Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 04/16/08

DE RUEHKO #1043/01 1070812
P 160812Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Parliamentary defense secretary flexible about revising SOFA,
but Defense Ministry press officer highlights improving SOFA
operation (Okinawa Times)

(2) Okinawa protesters determined to continue efforts to revise SOFA
(Ryukyu Shimpo)

(3) Bomb victim speaks of horror of cluster bombs before middle
school students, pressing Japan for decision on treaty banning
cluster bombs (Mainichi)

(4) Government regards cluster bombs as deterrent; Gap in eagerness
with other countries evident (Mainichi)

(5) Research whaling ship Nisshin Maru returns to Tokyo; Whale meat
prices may be increased due to drop in whale catch (Sankei)

(6) Taking a look at politics: Can short-tempered premier display
strong political leadership? (Asahi)

(7) Editorial - amendment to Antimonopoly Law: Toughening penalties
global trend (Tokyo Shimbun)


(1) Parliamentary defense secretary flexible about revising SOFA,
but Defense Ministry press officer highlights improving SOFA

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
April 16, 2008


Parliamentary Defense Secretary Minoru Terada yesterday came out
with a flexible stance about revising the Japan-U.S. Status of
Forces Agreement (SOFA). He noted: "If there are deficiencies
despite improving the operation of the SOFA, we will then work on
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to (consider modifying it)."
Terada was replying to an appeal made by the Executive Committee of
the Prefectural Rally to Protest against Incidents and Accidents
Caused by U.S. Service Members.

As for Terada's remarks, the Ministry of Defense's (MOD) spokesman
Katashi Toyota said at a regular news conference yesterday: "Taking
into consideration cases that can't be dealt with by improving the
operation, he might have made such remarks as a general view." The
spokesman highlighted the government's previous stance of improving
the operation (of the SOFA) to deal with accidents and incidents.

The same day, the petitioners visited the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MOFA), the major opposition Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP), Upper House Speaker
Satsuki Eda, and others, and asked for their support on a drastic
revision to the SOFA as mentioned in the prefectural rally's

On April 12, two sons of U.S. military personnel were held by a shop
clerk for shoplifting, but they later were taken by U.S. military
police officers to a U.S. base. Referring to this, Senior Vice

TOKYO 00001043 002 OF 008

Foreign Minister Hitoshi Kimura noted: "If what the media reported
is true, that affects Japan's sovereignty. After investigating it,
I'd like to deal with it carefully." Executive Committee Chairman
Tetsuei Tamayose, after making an appeal, met the press at the Diet
Members' No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House and noted: "Deputy
Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsushige Ono withheld his judgment by
telling me, 'I'll convey this to the prime minister.' I expect the
prefectural people's call for revising the SOFA will spread across
the country."

(2) Okinawa protesters determined to continue efforts to revise

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 21) (Full)
April 16, 2008

The petitioners from the Prefectural Rally to Protest against
Incidents and Accidents Caused by U.S. Service Members around noon
yesterday held a meeting to report on their appeal to the central
government and a press conference at the Diet Members' No. 2 Office
Building of the Lower House. The petitioners initially sought to
meet with the prime minister and cabinet members, but such meetings
were not realized; as a result, they failed to obtain a clear reply
to their call for drastically revising the Japan-U.S. Status of
Forces Agreement (SOFA). This fact brought complaint among the
petitioners. In the meeting, all the participants said that they
should work harder to achieve their goals.

In the meeting, Tetsuei Tamayose, chairperson of the Prefectural
Rally's Executive Committee, looking back on the past two days of
their activities (of making a request to the central government in
Tokyo), noted, "Those whom we met with were mostly vice ministers or
senior vice ministers. They likewise told us, 'I'll convey this to
my supervisor.' I want to know how much (our request) has been
reflected (in the government's move) through lawmakers elected from
Okinawa. By knowing that, I want to aim to bring about a new
development. We won't give up." Tamayose stressed the need to
continue the campaign.

Vice Chairperson of the Executive Committee Haruko Kowatari,
speaking of the request made to Raymond Greene, chief of the
Political-Military Affairs Unit at the United States Embassy in
Japan, and also to Senior Vice Foreign Minister Hitoshi Kimura,
noted: "Their replies were not satisfactory." She went on to say:
"In order to resolve the problems facing Okinawa, a number of
protests or petitions need to be made. The situation would improve,
albeit slightly, if lawmakers, regardless of their political bent,
were to join hands."

(3) Bomb victim speaks of horror of cluster bombs before middle
school students, pressing Japan for decision on treaty banning
cluster bombs

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Abridged)
April 16, 2008

There are weapons called cluster bombs that are continuing to kill
and injure civilians, mostly children. A man from Serbia who lost
both hands and feet when he was trying to destroy an unexploded
bomblet is now in Japan for the first time. Visiting a middle school
in Tokyo yesterday, he spoke of the distressing reality. The
international initiative called the Oslo Process is underway to

TOKYO 00001043 003 OF 008

conclude a treaty within this year to ban cluster bombs.
Participating countries are likely to reach an agreement on a draft
treaty in an international conference in May. The victim is pressing
the Japanese government, which is reluctant to impose a total ban,
for a decision on a total ban.

Branislav Kapetanovic, 42, in a wheelchair spoke before some 300
third-year middle school students at Tamagawa K-12 & University in
Machida, Tokyo. A silence enveloped the hall as he spoke: "I have
seen so many civilians injured by cluster bombs. I am a victim
myself, and I am keenly aware of the horror of cluster bombs."

Kapetanovic was an engineer who disposed of unexploded cluster bombs
dropped by NATO forces during the Kosovo conflict in 1999. He lost
both hands, feet and hearing in his left ear when a bomblet exploded
as he was about to destroy it in a Kralijevo suburb in Serbia in
November 2000.

"I believe you have learned much about atomic bombs. There is
something common between cluster bombs and atomic bombs, and that is
they often victimize ordinary citizens," Kapetanovic said. His
speech was followed by ringing applause.

According to a report released in 2007 by Handicap International
(HI), an international human rights organization, 13,306 individuals
had been recognized as victims of unexploded cluster bombs around
the world. Of them, the sex and age of over 9,000 persons was
identified. Further, 98 PERCENT of them were civilians. In many
cases, children touched unexploded bombs while playing.

Cluster bombs have been used in 25 countries and regions, including
Iraq and Lebanon. The number of bomblets exceeded 440 million. Of
them, an estimated 22 million to 130 million bomblets still remain
unexploded today.

After the speech, students gathered around Kapetanovic. Sayuri
Yamamoto, 14, noted, "Mr. Kapetanovic, who lost his hands and feet,
taught us the horror of cluster bombs." Kapetanovic said: "I was
glad that I was able to deliver a message to the students who bear
the responsibility for their country's future. I hope they will take
an interest in this issue."

(4) Government regards cluster bombs as deterrent; Gap in eagerness
with other countries evident

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Abridged slightly)
April 16, 2008

Cluster bombs were used in major wars from the 1991 Gulf War to the
2003 Iraq war. A large number of cluster bombs were used in the 2006
Lebanon War. This prompted like-minded countries to begin the Oslo
Process to craft a treaty banning cluster bombs.

The Oslo Process is modeled after the Ottawa Process, which produced
an anti-personnel mines convention. A total of 156 countries,
including Japan, signed the Ottawa Treaty. Growing international
pressure has now made it difficult for the United States, which is
not a signatory to the treaty, to use land mines.

Over 100 countries, including Japan, have joined the Oslo Process.
They aim for an agreement on a draft ban treaty at a meeting to be
held in May in Dublin.

TOKYO 00001043 004 OF 008

The process has been disrupted over whether to ban all such bombs or
only sophisticated bombs. But recently, there has been a move to
search for common ground. The draft is close to a total ban, as it
is intended to ban all such bombs except for up-to-date models that
can attack military installations only, thathave few unexploded
bomblets, and that detonate unexploded bomblets automatically.

"Japan is trying to keep as many cluster bombs as possible," an NGO
official said. There is a huge gap in the degree of eagerness
between Japan and other countries.

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba indicated in a press conference
yesterday that Japan would retain cluster bombs, saying: "The
defensive use of (cluster bombs) as a deterrent deserves a positive
assessment." A senior Foreign Ministry official also noted: "Taking
measures to eliminate damage is necessary, but striking a balance
with national interests and security is also important."

Ahead of the meeting in May, the Japanese government is trying to
persuade other countries to reduce control subjects as much as
possible with the aim of stopping moves for a total ban. Although
Japan supported the idea of crafting a ban treaty in February, if
this situation persists, it might be regarded internationally as a
country negative about it.

(5) Research whaling ship Nisshin Maru returns to Tokyo; Whale meat
prices may be increased due to drop in whale catch

SANKEI (Page 29) (Full)
April 16, 2008

The Nisshin Maru, the mother ship of the Japanese whaling fleet that
was hampered by violent protests from the Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society in the Southern Ocean, arrived on April 15 at Oi Marine
Products Wharf in Tokyo. Tomoyuki Ogawa was the captain of the ship,
which has 143 crew members. The whaling fleet caught 551 whales this
season, only about 60 percent of the target due to acts of
obstruction by the antiwhaling organization. As such, the Fisheries
Agency mentioned a hike in the prices of meat from whales. Whale
meat will likely become more expensive from this summer.

The whaling research fleet departed Japan on Nov. 18, 2007. The
research period was 101 days, excluding the days spent on the way to
and from the Southern Ocean. However, the whalers were forced to
suspend their research whaling for 31 days due to harassment by Sea

Although the whalers had planned to catch a total of 900 whales -
about 850 black minke whales and 50 fin whales - they caught only 60
PERCENT of the target. They failed to catch any fin whales. The
original plan of catching 50 humpback whales was put off in
consideration of international negotiations on a resumption of
commercial whaling.

Because the whale catch substantially fell short of the target, the
Fisheries Agency, which sets the wholesale prices of whale meat,
revealed that a hike in whale meat prices would be possible.

However since the meat from whales caught this season will be on
sale in the summer, the prices of whale meat will be decided after
considering the results of research whaling to be compiled in June.

TOKYO 00001043 005 OF 008

Therefore, whether the prices of whale meat will be increased
remains uncertain.

The Japan Coast Guard, which has investigated the obstruction by Sea
Shepherd on suspicion of assault, and the Public Safety Department
of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department intend to inspect the
Nisshin Maru today.

The five other ships of the whaling fleet are slated to return by
April 19 to four ports, including Oi Marine Products Wharf and
Taniyama Port in Kagoshima Prefecture.

(6) Taking a look at politics: Can short-tempered premier display
strong political leadership?

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged)
April 15, 2008

Hiroshi Hoshi

Prime Minister Fukuda is unexpectedly short-tempered. When things do
not go his way, aides have seen him kick his desk and shout

In the process of nominating a new Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor,
Fukuda chose a former Ministry of Finance (MOF) official, but the
proposal was rejected in the Upper House. Fukuda again proposed
another former Finance Ministry official for the post, but the
proposal was again rejected in the Upper House. Fukuda suggested
moving the tax revenues set aside for road projects into the general
account in fiscal 2009, but this suggestion was not welcomed by the
major opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

In last summer's the Upper House election, the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) led by then Prime Minister Shintaro Abe
suffered a devastating defeat, which led to the currently divided
Diet. Fukuda said when he assumed the post of prime minister:
"Taking office as prime minister now may be getting the worst of the
deal." For Fukuda, the current situation is indeed what he was
worried about at the beginning.

Fukuda might have been frustrated with that situation, but there are
limits to what he can do. The nomination of a BOJ governor needs to
be approved in both chambers of the Diet. As long as the DPJ is
opposed to allowing retired MOF officials to get plum jobs, such
people will not be approved. As is widely expected, the DPJ will not
easily concede on the road issue, as the party aims to bring about a
dissolution of the Lower House for a snap election. The prime
minister lamented that the loss of 2.6 trillion yen from the
provisional (gasoline) tax in tax revenues is detrimental to fiscal
reconstruction, but no sense of urgency was felt from his remarks,
given that the government's debt has now expanded to 800 trillion

Perhaps because of this, the Fukuda cabinet's approval ratings have
been sinking and it is losing momentum. Headlines touting the
imminent end of the Fukuda administration can be seen in weekly
magazines. One aide to the prime minister, however, remains
unruffled, noting: "The prime minister is in roaring spirits. He is
not a politician who would be discouraged by this situation. In the
first place, there are no moves in the LDP to remove him from the
post." However, some in the party believe that Fukuda cabinet is

TOKYO 00001043 006 OF 008

headed to ruin if nothing is done to change the situation.

Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano, who has given advice to
Fukuda at important political junctures, is looking for the best way
to deal with the current situation. Yosano said:

"The government assumed an attitude of forcing the opposition
parties to accept its nomination, claiming that it nominated the
best person. This attitude was a mistake. Aside from such daily
tasks as the nomination of the top BOJ leader and what to do about
the tax revenues for road projects, it's high time for Mr. Fukuda to
come out with a big political slogan in order to demonstrate his
strong political imprint. There are a lot of subjects for him to
handle to that end, for instance, fiscal reconstruction and the
environment issue."

Yosano insists that emerging from the squabble between the ruling
and opposition blocs, Fukuda needs to demonstrate his
administration's imprint in dealing with mid-term or long-term

When he visited China late last year, Fukuda declared a plan to
invite 10,000 Chinese engineers studying environmental technology to
Japan. Later, Fukuda reportedly complained about the media's way of
reporting the plan: "The plan was epoch-making, but the Japanese
media at the time did not give it major coverage because their
interest was focused on when the cabinet would be shuffled." Despite
this past circumstance, if Fukuda, with the aim of making Japan into
an environmental power, comes out with new ideas one after the
other, for instance, providing leading-edge technology, that could
become the selling point of Fukuda politics.

Diplomacy toward Asia, too, may give Fukuda a good opportunity.
South Korean President Lee Myung Bak is to visit Japan on April 20,
and Chinese President Hu Jintao is to visit Japan early May. Fukuda
appears to get along well with them, both of whom give priority to
results. If Fukuda, after meeting with them, can work together with
them to deal with North Korea, economic cooperation, and human
exchanges, he could make a significant contribution to bringing
stability to East Asia.

The battle between the ruling and opposition parties over a re-vote
on the bill aimed at raising the gasoline tax will come to a climax
later this month. While getting by the immediate skirmish in the
Diet, Fukuda needs to demonstrate his strong political leadership.
Can Fukuda do that? Or will he simply kick his desk over his
inability to do anything?

(7) Editorial - amendment to Antimonopoly Law: Toughening penalties
global trend

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 5) (Full)
April 15, 2008/04/15

An amendment to the Antimonopoly Law has been submitted to the
current session of the Diet. The amendment includes expanding the
scope of application for surcharges and introducing a premium
surcharge rate applicable to firms leading such illegal acts.
Countries that are toughening penalties against violations are not
limited to the United States and the European Union (EU). Japan
needs to hurry Diet debate on the amendment so that it will be
passed into law swiftly.

TOKYO 00001043 007 OF 008

The Antimonopoly Law is called an economic constitution. It was
drastically modified two years ago by, for instance, raising the
surcharge calculation rate for large manufacturers by 10 PERCENT .
But the number of violations related to bid rigging and cartels has
almost doubled and increased to 24 from the year before. An
amendment this time to the law is intended to beef up deterrent
power against violations.

The core of the amendment drafted by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC)
is that exclusionary private monopolies, dumping, and abuse of
dominant bargaining position will be all subject to surcharges.

An example of an exclusionary private monopoly might be a company
with a dominant market position in the area of basic computer parts
trying to exclude rival firms by adopting a rebate system. In the
past, all the FTC did was issue an order to remove the rebate system
to firms violating this rule, but once the amendment comes into
effect, the FTC can impose surcharges on such firms.

Dumping will also be subject to surcharges under certain conditions.
On the fake recycled paper scandal involving eight paper
manufacturers, the FTC intends to issue an order to eliminate the
use of fake recycled paper, but this case, too, will be subject to
surcharges in the future.

As part of the move to toughen penalties, surcharges that will be
imposed on firms that played a leading role in bid rigging or
cartels will be hiked by 50 PERCENT . In the case of leading
manufacturers, the surcharge rate will become 15 PERCENT .

Meanwhile, the surcharge exemption system, which was adopted in the
previous amendment to the law, has helped Japanese companies change
their behavior significantly. The system is used by a number of
large companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Currently,
the number of companies coming under the system is three, but the
amendment will increase the number of those companies to five.

The future task (for the FTC) is what to do about the amounts of
surcharges. Last year the European Commission (EC) ordered a
Japanese firm to pay a surcharge of more than 100 billion yen for
taking part in a cartel. Japan decides on the surcharge based on the
sales amount of the business in question, but the EC calculates the
surcharge based on overall sales. There is a need to have debate on
the criteria for the calculation of surcharges.

As for the tribunal system taken by the FTC at present, the
amendment stipulates a review of the system, including the
possibility of scrapping it, in an additional clause. A tribunal
that is equivalent to the first trial is carried out by FTC officers
and lawyers. This method has invoked strong dissatisfaction in
economic circles. One business leader complained: "Prosecutors play
the role of judge."

So far the tribunal system has functioned well thanks to the FTC's
fairness and also its winning the public's confidence. But judgment
should be entrusted to the judiciary in the future, although opinion
is divided over the question of whether all cases will be put in the
hands of the judiciary. This matter, too, needs to be debated in the

An international conference bringing together competition policy

TOKYO 00001043 008 OF 008

regulators of major countries kicked off in Kyoto. Companies must
keep in mind that toughening penalties against illegal acts has
become a global trend.


© 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>>


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>>


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>>