Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 04/25/08
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 04/25/08
1) Top headlines
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)
U.S. beef import incident:
4) Prime Minister Fukuda "regrets" the finding of banned "risk
material" in a shipment of U.S. beef (Tokyo Shimbun)
5) Government anxious to put out the flame set off by banned beef
6) Vice agricultural minister sees no need for inspecting all boxes
of beef shipped from U.S. (Tokyo Shimbun)
7) One food chain plans to continue to use as supplier the beef
supplier that shipped in error banned material in with regular beef
8) WTO Doha Round: Japan's willingness to compromise seen as key to
restarting stalled talks (Yomiuri)
9) Japan prior to G-8 Summit to commit 10 billion yen in foreign aid
for food crisis, centering on Africa (Asahi)
10) Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura rejects idea of LDP
parliamentarian league traveling to Pyongyang (Yomiuri)
11) Prime Minister Fukuda is off to Russia today to meet the next
12) Japanese, Russian governments agree to new sub-cabinet talks on
East Siberian development (Nikkei)
13) Olympic torch relay reaches Nagano tomorrow, amid security
precautions, but local community remains tense (Sankei)
14) LDP subcommittee proposes defense reform plan that would enhance
military authority (Mainichi)
15) Reaction to LDP subcommittee's defense reorganization proposal
is negative (Mainichi)
16) Suits and uniforms to jointly advise defense minister in new MOD
17) Yamaguchi by-election: Ruling and opposition camp see voter
turnout as key to their candidate getting elected (Mainichi)
18) Idea emerges of Diet resolution on turning road taxes into
general revenue funds in order to constrain road-policy interests
19) DPJ decides to put off censure motion against the prime
minister, fearing public criticism for its boycotting deliberations
in the Diet (Tokyo Shimbun)
1) TOP HEADLINES
Erroneous pension checkoffs total 200 million yen for 40,000 people
Mainichi, Yomiuri, Tokyo Shimbun and Sankei:
Class hours, content to rise starting in 2009
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Marubeni to buy 30 PERCENT stakes in Chilean copper mines for 200
Toshiba discrimination dispute finally settled
(1) Japanese leg of Beijing Olympic torch relay to begin
(2) U.S. beef: Do not make beef bowl fans cry
(1) U.S. beef: Matter serious than a simple mistake
(2) A hydrogen sulfide gas suicide
(1) Latest imported beef discovery poses no risk
(2) Rocket tanker attack: International cooperation imperative
(1) Management of music copyrights essential in Internet age
(2) U.S. beef: Import conditions must be observed thoroughly
(1) Ooma nuclear power plant: Approval an important first step in
country's nuclear policy
(2) Soundness of copyright business takes more than competition
(1) U.S. beef: Simple mistake fearful
(2) Third anniversary of Amagasaki train accident: Safety must
always come first
(1) Fukuchiyama Line accident must not be forgotten
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, April 24
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 25, 2008
Met at Kantei with Agency of Natural Resources and Energy
Director-General Mochizuki and METI International Trade Policy
Bureau Director-General Ishige.
Met with Science and Technology Foundation of Japan Chairman
Hiroyuki Yoshikawa. Afterwards, met with U.S. Google's vice
president who was awarded the Japan Prize and others. Later,
Hokkaido Gov. Takahashi and others filed a petition to the prime
minister for return of the Northern Territories with State Minister
in Charge of Northern Territories Kishida present.
Met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ono. After him, met with New
TOKYO 00001143 003 OF 012
Komeito Representative Ota, House of Representatives member Yosuke
Aoki and others. Ota remained.
Met with House of Representatives member Takeshi Noda.
Met with Mochizuki. Afterwards. Vice Foreign Minister Yabunaka.
After him, met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura and Deputy
Chief Cabinet Secretary Futahashi.
Attended the Japan-Brazil Exchange Year/Ceremony for the 100th
Anniversary of Japanese Emigration into Brazil held at Hotel Okura.
Met at Kantei with LDP Trade Research Commission on Agricultural,
Fisheries and Forest Products Chairman Yatsu, joined by LDP Research
Commission on Comprehensive Agricultural Administration Chairman
Met with Cabinet Intelligence Director Mitani.
Arrived at Kantei residence.
4) Prime Minister Fukuda calls SRM found in imported U.S. beef
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
April 25, 2008
Prime Minister Fukuda late yesterday called the discovery of
specified-risk material (SRM, which is said to have a high BSE risk
and whose imports are banned) in imported U.S. beef "truly
When asked if there would be any impact on talks with the United
States on relaxation of the imports conditions for U.S. beef, Fukuda
went no further than to say: "We are discussing the matter in terms
of scientific and technical aspects. We will reach a conclusion
after obtaining the results of the discussions." Fukuda was replying
to questions by reporters at the Prime Minister's Official
Meanwhile, the major opposition Democratic Party of Japan's Deputy
President Naoto Kan told a news conference: "The government must
take a stand of making the U.S. observe the rules so that the risk
can be avoided."
The Japanese Communist Party's Chairman Kazuo Shii also criticized
the government at a news conference: "The government must
immediately decide to suspend all U.S. beef imports."
5) Government desperately trying to calm down situation in aftermath
of discovery of SRM in U.S. beef
MAINICHI (Page 3) (Full)
April 25, 2008
A high-risk material that could contain BSE agents has been found in
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beef imported from the United States. Following this, the government
is desperately trying to calm down the situation, an official
emphasizing: "There is no problem with our safety system." The U.S.
has strongly reacted to Japan' maintenance of the world's toughest
import conditions. Given this, the government is apparently
concerned that Japan's excessive reaction to the situation might
cause discord between the two countries.
The specified risk material (SRM) was found in one of 700 boxes
imported into Japan by Yoshinoya Holdings Co. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture's health inspection certificate was on the box, but the
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) suspects that
parts intended for the U.S. market were erroneously packed into a
box bound for Japan.
When beef with SRM was found mixed in shipments in January 2006, it
was learned that a U.S. inspector had issued a health certificate
while knowing that it was beef with vertebral columns. Japan
therefore completely banned U.S. beef imports, citing defects in the
U.S. inspection system. This time, though, the government has
decided to prohibit only imports from the meatpacker in question.
MAFF Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi stressed: "Keeping in mind the
possibility that SRMs might be mixed in by mistake, we have
instructed that an inspection should be conducted at the stage of
distribution. This checking system worked effectively this time."
Japan sets the strict condition of importing only beef from cattle
20 months of age or younger. But the U.S. has called on Japan to
drop this condition. The U.S. beef industry is dissatisfied with
Japan, calling it "a unique country."
Japan would like to proceed with negotiations, focusing on the idea
of raising the age limit of cattle whose meat is eligible for import
to those aged up to 30 months as the point of compromise. But if
consumers become more distrustful of U.S. beef due to this case, the
government may find it difficult to ease the condition.
6) Vice MAFF minister: There is no need to check all boxes of US
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Slightly abridged)
April 25, 2008
Spinal parts - designated as materials at risk of accumulating BSE
agents - were found in beef imported from the United States. On the
inspection system in connection with this problem, Vice Minister of
Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) Toshiro Shirasu said in
a press conference yesterday: "It is not necessary to check all
Shirasu first cited that the production line for Japan is clearly
distinguished from others at U.S. plants. He then emphasized: "A
system has been established to prevent beef products bound for Japan
from being mixed in those (for other countries). This current system
is working effectively."
Last year, the government ended a measure to check all deliveries of
beef products imported from the U.S. at airports and sea ports.
Instead, such products are inspected at random at an animal
quarantine station under the jurisdiction of MAFF to check whether
livestock is infected with a communicable disease and a quarantine
station under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and
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Welfare to check the safety of food.
However, the current rate of sampling remains low. So the government
has instructed restaurant and supermarket chains to report it to
administrative organs if they find something abnormal when they open
boxes of imported beef.
7) Gyu-Kaku uses beef imported from National Beef: "There is no
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Abridged)
April 25, 2008
Reins International (Tokyo), which operates the grilled beef
restaurant chain Gyu-Kaku, revealed yesterday that it has used beef
imported from U.S. meat processor National Beef's processing
facility in California. The company emphasizes that there is no
The company stopped imports from the said plant, but it will
continue to sell the products in stock because safety checks on them
have been done after they arrived in Japan.
Reins International will look for another source of procurement in
the U.S. Its spokesman said: "It is not true to say that since they
are U.S. beef products, they are risky. We have all products checked
at the processing plan, our client, so the products are safe."
Steakhouse chain Don was using beef shipped from the plant in
question. It has stopped serving dishes using U.S. beef. Zenshoku
(Ibaraki City, Osaka), which was using beef imported from another
plant of National Beef, has stopped using it.
8) Japan's concessions likely to be key to restarting WTO talks
YOMIURI (Page 9) (Full)
April 25, 2008
The stalemate in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations
under the World Trade Organization (WTO) is likely to be overcome
shortly. Possibly in late May, a ministerial meeting of 30 major
countries and regions is expected to take place in order to aim to
reach a general framework agreement, with the aim of reaching a
final agreement by the end of the year.
At the end of March, U.S. President Bush in a meeting with
Australian Prime Minister Rudd, gave this outlook for the Doha
Round, "We are ready to make significant concessions to move the
round forward." Washington's major concern is how to maintain the
subsidies now being provided to U.S. farmers, but the President made
the above remark apparently because "he does not want other
countries to point to the U.S. as a country that caused the collapse
of the multilateral trade talks," a source engaged in negotiations
said. On top of that, the fact that each country's farmers' income
is on the rise thanks to increased food prices worldwide provides a
tailwind for the President. Food exporting countries financially
support domestic farmers, but they now find it less necessary to
The Doha Round started with a ministerial session in Doha, Qatar, in
TOKYO 00001143 006 OF 012
November 2001. The round initially planned to reach a final accord
in January 2005. This schedule, however, has been widely delayed.
Should a general framework agreement fail to be reached this time,
multilateral trade talks would be frozen for one or more years, and
each country would give up on free trade at a multilateral level
under the WTO and would be certain to move to conclude economic
partnership agreements, under which tariffs would be lowered between
The focus of the upcoming ministerial session is agricultural
negotiations, where interests are fiercely conflicting among
countries. Chairman Falconer released a proposal in February, in
which he said that important items on which lowering tariffs will be
allowed as exceptions should be limited to 4-5 PERCENT of the duty
items, but modifications are likely to be made so that all duty
items will be treated as exceptions. The number of Japan's important
items is likely to increase from the 40-60 to 50-80, but Japan has
insisted that more than 133 items, including rice, should be treated
as exceptions. How far Japan can make concessions in this regard by
a political decision is likely to draw international attention.
9) Japan to offer 10 billion yen in emergency food aid mainly to
Africa ahead of G-8 Toyako Summit
ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
April 25, 2008
Ahead of the Group of Eight Toyako Summit in Hokkaido in July, the
government yesterday decided to offer a total of $100 million
(approximately 10 billion yen) in emergency aid, primarily to
developing countries where famine and political unrest are expanding
owing to soaring food prices, The emergency food-aid commitment will
be the second largest, after the United States.
In May, Japan will provide $50 million (5 billion yen) in emergency
aid via the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in order to help
some 10 African countries that are in a serious food crisis, such as
Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and Central African Republic. Just before the
G-8 Toyako Summit, Japan will offer in the form of bilateral aid
another $50 million or more to countries in a critical situation.
Japan offers $100 million or more annually to the WFP, an
international body that provides food aid to developing countries.
The aid Japan has committed to WFP since the beginning of the year
has already reached $68 million. Japan has now decided to provide
additional aid to the WFP. This is because the government wants to
demonstrate its leadership as the host nation of the upcoming G-8
summit. Japan intends to use a portion of the official development
assistance budget for developing countries for this commitment. If
necessary, Japan will consider compiling a supplementary budget.
10) Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura negative about visit to North
Korea by Diet members
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
April 25, 2008
Taku Yamasaki, a former vice president of the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP), and other Diet members are looking into the
possibility of visiting North Korea. Chief Cabinet Secretary
Nobutaka Machimura took a negative stance toward a visit to North
Korea by nonpartisan Diet members when he was asked by reporters,
TOKYO 00001143 007 OF 012
saying: "The present situation does not allow Diet members to carry
out diplomacy (with North Korea)."
In response, Yamasaki said yesterday in a meeting of his faction:
"We would like to take action after North Korea reports all its
nuclear programs and a settlement on the North's complete scrap of
its nuclear facilities is secured." He stressed that he would decide
on the timing of a visit in a cautious manner. A LDP lawmaker, who
has close ties with Yamasaki said: "We will visit Pyongyang after
obtaining Prime Minister Fukuda's approval."
11) Prime Minister Fukuda off for Moscow today
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
April 25, 2008
Prime Minister will visit Russia on April 25-27. He is expected to
meet separately with President Vladimir Putin and President-elect
Dmitry Medvedev on the 26th. The aim is to build a relationship of
trust with the Russian leaders as host of the Group of Eight summit
at Lake Toya in Hokkaido in July. The outlook is that Fukuda and the
Russian leaders will discuss such issues as the long-standing
dispute over Northern Territories and economic cooperation. They
also will likely to confirm the need to strengthen cooperation on
the North Korean issue.
It is the first time for a Japanese prime minister to visit Moscow
since Junichiro Koizumi went there in January 2003. Chief Cabinet
Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told the press yesterday:
"Based on the 2003 Japan-Russia Action Program, economic and
personnel exchanges have been promoted in a broad range of areas.
They will discuss how to build Japan-Russia relations on a higher
Russia has a high interest in exporting energies to the Asia-Pacific
region. With this in mind, Fukuda intends to find ways to resolve
the territorial dispute by stepping up cooperation on join resources
development in the Far East region.
12) Japan, Russia to set up vice-minister level talks on East
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 25, 2008
The governments of Japan and Russia has decided to set up new
vice-minister level talks, which would discuss only issues related
to Russia's Far East and the East Siberian regions. Prime Minister
Yasuo Fukuda, who will depart for Russia today, is expected to
confirm with outgoing President Vladimir Putin and his successor,
Dmitry Medvedev to expand cooperation in the East Siberia. The
setting of vice-minister level talks is part of measures to expand
bilateral cooperation. Vice-minister officials of the two countries
will pave the way for negotiations on the long-standing dispute over
the four islands off Hokkaido.
Tokyo and Moscow last November launched a vice-minister level
strategic dialogue to discuss wide-ranging issues, including the
territorial dispute. The Sub-committee for Interregional Exchange of
the Japanese-Russian Intergovernmental Committee was also
established last November. The sub-committee discusses mainly
TOKYO 00001143 008 OF 012
promotion of exchanges between regional governments of Japan and
Russia, including those outside Far East.
The planned vice-minister level talks will focus on promotion of
exchanges between local communities, development of resources in the
East Siberia, consolidation of distribution infrastructure, among
other issues. The two governments have envisioned the holding of a
meeting ahead of the July Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido.
With an eye on expanding its influence over the Asia-Pacific region
in the future, Russia intends to accelerate development of its Far
East region. The outlook is that the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation forum will be held in Vladivostok in 2012. The Japanese
government will lay the groundwork for improvement on the
13) Olympic torch relay in Nagano tomorrow; Tensions growing in the
SANKEI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
April 25, 2008
With the Olympic torch relay taking place tomorrow, tensions are
growing in Nagano City. Organizations supporting Tibet and Chinese
people living in Japan will arrive in the city starting today. The
city has prepared shelters, and the schools plan to go on patrol.
Shops on the streets where the touch relay will take place are
considering removing their sign boards. Under such circumstance, the
Olympic flame will arrive today at Haneda Airport and it will be
carried to Nagano.
Tomorrow when the torch relay takes place, there will be classroom
observations in 14 elementary schools and two junior-high schools in
Nagano City. Kamo Elementary School asked the parents of students,
who live the prefectural workers' welfare center which will be used
for the departing ceremony, to take their children to school.
Teachers will go on patrol around the school.
Although Koji Watanabe, chairman of the association of shops in the
city, had called on shop owners to open their shops from the morning
that day, it has now been decided that each shop owner will decide
on the opening hour on its own.
The prefectural police and the city are now ready for the torch
relay. The torch relay will be guarded by 3,000 police officers,
including Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department officers. It has been
also decided that to defend the runners from harm, uniformed police
officers will stand each side of the street and a video film will be
made around the runners.
National Police Agency Director General Yoshimura said: "The
situation is extremely severe because there will be demonstrations
by supporters for Tibet and by right-wing groups. However, we will
make assurance doubly sure by mobilizing riot police from the Tokyo
Metropolitan Police Department and Kanto Regional Police Bureau."
14) LDP panel proposes expanding SDF personnel's authority
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
Eve., April 24, 2008
A subcommittee of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on reform of
TOKYO 00001143 009 OF 012
the Defense Ministry, chaired by Yasukazu Hamada, released a report
of recommendations April 24 that call for reform of the Defense
Ministry. The report comes in the wake of a series of scandals,
including the collision of an Aegis-equipped destroyer with a
fishing boat. The Defense Ministry is said to be lacking close
communication between its internal bureaus' administrative officials
and the Self-Defense Forces' uniformed staff officers. The LDP panel
report therefore recommends the Defense Ministry to abolish its
Operations and Planning Bureau, which is in charge of administrative
affairs for SDF operations, and integrate its functions into the SDF
Joint Staff Office.
The LDP panel report substantially expands the authority of SDF
officers. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba has advocated
integrating the Defense Ministry's administrative officials and the
SDF's uniformed staff officers into an integral body. This advocacy,
however, has encountered a backlash from within the LDP. The report
avoided touching on this advocacy. In addition, the report also
recommends securing transparency by employing civilians and SDF
veterans as political appointees to advise the defense minister.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has ordered Ishiba to overhaul the
Defense Ministry in the wake of scandals involving the ministry.
However, Ishiba's reform plan faced strong opposition from the
ministry's internal bureaus, the SDF, and the LDP.
In addition to the LDP, an in-house panel of the Defense Ministry
and an advisory panel for the prime minister have been also
discussing reform of the Defense Ministry. The LDP panel forestalled
them with its proposal, which is aimed at blocking the Ishiba plan.
However, the LDP panel's proposal is no more than a report within
the LDP. Its status is vague, as it is not expected to go through
the LDP's formal procedures.
15) LDP panel opposed to drastic reorganization for Defense Ministry
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Abridged)
April 25, 2008
The prime minister's office, the Defense Ministry, and the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party have been discussing reform of the Defense
Ministry in the wake of a series of scandals involving the Defense
Ministry. Meanwhile, an LDP subcommittee worked out a report of
recommendations yesterday, forestalling an advisory panel for the
prime minister and an in-house committee of the Defense Ministry.
The LDP panel's report features the expansion of the authority of
uniformed officers in the Self-Defense Forces. In fact, however, the
report is aimed primarily at constraining Defense Minister Shigeru
Ishiba's plan to restructure the Defense Ministry on a large scale.
Ishiba will come up with his restructuring plan in May. However, the
Defense Ministry's reform is now being clouded.
The Defense Ministry's restructuring process kicked off with Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda's order given to Ishiba in February for a
"bottom-up review" of the Defense Ministry's organization. Ishiba
has advocated integrating the Defense Ministry's internal bureaus
and the SDF's staff offices, and the Defense Ministry's reform
promotion team is now studying the Ishiba plan.
However, both the Defense Ministry's internal bureaus and the SDF's
uniformed staff officers are strongly opposed to the Ishiba plan
TOKYO 00001143 010 OF 012
because their posts and powers will be reduced. They are backed by
the LDP's defense policy clique. In its report of recommendations,
the LDP panel, which is mainly composed of defense-related
lawmakers, did not touch on Ishiba's integral reorganization idea.
16) Defense Ministry plans to set up new decision-making panel
YOMIURI (Page 1) (Abridged)
April 25, 2008
The Defense Ministry has now decided to set up a new decision-making
council of senior administrative officials from its internal bureaus
and uniformed staff officers from the Ground, Maritime, and Air
Self-Defense Forces to discuss defense policy and better deal with
emergencies, sources said yesterday. The Defense Ministry's
administrative officials and the SDF's uniformed staff officers are
to jointly advise the defense ministry. To that end, the Defense
Ministry would like to submit a Defense Ministry Establishment Law
revision bill to the Diet in its extraordinary session planned for
this fall. It will be the first phase of the Defense Ministry's
reform in the wake of a series of scandals involving the Defense
The newly planned council, with the defense minister presiding over,
will be made up of the senior vice minister and senior civilian
officials, including the administrative vice minister, and the SDF's
uniformed staff officers, including the chiefs of staff of the SDF
Joint Staff Office and the GSDF, MSDF, and ASDF staff offices, and
the chief of the Defense Intelligence Headquarters. The council will
be a de facto supreme decision-making body of the Defense Ministry
and will discuss defense policy matters in general and SDF
operations to deal with emergencies
17) Yamaguchi by-election: Tug-of-war expected at 60 PERCENT voter
turnout; LDP hopes for low turnout, DPJ eyes high rate
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Abridged)
April 25, 2008
Campaigning for the April 27 by-election for the Yamaguchi No. 2
constituency is now in the final stretch. The Liberal Democratic
Party and the rival Democratic Party of Japan share the view that
voter turnout will determine victory or defeat. The LDP, which puts
high priority on organizational votes, is hoping for low voter
turnout, while the DPJ is desperate to dig up unaffiliated voters to
increase the rate. Some envisage a tug-of-war over the 60 PERCENT
Voter turnout in the previous 2005 Lower House election was 72.45
PERCENT . But the rate in a by-election is usually far lower than
that in a regular election. Some LDP members think that a rate in
excess of 60 PERCENT is not good but a rate around 50 PERCENT is
not bad for the party. For the upcoming election, the party has
developed an election strategy based on that view.
LDP Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki delivered yesterday roadside
speeches at six spots in Iwakuni City, emphasizing the fairness of
the newly introduced medical system for the elderly. From a sense of
crisis that an insufficient explanation of the system has driven the
elderly, the core part in the program, away from the LDP, Ibuki's
speeches were intended to solidify organizational votes.
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Meanwhile, DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa, Deputy President Naoto Kan,
and Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama stumped yesterday for the DPJ
candidate in Hikari City apparently in an effort to win the support
of unaffiliated voters. The venue was a parking lot along a busy
highway in a Hikari City suburb.
Their strategy was to play up the party's policy to as many
unaffiliated voters as possible in Hikari City, the hunting ground,
by deliberately avoiding the two camps' home turfs.
18) Freeing up road revenues for general purposes; Diet resolution
plan surfaces to prevent rebels (from voting against the plan) and
contain road specialists
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
April 25, 2008
A plan has cropped up in the Liberal Democratic Party to pass a Diet
resolution specifying the government's and ruling bloc's decision to
free up road-related revenues for general spending from fiscal 2009
to coincide with their another plan to take a Lower House overriding
vote on April 30 on a bill amending the Special Taxation Measures
Law to restore the provisional tax rates. The aim is to prevent
mid-level and junior members from rebelling against the party
decision and to alleviate criticism of holding an override vote. At
the same time, some in the party are trying to use the envisaged
resolution to contain members with ties to road construction
interests. Whether or not the resolution can be adopted remains to
The LDP faction led by Nobutaka Machimura held a meeting yesterday
in which Upper House member Ichita Yamamoto and others said: "If an
override vote is taken under the present situation, it would be
criticized as contradictory to the government's and ruling camp's
decision. Unless we consider an assurance that road tax revenues
will be used for general purposes, we won't be able to offer an
explanation to the public."
What Yamamoto and others expressed skepticism was not about the bill
amending the Special Taxation Measures Law but the one amending the
Road Construction Revenues Special Measures Law. An override vote on
the road construction measures legislation can be taken on May 12 or
later. But its content designed to maintain road-construction
revenue sources for 10 years conflicts with the government's and the
ruling bloc's decision that was made in line with Prime Minister
Yasuo Fukuda's new proposal.
The major opposition Democratic Party of Japan has begun zeroing on
this point. The Diet resolution plan has cropped up in order to
dissolve this contradiction.
19) DPJ delays submitting censure motion against prime minister out
of fear of public criticism of boycotting Diet debate
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Excerpts)
April 25, 2008
The major opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is likely to
delay submitting a censure motion against Prime Minister Fukuda to
the Upper House until May 12, when it is allowed to put to a revote
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the bill revising the Road Construction Financial Resources Law.
The DPJ initially planned to submit a censure motion immediately
after the bill revising the Special Tax Measures Law is put to a
revote in the Lower House on April 30.
However, DPJ Deputy President Naoto Kan said at a news conference
yesterday, "We must consider what is a best strategy and a best
tactic in order to bring about a dissolution of the Lower House for
a snap election instead of arguing whether it is appropriate to
submit a censure motion." Kan noted he would not dwell on the idea
of submitting a censure motion at an early time.
If the prime minister brushes aside a censure motion submitted by
the DPJ, the DPJ would then find it difficult to attend Diet
deliberations which the prime minister attends. If the DPJ boycotts
Diet deliberations for one and a half months until June 15, when the
current session of the Diet closes, the DPJ would be exposed to
public criticism. Most mid-level and junior lawmakers of the DPJ do
not want to come under such criticism.