Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 04/23/08

DE RUEHKO #1115/01 1140102
P 230102Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



Foreign affairs:
1) Government decided to add 36.4 billion yen in new yen loans to
Iraq, making total commitments of 276.8 billion yen (Asahi)
2) Based on UN resolution, Fukuda Cabinet approves extra sanctions
against Iran for nuclear program (Mainichi)
3) Government to try to reject entry into Japan of Reporters without
Borders, a pro-Tibet group that plans Olympic protests during torch
relay in Nagano (Asahi)
4) First Japan, China, South Korea summit meeting planned for
September, with discussions to center on North Korea issues
5) Non-partisan group of lawmakers planning trip to Pyongyang
6) Police to raid PCI today over scam in contracted cleanup of WWII
chemicals and weapons left in China (Sankei)

Diet affairs:
7) Government, ruling parties decide to hold Lower House override
vote on April 30, reinstating gasoline and other provisional taxes
that expired a month before (Asahi)
8) Ruling camp considering slight extension of Diet session in order
to allow more override votes of key bills likely to be killed in the
Upper House (Yomiuri)
9) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) split over whether to file
censure motion against Fukuda Cabinet for override vote on
provisional tax rate bill (Yomiuri)
10) Voices calling for former Prime Minister Koizumi to "explain" to
the public controversial elderly medical-care plan that his
administration introduced (Mainichi)

11) Former Defense Minister Koike expresses desire to link up with
members of the former Japan New Party (Asahi)
12) DPJ comes up with a counterproposal to Fukuda administration's
Consumer Affairs Agency (Mainichi)

Defense affairs:
13) Host-Nation Support Special Measures Agreement to be rejected by
the Upper House but as treaty will come into effect by Lower House
approval on the 25th (Tokyo Shimbun)
14) Defense Minister Ishiba unhappy with ASDF chief's casual
statement about issue of constitutionality of Iraq dispatch (Tokyo
15) Ruling and opposition camps reach agreement on basic law on
space that would allow use of space for defense purposes


1) Japan to offer 36.4 billion yen in fresh yen loans to Iraq

ASAHI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
April 23, 2008

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday announced that it
would offer Iraq a total of 36.4 billion yen in yen loans for
reconstruction of that country. The new yen loans will cover a water
and sewerage project (worth some 34.2 billion yen) for the Kurdish
region in northern Iraq and preliminary work (worth some 2.14
billion yen) for a plan to improve the sewerage facility in Iraq's
capital of Baghdad.

TOKYO 00001115 002 OF 009

This new yen loans are part of the assistance amounting to 5 billion
dollars (some 515.7 billion yen) Japan promised in 2003. Including
fresh yen loans this time, the yen loans Japan provides to Iraq will
total 276.8 billion yen.

In Iraq, the water and sewerage facilities have been deteriorated
due to economic sanctions and disputes. Particularly in the Kurdish
region that was hard oppressed in the Hussein regime, water supply
is restricted to one hour per day in some areas. In the summer of
2007, cholera spread primarily because of declining quality of
drinking water.

2) Government approves at cabinet meeting additional sanctions
against Iran

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
April 23, 2008

Concerning Iran's nuclear issue, the government at a cabinet meeting
on April 22 adopted economic sanctions intended to freeze the assets
of 12 organizations and 13 individuals that have been newly
designated by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The move is in response to the third resolution on sanctions on
Iran, which the UNSC adopted on March 3. Now 35 organizations and 40
individuals are subject to the government's asset freeze policy.
Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura at a cabinet meeting on the 22nd
noted, "It is necessary to deal with the matter with resolution from
the perspective of firmly maintaining the nuclear nonproliferation
policy and the connection to the North Korea nuclear issue."

3) Japan looking for ways to refuse entry into Japan by Reporters
without Borders but has not yet found any grounds for that

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
April 23, 2008

The Paris-based activist group Reporters without Borders (RSF),
which calls on the countries across the world not to take part in
the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, plans to visit Japan in order
to stage a protest against the torch relay in Nagano slated for
April 26. This group's plan has become a headache for the Japanese
government. The government wants to avoid any trouble over the torch
relay, but it has not yet found any legal grounds for Japan to
withhold an entry permit to that group.

RSF was organized by journalist Robert Menard in 1985. It has staged
protests since 2001, when Beijing was chosen as the venue for the
Olympic Games. At the time of the flame-lighting ceremony in Greece
in March, Menard and some other journalists unfurled a banner
showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs, and they were detained by
Greece authorities. Menard and other journalists plan to stage a
protest against the Beijing Olympics in Nagano by putting up a
banner. Reportedly, they are to depart for Japan on April 22.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has begun studying the
possibility of whether it can refuse their entry into Japan. As a
high-level government official noted, "It's inconceivable that the
group will come to Japan for peaceful purposes. We'd like it to
constrain it from visiting Japan."

TOKYO 00001115 003 OF 009

According to a government official, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), a
government office that decides whether to accept an entry into Japan
by foreigners, was behind the scenes asked by the Prime Minister's
Official Residence to look for legal grounds to refuse the group's
entry into Japan. The high-level government official claimed: "Given
that the Group of Eight (G-8) Toyako Summit is nearing, it is only
natural for Japan to make a move to prevent any trouble. This is not
subject to any criticism as violating the freedom of press and the
freedom of assembly."

Under the rules in the Immigration Control Law, even though
individuals were detained by the police in the past, if they were
not sentenced to one year or more in jail, Japan has no reason to
reject their entry into Japan. Justice Minister Hatoyama noted at a
news conference yesterday: "As an exceptional case, Japan can refuse
foreigners' entry into Japan. For now, I've not heard any discussion
held to examine whether the group's plan to enter Japan comes under
an exceptional case."

A senior MOJ official said: "Because we have little information
about the group, for instance, for what purpose the group plans to
visit Nagano, it is difficult indeed to make a decision." The MOJ
intends to screen during immigration processing at the airport
Menard and determine whether the protest Menard plans to stage will
be legal, and then make a final decision whether to allow his group
to enter Japan.

4) First Japan-China-ROK summit to be held in Japan in September to
discuss North Korean nuclear program and other issues

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
April 23, 2008

Japan will host in September the first regular Japan-China-South
Korea summit meeting, several government sources revealed yesterday.
In his meeting with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on April 21, South
Korean President Lee Myung Bak announced support for Japan hosting
the first trilateral summit this year. The government will begin
making administrative-level preparations after a formal agreement is
reached between the prime minister and Chinese President Hu Jintao
in May.

Trilateral summits have been held on the sidelines of ASEAN summits.
In a meeting last November among Prime Minister Fukuda, Chinese
Premier Wen Jiabao and then South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun, an
agreement was reached to hold trilateral summits in rotation apart
form ASEAN.

The three countries have decided that it would be appropriate to
coordinate views ahead of the APEC summit to be held in Peru in
November. In their first trilateral summit, the leaders of the three
countries are likely to discuss wide-ranging topics, such as the
North Korean nuclear issue, environmental issues, and the conclusion
of a Japan-China-South Korea investment pact.

Ahead of the summit, the foreign ministers of the three countries
are scheduled to meet in Japan to coordinate views. Although Japan
and South Korea made it clear at the April 21 summit to strengthen
bilateral ties, there still remain gaps in measures between the two
countries and China over the North Korean issue and other matters.

5) Yamasaki planning suprapartisan lawmaker group visit to North

TOKYO 00001115 004 OF 009

Korea after Second Phase Actions taken

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 23, 2008/04/23

It was learned on April 22 that a suprapartisan group of lawmakers
led by Taku Yamasaki of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is
planning to visit North Korea. They intend to travel right after the
Second Phase Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement
are taken. The Second Actions include the dismantlement of nuclear
weapons, including a declaration of the nuclear development program,
as agreed on at the six-party talks to discuss North Korea's nuclear
issue. They want to make their visit to Pyongyang a breakthrough in
the issue of the abduction of Japanese nationals.

Yamasaki has already conveyed his intention to visit North Korea to
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji
Yabunaka. Tetsundo Iwakuni of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or
Minshuto) is also expected to join the delegation.

Viewing that U.S. President Bush will notify Congress of his
decision to delist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism if
the Second Phase Actions issue is settled, Yamasaki and other
lawmakers plan to visit Pyongyang right after those actions are
taken. They want to extract some concession from North Korea within
45 days until Congress formally decides to take North Korea off the
black list. However, it is unclear whether North Korea will accept a
Japanese delegation. Yamasaki met with Song Il Ho, North Korea's
ambassador in charge of normalization talks with Japan, when he
visited Pyongyang in January last year.

The Second Phase Actions include normalization of ties between Japan
and North Korea as well as ties between the U.S. and North Korea.
However, with North Korea standing firm on its stance that the
abduction issue has been settled, the prospects remain dim for
finding a breakthrough.

6) Prosecutors may raid consulting firm today over disposal of
chemical weapons in China

SANKEI (Page 1) (Abridged)
April 23, 2008

A task force of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office seems
to have decided to raid the Pacific Consultants International (PCI)
group, a major consulting firm for construction projects, over its
undertaking of abandoned chemical weapons (ACW) in China. The task
force, now looking into PCI's illegal payments for the ACW project,
is likely to investigate at least three former PCI executives today,
including a 71-year-old former chairman, on the charge of causing
PCI to sustain a loss of about 120 million yen through intergroup
fictitious transactions. The task force raided PCI and its
affiliates in October last year and is expected to investigate the
flow of murky money over the project funded with a huge amount of
money from the state coffers.

The illicit payoffs were made over a government-sponsored ACW
disposal project in China. A joint venture of PCI and other firms
received orders for consulting services from fiscal 1999 through
fiscal 2003. In fiscal 2004 and afterward, however, Abandoned
Chemical Weapons Disposal Corporation (ACWDC), a Tokyo-based firm
newly established by the PCI group, was the only contractor for the

TOKYO 00001115 005 OF 009

project. ACWDC asked PCI and others to undertake the project in

ACWDC entrusted PCI with some of the project's undertakings for
about 300 million yen from fiscal 2004 through fiscal 2005. The
former PCI chairman and some other PCI executives conspired to have
PCI subcontract Pacific Program Management (PPM), one of the PCI
group's member companies, for fictitious transactions. They are
suspected of having PCI make illicit payoffs to PPM totaling 120
million yen, broken down into about 90 million yen in 2004 and about
30 million yen in 2005.

7) Government, ruling bloc to take a revote on bill restoring
provisional gasoline tax rate on April 30

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
April 23, 2008

The government and the ruling bloc yesterday decided to take a
revote on the government-sponsored tax system reform-related bills
and readopt them by a two-third majority in the Lower House in order
to restore the provisional tax rates for gasoline and other items.
If the provisional tax rates are left expired, the central and local
governments will suffer a revenue shortfall amounting to some 2.6
trillion yen annually. The government intends to minimize the impact
of the revenue shortage on road construction and local finances by
taking a revote on the bills. This means that the gasoline price is
certain to be hiked in May.

Assuming that the ruling parties put the bills on a revote in the
Lower House on April 30, the opposition bloc, including the
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which dominates the Upper House, is
considering submitting a censure motion against the prime minister.
If the censure motion is adopted in the Upper House, the Diet could
come to a grinding halt. The ruling and opposition parties are
likely to engage in a fierce confrontation after the 30th.

The government's tax system reform-related bills cleared the Lower
House on Feb. 29 and were sent to the Upper House. At present the
bills are being discussed at the Upper House Committee on Financial
Affairs. If the bills are not adopted by April 28, the bills can be
put to a revote in the Lower House on April 29 or after in
accordance with the 60-day rule of the Constitution of regarding the
bills as being rejected in the Upper House. As April 29 is a
national holiday, the ruling block will call a Lower House plenary
session on April 30 and put the bills to a revote.

Prime Minister Fukuda yesterday discussed how to deal with the now
expired provisional tax rates with ruling Liberal Democratic Party
Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki and Chief Cabinet Secretary

Machimura. After the discussion, Ibuki told reporters: "As the party
in power, we can't wink about the difficulties local governments are
suffering. Our common perception is that we should avoid issuing
deficit-covering government bonds."

8) With the override vote on the provisional tax rates coming, calls
come from the ruling camp for a short extension of the Diet session,
with consideration given to the Diet being in a deadlocked state

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpt)
April 23, 2008

TOKYO 00001115 006 OF 009

With the decision by the government and ruling parties to carry out
a Lower-House override vote on tax-related bills rejected by the
Upper House that would restore the provisional taxes, including the
gasoline tax, it has becoming increasingly uncertain whether the
remaining bills can be dealt with during the remaining part of the
Diet session. Voices have emerged in the ruling camp calling for a
short extension of the regular session of the Diet that goes to June
15 in order to pass by Lower House override votes those bills
rejected by the Upper House.

9) DPJ split over filing censure motion against prime minister

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpt)
April 23, 2008

On the question of filing an Upper House censure motion Prime
Minister Fukuda, Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General
Yukio Hatoyama yesterday heard the views of the other executives of
the four opposition parties. Arguments, both for and against
submitting a motion, were presented, and a way to coordinate a
position could not be found.

Although both points of view agreed that public opinion had to be
observed, the view in favor of a censure motion argued, "If we don't
submit it, apprehension about dissolution of the Lower House would
grow, and we could take a big blow." The view reluctant to submit a
motion analyzed: "If we pass a censure motion, it would mean
rejecting all deliberations in the Diet, but if that continued,
public opinion would react negatively, and the boycott could not be
sustained in the party."

10) "Mr. Koizumi, who introduced the medical system for the elderly,
must explain it in person"; LDP leaders call for Koizumi's stumping
for LDP Yamaguchi by-election candidate

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Abridged slightly)
April 23, 2008

"(Former Prime Minister Junichiro) Koizumi and others who took the
initiative in introducing the medical system for the very old should
fulfill their accountability."

In yesterday's LDP General Council meeting, many urged Koizumi and
former Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Heizo Takenaka to stump
for the LDP candidate running in the House of Representatives
by-election for the Yamaguchi No. 2 constituency and fulfill their
accountability, given the fact that he is fighting an uphill battle
due to the fierce public reaction to the medical system for the
elderly (over 75).

Defending the current party leadership, former Secretary General
Koichi Kato called for Koizumi's and Takenaka's support, saying:
"Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki were
not in the current posts when the system was introduced." The LDP
Yamaguchi prefectural chapter also requested stumping by Koizumi,
who is still popular. Although Ibuki replied, "I will ask Mr.
Koizumi," the former prime minister remains reluctant to visit the
constituency. Realizing the request seems difficult.

11) Former Defense Minister Koike eager to join hands with former
members of now defunct Japan New Party

TOKYO 00001115 007 OF 009

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
April 23, 2008

She, who hails from the defunct Japan New Party (JNP), may play the
role of realigning political parties.... Former Defense Minister
Yuriko Koike yesterday delivered a speech in Tokyo, in which she
cited lawmakers' names of former JNP members as her fellow lawmakers
and expressed enthusiasm to join hands with them, saying; "Former
members of the JNP are found here and there. I'd like to play the
role of stage director in the divided Diet so that lawmakers can
behave as 'adults' by giving priority to the state instead of
political games."

The names cited by Koike as her fellow lawmakers included Prime
Ministerial Advisor Tatsuya Ito, Environment Minister Kamoshita, and
House of Representatives member Toshimitsu Motegi of the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Seiji Maehara, former president
of the major opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and former
DPJ Policy Research Council Chairperson Yukio Edano. Because Koike
dined with former Prime Minister Koizumi, Motegi, Maehara and others
in Tokyo on April 9, her moves fuel speculation that she has
established a foothold for political realignment.

12) DPJ mulling establishing post of consumer protection officer to
counter premier's plan to set up consumer agency

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
April 23, 2008/04/23

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) yesterday firmed up
an outline of a consumer protection officer system bill to be
presented to the current Diet session. The bill centers on giving
authority to the envisaged consumer protection officer on a par with
that of the prime minister. To that end, the post of a consumer
protection officer who will be responsible for protecting the right
of consumers would be created independent of the cabinet. The
officer would also be empowered to give recommendations to
government agencies to exercise their forcible investigation right.
The party will map out an interim report at a meeting of the "Next
Cabinet" to be held on April 23 and formally adopt the plan possibly
within May, after final coordination.

The DPJ bill is a counterproposal to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's
consumer agency initiative. The bill characterizes the status of the
envisaged consumer protection officer as a position having the
fourth right, following the three branches of
government-legislative, administrative and judicial, taking the view
that it would be impossible to control existing government agencies,
which are tilting toward business operators, just by unifying
consumer-related administrative offices of relevant government

The selection of a consumer protection officer would be based on
Diet approval and attestation by the Emperor, instead of the
existing personnel appointment system requiring Diet approval under
which the government proposes candidates to the Diet. The tenure
would be six years. There would be no reappointments. The new post
would be responsible for providing giving council and guidance on
and investigating consumer-related issues.

13) Upper chamber to veto sympathy budget

TOKYO 00001115 008 OF 009

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
April 23, 2008

The leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) decided
yesterday to take a vote in a meeting tomorrow of the House of
Councillors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and in a plenary
sitting on Apr. 25 of the House of Councillors on a special measures
agreement proposed by the government for Japan's continued burden
sharing of costs for the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan
(omoiyari yosan or literally "sympathy budget"). The proposed
special agreement will be voted down with a majority of votes from
the DPJ and other opposition parties, including the Japanese
Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party. The special
agreement is a kind of treaty, for which the Constitution stipulates
that the House of Representatives' decision takes precedence over
the House of Councillors' decision. Accordingly, the special
agreement will be approved in a joint committee of both houses on
Apr. 25 and is expected to take effect by early May. According to
the Foreign Ministry, the upper chamber will vote down a treaty for
the first time.

14) Ishiba feels "something wrong" with ASDF top brass officer's
remark over court ruling

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
April 23, 2008

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, meeting the press yesterday, chided
Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami for using an
inappropriate expression when commenting on a Nagoya High Court
ruling that judged the ASDF mission in Iraq to be unconstitutional.
Tamogami used a popular comedian's signature phrase to say, "Sonna
no kankei nee (That doesn't concern us)." Ishiba said, "I feel
something wrong with his choice of words."

At the same time, Ishiba showed his understanding to a certain
extent, saying: "I guess that he, as the ASDF chief of staff, didn't
want the court ruling to affect the morale of the ASDF members
working over there. Given this, I can understand well that he wanted
to emphasize that the ASDF members are engaged in the mission under
the Constitution."

15) Ruling parties, DPJ agree to submit basic space bill to Diet
this week allowing country to use space for defense purposes

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Abridged slightly)
April 23, 2008

The Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito, and the Democratic Party
of Japan agreed yesterday to submit to the Diet as early as later
this week a basic space bill to expand the government's space policy
with the aim of enacting it in the ongoing Diet session. The
legislation aims to enhance the government's efforts by setting up
what is tentatively called the space bureau in the Cabinet Office
and to expand the objective of developing and using space to include
defense purposes. The bill stipulates, "Promotion of the development
and use of space contributing to the security of Japan." Pointing to
a shift in the government's policy that has been limited to
nonmilitary purposes, the legislation is likely to cause

The government has taken a nonmilitary stance based on a 1969 Diet

TOKYO 00001115 009 OF 009

resolution confining the development and use of space to peaceful
purposes. But following North Korea's firing of a Taepodong missile
in 1998, the government launched three intelligence-gathering
satellites. Although they have been operated to deal with disasters
and other events in accordance with the principle of peaceful use,
some observers have described them as reconnaissance satellites in

The LDP, New Komeito, and DPJ shared the need to dissolve the
discrepancy with the reality. Specifically, the three parties
reached a basic agreement to: (1) set up space development strategic
headquarter in the cabinet to serve as an apace policy control
tower; (2) establish a space bureau in the Cabinet Office in one
year after the law's enforcement; and (3) review the Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency (JAXA). The envisaged space bureau, a
Japanese-style NASA, is to plan space policies.

Based on the basic agreement, the ruling parties will withdraw a
similar bill presented to the House of Representatives in June 2007,
and the three parties will jointly craft a new bill to submit it to
the ongoing Diet session. But because cautious views exist in the
New Komeito and the DPJ about developing and using space for
military purposes, the draft bill stipulates, "Space development
shall be pursued in line with the Constitution's pacifist


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