Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 04/03/08
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 04/03/08
1) Top headlines
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)
4) Kanagawa police expected to arrest Yokosuka sailor today on
charge of murdering cab driver (Mainichi)
5) U.S. Navy expected to hand over sailor suspect of slaying cabbie;
Case reveals something lacking in training system (Asahi)
6) Police talks on handing over U.S. military suspects did not
always go well in the past (Tokyo Shimbun)
7) Locals in Yokosuka disgruntled about the Status of Forces
Agreement (SOFA) that gives U.S. military special treatment (Tokyo
8) Yokosuka Navy commander imposes voluntary curfew on off-base
activities after 7 pm (Asahi)
9) Okinawa, Iwakuni bases are easing curfew on U.S. troops that have
been on since rape incident (Asahi)
10) Special measure agreement allowing Japan to provide host-nation
support for U.S. troops will pass the Lower House today, with DPJ
11) Upper House will vote down the host-nation support agreement
12) Prime Minister Fukuda is unhappy with calls for boycotting the
Beijing Olympics (Tokyo Shimbun)
13) Japan to extend sanctions on North Korea a half year (Nikkei)
14) With Japan dropping to 5th place as ODA donor, urgent need
arises for a new aid strategy (Asahi)
15) Iran agrees to release young Japanese male held hostage for half
a year (Mainichi)
16) LDP readies child-pornography law amendment that would make
simple possession a crime, but DPJ concerned about invasion of
17) Yomiuri poll: Cabinet support rate a record low of 27 PERCENT ,
but 58 PERCENT of public want to see road-related taxes turned into
general funds (Yomiuri)
18) Bucking party elders, junior LDP politicians set up a group to
back Fukuda on pledge to turn road-related taxes into general funds
by fiscal 2009 (Yomiuri)
19) Ruling camp considering a vote of confidence for the Fukuda
Cabinet (Tokyo Shimbun)
20) Gasoline prices initially drop an average of 10 yen a liter
after gasoline tax expires (Asahi)
21) Opposition camp wavering on whether to file a censure motion
against Health Minister Masuzoe on the pension issue (Mainichi)
22) Yamasaki of LDP meets with senior DPJ members (Mainichi)
1) TOP HEADLINES
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Central Disaster Prevention Council predicts 12.52 million people
would try to walk home if major quake struck Tokyo
CDPC predicts 2.01 million people would be stuck on crowded roads
for 3 hours if major quake struck Tokyo
Poll: 58 PERCENT support using road tax revenues for general
Toshiba receives nuclear reactor orders worth 1.4 trillion yen from
U.S. power companies
Amnesty International criticizes IOC for giving China's suppression
of human rights "tacit approval" and urges China to improve human
Panel predicts 4.75 million people would be stuck on crowded roads,
walk for 15 hours from Marunouchi to Yokohama
Kanagawa police to seek arrest warrant for U.S. military serviceman
(1) Prime Minister Fukuda should talk more about Tibet
(2) Need for reliable earthquake-resisting system for nuclear
(1) Welfare Minister Masuzoe first should offer an apology for
breaking pension-record pledge
(2) Education ministry needs to produce good teachers rather than
conduct physical tests in elementary schools across nation
(1) Don't jeopardize alliance's credibility
(2) Introduction of metabolic examination would benefit relevant
(1) China should hold dialogue with Dalai Lama to bring success to
(2) Need for reliable medical safety committee
(1) We support absence of Imperial Family members from Beijing
Olympics opening ceremony
(2) DPJ weakening Japan-U.S. alliance
(1) Arrest of U.S. military serviceman took too much time
(2) Under revised part-time Law, labor conditions should be improved
(1) Film "Yasukuni" -- Don't allow freedom of express to be
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3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, April 2
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 3, 2008
Met with LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chair Oshima at Kantei, joined
by Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura. Machimura remained.
Attended the first joint ceremony for the opening of the initial
training course for civil servants held at National Olympic Memorial
Youth Center at Yoyogi, Tokyo.
Met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Futahashi at Kantei.
Met with LDP Policy Research Council Chair Tanigaki and Machimura.
Met with State Minister in Charge of Economic and Fiscal Policy Ota,
Deputy Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Saka and others.
Attended a Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee session.
Attended a meeting of the Council for Promoting Consumer Policy at
Arrived at Kantei residence.
4) U.S. sailor to be arrested today on charge of murdering taxi
MAINICHI (Page 31) (Full)
April 3, 2008
Kanagawa prefectural police will seek an arrest warrant today for a
22-year-old U.S. Navy seaman (joto suihei), who is one of the crew
of the Aegis-equipped cruiser USS Cowpens and is currently in the
U.S. military's custody, in connection with a recent incident in
which Masaaki Takahashi, a 61-year-old taxi driver of Tokyo's
Shinagawa-ku, was stabbed to death in the city of Yokosuka, Kanagawa
Prefecture. Kanagawa police will ask the U.S. military to turn over
the seaman to local investigative authorities before his indictment,
based on an intergovernmental agreement between Japan and the United
States on the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement's improved
implementation. Meanwhile, the U.S. military expressed its intention
soon after the incident's occurrence to fully cooperate in the
investigation. The local police will arrest the seaman today.
Yokosuka at a loss
In Okinawa, an antibase mood mounts every time an incident is
brought about by U.S. servicemen. Meanwhile, Yokosuka has coexisted
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with the U.S. Navy and the Maritime Self-Defense Forces against the
backdrop of its history as a military port for the now-defunct
Imperial Japanese Navy. Yokosuka's local communities have built up a
relationship of mutual trust with the U.S. Navy through voluntary
guides and downtown area patrols. Local confidence, however, is now
There is a "base tour" to show around historic sites on the premises
of U.S. Naval Forces Japan's Yokosuka base. Yokosuka City's
municipal government sponsors the tour, with cooperation obtained
from the U.S. Navy. Each tour has more than 100 participants. Young
people in the U.S. Navy also join the tour with Japanese history
fans, and they have deepened friendship through their limited
facility in Japanese. However, Yoshifumi Ishii, a 63-year-old
voluntary guide, is now beginning to ask himself about being a
guide. Ishii, fascinated by a different culture, became a guide.
However, he said: "There may be someone who committed a heinous
crime. When I think this way, I hesitate to join the tour."
Masamitsu Koshikawa, who chairs a local association of stores in
Yokosuka, patrols downtown areas near the base with the U.S. Navy
once a month. "We have established a friendship, but . . ." The base
plans to hold a cherry blossom festival on Apr. 6. For that event,
the association of local stores is also planning some stage shows,
including street performances. In the wake of the incident, the U.S.
Navy will scale down the festival. "I don't know what's going to
happen," Koshikawa said. "I'm really sorry," he added.
Two years ago, there was a robbery and murder in Yokosuka. After
that incident, the U.S. Navy imposed a curfew on its Yokosuka-based
servicemen and also set up no-alcohol hours. This became a blow to
local restaurants and bars. This time as well, the U.S. Navy took
similar action on Apr. 2. The action will continue until Apr. 7. A
63-year-old man runs an eatery for over 30 years along the city's
Dobuita Dori street with a number of bars standing for U.S.
servicemen. He sighed, "The victim of U.S. servicemen's crimes is
the economy of Dobuita Dori."
5) Police to arrest U.S. sailor possibly today; U.S. likely to agree
to hand over suspect
ASAHI (Page 31) (Full)
April 3, 2008
Kanagawa prefectural police has decided to arrest as early as today
a 22-year-old U.S. seaman (joto suihei) of Nigerian nationality
based at Yokosuka Naval Base on suspicion of murder and other
charges. In questioning, he has admitted to slaying a taxi driver in
Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. His credit card was found in the taxi
of the slain driver.
In a Japan-U.S. Joint Committee meeting today, the Japanese side
will request the handover of the seaman, now detained at the U.S.
base, under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. The U.S. side
is expected to agree to the handover.
The sailor reportedly told investigators, "I did it," and "I heard a
voice saying, 'kill a person.'" Once the suspicion that the seaman
killed the driver without paying the taxi fares is verified, the
prefectural police envisage pressing murder and robbery charges
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The U.S. Navy in Japan seized the seaman, who had left the base
without permission, on March 22 in Tokyo. The U.S. Navy notified the
Yokosuka municipal government on the same day that "if there is a
request for the handover of the sailor from the Japanese side, we
will immediately cooperate in accordance with the SOFA."
According to investigations by the prefectural police, the taxi
driver, Masaaki Takahashi, 61, was found slain at around 9:20 p.m.
March 19 in his taxi at 2-chome, Shioiri-cho, Yokosuka, with a knife
in the neck. The sailor's credit card was also found near the feet
of Takahashi in the driver's seat.
Lack of education of young service members; Little interest in
Under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, a set of procedures
will begin for the handover of the U.S. sailor, who is suspected to
have killed the taxi driver in Yokosuka. The newspaper has asked the
opinions of residents in municipalities hosting U.S. bases.
Tetsuei Tamayose, 73, chief organizer of the March 23 Okinawa
prefectural rally protesting incidents and accidents committed by
U.S. service members, said: "Unless U.S. servicemen are treated in
the same way as Japanese people, their 'occupation mentality' will
not go way." A 34-year-old female company employee shopping on a
street near Kadena Air Base noted, "I feel that education of young
service members is insufficient."
? Misawa, Aomori
Yoshikatsu Iwamoto, 70, chairman of the association of communities
near Misawa Air Base, Misawa, Aomori Prefecture, commented as his
personal view: "We have been suffering from U.S. military aircraft
noise. We definitely don't want such incidents."
? Atsugi, Kanagawa
Minako Kato, a 39-year-old housewife of Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture,
hosting NAF Atsugi, took this view: "I often see U.S. service
members near my house. I also hear stories that they are awful to
women, so I always walk on the opposite side of the street when
passing by a U.S. service member."
Yoshiaki Aizawa, 64, of the plaintiffs who have filed the 4th Atsugi
base noise suit, said: "If it had occurred in Okinawa, a fiercer
outcry would have resulted in. I feel that except for residents near
bases, people in the metropolitan area have little interest in a
problem like this."
6) Japan has been in negotiations with U.S. military on transfer of
custody since suspect was detained
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 27) (Abridged)
April 3, 2008
The Kanagawa Prefectural Police Headquarters is set to arrest a U.S.
seaman belonging to Yokosuka Navy Base who admitted in questioning
that he killed a taxi driver in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
The police have held negotiations with the U.S. Navy on the
pre-indictment transfer of custody of the suspect based on the
TOKYO 00000905 006 OF 015
Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The U.S. government is expected
to accept Japan's request.
The SOFA specifies that if the U.S. military detains a service
member suspected of committing a crime off-base, the U.S. military
will keep the suspect in custody until Japanese authorities bring an
accusation. Following the rape of a schoolgirl in Okinawa in 1995,
the governments of Japan and the U.S. agreed that the U.S. would
give favorable consideration on the handover of suspects in vicious
crimes by improving the application of the SOFA.
The police will seek an arrest warrant in accordance with the
improved application. In a Japan-U.S. Joint Committee meeting,
representatives from the Japanese government will call for
transferring the custody of the seaman.
Since the agreement on better SOFA application, there have been five
cases in which the Japanese government sought custody transfer, of
which the U.S. military agreed to Japan's request in four cases.
In a robbery and murder case involving a U.S. soldier in Yokosuka in
January 2006, the U.S. military speedily handed the suspect over to
Japanese authorities before indictment for the first time.
Based on this experience, the prefectural police dispatched
investigators to the Yokosuka base immediately after the suspect was
put in the custody of the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigation Service
to seek their cooperation in the investigation. Japan has continued
negotiations on the handover of the suspect with the U.S. Navy while
carefully conducting the investigation.
A senior prefectural police officer said: "The negotiations with the
U.S. are moving smoothly."
7) Disgruntled locals calling for SOFA revision in reaction to
murder case involving U.S. serviceman
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 27) (Excerpts)
April 3, 2008
The U.S. sailor who is now in the custody of the U.S. Navy on
suspicion of slaying a taxi driver in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture,
admitted to the killing during questioning by Japanese investigators
yesterday. Meanwhile, calls are growing among local residents for
tougher restrictions on U.S. servicemen and for revising the
Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
A housewife, 52, who lives near the site of the murder, said: "While
I am going for a walk with the dog, U.S. servicemen are friendly
when they go by. This kind of incident is regrettable." In Yokosuka,
an attempted murder case involving a seaman apprentice also took
place in July 2007.
A man, 35, who works for a pet shop in the city, commented: "There
needs to be a revision of the SOFA and tougher crackdowns by the
Numerous reporters gathered in front of the entrance of the Yokosuka
Navy Base yesterday, but U.S. military personnel did not respond to
their questions. A member of the base affairs division of the
Yokosuka municipal government just said: "I refrain from making any
comment. We will watch how the investigation develops."
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8) U.S. forces Japan to impose measure calling for self-restraint on
drinking, targeting Yokosuka
ASAHI (Page 31) (Full)
April 3, 2008
The commander of the U.S. Navy in Japan, following the murder of a
taxi driver in Yokosuka City, yesterday announced a measure running
until the 7th that calls for restraint in the drinking of alcoholic
beverages in public places. The measure targets military personnel
stationed at Yokosuka Navy Base. This will be "a period for showing
consideration to the local community," and during that period,
restrictions will be placed in principle on movements and activities
outside the base from 10:00 pm to 06:00 am.
9) Okinawa, Iwakuni ease ban on going off base for U.S. troops
ASAHI (Page 31) (Full)
April 3, 2008
The U.S. forces in Japan, following such incidents as the arrest of
a Marine stationed in Okinawa for raping a schoolgirl, imposed a
night curfew measure for two months on U.S. servicemen at bases in
Okinawa and Iwakuni. The curfew was from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am. The
USFJ has now announced that the curfew will be changed to cover the
time period midnight to 5:00 am. The new curfew will go into effect
on April 4. The ban on drinking alcoholic beverages off base will
remain in place.
10) Sympathy budget not to be adopted until early next month;
Special measure agreement to pass Lower House today, with DPJ
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpt)
April 3, 2008
The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday
adopted by a majority ruling-camp approval the new special measures
agreement extending for three years Japan's host nation support
(sympathy budget) to cover the costs of stationing U.S. forces in
Japan. Three parties - the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Japanese
Communist Party, and the Social Democratic Party - all opposed the
measure. The agreement will be approved by the full Lower House on
the 3rd, and be sent on to the House of Councilors. Although the
agreement is likely to be voted down by the Upper House, since it is
a treaty, and the Lower House adoption receives priority treatment,
the outlook is that the agreement will be adopted in early May.
11) Upper House to vote down sympathy budget; Divided Diet also
takes toll on Japan-U.S. alliance
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
April 3, 2008
The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee took a vote
yesterday on a special agreement on Japan's host-nation support
(sympathy budget) for the costs of stationing U.S. forces in Japan,
which expired on March 31, and it passed the lower chamber with a
majority by the ruling parties. The agreement, however, is expected
to be voted down in the opposition-controlled House of Councillors
due to opposition by the Democratic Party of Japan. Nevertheless,
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the special agreement, which is treated in the same way as a treaty,
is likely to win Diet approval in the end under a constitutional
stipulation that gives precedence to the Lower House decision over
the Upper House's. The delay in approving the new agreement has
already adversely affected the training of U.S. forces in Japan.
Confrontation between the ruling and opposition camps under the
divided Diet has taken a toll on the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Before the Foreign Affairs Committee, Prime Minister Fukuda
yesterday underlined the need to keep the special agreement in
place, saying: "The presence of the U.S. military is linked to the
security of Japan and all of East Asia. (The special agreement) must
The special agreement is expected to be endorsed at a Lower House
plenary session today and sent to the Upper House. When the two Diet
chambers make different decisions on a treaty or when the upper
chamber does not reach a decision within 30 days, the lower
chamber's decision takes precedence over the upper chamber's. This
means if the agreement is sent to the Upper House on April 3, it
will win Diet approval on May 3.
A plan to shift U.S. fighter jet training from U.S. bases to SDF
bases within in April has been postponed due to the delay in Diet
approval. The agreement also covers salaries for Japanese employees
working at U.S. bases. Payments to them would inevitably be delayed
until around May 10. Unity costs would also have to be paid
temporarily by the U.S. side.
Although the direct impacts would be limited, the divided Diet has
again taken a toll on the political front, following the temporary
suspension of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling operation
in the Indian Ocean. Some are highly concerned about possible
long-tern adverse effects on the Japan-U.S. alliance, with a senior
Defense Ministry official saying, "The U.S. government has a sense
of mistrust and displeasure with Japanese politics, which cannot
12) Prime Minister Fukuda expresses displeasure at calls for
boycotting Beijing Olympics
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
April 3, 2008
Some in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are calling for
boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics over the
Tibet riots. When asked about this move, Prime Minister Fukuda
expressed displeasure by saying: "At a time when the Chinese
government is making efforts, we should say something like 'Japan
should not take part in the Olympics.' Japan and China have close
relations, so we must make a cool-headed decision."
"No one expects the Olympics to be cancelled. I hope the Chinese
government will deal with the current situation appropriately,"
Fukuda added and expressed hope that the Chinese side would make
further efforts to resolve the issue. Fukuda was replying to
questions posed by reporters at the Prime Minister's Official
13) Government to extend economic sanctions against North Korea by
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NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 3, 2008
The government is expected to decide in a cabinet meeting next week
to extend its independent economic sanctions against North Korea by
another six months after they expire on April 13. The sanctions
include two key measures -- prohibiting port entry by all North
Korean vessels, including the passenger-cargo ferry Man Gyong
Bong-92, and banning all imports from North Korea. This decision
reflects the fact that no progress has been made on the abduction
and nuclear issues. On the nuclear issue, North Korea has yet to
implement the second-phase measures agreed on in the six-party
talks, which includes Pyongyang's declaration of its all nuclear
The Japanese government invoked sanctions against North Korea in
reaction to the announcement of its nuclear test in October 2006.
The government intends to keep in place such sanctions as banning
the import of any goods from the North and exports of luxury goods
to that nation, as well as prohibiting North Korean nationals from
entering the nation in principle. A senior Foreign Ministry official
said yesterday: "If there is no change in the current situation,
Japan will extend the sanctions."
The government intended to lift the sanctions in accordance with
progress on the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues. On the
definition of "progress" on the abduction issue, Foreign Minister
Masahiko Koumura has said: "If several abductees return to Japan, we
will judge that there was progress."
However, the Japan-North Korea working group to discuss normalizing
bilateral diplomatic ties has held no meeting since last September.
The government has urged North Korea to deal with the abduction and
nuclear issues in an appropriate manner by using a variety of
channels, for instance, by holding negotiations with North Korean
representatives in the Shenyang, China, in October of last year. But
"North Korea has made no positive response," a government official
said. Pyongyang has begun to take a tough stance again. The Rodong
Sinmum (Workers' Newspaper) criticized South Korean President Lee
Myung-bak by name on April 1.
South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Yu Myung-hwan will
arrive in Japan today. On the 20th, President Lee will be visiting
Japan. The government takes these visits as a good opportunity for
Japan and South Korea to confirm the need to jointly ratchet up
pressure on North Korea. It will place importance on trilateral
cooperation, including the U.S, in dealing with North Korea.
14) Japan's ODA last year slips to fifth place: Revising ODA
strategy a pressing issue
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
April 3, 2008
Japan once topped the ODA donor list. However, it now has slipped to
fifth place. Since stepping up assistance to developing countries
with the aim of achieving millennium development goals, including
poverty reduction, will become a major part of the agenda of the
July Lake Toya G-8 summit in Hokkaido, the number is shocking for
Japan, the host country.
Japan during the 2005 Gleneagles G-8 announced a policy of
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increasing its ODA budget by 10 billion dollars over five years
starting in fiscal 2006. Even though it is now strapped with fiscal
difficulties, cutting the ODA budget goes against its international
commitment. A government source underscored the need to shift the
ODA policy from quantity to quality, noting, "Japan must promote aid
with mobility by combining yen loans, grant aid and technical
cooperation." However, a reduction in ODA loans could let down
developing countries and delay development.
It is necessary for the government to fundamentally question how
best aid can be extended to developing countries in the run-up to
the integration of the yen loan section of the Japan Bank for
International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA) expected to take place this fall.
To be precise, the government should come up with a strategic
approach, based on local needs, the efficiency of aid and Japan's
national interests regarding: (1) package-based aid of consolidating
an investment environment for companies and combining the power of
the public and private sectors thorough the consolidation of
infrastructure in developing countries; (2) extending aid in the
form of cooperating with related countries in relevant regions, as
can be seen in assistance to Iraq provided by Egypt and Japan;
(3)assistance combining Japan's aid know-how and ample oil money of
oil-producing countries; and (4) combining aid through international
organizations and bilateral aid. The Tokyo International Conference
on African Development (TICAD) in May and the July Summit would be
the best venues for Japan to reveal its new aid policy.
15) Armed group reaches agreement with Iranian security authorities
to release Japanese student
MAINICHI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
April 3, 2008
Takayuki Kasuga, Teheran
Iranian security officials and an armed group that kidnapped Satoshi
Nakamura (24), a Japanese student at Yokohama National University,
last October when he was traveling in Iran's southeast region, have
now reached an agreement to release Nakamura after negotiations,
informed sources told the Mainichi yesterday. The question of
whether both sides will actually implement the agreement still
remains to be seen, but the incident has entered a final phase
leading to a full settlement a half year after its occurrence.
According to the informed sources, the criminal group is the
drug-smuggling group led by Shahbakhsh. This group agreed with
security officials on the release of Nakamura on the conditions that
security officials would release two group members now in jail.
Reportedly, no ransom will be paid.
Shahbakhsh initially demanded the release of his son (19) and two
senior group members. Security officials rejected the demand in
terms of preventing a recurrence of kidnapping. But they came around
to release the son and one of the two detained group members as a
result of negotiations on March 22.
The group has brought Nakamura to somewhere in Pakistan. It has
reached an accord with security officials on how to hand Nakamura
over to them, but they remain alert to the group because Nakamura
has yet to be released.
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16) In amending law banning child porno, LDP decides to add
provision of penalizing "simple possession of child pornography"
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
April 3, 2008
Nariyuki Tanaka, Eriko Horii
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the major opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) yesterday each held a working-level
meeting to discuss amending the Law for Punishing Acts Related to
Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The LDP decided to add to
the law a provision that would punish "simple possession" of child
pornographic images showing boys or girls below 18 years of age by
individuals, even if part of their personal collections. Meanwhile,
the DPJ began full-fledged discussion on an amendment to the law the
same day. In the discussion, concern was voiced that restricting
simple possession could lead to the abuse of the right to
investigate. Both parties are in agreement on the need to revise the
law. As the next step for them to take, both parties are likely to
search for common ground in the days ahead.
The current law took effect in 1999 and regulates images and videos
that show children below 18 in the way to overly stimulate people
sexually. Acts that are subject to punishment under the law include
production and sale of such images and videos, their possession for
the purposes of selling or providing them to someone, and their
release on the Internet. But personal possession for one's own
collection is not subject to the law. Reportedly, it is Japan and
Russia alone among the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized countries
that have yet to ban simple possession.
Partly reflecting America's call on Japan to tighten regulations on
child pornography, the ruling parties are gaining steam to amend the
law. Last month, the junior coalition partner New Komeito's project
team decided to add simple possession to a list of acts subject to
At a meeting yesterday of its sub-committee on a review of the Law
for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child
Pornography (chaired by Mayumi Moriyama), the LDP reached agreement
on making simple possession of child porn subject a punishable
crime, although until recently the party had been cautious about
punishing such an act out of concern about the possible abuse of the
right to investigate. The LDP decided to punish an act of simple
possession on the premise that measures to prevent the abuse of the
right to investigate be established so that cases where individuals
happen to unintentionally possess child pornographic images, their
having been sent to them in the form of junk e-mails.
Meanwhile, the DPJ, prior to the first meeting of its project team
on amendment to the Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child
Prostitution and Child Pornography (chaired by House of Councillors
member Keiko Chiba), had a session with U.S. Ambassador to Japan J.
Thomas Schieffer and exchanged views on revisions to the law.
Schieffer emphasized the significance of banning simple possession.
In response, Chiba noted, "Given the current state of police
investigation in Japan, I feel misgivings about such a regulation."
In the first project team meeting, House of Representatives member
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Yoko Komiyama expressed concern: "All participants want to protect
children, but it is troublesome if the right to investigate is
Main points of the LDP's draft amendment to the Law for Punishing
Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
? Add "possession without any special purpose" to the list of
prohibited acts regarding child pornography (such as production and
? "Possession" should be strictly defined. (Discussion is underway
to exclude cases where individuals are not aware that child
pornographic images were sent to them and that they happen to
? Stipulate a provision on punishment against "possession."
17) Poll: 58 PERCENT favor Fukuda's general-purpose initiative over
road tax revenues; Cabinet support at 28 PERCENT
YOMIURI (Top play) (Abridged)
April 3, 2008
Following up the expiration of provisional extra taxation added to
gasoline and other taxes used for road construction and other
road-related infrastructure projects, the Yomiuri Shimbun conducted
a telephone-based nationwide spot public opinion survey on Apr. 1-2.
The road-related tax revenues have now been in place for over a half
century, and the survey asked people if they supported the idea of
incorporating the road-related tax revenues into the state's general
account budget to use the tax revenues for other purposes as well.
In response to this question, 58 PERCENT answered "yes," with 28
PERCENT saying "no." In their breakdown, "yes" came from 57 PERCENT
of those who support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and from
65 PERCENT of those who support the leading opposition Democratic
Party of Japan (Minshuto). The survey shows that an increasing
number of people are calling for the government to use the
road-related tax revenues for general purposes in addition to
highway projects. This will now likely affect the ruling and
opposition parties in their discussions.
Prime Minister Fukuda has come up with the idea of abolishing the
road-related tax revenues and incorporating the tax revenues into
the general account budget from fiscal 2009. In the survey,
respondents were asked if they appreciated the idea. To this
question, a total of 53 PERCENT answered that they "appreciate very
much" or "appreciate somewhat," with a total of 36 PERCENT saying
they "don't appreciate very much" or "don't appreciate at all."
Among DPJ supporters, 51 PERCENT were also affirmative. Among those
with no particular party affiliation, 49 PERCENT gave high marks to
the Fukuda initiative.
The rate of public support for the Fukuda cabinet was 28.0 PERCENT ,
failing to reach 30 PERCENT . The nonsupport rate was 57.7 PERCENT
Among LDP supporters, the Fukuda cabinet's support rate was 61.6
PERCENT , with its nonsupport rate at 26.7 PERCENT . Among New
Komeito supporters, a little over 40 PERCENT supported the Fukuda
cabinet. Among DPJ supporters, the Fukuda cabinet's nonsupport rate
reached 85.6 PERCENT . Among those unaffiliated, the Fukuda
cabinet's support rate was 16.5 PERCENT , with its nonsupport rate
at 63.3 PERCENT .
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In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the LDP
stood at 27.3 PERCENT , with the DPJ at 22.9 PERCENT .
Respondents were also asked which political party they would vote
for in the next election for the House of Representatives in their
proportional representation blocs. To this question, 29 PERCENT
opted for the DPJ, with 26 PERCENT choosing the LDP. As seen from
these figures, the DPJ outstripped the LDP. This can be taken as
reflecting a trend found in telephone-based surveys like this one of
growing support for the DPJ.
18) Junior LDP lawmakers back Prime Minister Fukuda's decision to
use road tax revenues for general purposes
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
April 3, 2008
Maneuvering intensified yesterday between the ruling and opposition
parties over Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's proposal to allow the
revenue sources designated for highway projects to be used for
general purposes, starting fiscal 2009.
The executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its
coalition partner New Komeito launched yesterday coordination to
exchange agreement notes on the prime minister's proposal. The aim
is to make clear their agreement with the integration of the special
account from road-related taxes into the general account.
Junior and mid-level Diet members from the two ruling parties,
including LDP Lower House member Kenichi Mizuno and New Komeito
Lower House Isamu Ueda, held yesterday a preparatory meeting of a
parliamentary league aiming to realize Fukuda's proposal, starting
FY2009. About 40 lawmakers attended the meeting.
"It is true that some LDP members say that since the prime
minister's proposal is a pump-primer to find a compromise with the
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto), the proposal will not
be implemented. But we will counter such a view."
The parliamentary group has agreed to revote on a bill amending the
Special Taxation Measures Law aimed to retain the provisional
gasoline tax rate and other road-related taxes in the House of
Representatives. However, some group members have called for
revising a bill to amend the Road Construction Revenues Special
Exemption Law, which allows surplus revenues to be used for other
general purposes for 10 years, in line with Fukuda's proposal for
shifting the special road revenues to the general revenue funds from
FY2009. Lower House Speaker Taro Kono told the press the same day:
"If the Lower House takes a vote on the special measures law
revision bills without amending, I will prevent the bills from being
put to a vote."
The LDP's Nikai faction submitted to the government and the LDP
leadership a letter calling for enacting the tax-related bills
without amendment. The faction's Lower House member Kotaro Nagasaki
told reporters: "We need to debate this further."
19) Ruling camp considering cabinet confidence resolution
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TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
April 3, 2008
The ruling parties yesterday began looking into a possibility of
presenting a cabinet confidence resolution to the House of
Representatives if the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ or Minshuto) submits a censure motion against Prime Minister
Yasuo Fukuda. The DPJ plans to submit a censure motion against
Fukuda should the ruling coalition revote on a bill amending the
Special Taxation Measures Law in the House of Representatives. The
largest opposition party intends to force the prime minister to
dissolve the Lower House after adopting the censure motion in
cooperation with other opposition parties.
Since a censure motion has no binding force, Fukuda has no plan to
dissolve the Lower House and shuffle his cabinet. Because there is a
possibility that public criticism of the cabinet will become
stronger, the ruling camp is now considering submitting a confidence
resolution to the Lower House, which is controlled by the ruling
A confidence resolution for the cabinet of Prime Minister Kiichi
Miyazawa was adopted in June 1992, which is the only resolution
adopted so far.
20) Gas prices drop average 10 yen per liter on April 1, following
expiry of provisional tax rate
ASAHI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
April 3, 2008
A special price survey on petroleum products, released yesterday by
the Resources and Energy Agency, shows that the average price of
regular gasoline per liter throughout the nation as of April 1 was
142.2 yen, down 10.7 yen from the level of March 31, immediately
before the expiration of the provisional gas tax rate of 25.1 yen
per liter. The margin of the decline in prices varied among eight
regions throughout the nation with that in Hokkaido marking 19.6
yen, while Kyushu and Okinawa saw only a 4.9 yen drop. Since
gasoline prices have been following an upward trend since last
spring, 142.2 yen per litter is the lowest level since early October
2007. The gas tax is a shipment tax imposed when products are
shipped from oil factories of oil wholesale companies. It is viewed
that it would take 3-4 days for gas stations to sell out gasoline
levied with the provisional rate in stock. The outcome of the survey
revealed that many gas stations sold previously taxed gasoline at
significantly lowered prices.
21) Censure motion against welfare minister: Gaps in stances of
opposition parties; SDP in agreement, while PNP remaining cautious
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
April 3, 2008
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has decided to consider
submitting a censure motion against Health, Labor and Welfare (MLIT)
Minister Yoichi Masuzoe in connection with the pension fiasco. Gaps
in the stances of opposition parties regarding the move have become
clear with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) agreeing with the idea,
but the People's New Party (PNP) questioning it.
SDP Chairman Mizuho Fukushima during a news conference yesterday
TOKYO 00000905 015 OF 015
supported the DPJ's move, saying, "MLIT Minister Masuzoe has clearly
broken his pledge." She categorically said, "We would also like to
look into submitting a censure motion."
However, PNP head Tamisuke Watanuki during a press briefing
yesterday made a cautious comment, "I cannot tell before I see the
details." Secretary General Hisaoki Kamei noted, "This is not a
matter concerning deliberations by the Upper House but the issue
involving the administration as a whole." He thus indicated his
perception that it would be improper to pursue the pension issue by
submitting a censure motion against Masuzoe to the Upper House.
22) Yamasaki of LDP meets with senior DPJ members
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
April 3, 2008
Former Vice President Taku Yamasaki and former Secretary General
Koichi Kato of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Deputy President
Naoto Kan and former Secretary General Yukio Edano of the Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ), and Deputy President Shizuka Kamei of the
People's New Party met at a traditional Japanese restaurant in Tokyo
yesterday. They exchanged views on the future political situation.
Kan sought an early dissolution of the Lower House and a snap
election. However, Yamasaki reportedly replied, "That's impossible,"
citing the Lake Toya G-8 in Hokkaido in July.