Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 04/09/08

DE RUEHKO #0975/01 1000839
P 090839Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Poll on Japan's Constitution (Yomiuri)

(2) Yellow card given to fiscal reconstruction with start of debate
on reform guidelines for 2008 at CEFP

(3) Giving top priority to saving Ozawa's face, DPJ decides to
reject Watanabe's nomination for deputy BOJ governor

(4) Political stalemate (Part 2): Interview with Naoki Tanaka,
president of Center for International Public Policy Studies; Vacancy
in BOJ governorship more of a crime

(5) USAID Administrator Fore: Good balance between democracy and
economic growth important for African development

(6) Koumura downplays Maher remark (Okinawa Times)

(7) Koumura "unhappy" with Maher's remark over SOFA (Ryukyu Shimpo)


(1) Poll on Japan's Constitution

YOMIURI (Page 12&13) (Full)
April 8, 2008

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage)

Q: What's your interest in the Constitution of Japan? If there's
anything you are particularly interested in, pick as many as you
like from among those listed below.

The Emperor and imperial household 20.1
Japan's war renunciation, Self-Defense Forces 46.9
Equality, discrimination 17.6
Freedom of speech, press, and all other forms of expression 10.6
Information disclosure 11.8
Privacy protection 15.3
The right to live in peace, social welfare 18.8
Environmental disruption 31.0
The rights to assemble, demonstrate, and strike 2.1
Electoral system 10.7
The right of access to the courts 20.4
Official visits to Yasukuni Shrine 15.0
Constitutional revision 13.0
Separation of the three powers of administration, legislation, and
judicature 4.6
Local autonomy 13.0
The Diet's bicameral system 6.8
The process and background of establishing the Constitution 4.3
Other answers (O/A) + nothing in particular (NIP) + no answer (N/A)

Q: Do you think it would be better to amend the Constitution?

Yes 42.5
No 43.1
N/A 14.4

TOKYO 00000975 002 OF 010

Q: (Only for those who answered "yes" to the foregoing question)
Why? Pick as many reasons as you like from among those listed

Because it's a U.S.-imposed constitution 31.2
In order to expressly stipulate Japan's right of self-defense and
the existence of the Self-Defense Forces 24.5
Because there are too many cases claiming rights while neglecting
obligations 24.6
Because the conventional way of reading or applying the
Constitution's provisions would lead to confusion if and when there
is a need to meet situational changes 30.8
Because Japan is expected to make international contributions, and
there are also various challenges Japan cannot meet under its
present-day constitution. 45.2
O/A 3.0
N/A 2.0

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

Because the Constitution has already taken root in the nation 42.7
Because the Constitution is of a pacifist nature, Japan can be proud
of it in the world 52.5
Because the Constitution guarantees fundamental human rights and
democracy 26.6
Because the Constitution can be interpreted or applied in a flexible
way with changing times 17.8
Because revising the Constitution may pave the way for Japan to turn
into a military power 27.3
O/A 0.9
N/A 1.0

Q: The Constitution's Article 9 stipulates that Japan renounces war
and will never maintain any war potential. The government has so far
responded to relevant problems with its interpretation and
application of the article. What do you think the government should
do about Article 9 from now on? Pick only one from among those
listed below.

The government should continue with its interpretation and operation
of Article 9 36.2
The government's conventional way of responding to problems with its
constitutional interpretation and operation has now reached its
limit, so Article 9 should be amended 30.7
The government should strictly abide by Article 9 and should not
respond to problems via interpretation or operation 23.9
O/A 0.3
N/A 8.9

Q: The Constitution's Article 9 has two paragraphs. The first
paragraph stipulates Japan's war renunciation. Do you think this
paragraph should be amended?

Yes 12.5
No 81.6
N/A 5.9

Q: The second paragraph in Article 9 stipulates Japan's maintenance
of no war potential. Do you think this paragraph should be amended?

Yes 36.8

TOKYO 00000975 003 OF 010

No 54.5
N/A 8.6

Q: The government has been taking the position that although Japan
has the right to collective self-defense, the Constitution does not
allow Japan to exercise this right. What do you think about this?
Pick only one that is closest to your opinion from among those
listed below.

The Constitution should be amended so that Japan can exercise the
right of collective self-defense 18.7
The Constitution should be reinterpreted so that Japan can exercise
the right of collective self-defense 22.1
Japan should continue as it has done and need not be allowed to use
the right of collective self-defense 51.6
O/A 0.3
N/A 7.3

Q: The government used to create a special law whenever it needed to
send SDF members for a long period of time on overseas missions
other than Japan's participation in United Nations peacekeeping
operations. Do you think Japan should instead have a permanent law
that prescribes general rules for Japan to send SDF members overseas
as needed?

Yes 46.0
No 42.1
N/A 11.9

Q: The Constitution stipulates the Diet shall consist of two houses,
namely the House of Representatives (lower chamber) and the House of
Councillors (upper chamber). There are various arguments about this
bicameral parliamentary system. Pick only one that is closest to
your opinion.

The Diet should change its bicameral-chamber system to the
unicameral-chamber system 18.8
The bicameral-chamber system should be maintained, and the House of
Representatives' role and authority should be strengthened 12.5
The bicameral-chamber system should be maintained, and the House of
Councillors' role and authority should be strengthened 17.5
The Diet should maintain its current two-chamber system as is 44.2
O/A 0.3
N/A 6.6

Q: The Constitution stipulates that a bill passed by the House of
Representatives is rejected in the House of Councillors becomes a
law when passed a second time by the House of Representatives by a
majority of two-thirds or more of the members present. Pick only one
that is closest to your opinion.

It's only natural to take a second vote 9.7
It's unavoidable to take a second vote 35.6
It would be better to avoid taking a second vote as far as possible
The lower chamber should avoid taking a second vote 14.1
N/A 6.8

Q: The National Referendum Law, which stipulates procedures for
constitutional revision, will be enforced in two years. Last August,
the Diet set up a panel in both houses to discuss the Constitution.
Do you think all political parties should further discuss the

TOKYO 00000975 004 OF 010


Yes 70.8
No 19.3
N/A 9.9

Q: The Civil Code sets the coming of age at 20. Premised on lowering
this age to 18, the National Referendum Law allows those aged 18 and
over to vote on constitutional revision. Do you think it would be
better to allow those aged 18 and over to vote on constitutional

Yes 36.2
No 59.7
N/A 4.1

Q: If there's anything you think it would be better to revise in the
Constitution or add to the Constitution, pick as many as you like
from among those listed below.

The Emperor's status 14.1
Japan's maintenance of armed forces for self-defense 26.5
Proactive international cooperation 19.5
Right to access government information 19.1
Privacy protection 17.7
Respect for family 12.7
The right to live in a good environment 25.3
The prime minister's strengthened powers to deal with emergencies,
etc. 13.0
The lower and upper houses' respective roles 14.7
Central and local government roles 22.1
Establishment of a constitutional court 5.1
O/A 0.2
NIP 24.4
N/A 4.5

Polling methodology
Date of survey: Mar. 15-16.
Subjects of survey: 3,000 persons chosen from among all eligible
voters throughout the country (at 250 locations on a stratified
two-stage random-sampling basis).
Method of implementation: Door-to-door visits for face-to-face
Number of valid respondents: 1,786 persons (59.5 PERCENT )
Breakdown of respondents: Male-46 PERCENT , female-54 PERCENT ;
persons in their 20s-9 PERCENT , 30s-14 PERCENT , 40s-15 PERCENT ,
50s-21 PERCENT , 60s-23 PERCENT , 70 and over-18 PERCENT ; big
cities (Tokyo's 23 wards and government-designated cities)-22
PERCENT , major cities (with a population of more than 300,000)-19
PERCENT , medium-size cities (with a population of more than
100,000)-24 PERCENT , small cities (with a population of less than
100,000)-24 PERCENT , towns and villages-11 PERCENT .

(2) Yellow card given to fiscal reconstruction with start of debate
on reform guidelines for 2008 at CEFP

NIKKEI (Page 5) (Full)
April 9, 2008

The government launched discussion at a session yesterday of the
Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy (CEFP) to establish reform
guidelines for 2008 commonly called the "big-boned reform policy for

TOKYO 00000975 005 OF 010

2008," which will be the first such to be compiled under the Fukuda
administration. Fiscal reconstruction is supposed to be central to
the reform guidelines, but a "yellow card" has been already given to
it. In the first place, calls for expanding the social welfare
budget and the official development assistance (ODA) budget are
growing stronger. Second, now that the economy is slowing down, it
is difficult to bring up the question of tax hikes. The government
wants to highlight Prime Minister Fukuda's imprint by coming up with
an economic growth strategy, as well as measures to deal with global
warming, but a delay in achieving the goal of rebuilding the
national economy could rattle the Fukuda administration at its very

No increase in revenues expected due to economic sluggishness

The reform guidelines are expected to be compiled by the end of June
so that they will be reflected in next fiscal year's budget
compilation. The reform guidelines for 2006, compiled under the days
of the Junichiro Koizumi administration, specified numerical targets
to constrain and reduce annual expenditures in order to move the
primary balance into the black in fiscal 2011. At the CEFP meeting
yesterday, one private-sector council member insisted on the need to
firmly maintain those numerical targets. Finance Minister Fukushiro
Nukaga, as well, echoed that member's view, by saying, "I think it
is important to continue reform in line with the 2006 reform

The government achieved the numerical targets in its 2007 and 2008
budgets. But the achievement was made in the way for the private
sector to shoulder the government's burdens in such areas as social

As for next fiscal year's budget, Health and Welfare Minister Yoichi
Masuzoe has sought to reconsider the current policy of constraining
annual expenditures. Some other cabinet members, as well, have been
opposed to the current policy. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, too,
said in his Diet replies made in late February that "it would be
difficult to continue" slicing the social welfare budget. Concern is
eventually growing stronger that the target of constraining annual
expenditures may slacken.

Regarding the budget for public works projects, the target is set to
keep a 1-3 PERCENT cut on a year-on-year basis. The budget has been
cut more than the target until the fiscal 2008 budget. But calls for
expanding the budget are smoldering in the ruling bloc with an eye
on the start of the construction of new Shinkansen lines.

In the case of the ODA budget, it has continued to be trimmed; as a
result, Japan fell from third to fifth place among the major donors
in 2007 in terms of net ODA. Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura,
speaking of ODA, indicated his determination to increase the ODA
budget, saying, "I aim to let the budget bottom out and then turn it

Meanwhile, annual revenues are unlikely to expand so easily. With
the world economy slowing down, a risk scenario is taking on a touch
of real possibility. Any natural increase in tax revenues owing to
economic recovery is not expected at present.

Given all these factors, it seems difficult to attain the target of
moving the primary balances of the central and local governments
into the black in fiscal 2011. Even if the central government

TOKYO 00000975 006 OF 010

achieves the target of a nominal 2 PERCENT or more economic growth
rate and reduces annual expenditures by 14.3 trillion yen for five
years from fiscal 2007, there will be still a shortage of 700
billion yen (in tax revenues).

In order to make up for the shortfall, tax hikes will be necessary,
but at a time when the economy has leveled off, it is highly
difficult to raise the consumption tax, which could kill consumer

At the CEFP meeting yesterday, one private-sector council member
proposed: "Regarding portions of the expenses for social welfare and
measures for the declining birthrate the government can't cover
despite reform of annual expenditures, one idea is to discuss this
matter along with a drastic reform of the tax system." State
Minister in Charge of Economic and Fiscal Policy Hiroko Ota, as
well, told a news conference that she wanted to start debate on the
matter as quickly as possible at the government's Tax System
Research Council.

Debate on the tax system involves reform of the pension programs, on
which there is the argument of whether to adopt a formula of
financing basic pension entirely from tax revenues. Because the
reform of the pension systems is discussed at the National Council
on Social Welfare (NCSW), a panel recently established at the order
by Fukuda, it is not possible for the CEFP to first deal with the
matter ahead of the (NCSW).

(3) Giving top priority to saving Ozawa's face, DPJ decides to
reject Watanabe's nomination for deputy BOJ governor

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Abridged)
April 9, 2008

The major opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) decided
yesterday to reject the government's plan to appoint Hiroshi
Watanabe, a professor at Hitotsubashi University and a former
vice-finance minister for international affairs, as a deputy
governor of the Bank of Japan. The party seems to have made the
decision in order to save the face of President Ichiro Ozawa, who
had expressed opposition to Watanabe's appointment, citing the need
to terminate the practice of amakudari, or placing retired senior
bureaucrats into high-paying posts at private and public entities.
Even so, in the party's financial affairs department meeting and
Diet approval subcommittee session yesterday, a majority of members
voiced positive views about endorsing Watanabe. The matter could
trigger internal conflict.

Ozawa at party headquarters yesterday evening ordered Secretary
General Yukio Hatoyama to ensure that party members would not rebel
against the party decision in the upcoming plenary sessions of the
two chambers of the Diet, saying: "We must not allow the Liberal
Democratic Party to cause a serious schism in our party."

Upper House executives later called on party members to warn them
not to go against the party decision.

Indeed, LDP executives dined last night with some junior DPJ members
as part of their effort to cause a rift in the largest opposition
party. A DPJ executive noted, "Only a few might go against the party
decision. Still, the main opposition party remains on high alert
against the ruling bloc's moves.

TOKYO 00000975 007 OF 010

The DPJ financial affairs department also held a meeting last
evening. After the session, an attendant indicated that 50 PERCENT
of the members supported Watanabe's appointment, 30 PERCENT
remained neutral, and 20 PERCENT opposed it. Despite that, the
department eventually decided to leave the matter to Masaharu
Nakagawa, the DPJ's finance minister in its shadow cabinet, without
forming a consensus. A member, who opposed Watanabe's appointment in
the meeting, said: "I opposed it so as not to drive Mr. Ozawa into a

Positive views about Watanabe's nomination were also dominant in the
Diet approval subcommittee meeting. Even so, the panel decided to
entrust the mater to the Diet affairs officers' council. The council
in turn forwarded the matter to the four top DPJ executives, who in
a rare move decided to reject Watanabe's nomination in the end.

A subcommittee member, who had insisted on endorsing Watanabe,
disgustingly said last night: "It is nonsense for the party to lose
unity over a government post that does not result in even a single

Discord in the DPJ resulted from a television program on April 6, in
which Ozawa balked at Watanabe's nomination. Hatoyama, on the other
hand, indicated that he would unity views in the party in endorsing
Watanabe, saying, "About 80 PERCENT to 90 PERCENT of the party
members are in favor of his nomination." After all, Watanabe was one
of the five individuals Hatoyama had presented to the ruling camp as
"agreeable persons." As for Ozawa, who had declared to end the
amakudari practice, he could not afford to let the party endorse him
easily, for such would tremendously weaken his grip on the party.

Ozawa's mind was also hardened by positive views expressed by many
members of the Diet approval subcommittee, chaired by former Policy
Research Committee Chairman Yoshito Sengoku, who is keeping himself
at arms' length with Ozawa.

Advocating the principle of keeping fiscal and monetary policymaking
separate, Sengoku and others played a central role in guiding the
DPJ to rejecting Toshiro Muto and Koji Tanami. Ozawa was initially
leaned toward endorsing Muto, but he eventually rejected his
nomination by citing the principle of separation of monetary and
fiscal policies. Ozawa sees the influence of the anti-Ozawa group
behind the move to endorse Watanabe, also a former Finance Ministry
official, according to an Ozawa aide.

Upon hearing the results of the financial affairs department
meeting, Ozawa roared: "The decision to endorse a former
vice-finance minister for international affairs but not a former
vice-finance minister is illogical."

(4) Political stalemate (Part 2): Interview with Naoki Tanaka,
president of Center for International Public Policy Studies; Vacancy
in BOJ governorship more of a crime

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Full)
April 8, 2008

-- The now vacated post of Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor is set to be
filled at last.

The creation of a vacancy in the post of BOJ governor is more of a

TOKYO 00000975 008 OF 010

crime than the expiration of the provisional road-related tax rates.
This is a typical case showing that politics is becoming
dysfunctional. Countries all over the world have referred to this
situation. It has become a great inconvenience internationally, and
has definitely undermined confidence in Japan. The government must
prevent the leadership vacuum at BOJ from becoming prolonged.

-- BOJ Deputy Governor Masaaki Shirakawa's promotion is now

It is difficult for a civilian to assume the BOJ governorship
without a preparatory period. I think this process is unavoidable.
Shirakawa once worked for the BOJ where he had experience in
managing monetary policy. But I think his stance as BOJ governor
will be questioned.

Given the ongoing financial crisis that originated from the U.S.,
the capability of dialogue with the market naturally is drawing much
attention. Under the current circumstances, politics can move just
automatically, and it is impossible to carry out fiscal reform. If
this situation is prolonged, Mr. Shirakawa might have to play the
role that should be fulfilled by politicians. (During his tenure,)
U.S. Federal Reserve Board (FRB) Chairman Volcker continued to urge
the Reagan administration to reduce the nation's fiscal deficit. Mr.
Shirakawa might be expected to perform a similar role.

-- Who is responsible for having created a vacancy in the post of
BOJ governor?

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda believed that there would be no problem
with appointing someone from among former Finance Ministry or BOJ
officials, so he made no prearrangements, I think. It was also
problematical that the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic
Party of Japan, without setting clear-cut rules, left the selection
process hanging in the air.

Although the selection of a BOJ governor is not done through an
election, it is desirable to fully discuss what duties should be
entrusted to that officer. Since the latter half of the 1980s, the
BOJ and other institutions have committed a number of policy
blunders. There are deep-seated calls for setting rules designed to
make monetary policy more transparent. The idea of introducing an
inflation target, which is a numerical target in order to achieve
price stability, might become a controversial issue. I personally am
against it.

-- The expiration of the provisional tax rates also represents the
current political stalemate.

This has imposed an extremely heavy burden on the petroleum
industry. Officials in charge of the budget have been subjected to
extra work. But in order to get the public to understand the issue
of using special tax revenues for highway construction projects, the
current fiasco may have been unavoidable. The uproar over gasoline
prices might be deemed as a kind of tuition fee to make people think
about the issue.

Particularly, the prime minister is paying a high tuition fee, but
he seems to be getting a feel for changing the pinch into a chance.
Many LDP members are opposed to the idea of opening the road-related
tax revenues for general use. Even former Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi, who privatized postal services, remained unable to address

TOKYO 00000975 009 OF 010

the issue of the integration of road revenues (into the general
account budget). If there had been no talks with the DPJ, which
controls the Upper House, Fukuda would have been unable to propose
starting the integration of road revenues in FY2009.

-- Do you think it will become necessary to dissolve the House of

The current situation of a politically divided Diet may continue
even after the next House of Representatives election. The ruling
camp may fail to secure two-thirds of all the seats in the Lower
House and eventually may become dysfunctional. The voters might be
considering what sort of lawmakers would be able to break the
current impasse. Once the voters begin to express their views, the
government may have no choice but to head toward an election.

(5) USAID Administrator Fore: Good balance between democracy and
economic growth important for African development

Hokkaido SHIMBUN (Page 5) (Full)
April 9, 2008

The fourth round of the Tokyo International Conference on African
Development (TICAD) that took place on April 5-6 discussed the
development of Africa that is enveloped in poverty. Newly
industrializing countries also participated in the international
conference. This newspaper interviewed the United States'
representative to hear what the U.S. considers important in dealing
with African development.

Henrietta H. Fore, administrator of the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID) and director of U.S. Foreign
Assistance, responded as follows:

In Africa in recent years, small-scale companies have become
remarkably active. Unlike big companies, however, it is difficult
for small to medium sized businesses to access international capital
markets. The Group of Eight (G8) countries have a framework of
cooperation between the public and private sectors. Through the
private sector, the G8 countries can contribute to Africa's
stability and prosperity. If doing so, young Africans, after
graduating from school, should be able to stay in their own
countries, start their own companies and carve out the future of
their countries.

Many countries on the African continent are now carrying out free,
peaceful and democratic elections. Democracy brings about freedom,
prosperity, and stability.

Achieving economic growth and democracy simultaneously leads to
building a stable world. It also provides a means to deal with
terrorism and conflict.

Everyone should be concerned about peace, security, and the fight
against global terrorism. In order for African countries to protect
their national security, activities that maintain peace through
exercises are desirable. To that end, the role of international
organizations, such as the United Nations, is important.

President George W. Bush has placed special emphasis on the need for
good (uncorrupted) governments, in addition to democracy and
elections. To fight AIDS, the Bush administration has come up with a

TOKYO 00000975 010 OF 010

special program, and is asking Congress for a budget of 30 billion
dollars over five years. I hope that priority will be given to
health issues at the Hokkaido Lake Toya Summit in July.

(6) Koumura downplays Maher remark

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 2) (Full)
April 9, 2008

TOKYO-Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura, attending a meeting of the
House of Councillors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
yesterday, downplayed U.S. Consul General in Okinawa Kevin Maher's
recent remark, in which he said some politicians and groups were
trying to make a "political issue" of the move to call for revising
the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. Koumura stated: "Being
Japanese, I'm not very happy with it, but we can't go so far as to
call it an intervention in our domestic affairs. The standpoints of
the government, politicians, and political parties of Japan are not
that fragile."

Koumura said he did not know in detail what Maher had said. He went
on to explain: "It's my understanding that the consul general had
meant to say the United States would make efforts to improve the
SOFA's operation instead of revising it." Koumura was replying to a
question asked by Tokushin Yamauchi from the Social Democratic

(7) Koumura "unhappy" with Maher's remark over SOFA

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 2) (Full)
April 9, 2008

TOKYO-Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura attended a meeting of the
House of Councillors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday
afternoon, during which he stated that he was "not very happy as a
Japanese" with U.S. Consul General in Okinawa Kevin Maher's recent
remark that criticized the move to revise the Japan-U.S. Status of
Forces Agreement. Maher said, "It's regrettable that some
politicians and groups are trying to make a political issue of it."

Koumura was replying to a question asked by Tokushin Yamauchi from
the Social Democratic Party.

Koumura took the position that he was not aware of specifics about
the remark. He added, "It's my understanding that he had meant to
say the United States would make efforts to improve the SOFA's
operation instead of revising it."


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>


Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC