Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 03/26/08

DE RUEHKO #0835/01 0862254
P 262254Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Interim report on Aegis destroyer's collision accident brings
chain of blunders to light (Asahi)

(2) Hegemony adrift (Part 1): North Korea exports arms to Ethiopia;
Putting high priority on fight against Al Qaeda, U.S. winks at
contradictions (Mainichi)

(3) China's multilateral diplomacy: "Fighting spirit" exposed

(4) Interview with Australian Prime Minister Rudd by Yoichi
Funabashi: Why is he bypassing Japan on his first overseas trip
since taking office? (Asahi)


(1) Interim report on Aegis destroyer's collision accident brings
chain of blunders to light

ASAHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
March 22, 2008

Crewmen aboard the Aegis-equipped destroyer spotted the lights of
fishing boats more than 30 minutes before the collision, and yet the
vessel was left on autopilot. An interim report on the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's (MSDF) Aegis destroyer Atago's collision with
the trawler Seitoku Maru, released on March 21 by the Ministry of
Defense (MOD), reveals such details of the accident. According to
the report, more than one crewman recognized that several trawlers
were approaching the ship, and yet the atmosphere among them did not
grow tense. Even the action to avoid the collision was not taken
until just before it happened. Though the contents of the report are
somewhat fragmentary with consideration given to a possible impact
on the ongoing investigation, it has further clarified the
possibility that the Aegis destroyer was unable to avoid the
accident due to crewmen's optimistic perception toward the situation
and a number of errors in judgment.

Group of fishing boats spotted more than 30 minutes before
collision: Many opportunities that could have prevented collision

There were many opportunities for the Atago to move to accommodate
the group of fishing boats, including the Seitoku Maru. A crewman on
duty spotted white lights above the horizon 30 degrees to the right
around 3:30 a.m., 37 minutes before the collision. He reported it to
a duty officer.

Another crewman on watch also identified three or four red lights
9-11 kilometers away to the right side. White lights are mast lights
and red lights are portside lights. If red lights are seen on the
right side, the two ships would inevitably be crossing paths,
provided that they continued their planned routes. However, this
crewman on duty did not report any information about it to a duty
officer, judging that there would be no danger.

Another opportunity that could have prevented the accident came nine
minutes before the collision. A crewman on duty after the
replacement noticed three red lights by observation about five
kilometers away at an angle of 30-40 degrees to the right. Shoji
Masuda, manager of the Planning and International Affairs Department

TOKYO 00000835 002 OF 010

of the Japan Sea Marine Accident Prevention Association and former
senior Japan Coast Guard (JCG) officer, pointed out the problem:
"When the Atago crewmen spotted red lights five kilometers away from
the ship, they should have continued monitoring the ships without
interruption with the possibility of a collision in mind. It was
also necessary for the duty officer to give orders, including
letting the watchman confirm (the location of the ships) using a
radar. But the report does not indicate that any such action was

This watchman also confirmed another white light and reported on
information about it to the duty officer. He was asked to confirm
the report by the Combat Information Center (CIC) about 3 minutes
before the collision. He then once again reported on the information
to the duty officer. This crewman saw a left-moving white light in
the 30 degrees direction to the right. The report notes that while
this watchman was confirming the white lights, he looked away from
the target that was moving toward the left.

Masuda sees that the last chance that could have prevented the
collision came about a minute before the accident, when the watchman
noticed two ships moving 500 meters away from the ship in the 20
degrees direction to the right. The Atago was then presumably
running at a speed of approximately 320 meters per minute. and the
fishing boat at a speed of about 460 meters per minute. Masuda
wondered whether the collision could have been avoided, even if the
Atago had immediately taken action to avoid the ship.

At that time, the tension finally mounted on the bridge. The duty
officer said, "This fishing boat is coming close to us." One
watchman headed toward the lookout on the starboard side of the
bridge. The fishing boat that appeared to be the Seitoku Maru
approached up to 100-70 meters to the right. The duty officer
conducted an emergency stop and ordered crewmen to reverse the ship.
However, it was too late.

The interim report also highlights problems of the lookout
arrangement of the Atago. Lookouts are located at both sides of the
bridge. However, since it was raining that day, crewmen on duty were
inside the bridge. Former Rear Admiral Watanabe, who once served as
captain of a destroyer, noted, "Basically, crewmen on duty perform
their duty outside, wearing rain gear, even if it is rainy. They
should have conducted their duty outside the bridge, since they were
navigating home waters, where there are many ships running."

The Atago is equipped with three radars to identity ships running
nearby -- one on the bridge and two in the CIC. Seven lookouts were
supposed to be on duty, but only 3-4 crewmen were actually on duty
before the replacement without permission. As a result, there were
times when there were no radar controllers attending either of the
two radars in the CIC.

There were seven crewmen on duty after the replacement. The interim
report notes that the investigations conducted thus far have
obtained no information confirming that crewmen realized that the
Seitoku Maru registered on the radar screens."

Sloppy replacement procedures: No indication of crewmen realizing

Third Regional Coast Guard Headquarters (3rd RCGH) is carrying out
an investigation into the accident. One focus of the investigation

TOKYO 00000835 003 OF 010

is how the "danger" was reported at the time of the replacement.
There were 24 crewmen on duty at the time of the collision -- 11 on
the bridge, seven in the CIC and six in the wheel house.

A crewmen who went up the bridge at 3:56 a.m. testified that he
received a report during the replacement noting that a crewmen who
was on duty before him saw several red lights (on the portside of
the boat) in the 20-50 degrees direction to the right, but judged
there would be no danger, because the boat was moving behind the

This personnel also testified that since the boat was spotted by
observation, he assumed that the duty officer was also aware of the
boat and therefore did not report on information about it to the
duty officer. His testimony confirms that he did not feel any

Given the results of hearings from about 70 crewmen, excluding duty
officers, their testimonies had no indications that they felt a
danger of a possible collision, even though they realized red and
white lights of the fishing boat by observation.

Report was made 16 minutes after accident: "Could have been

Were the search and rescue work and the notification system
appropriate? It is said that MSDF educates warship crewmen to give
top priority to rescue work. The interim report reveals how the
Atago captain and crewmen responded to the accident.

The Atago reported the accident to the JCG at 4:23 or 16 minutes
after the accident. A crewmen who reported the accident to the JCG
entered the bridge five minutes after he got up and notified 3rd
RCGH of the accident, after confirming the time of the collision and
the location of the boat. The interim report notes that if this
lookout had immediately reported just on the fact of the collision,
the time taken for the relaying of information could have been

The captain left the bridge around 6:00 p.m. on the 18th and entered
his office after dinner. He took a nap from around 0:30 a.m. He was
still taking a nap at the time of the collision. He reportedly said,
"I woke up around 4:00 a.m. and learned the accident though an
announcement in the vessel."

MOD Minister Ishiba received a report on the accident about 90
minutes after the accident. This has led to a revision to the
information transmission system in the event of an emergency.
However, the interim report this time does not mention it at all.

(2) Hegemony adrift (Part 1): North Korea exports arms to Ethiopia;
Putting high priority on fight against Al Qaeda, U.S. winks at

MAINICHI (Top play and Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
March 25, 2008

By Keiichi Shirato, Addis Ababa

An arms factory named Hormat Engineering Factory sits at some 135
kilometers west of Ethiopia's capital of Addis Ababa. According to a
female off-duty soldier attached to a checkpoint near the factory,

TOKYO 00000835 004 OF 010

approximately 200 Ethiopian and North Korean live-in engineers and
employees work there. The factory was build during the Mengistu
socialist administration (1974-1991) with assistance from North
Korea. After the Mengistu administration collapsed, a decision was
made to turn the factory into a household goods factory. Following
the territorial conflict with Eritrea in 1998-2000 in which Eritrea
won independence from Ethiopia, yet another decision was made to
rebuild it as an arms factory. North Korea undertook the rebuilding
project and provided military supplies.

Situated inland, Ethiopia has no seaport. In landing military
supplies from North Korea, three ports in Somaliland, which has
declared independent of Somalia, were used for a total of four times
between January and July 2007, according to Somaliland authorities.

At one of the three ports of the Saylac district, unloading work was
conducted in a curfew under strict surveillance by Ethiopian
soldiers and agents.

A nearby resident said:

"There was something like a liquid storage tank. After the work, air
smelled like eggs and some residents showed cold-like symptoms for
two weeks."

Military supplies from North Korea were also unloaded at two
districts in the suburb of Somaliland's largest city of Barbera and
were transported to the factory in Ethiopia by rail.

Obtaining information via diplomatic channels that Ethiopia was
importing arms from North Korea, the United States and Britain
hurried to confirm it. Eritrean Ambassador to Japan Estifanos
indicated that chemical weapons were also included in the shipments
from North Korea.

Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) has concluded that the
supplies from North Korea were most likely raw materials for
conventional weapons using phosphorus that can easily be mistaken
for chemical weapons. They think the factory in Ethiopia is a
facility to produce yellow phosphorus smoke bombs, rocket bombs, and
fire arms.

The Ethiopian government released a statement on April 13, 2007,
admitting that North Korean cargo ships had transported to Ethiopia
machine components and raw materials for small arms ammunition for
the arms factory in the country.

Despite that, the United States did not slap sanctions on Ethiopia.

To the United States, Ethiopia is an important point in East Africa
in the war on terror. The United States is supporting Ethiopia in a
bid to prevent anarchic Somalia from becoming a base of the Al
Qaeda, the international terrorist group. Silent approval for North
Korea's arms exports reflects the United States' foreign and
security policies that give top priority to the war on terrorism.

On November 8, 2007, seven months after Ethiopia admitted to
importing military supplies from North Korea, Eritrean Ambassador to
Japan Estifanos visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
Ambassador Estifanos told a senior MOFA official:

"We are deeply concerned that North Korea has been exporting

TOKYO 00000835 005 OF 010

strategically vital weapons to Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen. The Red
Sea and the Gulf of Aden are important trade routes for the
international community, including Japan. The safety of those routes
is being threatened."

The ambassador also proposed that Japan jointly address the North
Korean arms export issue.

Eritrea, which is hostile toward Ethiopia, supports the Islamic
Courts Union, Islamic fundamentalists in Somalia. Hitting on
America's double standard of winking at arms exports by a state
sponsor of terrorism (namely North Korea) for the sake of the war on
terrorism against Islamic fundamentalists, Ambassador Estifanos
proposed Japan, which has the abduction issue, to join forces
against North Korea and Ethiopia.

On December 18, 2007, Eritrea voted for a UN General Assembly
resolution (jointly presented by Japan, the United States and
European nations) demanding immediate return of abductees from North
Korea. Many African countries, such as Ethiopia, abstained from the
vote or opposed the resolution for fear of drawing fire over their
own human rights situations.

Ethiopia's admission of military supply imports from North Korea and
America's silent approval for them created a sensation among people
connected with foreign affairs. George Mason University Associate
Professor Terrence Lyons, an expert on East African affairs, said:
"Given the bad state of U.S.-DPRK relations, it was a surprise." An
African diplomatic source also noted: "In recent years, I have never
heard of a country that had officially admitted to military trade
with North Korea."

Meanwhile, the United States is stepping up its anti-Eritrean
stance. In a press conference on August 17, 2007, U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs Fraser warned: "If Eritrea

continues to behave as in the past, we will have to consider
(labeling the country a state sponsoring terrorism)." She also
touched on the possibility of closing down the Eritrean Consulate
General in the United States by citing the country's support for
Islamic fundamentalists in Somalia.

National Security Council Senior Director for African Affairs Bobby
Pittman also expressed concerns over Eritrea to a senior MOFA
official when he visited Washington last year.

Associate Professor Lyons noted: "The United States will probably
take certain steps toward countries trying to strengthen security
relations with Eritrea."

As a U.S. ally, Japan cannot positively respond to Eritrea's
proposal. Ambassador Estifanos complained, "There has been no reply
from Japan." Arms exports to Ethiopia have been helping Kim Jong Il
maintain his regime by becoming a source of foreign currency.

(3) China's multilateral diplomacy: "Fighting spirit" exposed

YOMIURI (Page 9) (Slightly abridged)
March 25, 2008

Generally, China is skillfully engaged in diplomatic horse-trading
with industrialized and developing countries while carefully
avoiding itself from sticking out from others. But when it comes to

TOKYO 00000835 006 OF 010

cases of facing up to Japan, China bares its rivalry with Japan
without paying any attention as to how it looks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had an election for its
director-general in November 2006. The five candidates were narrowed
down to three, who hailed from Japan, China, and Mexico. The
Japanese government assumed that its candidate would win the seat.
But Japan's candidate, Shigeru Omi, regional director of the Western
Pacific of WHO, was rejected ahead of the runoff. Margaret Chan, who
came from Hong Kong and was backed by China, overwhelmingly won the

"The reason why the Japanese candidate failed to be elected was
because some countries in Africa and the Middle East, which had
given Japan a verbal promise to vote for its candidate, in the end
voted for the China-backed candidate," a Japanese diplomat said,
biting his lips. The diplomat went on to say: "Japan will probably
have to avoid scrambling with China for an international post in the
future. If there is such a situation, Japan would have to conduct a
litmus test of the loyalty to Japan of developing countries that are
seeking assistance from both Japan and China. But even the test
result that may seem to be in Japan's favor does not guarantee our

It is still fresh in our minds that China was vehemently opposed to
Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC)
from spring through summer of 2005. Japan's bid for a permanent UNSC
seat would have been an undesirable event for China, which began
enjoying the "privileges' of a permanent UNSC member.

At the time Japan drew African countries to its side. By obtaining
cooperation from the African Union (AU), Japan aimed at unifying the
various plans for expanding the UNSC. Meanwhile, China approached
some leading African countries behind the scenes and stirred their
pride so that in the end, they would reject Japan's idea of unifying
the various proposals. At an important AU summit held in summer of
2005, Chinese diplomats were seen walking up and down the hallways.

The AU is a powerful voting region consisting of 53 countries, but
the AU has turned away from Japan. As a result, Japan, Germany,
India, and Brazil (G-4) gave up on the idea of putting their
resolution to a vote (in the UN). Since then, reform of the UNSC has
lost momentum. Even now, there is no prospect for UNSC reform is in
sight. China has insisted even now that developing countries should
be chosen on a priority basis as new members of the UNSC if it is

Japan's influence over African countries is attributable to its
financial aid, including official development assistance (ODA). In
contrast, China, by dispatching its troops to UN peacekeeping
operations (PKOs), has established friendly ties with African
countries one after the other.

China sent 113 personnel in 2003 to serve in UN peacekeeping and
peace building units, but the figure sharply increased to 1,038 in
2005 and to 1,963 in January of this year. The 1,963 personnel come
to nearly 50 times as many as the 38 personnel Japan has sent for
PKO. Most personnel sent by China are mobilized in African
countries, such as Sudan and Liberia. A UN diplomatic source noted
in this regard: "(China) presumably would have learned the advantage
of promoting multilateral diplomacy in its favor by demonstrating
its human contributions to the international community through the

TOKYO 00000835 007 OF 010

dispatching of its personnel."

The United States is an anchor for Japan, but in its multilateral
diplomacy the U.S. has at times struck a direct deal with China,
going over Japan's head. One good example of this was the election
of Ban Ki Moon as UN secretary-general in the fall of 2006.

Then U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, working in close
cooperation with Chinese Ambassador to the UN Wang Guangya, went
ahead with a plan to choose Ban as secretary-general. Looking back
on the past, Bolton noted: "Everybody knew that once the U.S. and
China reached agreement on a candidate, that candidate would win
election." With the prevailing perception at the time being that a
new secretary-general should be chosen from Asia, the United
Kingdom, France, and Russia refrained from taking part in the
selection of candidates. Behind the U.S. and China, Japan failed to
make its presence strongly felt.

China is gaining power in international institutions related to
economic affairs, as well. In November 2007, a Chinese candidate was
chosen as a senior member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In
this past February, there was an announcement that Chinese economist
Lin Yufu was appointed to the post of vice president and chief
economist at the World Bank.

A UN diplomatic source made this comment: "China has strategically
unfolded multilateral diplomacy leading directly to its national
interests. Japan still relies on the alliance with the U.S. Given
this, it is impossible for Japan to surpass China."

China emphasizes its deployment of troops for international

The strong sunlight was reflected in the sand. The temperature was
40 degrees centigrade. Chinese engineering troops sent by the
People's Liberation Army were building a barrack for the UN-African
Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in a desert-like zone in the
outskirts of Sudan's Southern Darfur's capital of Nyala.

The dispatched Chinese troops are a symbol of China's international
contributions to demonstrate its efforts to resolve disputes ahead
of the Beijing Olympic Games in August. The troops arrived in Darfur
in November 2007. The number of Chinese troops is 140 at present,
but Beijing plans to send more troops up to 315.

In this past February, U.S. producer Steven Spielberg declared that
he refused to accept the post of advisor on culture and art for the
Beijing Olympics, citing China's response to the Darfur issue.
Actress and Ambassador to UNICEF Mia Farrow and U.S. Congressional
members have appealed to the international audience to boycott the
Beijing Olympics, calling them "Bloodshed Olympics."

An anti-government armed group in Darfur has warned that it will
attack Chinese peacekeepers and oil industry workers and called on
them to withdraw from the country.

(4) Interview with Australian Prime Minister Rudd by Yoichi
Funabashi: Why is he bypassing Japan on his first overseas trip
since taking office?

ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
March 26, 2008

TOKYO 00000835 008 OF 010

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will this week set out on a
two-week tour of the United States, Europe, and China.

The 21st century will be a "tripolar" age centered on the United
States, Europe, and China... In anticipation of this, Rudd appears
to want to herald the new age through his first full-scale overseas
trip since taking office. Although Japan had been central to
Australia's Asia policy until recently, China now appears to be
taking its place.

Japanese policymakers and officials in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MOFA) are alarmed by Rudd's trip that bypasses Japan.

Rudd was somewhat perplexed, however, that Japan was reacting in
that way, saying, "I know neither hiragana nor katakana, but I do
know Chinese characters," he said and played up his ties with Japan
through history, art, and culture.

But he has been linked more deeply by "fate" to China. Before
entering politics, he was a diplomat well known for his proficiency
in Chinese. China has take Japan's place as Australia's largest
trade partner.

Rudd's view of China stems from his stern realism. It is close to
the concept of a China being a responsible stakeholder as advocated
by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick (currently
president of the World Bank). The concept is that as long as China
accepts the status quo of international political order and the rule
of the law, the U.S. will pursue an engagement policy toward China.

Rudd thinks the U.S.-Australia alliance and the cooperative system
among Japan, the U.S., and Australia is key to the international
political order. Rudd was opposed to the Iraq war as showing
America's disregard for the United Nations, not to mention its
unilateralism. But it is acknowledged by everybody, including
himself, that he is one of the most pro-American members of the
Australian Labor Party. His policy toward the U.S. is almost the
same as that of his predecessor Howard, except that "Howard was
never critical of the U.S.," one Australian diplomat noted. Rudd
promised in his election campaign to withdraw one-third of the
Australian troops now deployed in Iraq but keep the troops in

When asked about what to do about the cooperative arrangement among
Japan, the U.S., and Australia, Rudd stated: "I will take over my
predecessor's policy." However, in response to a question asking
about former Prime Minister Abe's concept of establishing a four-way
cooperative system among Japan, the U.S., Australia, and India, Rudd
assumed a cautious stance, saying: "India is not keen about the
idea. That holds true of the U.S., too. Even in Japan, there is
disagreement about the concept." Apparently what he wanted to say
would be that given the current situation, he could not support that

The whaling issue is now affecting Japan-Australia relations. Some
in Japan take the view that because of that, Rudd is bypassing
Japan. In reaction to "Japan-bashing" in Australia, a dislike for
that country has erupted in Japan.

When I asked Rudd about the possibility of pursuing the whaling
issue with the International Court of Justice, he told me that

TOKYO 00000835 009 OF 010

resolving the issue diplomatically would be more desirable. He noted
with confidence: "Because bilateral ties are solid, I'm not too
worried about our having a disagreement." But I think both Japan and
Australia should be cautious. Once both sides become overwhelmed by
their emotions, the result could upset their diplomatic footing.

What I have keenly realized every time I had a conversation with
Rudd is his ample experience and the broad personal networks he
formed when he was a shadow foreign minister for the four years his
party was in the opposition camp.

A high-level U.S. government official who knows Japan and Australia
well at one point told me: "The two countries are democracies and
our allies, but Japan and Australia are different. In the case of
Australia, if the (U.S.) president visits it, he can have a
substantive discussion with the head of the opposition party. But in
Japan, doing so is impossible."

The U.S. official was thinking of Rudd when he referred to the head
of Australia's opposition party. Immediately after Rudd won the
election, President Bush contacted him to say: "I would welcome an
early visit by you to the U.S." Rudd also has cultivated a good
relationship with Chinese President Hu Jintao, so that a frank
conversation would be held between the two.

The reason for Rudd bypassing Japan on his first overseas trip as
prime minister in a way may lie with Japan itself. Japan is rapidly
losing its national strength, including in the areas of economic
power, foreign aid, and creativity. Japanese politics is no
exception. Indeed, Japan remains unable to even choose who will lead
the Bank of Japan. More importantly, Japan is void of a multifaceted
diplomacy, as embodied by Rudd when he was shadow foreign minister.

Rudd aware of difficulties in bridging gaps between Japan and
Australia over whaling but he can't back down because of necessity
of playing up different stance from his predecessor

Akihito Sugii, Canberra, Seiichiro Utano

In the interview, Rudd, asked about the whaling issue over which a
showdown between Japan and Australia has continued, said: "I believe
the Japanese and Australian governments will be able to find a
diplomatic solution because both are sincere." But the two countries
are much far apart with Australia calling for a full suspension of
whaling. The Rudd administration does not necessarily have any
specific chart to bring the issue to a resolution. Rudd, as well,
admitted: "I realize that it is difficult to do so."

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is supposed to offer an
opportunity for talks, but it has ceased to function because it has
been divided into two groups: pro-whaling countries, including
Japan, and anti-whaling countries, including Australia. When
commercial whaling will be resumed remains an open question even

In order to bring the IWC back on a normal track, Japan, in response
to IWC Chairman Hogarth's request, decided to suspend hunting
humpback whales over the next one or two years. Japan did so, taking
it into consideration that humpback whales are very popular as the
object of whale watching in Australia and other countries. In this
regard, a senior Fisheries Agency (FA) official grumbled: "This was
a significant concession for Japan. But Australia apparently thinks

TOKYO 00000835 010 OF 010

that (suspension) was only natural."

The Rudd administration has made clear its anti-whaling stance
principally because it needs to demonstrate the difference in
policies from the previous Howard administration, which was
criticized as being weak-kneed for its prioritizing economic and
security ties with Japan and not assuming a tough stance regarding
the whaling issue. Rudd noted, "I know a radical view exists in
Japan," but he can't give an impression that he caves in to Japan.
Rudd in this sense appears in a fix.

The senior FA official noted: "Given Australia's assertion that 'it
is impermissible to hunt even a single whale,' there is no room for
Japan to make concessions with that country." Some in the Ministry
of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries suggest establishing a new
international institution to replace the IWC.

Meanwhile, the whale meat market has been shrinking for the past two
decades, so the product is not frequently put on the public's daily
table. "Even if Japan tries to aggressively suppress the
anti-whaling nations, it will not be possible to find a point of
agreement," the senior official said.


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