gives priority to relations with Japan under the context of the
framework of cooperation between Japan, the U.S., and Australia on
the security front.

It was the first time for Rudd to respond to an interview to a
Japanese news company since he came into office last December.

Rudd, who put forth in his election campaign the policy of opposing
whaling activities, remains tough about the subject, as seen in his

TOKYO 00000826 009 OF 011


mobilization of a customs vessel to chase a Japanese whaling ship.
In the interview, Rudd also stressed: "It should be made clear
whether research whaling is categorized as scientific research or
commercial acts." He restated the Australian government's criticism
of Japan's research whaling as commercial. He added: "This is a very
difficult issue."

Asked about the cooperative framework in the security area involving
Japan, the U.S., and Australia, which was strengthened in the days
of the former Howard administration, the prime minister praised it,
saying: "The mechanism will be in our nation's national interest."
He then stressed his willingness to maintain the framework also in
the future. But he indicated a negative view about the former Prime
Minister Abe's proposal on a four-nation cooperative framework that
also would include India.

12) Three opposition parties work out SOFA revision plan for
pre-indictment turnover

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
March 26, 2008

Three opposition parties-the Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto),
the Social Democratic Party, and the People's New Party-worked out a
plan yesterday for revisions to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces
Agreement (SOFA). The plan proposes turning over pre-indictment
suspects to Japanese investigative authorities and applying the
Alien Registration Law to off-base U.S. military personnel and other
SOFA-status personnel. The three parties will hold a meeting of
their secretaries general this week to concur on the plan and will
call for the government to enter into negotiations with the United
States for SOFA revisions.

In addition, the three parties will propose requiring U.S. forces to
submit a base use plan every eight years and will also call for the
government to specify that the United States is environmentally
responsible for restoring base sites to the original state. "The
SOFA currently gives too many privileged exemptions," Kantoku
Teruya, an SDP House of Representatives member, said. With this,
Teruya insisted on the necessity of revising SOFA provisions.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura rebutted yesterday, "I think it's
possible to deal well with everything by improving its
implementation."

13) Gov't to submit bill at current Diet session for permanent SDF
dispatch law

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Abridged)
March 26, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda yesterday met at his office with Taku
Yamasaki, a former vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic
Party, and Gen Nakatani, chair of the LDP's Research Commission on
Security, and agreed to present a bill to the Diet during the
current session that would become a permanent law allowing Japan to
send the Self-Defense Forces for overseas missions as needed. "We
want to work out this legislation during the current Diet session,"
Fukuda told reporters that evening. "Especially," Fukuda added, "the
Democratic Party of Japan has been insisting on the need for this
legislation, so I'd like to do it." With this, Fukuda stressed his
willingness to enact a permanent law for SDF activities overseas.

TOKYO 00000826 010 OF 011

14) Japan mulling sending SDF personnel as instructors for PKO
training, but dispatching SDF personnel to Sudan difficult

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
March 26, 2008

Akihiro Yamada, Keiichi Kaneko

The government has begun discussion on dispatching Self-Defense
Forces (SDF) personnel as instructors to training centers for United
Nations peacekeeping operations (PKOs) established in each country.
The purpose is to play up Japan's international contributions ahead
of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD)
and the Group of Eight (G-8) Toyako Summit in Hokkaido. So far the
Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) and the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (MOFA) have been looking into the possibility of
sending SDF personnel to Southern Sudan, but the Ministry of Defense
(MOD) has insisted it would be difficult to send anyone to Sudan at
this time. Instead, the government apparently has now made up its
mind to send SDF personnel to the PKO training centers established
in each country.

The training centers serve as a facility to teach military personnel
and police officers "know-how" about peace-keeping operations.
According to MOD and MOFA, Japan is considering Egypt, Ghana, Kenya,
Mali, Rwanda, India, and Malaysia as candidate countries to send a
couple of SDF personnel as instructors. Japan will arrange the terms
of their stay in those countries to meet local needs. Dispatching
SDF personnel as instructors will not strictly fall under the
category of PKO activities, so it will not be subject to the five
PKO principles.

Defense Minister Ishiba revealed at a news conference after a
cabinet meeting yesterday: "Discussion is underway among the
relevant ministries and agencies." Foreign Minister Koumura, as
well, said in a speech delivered yesterday: "I am positive about
discussing how to extend cooperation to Asia and Africa in a
multifaceted manner."

In his Diet policy speech in January, Prime Minister Fukuda said,
"Japan will work hard for common benefits to the region as well as
the world," and he declared that he would aim to "remold Japan into
a state that will focus on peace and cooperation." As part of this
policy, a proposal to dispatch SDF personnel for PKO in line with a
peace accord that ended the civil war in Sudan is also being floated
in the government. Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura said at a press
conference on March 5: "We want to discuss with the Sudanese
government and relevant bureaus what kind of human cooperation,
including a dispatch of SDF personnel, might be possible."

Security in Southern Sudan is said to be relatively stable, but a
war for natural resources has recently cast a pall on security in
the region; as a result, the government still remains unable to
decide its attitude as to whether to dispatch SDF personnel to that
country.

15) Japan offers 1,000-Ph. D. program in aid to Vietnam

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
March 26, 2008


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Japan and Vietnam yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding on
a project to enroll about 1,000 Vietnamese youths in Japanese
graduate schools by 2020 for doctorates. The program will use
Japan's official development assistance (ODA) budget.

Foreign Minister Koumura yesterday met with Vietnamese Deputy Prime
Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan at the Foreign Ministry. Nguyen said,
"More people will understand Japanese culture through the program."
Koumura responded, "This program will bridge our two nations, and
we'd like to cooperate."

16) LDP proposes increasing ODA toward Africa ahead of TICAD

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
March 26, 2008

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) joint division on
foreign affairs yesterday came up with a set of proposals featured
by expanding official development assistance (ODA) to Africa with an
eye on the upcoming the 4th Tokyo International Conference on
African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama City in May. Despite the
government's fiscal difficulties that have resulted in cuts in the
ODA budget, the proposals call on the government to except African
countries from those countries whose ODA will be reduced over the
next five years.

Regarding ODA toward Africa, the proposals point out the need to
discuss a new framework that can offer ODA on a priority basis to
countries where ODA produced good results. The proposals also call
for setting numerical targets.

17) MOFA to send actress Mayu Tsuruta to Sudan

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
March 26, 2008

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday announced that
actress Mayu Tsuruta, who serves as a goodwill ambassador to the
Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), will
be sent to the southern part of Sudan. Tsuruta will visit Japanese
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working in the region and make
good use of her public-relations experience on behalf of TICAD.
Tsuruta will be touring the region from March 27 through April 5.

SIPDIS

SCHIEFFER

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