Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 04/11/08
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 04/11/08
1) Top headlines
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)
4) Ambassador Schieffer in Yomiuri interview on food security: U.S.
principle is not to impose restrictions on food exports (Yomiuri)
5) British premier sends letter to Prime Minister Fukuda asking that
soaring food prices across globe be put on G8 Summit agenda (Tokyo
Tibet and Olympic issues:
6) Fukuda's friendly policy towards China being complicated by
Tibetan issue (Tokyo Shimbun)
7) Dalai Lama in Tokyo gives press conference denouncing violence
against Olympic flame runners (Asahi)
8) Dalai Lama meets Mrs. Abe, wife of former prime minister
9) Police may bar entry of those who would try to block Olympic
torch bearers in Nagano, former site of the games (Yomiuri)
10) Difficult for Fukuda to travel during Golden Week holidays
(early May) as planned (Yomiuri)
11) Defense Minister Ishiba cancels Golden Week trip to Washington
12) Fukuda states intent to increase official development assistance
Diet in flux:
13) Government, ruling parties to agree formally today to Fukuda's
plan to turn road revenues into regular budget funds (Asahi)
14) LDP lawmaker Taro Kono: If no guarantees, will rebel against the
planned Lower House override vote to approve the continuation of the
gasoline tax (Asahi)
15) Road policy specialists in the LDP are deeply disgruntled by the
move to take away their control over dedicated road-taxes for
highway building (Asahi)
16) Democratic Party of Japan proposes talks with ruling camp on
revising the road-revenue system (Nikkei)
17) Fukuda rival Taro Aso now has 20 faction members, placing him on
the threshold of making a bid for the LDP president's and thus prime
minister's post (Mainichi)
18) LDP committed working on anti-child-porno bill decides to shelf
idea of banning possession of animated (anime) pornographic scenes
depicting children (Mainichi)
19) Japanese satellite systems to undergo complete overhaul due to
many mishaps (Yomiuri)
1) TOP HEADLINES
Seven & Holdings, Aeon suffer drops in operating profits: Will take
second look at expansionary course
TOKYO 00000994 002 OF 013
Bayer Yakuhin produced iPs cells earlier than Kyoto University
Forty-three PTA mutual aid systems to be disbanded due to legal
International financial authorities to jointly monitor large banks
to stabilize markets: Agreement to be reached at G-7
Very elderly medical system: Old insurance card to be accepted for
Very elderly medical system: Those in lower-income bracket may have
to pay higher share
Japanese Communist Party to present a bill revising Worker Dispatch
Law into worker protection law
(1) Reallocation of special-purpose road construction revenues to
general account: Prime minister should keep his pledge, by revising
(2) Quotation of documents serving as record of statement by boy:
Kodansha responsible for being careless
(1) Publication of documents serving as record of statement by boy:
New determination to protect information source
(2) Strengthening economy: Challenge is revitalizing regional areas
(1) Report by Kodansha: Quotation of documents serving as record of
statement by boy comes under fire
(2) General election in South Korea: How will new administration
switch North Korea policy?
(1) Protect Olympic torch relay, by protecting human rights in
(2) South Korea's Lee administration wins majority in general
election: Promotion of EPA expected
(1) Beijing Olympic Games torch relay: "Journey of Harmony" merely
(2) Japan pension organization personnel plan: Do no allow transfer
of problem officials of Social Insurance Agency
(1) Six-party talks: Do not give in on "complete" report of all
(2) Gene recombination: Thorough practice of labeling
TOKYO 00000994 003 OF 013
genetically-modified crops urged
(1) Constitution and public opinion: Believe firm that "now is the
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, April 10
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 11, 2008
Met Marshall Islands President Tomeing at the Kantei.
Met Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura. Later met Special Advisor
Ito. Followed by METI Vice Minister Kitabata, Natural Resources and
Energy Agency Director General Mochizuki, Finance Ministry
International Affairs Bureau Director General Tamaki, and Assistant
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Saka.
Arrived at his official residence.
Met Cabinet Intelligence Director Miki.
Met Science and Technology Minister Kishida, Science and Technology
Policy Council member Masuo Aizawa, Cabinet Office Vice Minister
Uchida, Saka, and others. Kishida and Saka stayed behind. Later, Met
National Police Agency Deputy Director General Ando.
Met Foreign Ministry European Affairs Bureau Director General
Harada, Economic Affairs Bureau Director General Otabe, Disarmament
and Science Department Head Nakane, and Ando. Attended a meeting of
the Science and Technology Policy Council.
Met Secretary General Ibuki, Executive Council Chairman Nikai,
Policy Research Council Chairman Tanigaki, Election Committee
Chairman Koga, and Machimura.
Attended a study meeting on foreign policy with National Defense
Academy President Iokibe and others at his official residence, with
JICA President Sadako Ogata present.
4) Food shock - Voices from overseas (part 1): Interview with U.S.
Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer: U.S. principle is not to place
restrictions on exports
YOMIURI (Page 9) (Full)
April 11, 2008
The rate of food self-sufficiency for Japan has fallen to 39 PERCENT
, making it the lowest among advanced industrialized countries.
Moreover, concern has heightened about the safety of imported foods,
and the country has been hit by a wave of soaring food prices. How
TOKYO 00000994 004 OF 013
is Japan's food problem seen by foreign eyes? We ask concerned
parties (in this series), starting with U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Thomas J. Schieffer:
Japanese farmers are aging. Unless the number of people involved in
agriculture does not increase, Japan's (food) situation will likely
worsen. I think the way to resolve this is by Japan further opening
its agricultural market. Agriculture is the most protected area in
the global economy. Japanese consumers are paying higher prices for
food than they need to. The more the market is opened, the more
prices will drop.
There are many Japanese who have experienced hunger during World War
II, so the emphasis on food security is understandable. However, the
economy has globalized, and today, there is a much richer variety of
foods than in the 1960s and '70s. In today's world, it is impossible
for a country to self-produce all of its food.
The U.S. has a principle of not placing restrictions on exports. We
learned a lesson from the embargo on soybeans (due to a crop failure
in the 1970s) that export restrictions neither fill political needs
nor market needs. The United States, Canada, and Australia are the
world's most advanced democracies and practice free trade. Japan
need not fear that food would be used (as a threat through such
measures as embargoes).
Restrictions on food safety must be led by science. Japan has
restricted the importation of beef to cows that are under 20 months
of age, but this import condition is not based on science but is a
decision based on a political viewpoint. Based on the OIE standards,
removing the age limit would be a better solution from the long-term
The world can produce sufficient food supplies by applying new
technologies. One example of that is genetic modification. When I
was a child in the 1950s and '60s, the world's population was
growing at an amazing pace, and it was feared that there would not
be enough food supply. However, in reality, because of technological
innovation, such a situation will not happen.
5) British prime minister asks Prime Minister Fukuda for G-8
cooperation to deal with rising food prices
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Full)
April 11, 2008
Hiroshi Hoshi, London
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday sent Prime Minister
Yasuo Fukuda, who is to host the upcoming Group of Eight (G-8)
Toyako Summit in Hokkaido, a letter calling on the G-8 to work
together with the United Nations and the World Bank to take action
to deal with soaring food prices as quickly as possible.
In the letter, Brown paid attention to the expansion of the starving
population and riots that occur in various locations across the
world and suggested the need to further help developing countries
and examine the impact of a radical shift from food production to
United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John
Holmes also told a press conference on April 8 that the annual
TOKYO 00000994 005 OF 013
number of large disasters doubled from 200 to 400 over the past two
decades, and that there has been a serious impact on food
Holmes emphasized that climate change has had a serious impact on
food production and pointed out that food prices rose nearly 40
PERCENT over the past several months. He continued: "Riots over
food are spreading across the world. We must not underestimate the
impact of soaring food prices on security."
6) Pro-China Fukuda diplomacy clouded
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
April 11, 2008
There is now a spread of backlashes against China's Tibet policy,
with protesters trying to disrupt the Beijing Olympic torch relay in
various countries. This is casting a shadow on Prime Minister Yasuo
Fukuda's proactive China diplomacy. Fukuda insisted on a peaceful
settlement of the Tibet issue through dialogue. In fact, however,
Fukuda is now being bound hand and foot in his efforts to improve
ties with China.
"There are no plans for any government officials to meet with him,"
Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told a news conference
yesterday when the 14th Dalai Lama, the supreme leader of Tibetan
Buddhism, stopped over in Japan.
Japan would unavoidably irritate China if anyone in the Japanese
government had met with the Dalai Lama.
The Foreign Ministry was also careful about its wording to explain
why the government had no plans to meet with the Dalai Lama. "We're
responding while considering various factors in a comprehensive
manner," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
"The Chinese government is also making efforts. We should not say we
will not participate in the Olympic Games." With this, Fukuda has so
far refrained from criticizing China.
Some lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are calling
for Fukuda to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.
Fukuda said: "Japan has such close relations with China. We should
make a coolheaded judgment."
Aside from such a standpoint of the Japanese government, however,
China has drawn unexpectedly strong criticism in the international
community. On Apr. 9, British Prime Minister Brown announced that he
would not participate in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic
Fukuda will meet with French Prime Minister Fillon today. After
that, Fukuda will meet with other foreign leaders during their
visits to Japan. They include Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi,
South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, and European Union President
In early May, Fukuda will also visit the Group of Eight's European
member nations. Shortly thereafter, Fukuda will meet with Chinese
President Hu Jintao in Japan.
Fukuda has lost political momentum in the parliamentary turmoil over
TOKYO 00000994 006 OF 013
the road-related tax revenues and his nomination for the post of
Bank of Japan governor, so he wanted to regain his footing by making
his meetings with foreign dignitaries successful.
The problem, however, cannot be expected to calm down before Hu's
visit to Japan. Moreover, Fukuda will host this year's G-8 summit at
Lake Toya in Hokkaido, during which he could be asked by European
leaders to show a resolute response toward the Chinese government.
On Apr. 26, the Olympic torch will come to Nagano City. "Everybody
is looking forward to watching the relay. Violence is undesirable."
This was all Fukuda could say.
7) Meeting press in Japan, Dalai Lama denounces interference with
torch relay: "Use of violence is wrong"
ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
April 11, 2008
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, yesterday met with
the press at a hotel near Narita Airport during his stopover in
Japan on his way from India, where he lives in self-exile, to the
United States. When asked about interference with the torch relay
for the Beijing Olympics, the Dalai Lama said: "It is all right to
express their feelings, but the use of violence is absolutely
unacceptable." The Dalai Lama stressed his support for China to host
the Olympics and indicated his willingness to attend the opening
ceremony of the Beijing Olympics if the Chinese side invites him to
The Dalai Lama answered questions in carefully choosing words but
with humorously animated gestures.
Asked about the Chinese government's condemnation against him as a
leader of the group aiming at Tibet's independence, the Dalai Lama
rebutted: "China has Buddhism. I feel a sense of fellowship in terms
of sharing the same belief." He went on to say: "It is not my desire
to seek (Tibet's) independence. I think it is all right that Tibet
is under China's control on the diplomatic and defense fronts. As
part of China, we want to have autonomy over Buddhism, culture,
education, and the environment."
When asked about the riots in Tibet that took place on March 11 and
after, the Dalai Lama indicated his understanding by noting, "They
are taken as a manifestation of (Tibetan people's) anger." As for
the number of victims, the Dalai Lama said, "Hundreds of people died
and thousands of people were jailed," revealing the great gap from
the numbers released by Chinese authorities.
Ahead of the press conference, the Dalai Lama met with former Prime
Minister Abe's wife, Akie, and House of Representatives member
Seichi Ota, chair of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's
Commission on Human Rights Issues. According to Ota, the Dalai Lama
asked for Japan's assistance in the area of medical care.
8) Dalai Lama meets with former Prime Minister Abe's wife Akie,
says, "Tibet may disappear...."
SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
April 11, 2008
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife, Akie, yesterday afternoon
TOKYO 00000994 007 OF 013
met at a hotel in Narita City, Chiba Prefecture with the Dalai Lama,
Tibet's spiritual leader, who was stopping over in Japan on his way
to the United States, Akie conveyed her husband's message that went:
"I offer my respect for your activities aimed at protecting the
human rights of the Tibetan people. I deeply sympathize with the
Tibetan people, given the current situation they are placed in. I
will strive to help improve the state of human rights in Tibet."
The Japanese government has refrained from contacting the Dalai
Lama, whom China blames for the riots in Tibet. Chief Cabinet
Secretary Nobutaka Machimura only said, "The government has no plan
for officials to meet with him." Despite Japan's excessive
consideration given to China, compared with the United States and
European countries, former Prime Minister Abe and Akie have now
praised the Dalai Lama's human right activities. A favorable comment
was heard about their stance from one Foreign Ministry official: "It
was very good in the sense that Japan has demonstrated it is not a
country that disregards human rights."
According to Mrs. Abe, the Dalai Lama expressed his gratitude in
response to the former prime minister's message. Speaking of the
increased number of Chinese people living in Tibet, the Dalai Lama
noted: "I am worried that if this situation continues for five or 10
years, Tibet may disappear. China is trying to 'Chinalize' Tibet.
The Tibetans are becoming a minority in Tibet."
Furthermore, the Dalai Lama stressed, "At this point in time, I have
no intention to call for Tibet's independence. I simply want to
protect the lives, culture, and spirit of the Tibetan people." When
asked about whether he is willing to have a direct dialogue with the
Chinese government, the Dalai Lama said: "Of course. I am ready to
do so anytime."
When asked about what he hopes to see Japan do for Tibet, the Dalai
Lama said: "I expect Japan to provide assistance (to Tibet) in the
area of medicine and medical treatment."
The same day, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) Research
Commission on Human Rights Issue Chairperson Seiichi Ota also met
with the Dalai Lama.
9) NPA eyes restricting torch disrupters' entry into country during
YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
April 11, 2008
In the wake of serious Beijing Olympic torch relay disruptions in
Europe, the National Police Agency has decided to increase security
for the relay in Nagano planned for April 26. With the aim of
preventing radical activists from entering Japan, the NPA will also
consider application of the hooligan provision of the Immigration
Control and Refugee Recognition Law that bans individuals with
arrest records from entering the country. China has sounded out
Japan on dispatching to Nagano two security officers running
parallel to the torch runners. The NPA, however, will ask China not
to become directly involved in security that relates to Japan's
The NPA initially planned to mobilize about 500 Nagano prefectural
police officers and 1,000 private security guards along the torch
relay course. But in anticipation of demonstrations by rightist
TOKYO 00000994 008 OF 013
groups with sound trucks and rallies by human rights groups, in
addition to disruption attempts by foreign activists, the NPA has
begun considering boosting security, for instance, by having riot
police officers accompany the torchbearers during their relay.
Coordination is underway with immigration authorities to tighten
passport control, while envisaging applying to radical European
activists the hooligan provision that was added to the Immigration
Control and Refugee Recognition Law during the 2002 World Cup soccer
10) Overseas trip by Fukuda in May might be difficult
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
April 11, 2008
The government has started coordination on a visit to Russia by
Prime Minister Fukuda on April 25-27.
The government initially looked into the possibility of having him
visit Britain, France and Germany during the Golden Week holidays.
However, it is now likely that a bill to maintain the provisional
gasoline tax rate will be brought back into the House of
Representatives for a revote in late April. Given this, many
officials now think it would be difficult for the prime minister to
make an overseas trip in May.
11) Defense Minister Ishiba cancels planned Golden-Week trip to
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
April 11, 2008
Defense Minister Ishiba has cancelled his trip to the United States
planned for May. He had planned to travel to Washington during May
3-6 and meet with Secretary of States Gates. However, in prior
coordination, the U.S. side sought specific talks on the issue of
the relocation of Futenma Air Station, while the Japanese side
wanted to take up broader themes. Coordination broke down, so the
defense minister decided to cancel the trip to the U.S.
12) Prime Minister Fukuda wants increase in ODA
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
April 11, 2008
Attending a meeting last evening of the "Foreign Policy Study
Group," a forum of influential persons, Prime Minister Fukuda
expressed his strong desire to see an increase in the official
development assistance (ODA) budget, which as continued to decline.
He said: "We can't just let it continue to fall. We must do
something (to boost it)."
13) Government, ruling parties confirm reallocation of road
construction funds to general account starting in fiscal 2009;
Agreement to be reached today
ASAHI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
April 1, 2008
Prime Minister Fukuda yesterday evening met with four top officers
of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), including Secretary General
TOKYO 00000994 009 OF 013
Bunmei Ibuki, and ordered them to finalize on April 11 the
government's and the ruling parties' proposal regarding
special-purpose road construction revenues. The proposal is expected
to incorporate a policy of shifting those revenues to the general
account starting in fiscal 2009, while keeping the level of tax
rates, including the provisional tax rate, intact. The prime
minister intends to obtain Diet approval for tax code
revision-related bills, now under deliberation, as is. However,
regarding a revision of those bills in the next fiscal year and
beyond, he will call on the opposition camp to agree to hold policy
The meeting was joined by Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura. The
proposal of the government and the ruling parties will center on the
following points, based on the prime minister's proposition made
during the emergency press conference on March 27: (1) shifting
special-account road construction revenues to the general account
starting in fiscal 2009; (2) maintaining the tax rate level,
including the provisional tax rate; and (3) speedy passage of the
fiscal 2008 revenue bill. Giving consideration to some LDP members
who are concerned about the impact of the proposal on road
construction, the proposal will also mention that the construction
of necessary roads will be carried out steadily.
Emerging from the meeting, Election Committee Chairman Makoto Koga,
who has influence over road policy, told reporters, "Since the prime
minister said that he would adopt that policy, I will follow his
policy." The government and the ruling parties will hold a liaison
council meeting on the afternoon of the 11th and reach a consensus
on the prime minister's proposal. They will then call on the
opposition camp to agree to hold policy talks.
Democratic Party of Japan Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji
Yamaoka met with his LDP counterpart Tadamori Oshima and conveyed to
him that the DPJ will not insist on its previous call for a cabinet
decision on the prime minister's proposal. The DPJ had made it a
precondition for it to enter into talks with the ruling camp.
14) Interview with Taro Kono: I will rebel on revote on
highway-related bill if there is no guarantee that all road tax
revenues will be shifted into general account
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
April 11, 2008
-- Prime Minister Fukuda proposed shifting highway tax revenues to
the general account starting in FY2009.
Our plan compiled by mid-ranking and junior members proposed
introducing the new policy five years from now, so the prime
minister's proposal calling to adopt it starting next fiscal year is
fully satisfactory. In the Liberal Democratic Party, though, there
are members complaining of the proposal behind the scenes. It is
necessary to come up with a definite plan.
-- The bill amending the law pertaining to financial sources for
highway-related projects now under deliberation calls for placing
only extra tax revenues that exceed expenses for highway
construction and maintenance into the general account.
If the bill is brought back into the House of Representatives for a
revote without a guarantee to incorporate all highway tax revenues
TOKYO 00000994 010 OF 013
into the general account, I will raise opposition. There are many
LDP members who are against such an approach. More than 16 lawmakers
calling for such a guarantee gathered together in late March. I hear
there are more. If all of them are against it, the bill might be
--Do you think the provisional road-related tax rates should be
The major theme at the upcoming Lake Toya Summit is the issue of
global warming. Despite this, if Japan decides to lower the gasoline
tax rate, other countries might think Japan has no eagerness to
address the issue. So I support the idea of taking an override vote
in the Lower House to restore the provisional tax rate. Some suggest
that Japan should introduce an environment tax instead of reviving
the provisional tax rate, but if that is really necessary, money to
finance environmental measures should be disbursed from the general
15) Dissatisfaction at policy of shifting road tax revenues to
general account smoldering among LDP lawmakers lobbying for road
construction industry; junior members supportive
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
April 11, 2008
The Liberal Democratic Party yesterday endorsed a new proposal made
by Prime Minister Fukuda in late March to shift highway-related tax
revenues to the general account starting in FY2009. The road-related
policy clique in the Diet initially frowned on the agreement hastily
concluded by the government and the ruling parties, but since a
paper inserted the phrase that "necessary roads will be
constructed," they laid down their arms.
Included among the party executives who gathered at the Prime
Minister's Office last evening in response to a call by the prime
minister were Election Committee Chairman Makoto Koga and Executive
Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai - lawmakers lobbying for the
highway construction industry. When Fukuda presented a compromise
plan, Koga promptly started talking on and on about the actual
situation of roads in local areas and circumstances surrounding the
road-related industries, according to informed sources.
After the party executive meeting, Koga told reporters: "We will
properly accept the major trend of incorporating the tax revenues
earmarked for highway-related projects into the general account."
Although he spoke with an attitude of unconcern, when his car came
for him, he pushed away the microphone held by a reporter and left.
Nikai, surrounded by reporters, said: "It will be impossible to
easily review massive highway-construction projects in ten days or
one month. We must listen to views from local people."
In a special executive meeting held on the evening of April 9, after
a one-on-one debate between Fukuda and Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) President Ozawa, Koga told executive members in a threatening
way after letting party staff members leave the room: "We all remain
silent without saying what we want to say. If you get into further
detail, we will explode in anger." Koga represented the
dissatisfaction of the road-policy clique in the Diet.
However, a number of medium-ranking and junior members of the LDP
are calling on the leadership to endorse the prime minister's
TOKYO 00000994 011 OF 013
proposal. House of Councillors member Ichita Yamamoto of the
Machimura faction said in a meeting of the Executive Council on the
8th: "The prime minister's policy of shifting highway tax revenues
to the general account should be formally adopted." A senior member
of the ruling camp's Diet Affairs Committee also stated: "If the
policy is not endorsed, the administration will reach a dead end."
The lawmakers representing the highway construction industry are
apparently feeling that although it is necessary to come to terms
with the prime minister in order to support his administration, a
significant compromise with the DPJ is unnecessary. Keeping such
feelings in mind, a senior New Komeito member grumbled: "The DPJ is
expected to decline our call for negotiations on revising the
proposal, so there is no need to make any proposal to it. It is
unnecessary to add anything to the prime minister's proposal."
16) DPJ proposes starting revision talks
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
April 2, 2008
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) Diet Affairs Committee
Chairman Kenji Yamaoka yesterday met his Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) counterpart Tadamori Oshima in the Diet. He during the meeting
called on the LDP to respond to his party's proposal for holding
revision talks on the level of diet affairs committee chairmen and
policy research council chairmen of the ruling and opposition
parties to discuss the special-purpose road construction revenues
The DPJ has called for holding talks to revise the bills presented
by the government during the current Diet session, based on an
agreement between the ruling and opposition parties. However, the
ruling parties and the opposition parties are wide apart on their
perception of the issue, with the government and the ruling parties
calling for holding policy talks at an early date to discuss a
policy course that would reform road policy without revising the
bills during the current Diet session.
It is viewed that the DPJ made that proposal to indicate a positive
stance toward talks with the ruling parties, fending off criticism
from the ruling parties as refusing such talks. Deputy President
Naoto Kan underscored, "We are ready to respond to talks any time."
Vice President Katsuya Okada during a BS television program played
up the proposal: "We will protect the abolition of the provisional
gas tax rate as our achievement. If the government gets the bills
through the Diet, it would be a lie that the prime minister proposed
shifting road revenues to the general account." He indicated that
revising the government-sponsored bills, including abolishing the
provisional tax rate, would be essential. So even if the ruling and
opposition parties entered into talks, there are no prospects at
this point for them to reach an agreement.
17) Aso faction membership grows to 20; Aso one step close to
running for LDP presidency
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
April 11, 2008
The Aso faction led by Taro Aso, a former secretary general of the
Liberal Democratic Party, at its general meeting yesterday admitted
TOKYO 00000994 012 OF 013
into the faction House of Representatives member Yoji Muto (Gifu No.
3 constituency) and House of Councillors member Tamon Hasegawa
(Ibaraki electoral district), raising the faction's membership to
20. In order to run for the party presidency, one must have
recommendations from at least 20 other LDP lawmakers. Aso is now one
step close to being able to run for the party presidency to succeed
PM Fukuda without relying on other factions.
Including those two, the Aso faction now has 16 Lower House members
and four Upper House members. The faction's membership has increased
by five since its establishment in January 2007. A mid-level faction
member said: "The greater factional strength will intensify policy
discussions in the faction, and that will boost Mr. Aso's
Recommendations from 20 LDP lawmakers are required to run for the
LDP presidency in accordance with party rules. The Aso faction,
however, has sent one member to the Election Administration
Committee in past presidential elections. Given the situation, in
order for Aso to win recommendations from 20 faction members, two
more LDP lawmakers will have to join his faction, according to a
senior Aso faction member.
18) LDP child porn panel decides to forgo regulating animation
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
April 11, 2008
The LDP subcommittee on a review of the Law for Punishing Acts
Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, chaired by
Mayumi Moriyama, decided yesterday to forgo regulating animated
films and computer graphics sexually depicting characters who do not
actually exist. Although the subcommittee has decided to criminalize
the simple possession of pornographic images of minors, many
expressed cautious views on animation, saying that no children have
The New Komeito also intends to forgo regulating animation for a
similar reason. With the Democratic Party of Japan also remaining
cautious, the subject is likely to be removed from future
nonpartisan talks on amending the law.
19) JAXA to overhaul Japan's satellites due to malfunctions
YOMIURI (Page 1) (Abridged)
April 11, 2008
The lunar probe Kaguya and other Japanese satellites have recently
experienced minor malfunctions. In the wake of this, the Japan
Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will check all 16 satellites
currently in operation by gathering and analyzing troubles and
In the past four months, JAXA confirmed seven problems in five
satellites. In January, problems occurred with the engineering test
satellite Kiku 8 and the X-ray observatory satellite Suzaku. In
February, the solar observatory satellite Hinode malfunctioned. In
March, the ultrahigh-speed internet satellite Kizuna was also found
to have problems. Last December, JAXA announced that Kaguya had
something wrong with it. In April, JAXA revealed that Kaguya had had
another problem. Due to the difficulties, Kaguya cannot observe the
moon's radioelement distribution with its gamma-ray spectrometer.
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