Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 04/22/08

DE RUEHKO #1109/01 1130819
P 220819Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Government plans to abolish counselor system in MOD reform,
establish advisory posts (Sankei)

(2) Before Upper House committee, Nihi reveals U.S. military
aircraft's low-altitude flight in violation of Japan-U.S. agreement

(3) Local governments dissatisfied at early morning departure of
F-15s, with representative grumbling: "U.S. military is making light
of residents" (Ryukyu Shimpo)

(4) Three municipal assemblies opposing early morning departure of
F-15s tomorrow (Okinawa Times)

(5) Japan, South Korea agree to start preliminary EPA talks;
Challenges ahead; Gulf over lowering tariffs (Nikkei)

(6) Editorial: Japan, South Korea must build new era for
future-oriented ties (Nikkei)

(7) Editorial: We welcome South Korean President Lee's decision to
strengthen Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation (Sankei)

(8) Prime Minister Fukuda to Chinese foreign minister: Face up to
reality (Sankei)

(9) Poll on lowering legal age of adulthood (Yomiuri)


(1) Government plans to abolish counselor system in MOD reform,
establish advisory posts

SANKEI (Page 5) (Abridged slightly)
April 22, 2008

In an envisaged reform of the Ministry of Defense (MOD), the
government decided yesterday to abolish the counselor (sanjikan)
system, which has been in place since the Defense Agency, the MOD's
predecessor, was established in 1954, and establish instead advisory
posts to be filled by political appointees for the defense minister.
The government will also consider adding MOD to the list of four
government offices -- the Finance Ministry; Foreign Ministry;
Economy, Trade, and Industry Ministry; and National Police Agency --
that have seconded their personnel as secretaries to the prime
minister. Counselors assisting the defense minister have been
selected only from among MOD officials. The government has judged
that MOD's exclusive nature led to its slow responses to a bribery
scandal involving a former vice-defense minister and the recent
collision of an Aegis-equipped destroyer with a fishing boat. The
government aims to improve MOD's nature by introducing the advisor
system to appoint civilians with the aim of enhancing the functions
of personnel assisting the defense minister.

In the wake of a series of MOD scandals, Defense Minister Shigeru
Ishiba has come up with a private MOD reform plan to: (1) appoint
civilians as defense counselors, and (2) integrate the MOD's
internal bureaus and the Self-Defense Forces' staff offices into a
single body. He plans to put together a reform plan in June based on
the position of the Council on Reform of the Defense Ministry at the

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Prime Minister's Office.

The abolition of the counselor system and the appointment of a prime
ministerial secretary from MOD are expected to make a set of
proposals to be produced by the LDP's MOD reform subcommittee. At
this point when Ishiba's plan is being strongly criticized as too
radical, the government intends to realize those steps by
incorporating them in the LDP's proposals.

The counselor system originates from the creation of counselor posts
at the time of the establishment of the Defense Agency. Although the
name has been changed to defense counselor as a result of the
central government reform in January 2001, there have been no major
changes to the system. Placed directly under the defense minister,
the defense counselors are tasked with aiding the defense minister
in the ministry's overall policies. There are nine defense
counselors, including six internal bureau directors general. As seen
in the fact that some counselors did not come up to MOD in the wake
of the Aegis accident, the initial purpose of providing the defense
minister with cross-sectional assistance has not been served.

The newly planned advisory posts will be filled by political
appointees, including private-sector individuals. The defense
minister will appoint them after the maximum number of advisors is
set by a law. The appointment of retired government officials will
not be ruled out. After nailing down details, the government plans
to submit a bill amending the Defense Ministry Establishment Law to
next year's regular Diet session along with other MOD restructuring

Meanwhile, Ishiba is exploring ways to integrate and restructure the
MOD internal bureaus and the staff offices of the three SDF
branches. The LDP, on the other hand, is considering setting up only
a joint command composed of SDF officers and MOD bureaucrats under
the Joint Staff Office. Ironing out differences in reform plans is
expected to face difficulties.

(2) Before Upper House committee, Nihi reveals U.S. military
aircraft's low-altitude flight in violation of Japan-U.S. agreement

AKAHATA (Page 2) (Full)
April 19, 2008

Before the House of Councillors Audit Committee on April 18,
Japanese Communist Party member Sohei Nihi criticized U.S. Forces
Japan (USFJ) by producing data showing a U.S. military aircraft's
low-altitude flight over Hiroshima City (last December) in violation
of the (1999) Japan-U.S. agreement to abide by Japan's Aviation

In its (January 11) written reply to Nihi's question, the government
made it clear that the U.S. military aircraft flew over the city
last December at an altitude of approximately 450 meters.

The Aviation Law defines 300 meters above the highest obstacle as
the minimum safe altitude. The 1999 Japan-U.S. agreement reads:
"U.S. Forces Japan shall use the minimum safe altitude specified in
the Aviation Law."

Nihi produced a piece of paper showing the U.S. military aircraft's
estimated low-altitude flight over the Atomic Bomb Dome and other

TOKYO 00001109 003 OF 010

spots in Hiroshima, produced based on surveys conducted by a local
civic group.

Indicating that a witness in the on-site survey said that the U.S.
aircraft had flown lower than the 397-meter Mt. Gongen, Nihi said:
"Unless the aircraft flew over 300 meters higher than Mt. Gongen, we
cannot say that it observed the minimum safe altitude."

Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura replied: "An administrative
official explained to me that the U.S. aircraft had not violated the
Japan-U.S. agreement. But as I (listened to) Mr. Nihi's explanation,
I felt there is a variance with the facts." Defense Minister Shigeru
Ishiba also said: "I, too, have experienced low-altitude flights.
They are terrifying."

Nihi urged the U.S. side to stop low-altitude flights and called for
major revisions to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.

(3) Local governments dissatisfied at early morning departure of
F-15s, with representative grumbling: "U.S. military is making light
of residents"

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 23) (Full)
April 22, 2008

"Despite our repeated protests and requests, the U.S. military has
done the same things." "We wonder why they can't take off in the
daytime." The U.S. military yesterday notified the local governments
hosting the U.S. Kadena Air Base of the early morning departure of
F-15 fighter jets for the first time in about six months, sparking
dissatisfaction among the local governments. The assemblies of
Kadena Town and Chatan Town will hold meetings of their Special
Committees on Military Bases today and tomorrow, respectively.
Okinawa Mayor Mitsuko Tomon grumbled: "We have repeatedly asked (the
U.S. military) to drop the plan, but it is regrettable to hear that
the plan will be carried out as scheduled." She added: "Since it
(early morning departure) will pose a health risk and give anxiety
to the local residents, we cannot approve it. The U.S. military
should be fully aware that an early morning departure will be a
burden on the residents."

Kadena Town Mayor Tokujitsu Miyagi said: "No matter what reasons the
U.S. military may give, we will continue to call for daytime
departures." He expressed dissatisfaction at early morning or late
night takeoffs in behalf of the local residents.

Koei Tanaka, chairman of the Kadena Town Assembly's Special
Committee on Military Bases, said: "The U.S. military may continue
early departures for training even after the Iron Flow program is
completed." He added: "The citizens' right to live in a quiet
environment must be protected without fail."

Masaharu Teruya, chairman of the Chatan Assembly's Special Committee
on Military Bases, assailed: "We have called on the U.S. military
time and again to cancel the plan. They should avoid early morning
takeoffs. Although they cite operational necessity, the residents
cannot be convinced of the U.S. military's unilateral proceeding."

Katsue Yonamine, chairman of the Special Committee on Military Bases
of the Okinawa Assembly, deplored: "Our assembly adopted a
resolution of protest and asked the U.S. military to call off the
plan. But they rejected our request. Such a stance indicates that

TOKYO 00001109 004 OF 010

the U.S. military is making light of the residents."

(4) Three municipal assemblies opposing early morning departure of
F-15s tomorrow

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 2) (Full)
April 22, 2008

Three U.S. F-15 fighter jets and several air tankers are scheduled
to leave the U.S. Kadena Air Base for the United States early
tomorrow morning. The assemblies of Okinawa City, Kadena Town, and
Chatan Town, which are adjacent to the base, are strongly objecting
the early morning departure.

The Chatan assembly (chaired by Tomotsune Miyazato) decided in a
meeting of the Special Committee on Military Bases (chaired by
Masaharu Teruya) yesterday morning to submit a resolution of protest
calling for canceling the plan and a petition to the committee in
its extraordinary session. The assembly will hold another meeting
tomorrow to determine what wording should be used for the two papers
and when the extraordinary meeting should be held.

Teruya said: "If the aircraft fly as scheduled, the assembly will
submit a resolution of protest calling for canceling early
departures. If the plan is postponed, we will continue to protest as
long as the early morning departures are scheduled.

The Kadena assembly (chaired by Masayoshi Irei) will hold a meeting
this morning of its Special Committee on Military Bases to confer on
measures to deal with the early morning departures of aircraft. The
committee's chairman, Koei Tanaka, emphasized: "We cannot approve
the early morning takeoffs which will disturb residents' sleep. The
U.S. military may also have early departure plans in the future for
training in the U.S. and the like. It is necessary for the assembly
to show its stance."

Katsue Yonamine, chairman of the Special Committee on Military Bases
of the Okinawa assembly, said in a rage: "Despite our repeated
protest, the U.S. military plans to implement the plan. It is
outrageous." He added: "I hear that they have decided to postpone
the plan due to the malfunction of an air tanker. If that is the
case, I'm even more concerned." Yonamine has expressed a desire to
discuss with other committee members tomorrow a plan on holding a

(5) Japan, South Korea agree to start preliminary EPA talks;
Challenges ahead; Gulf over lowering tariffs

NIKKEI (Page 4) (Full)
April 22, 2008

With a view to resuming Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) talks,
Japan and South Korea during the bilateral summit on April 21 agreed
to launch working-level preliminary talks in June. However, there is
a significant difference in the two countries' stances toward the
trade pact, with South Korea aiming to cut its trade deficits with
Japan while Japan likely to be forced to defend its agricultural
sector. Chances are that the envisaged talks may encounter
complications right from the beginning. To what extent the planned
talks can make headway is unclear, because some in both countries
have an underlying thought that is cautious about signing such an

TOKYO 00001109 005 OF 010

The Japan-South Korea EPA talks have been suspended since November
2004. However, when Fukuda visited South Korea in February this
year, the two leaders agreed to look into resuming the talks. One
Japanese government source gave a high score to the outcome of
summit this time, noting, "The issue has taken a step forward with
the two leaders clearly indicating June as a time to start talks."

However, the future of the talks is fraught with many difficulties.
According to trade statistics compiled by the Finance Ministry,
South Korea's trade deficit with Japan stood at about 3 trillion yen
in 2007. It imports liquid crystal- and semi-conductor-related parts
from Japan, assembles them into such products as cellphones and
exports them. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has stated his
determination to cut his country's trade deficit with Japan.
However, he is caught on the horns of dilemma that if South Korea
decreases imports from Japan, its exports to the world would also

South Korea insisted on the wording "working-level talks" for the
joint press release this time. South Korea has taken this strategy
with its public opinion toward Japan in mind. The likelihood is that
the talks will be slow going.

Sources familiar with Japan-South Korea relations say Fukuda and Lee
did not discuss an EPA at all. A Japanese government official during
lead-up talks had pointed out, "Once the EPA talks are resumed, it
would be possible for Japan to look into the possibility of
extending technological cooperation in the parts and materials
areas." However, the two countries remained at odds with the South
Korean government insisting that technological cooperation should
come first. The summit reportedly ended with Fukuda and Lee reading
out a text they had separately prepared.

It is true that Japan and South Korea can hardly give way to each
other on some items in their tariff-lowering negotiations. For
instance, auto market liberalization may not benefit South Korean
automakers, according to a source related to Nippon Keidanren.
Abolishing tariffs on tuna Japan imports from South Korea could
affect its fishing industry.

Expansion of investment in South Korea by Japan holds the key to
solving this issue. Talks among business leaders will carry a
special weight in paving the way for that. Nippon Keidanren Chairman
Fujio Mitarai during a regular press conference on Apr. 21 pointed
out, "If the South Korean market is attractive, investment in that
country by Japanese companies would increase." Japanese and South
Korean business circles' down-to-earth effort to create attractive
conditions for investment will likely become the focal point in
resuming EPA talks between the two countries.

(6) Editorial: Japan, South Korea must build new era for
future-oriented ties

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 28, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and South Korean President Lee Myung
Bak, who visited Japan for the first time after taking office in
late February, agreed in their summit to further improve bilateral
relations and work together to build a matured partnership to bring
the bilateral ties into a "new era." We welcome President Lee's

TOKYO 00001109 006 OF 010

stance of stressing the importance of building future-oriented
bilateral ties. He stated: "We should not let the past prevent us
from going toward the future."

Japan and South Korea had long suspended their top leaders' mutual
visits due to the strained ties between the two countries over
historical perception while President Rho Moo Hyun was in office.
Tokyo and Seoul cooled down in the political area. This also had
something to do with the suspension of negotiations on an economic
partnership agreement (EPA) since November 2004.

The annual number of Japanese and South Korean visitors to each
other's country now reaches nearly 5 million. The two nations have a
far better understanding of each other through their fans for each
other's culture. Annual trade between Japan and South Korea totals
more than 80 billion dollars. Japan is South Korea's third largest
trade partner, and South Korea is also Japan's third largest trade
partner. We can say that the lack of mutual trust in the political
area has hamstringed the two countries in strengthening their ties.

We welcome the two countries' embarkation on building a new era for
them through their leaders.

There is also a matter of concern. In the past, South Korean
administrations upheld their stance of strengthening bilateral ties
upon their inauguration. Later on, however, they changed their
policies. The term of South Korea's president is five years. When
the president's popularity drops, anti-Japanese sentiments and
historical issues might be used to boost the administration's

What should Tokyo and Seoul do to build steadfast ties? It is
essential to translate bilateral agreements into action before
anything else.

The two leaders agreed to begin working-level talks in June on
resuming negotiations for an EPA. They also agreed to cooperate
closely to denuclearize North Korea and resolve the abduction issue
in collaboration with the United States.

There is a cautious view in South Korea about entering into an EPA.
Although trade between the two countries has expanded, South Korea's
trade deficit marked a record high of about 30 billion dollars last
year. Japanese-made materials and parts are used for many South
Korean exports, including liquid crystal panels. There is a
structural problem. The more trade grows, the more South Korea's
trade deficit with Japan increases. An EPA might expand further the
trade imbalance.

Correcting the trade imbalance is a vital issue for President Lee,
who places top priority on "pragmatic economy." The question is
whether Tokyo and Seoul can promote negotiations on an EPA that will
lead to mutual benefits, including investment in South Korea by
Japanese material and parts industries. To prevent the Lee
administration from becoming anti-Japanese, efforts by both
countries will be required.

(7) Editorial: We welcome South Korean President Lee's decision to
strengthen Japan-U.S.-ROK cooperation

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 20, 2008

TOKYO 00001109 007 OF 010

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak will arrive in Japan today. The
president will stop over in Tokyo on his way home from the United
States, his first overseas trip since he took office. President Lee,
who has a business background, will make a quick two-day trip to
Japan. Although successive South Korean presidents have taken a hard
line in dealing with Japan, the Lee administration will likely carry
out pragmatic diplomacy.

When former South Korean presidents visited Japan for the first
time, they never forgot to take up the issues of past history in
their summits with Japanese leaders. Their purposes were to call
Japan to offer an apology and engage in self-reflection, and
successive Japanese prime ministers were displeased at being told to
do so.

This was a sort of a "rite of passage" for Japanese and South Korean
diplomacy, but the upcoming presidential Japan visit appears to be
different. The Lee administration takes a policy of attaching more
priority to pragmatism than to philosophy, without dwelling on
formalities. The administration also places more importance on
future-oriented ties than on historical issues. We hope this policy
will be maintained and that future-oriented bilateral relations will
be built.

The main purpose of President Lee's overseas travel is to rebuild
relations of trust with the United States and Japan, as well as the
traditional cooperative relations among Japan, the United States and
South Korea. President Lee aims to carve out a future for his
country based on trilateral cooperation while replacing the foreign
policy of the former Rho Moo Hyun government, which took a tough
stance (against Japan and the U.S.).

Japan and South Korea share such difficult international issues as
North Korea's nuclear programs and China's rise. It is greatly
welcomed that South Korea has returned to the trilateral cooperative
framework. Japan, which faces the issue of North Korea's abductions
of Japanese nationals, is especially encouraged by the Lee
government's strong interest in the abduction issue.

President Lee has promised the people of his country economic
development. Naturally, he has high expectations of Japan.

For example, South Korea has its largest trade deficit with Japan, a
sum reaching 30 billion dollars per year. South Korea will have to
improve the trade balance. South Korea, a huge exporter, relies on a
large amount of imports of parts and materials from Japan. It means
that South Korea is a good customer.

Are there any ways for the two countries to cooperate in such
industries as parts and materials? Japan intends to find ways to
seek mutual benefits while giving more consideration to South Korea.
To that end, we want to see new cooperative relations with an eye on
the conclusion of a Japan-South Korea free trade agreement (FTA).

(8) Prime Minister Fukuda to Chinese foreign minister: Face up to

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
April 19, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda met on April 18 with visiting Chinese

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Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi at the Prime Minister's Office. Yang,
referring to the riots in Tibet, said: "I would like you to
understand the nature of the group led by the Dalai Lama." In
response, Fukuda urged the Chinese government to make efforts to
resolve the issue, saying:

"It is necessary to face up to the reality that the riots in Tibet
have become an international issue. We should prevent the issue from
having a negative impact on the Beijing Olympics."

Yang stressed China's assertion that the Dalai Lama was responsible
for the riots, noting: "If the Dalai Lama's side stops their
independence activities, violence, and efforts to ruin the Beijing
Olympics, the door for dialogue will open."

Fukuda told Yang that Japan was ready to cooperate with China on
global warming as much as possible, saying: "It is necessary to
create a framework in which all countries in the world can take
part. China's participation is vital." Yang said that China would
make a contribution to the success of the Group of Eight (G-8)
summit in July in Hokkaido, in which China would take part.

Meanwhile, Fukuda and Yang agreed to continue efforts to resolve the
dispute over gas exploration rights in the East China Sea.

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa and other DPJ
officials met with Yang the same day. Secretary General Yukio
Hatoyama and Vice President Seiji Maehara gave Yang a warning,
saying: "We are concerned about the riots in Tibet from the
standpoint of human rights. We want you to take the international
community's criticism into consideration." Hatoyama and Maehara also
took up the row over poisoned China-made dumplings and the issue of
gas exploration in the East China Sea, and told Yang: "We hope for
an early response from the Chinese government."

Speaking of the riots in Tibet, Yang sharply asserted:

"It is China's internal issue. The Dalai Lama faction has been
trying to split our country and hamper the Beijing Olympics. If they
end these moves, we will hold dialogue. As long as there is no
change in the situation, the (Chinese government) will have to step
up public order."

In his meeting with Social Democratic Party head Mizuho Fukushima,
Yang gave his outlook on the issue of North Korea's nuclear
ambitions, saying:

"There was positive improvement owing to the recent negotiations
between the United States and North Korea. The United States may
remove North Korea from its list of states sponsoring terrorism."

(9) Poll on lowering legal age of adulthood

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
April 20, 2008

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage)

Q: The Civil Code sets the age of adulthood at 20 years old, and
minors-those under 20-are legally placed under parental protection.
The age for voting in elections and drinking alcohols is stipulated

TOKYO 00001109 009 OF 010

by different laws. The government has been studying the feasibility
of lowering the legal age of adulthood to 18 years old. Do you
support the idea?

Yes 36.4
No 58.6
No answer (N/A) 5.0

Q: (Only for those who answered "yes") to the foregoing question)
Why? Pick up to three reasons from among those listed below.

They are mentally mature 29.9
They are well sensible 54.7
Some support themselves financially 14.9
They can be aware of adulthood 67.9
Many countries set adulthood at 18 21.0
Other answers (O/A) 1.7
N/A 0.5

Q: (Only for those who answered "no") to the foregoing question)
Why? Pick up to three reasons from among those listed below.

They are mentally immature 59.4
They are not well sensible 49.0
Many can't support themselves financially 50.5
They can't be aware of adulthood 49.4
Adulthood at 18 has taken root in the nation 17.9
O/A 1.1
N/A 0.4

Q: Among the legal rights that are currently restricted to those
aged 20 and over, what do you think should be permitted to those
aged 18 and older? If any, pick as many as you like from among those
listed below.

Q: (Only for those who answered "yes") to the foregoing question)
Why? Pick up to three reasons from among those listed below.

Voting in elections 46.4
Drinking alcoholic beverages 16.9
Smoking 10.6
Public gambling like horse and bike racing 7.0
Marriage without parental consent 21.4
Contract without parental consent 9.6
None of these rights should be permitted 37.9
N/A 2.2

Q: Do you think the age coming under the Juvenile Law should be
lowered to 18 years old or younger?

Yes 75.5
No 20.5
N/A 4.0

Q: Do you think the age eligible to vote in constitutional referenda
should be 18 and older?

Yes 50.1
No 45.2
N/A 4.7

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Polling methodology
Date of survey: Apr. 12-13.
Subjects of survey: 3,000 persons chosen from among all eligible
voters throughout the country (at 250 locations on a stratified
two-stage random sampling basis).
Method of implementation: Door-to-door visits for face-to-face
Number of valid respondents: 1,753 persons (58.4 PERCENT ).


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