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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 05/01/08

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 11 TOKYO 001185

SIPDIS

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DEPT FOR E, P, EB, EAP/J, EAP/P, EAP/PD, PA;
WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION;
TREASURY/OASIA/IMI/JAPAN; DEPT PASS USTR/PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
SECDEF FOR JCS-J-5/JAPAN,
DASD/ISA/EAPR/JAPAN; DEPT PASS ELECTRONICALLY TO USDA
FAS/ITP FOR SCHROETER; PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR;
CINCPAC FLT/PA/ COMNAVFORJAPAN/PA.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 05/01/08


Index:

1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)

Diet uproar:
4) Lower House rams through override vote to pass bill allowing
reinstatement of gasoline tax after a month's hiatus (Tokyo
Shimbun)
5) Prime Minister Fukuda promises to make road-designated revenues
into general funds that can be tapped for nation's daily-living
needs (Tokyo Shimbun)
6) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), inflamed by passing of gas tax
bill, calls it "an outrage" but holds back on submitting a censure
motion against the premier (Nikkei)
7) DPJ on horns of dilemma over whether to file a censure motion
against Prime Minister Fukuda or not (Yomiuri)
8) Tug of war in Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) between road-policy
interests and young Turks wanting to end excessive highway building
(Mainichi)
9) Gasoline tax's rise, coupled with soaring food prices dealing
consumers a double punch, with political ramifications (Asahi)
10) Local governments welcome return of gas-tax funded budget for
road building (Yomiuri)
11) Upper House speaker Eda may be hit with a censure motion filed
by the LDP (Tokyo Shimbun)

12) Bank of Japan report stresses "neutral line" in monetary policy,
revises growth downward for current fiscal year to 1.5 PERCENT
(Nikkei)

Diplomatic affairs:
13) Foreign Minister Koumura to visit Pakistan (Mainichi)
14) Senior Vice Foreign Minister Onodera to travel to Sudan
(Mainichi)
15) Government plans to provide Sudan with 20 billion yen in foreign
aid (Asahi)
16) Lawmakers' symposium debates Tibetan issue prior to Chinese
President Hu's official visit to Japan (Asahi)
17) Fukuda mulling whether to attend the opening ceremony of the
Beijing Olympics (Tokyo Shimbun)

18) Interview with Consul General to Okinawa Kevin Maher (Ryukyu
Shimpo)

Articles:

1) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, Nikkei, Sankei, Tokyo Shimbun, and
Akahata:
Lower House passes tax code bill in revote to revive provisional gas
tax rate; Gas price to be raised to about 160 yen per liter starting
today; 60-day rule invoked for first time in 56 years

2) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) Provisional gas tax rate restored: Until when will the roads
remain as sacrosanct?
(2) Hydrogen sulfide suicides: Taking preventive measures on

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Internet imperative

Mainichi:
(1) Diet restores provisional tax rates: Something else must have
been done
(2) Bank of Japan report: Interest rates normalization efforts must
go on

Yomiuri:
(1) Prime minister must fulfill promise on road tax revenues
(2) BOJ report: Interest hike policy course corrected

Nikkei:
(1) Overriding vote natural, but tax revenue bills require
revisions
(2) Shirakawa-led BOJ advocates flexible policy

Sankei:
(1) Revenue-related bills clear Diet: Freeing up road-related
revenues for general spending requires solid road map; DPJ must play
constructive role

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Provisional tax rates: Override vote results in strong public
mistrust
(2) BOJ report: Absence of policy a risk

Akahata:
(1) Groundless tax hike unacceptable

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, April 30

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
May 1, 2008

09:01
Attended cabinet meeting in Diet building. Health, Labor and Welfare
Minister Masuzoe remained. Met with Agriculture Minister
Wakabayashi.

10:51
Met at Kantei with Vice Foreign Minister Yabunaka, followed by LDP
Secretary General Ibuki.

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11:57
Met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ono.

12:23
Met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura.

13:03
Arrived at the Diet.

14:00
Attended Lower House plenary session. Mt afterwards with Lower House
Speaker Kono.

15:42
Attended Lower House plenary session.


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16:58
Attended extra cabinet meeting. Masuzoe stayed on. Met later with
National Public Safety Commission Chairman Izumi.

18:30
Held press conference at Kantei. Met with Machimura.

19:57
Returned to his official residence.

4) Diet restores provisional gas tax rate; Bill amending Road
Construction Revenues Special Measures Law to clear Diet on May 13

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Top play) (Abridged slightly)
May 1, 2008

A bill amending the Special Taxation Measures Law to revive the
controversial provisional gasoline tax rate was passed into law in a
House of Representatives' plenary session last night with the ruling
bloc's two-thirds overriding vote. Three opposition parties --
Democratic Party of Japan, Social Democratic Party, and People's New
Party -- refused to attend the session in protest against the
revote. All members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New
Komeito voted for the bill. Immediately after the bill's passage,
the government held a cabinet meeting and adopted an ordinance that
would take effect on May 1 to reinstate the gasoline surcharge of
25.1 yen per liter after a lapse of one month. Some gas stations
raised the gas prices before dawn of May 1. The ruling bloc also
decided on April 30 to hold a second, overriding vote in a Lower
House plenary session on May 13 to pass a bill revising the Road
Construction Revenues Special Measures Law, which is designed to
maintain the revenues earmarked solely for road improvement for 10
years.

Combined with soaring crude oil prices, the price of gasoline after
the raise is likely to exceed 160 yen per liter. The timing of the
gas price hike is expected to vary from gas station to gas station.

Although the Lower House plenary session was scheduled to open at
1:00 p.m., it was delayed for about one hour because DPJ members
tried to block Lower House Speaker Yohei Kono from entering the
plenary session hall.

The session adopted the ruling bloc-submitted motion to regard the
Upper House's failure to take a final action within 60 days after
receipt of a bill from the lower chamber to be a rejection of the
bill, and took a second vote after a break. Of the opposition camp,
the Japanese Communist Party attended the session and voted against
the bill.

It is the first time that the 60-day rule has been invoked since
1952, when a bill on asset transfers by national hospitals was
passed into law.

5) Prime minister plans to use road revenues to improve livelihood
and come up with measures to improve medical system for elderly in
June

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
May 1, 2008

Following the revival of the provisional gasoline tax rate, Prime

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Minister Yasuo Fukuda held a press conference at the Prime
Minister's Office last night. He sought public understanding of the
ruling bloc, which has resorted to a Lower House override vote on a
bill amending the Special Taxation Measures Law, saying: "(The
central and local governments) would continue to suffer from revenue
shortages. There is a need to resolve such an irresponsible
situation. It was a hard decision."

The prime minister also revealed a policy course to make a cabinet
decision on a plan to free up the road tax revenues for general use
starting in fiscal 2009 before or after holding a second, overriding
vote to pass a bill revising the special law for revenues for road
construction and improvement, which is designed to maintain the
revenues earmarked solely for road improvement for 10 years. While
emphasizing the need to maintain the taxation level in fiscal 2009
as well, he revealed a plan to use part of the tax revenues also for
the environment and social security, saying, "The money will be used
to improve the people's livelihood."

At the same time, the prime minister announced a plan to come up
with measures to improve the medical system for the elderly (people
aged 75 or older) before their insurance premiums are automatically
deducted from their pension benefits in June, noting: "We will
intensively examine problems associated with the system, and deal
with them appropriately."

6) DPJ calls re-adoption of amendment to Special Taxation Measures
Law "outrage"

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
May 1, 2008

The major opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) called the
re-adoption of the bill amending the Special Taxation Measures Law
in the Lower House "outrage" and protested against the re-adoption
inside and outside the Diet, riding on the crest of its recent
victory in the by-election for a Lower House seat in Yamaguchi 2nd
District. The DPJ intends to keep an option of submitting a censure
motion against Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda until May 12 or later,
when the government and the ruling bloc can take a re-vote on the
bill revising the Law for Revenues for Road Construction aimed at
maintaining revenues for road projects for 10 years.

Meeting the press after a Lower House plenary session yesterday,
where the bill amending the Special Taxation Measures Law was
re-approved, DPJ Deputy President Naoto Kan made this critical
remark: "The bill was adopted despite opposition of 70 PERCENT of
the public. (The government and the ruling parties) demonstrated
that their policy was far apart from the public's will." DPJ
Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama gave a public speech in Yurakucho,

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Tokyo, in which he said: "It's really regrettable to see the
abolished provisional tax rates reinstated. We will call for an
early dissolution of the Lower House for a snap election so that the
public's desires will be reflected in politics."

DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa stayed at his personal office or the DPJ
headquarters after attending a joint plenary meeting of DPJ members
of both houses of the Diet in the morning, but he did not make any
official remark. The DPJ planned to hold an executives' meeting and
a standing committee meeting after the bill was re-adopted in the
Lower House, but those meetings were canceled on the grounds that it
would not be time to discuss in concrete terms whether to submit a

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censure motion.

Debate on the bill revising the Road Construction Law in the
Committee on Financial Affairs is expected to be resumed on May 8
after the Golden Week holidays. When asked by reporters when to
submit a censure motion against the prime minister, Kan said: "We
will choose the most effective timing to do so. We need to fully
discuss (revenues for road construction)."

7) Provisional tax rate for gasoline re-approved; DPJ faces dilemma
as to whether to submit censure motion against prime minister

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
May 1, 2008

The tax system-related bills aimed at reinstating the provisional
tax rate for gasoline were approved in a Lower House plenary session
yesterday. This move brought on strong objections from the
opposition parties. The major opposition Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) is reserving the option of submitting a censure motion against
Prime Minister Fukuda, while taking a confrontational stand of
pressing the prime minister to dissolve the Lower House for a snap
election. The DPJ, however, faces a dilemma: The harder it drives
the prime minister into a corner, the more remote dissolution of the
Lower House becomes. With the party's presidential election set for
September, DPJ President Ozawa has been forced to lead the party
under a difficult situation.

DPJ Secretary General Hatoyama, meeting yesterday with party members
of both houses of the Diet after the Lower House plenary meeting
ended, said: "Major issues, such as road construction, missing
records of paid pension premiums, and the medical service system for
the elderly, lie ahead. I'd like you to thoroughly debate them in
the Upper House.". Hatoyama emphasized the need for full debate on
the issues in the Diet. Later in the day, the DPJ Upper House
executives held a standing committee meeting and confirmed the
policy of delaying submitting a censure motion against the prime
minister. DPJ Upper House Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Susumu
Yanase told a news conference: "We will keep (a censure motion) for
the next battle. We want to hold it until there is a more crucial
scene."

As to when to submit a censure motion, Ozawa and other executives of
the DPJ will meet on May 7 to discuss the timing, after analyzing
how the public is reacting to gasoline price hikes.

A censure motion is seen as a double-edged sword. If the DPJ
mishandles it, it could be exposed to public criticism.

Even if a censure motion is approved (in the Upper House), if the
prime minister refuses to step down from the post or he refuses to
dissolve the Lower House, the opposition parties will have no choice
but to boycott Diet deliberations for many days. So, many in the DPJ
are opposed to submitting a censure motion. A junior lawmaker noted,
"If we boycott Diet deliberations for two weeks, our party will see
its approval ratings plummeting." Meanwhile, if the party comes back
to Diet deliberations so soon, the censure motion will lose its
meaning as an ace to shake the ruling bloc. Perhaps for this reason,
some in the DPJ have begun voicing a negative view about submitting
a censure motion to the current session of the Diet with one member
noting: "If the party submits it without any prospect for
dissolution of the Lower House, its move will simply backfire."

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8) Tug-of-war played between lawmakers favoring road construction
industry and junior lawmakers in LDP over road budget

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
May 1, 2008

Shinichiro Nishida

With the passage of the bill amending the Special Taxation Measures
Law yesterday, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) saw
conflicting views emerge between lawmakers tied to the construction
industry, who are trying to secure revenues for road construction
even after the now dedicated revenues are shifted to the general
account, and junior lawmakers who assert that the decision by the
government and the ruling bloc to incorporate the revenues for road
construction into the general account should not be watered down.
The tug of war between those two groups has begun over how much
money will be allocated to the road maintenance and construction
budget on the assumption that the bill revising the Law for Revenues
for Road Construction will be readopted in the Lower House.

"Road construction is still necessary particularly in rural
regions." This view was voiced in succession at a meeting yesterday
morning of the Research Commission on Highways (headed by Yuji
Yamamoto) held in the LDP headquarters ahead of the re-adoption of
the bill. The meeting confirmed its support for the decision by the
government and the ruling bloc to move the revenues for road
construction into the general account in fiscal 2009. Meanwhile, the
meeting saw a number of participants seek to promote road
construction in rural areas at a steady pace. There were also some
who expressed concerns about a possible review of the mid-term plan
for road construction with one participant insisting: "It will be
all right to incorporate the revenues for road projects into the
general account if roads are constructed properly. But it's
difficult to judge whether there is need to construct highways in
rural areas only by means of cost efficiency."

9) Short-lived gas price cut: Triple whammy -- reinstatement of
provisional gas tax rate, higher crude oil prices and higher food
prices -- hits household budget

ASAHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
May 1, 2008

With the reinstatement of the provisional gas tax rate, retail
gasoline prices will soar to a record level. Coupled with the rise
in prices of foods and other items, the revival of the provisional
tax rate will likely deal a double blow to the household budget.
Regional differences in gasoline prices could further widen due to
the reinstatement of the provisional gas tax rate. The political
uproar is cause people throughout the nation to suffer the
consequences.

An area along the No. 8 Ring Road in Tokyo is known as a most
competitive area for gas stations. Approximately 20 passenger cars
and trucks lined at a self-service gas station that was selling
gasoline for 124 yen per liter.

Toshie Anzai (55), a delivery service operator, lamented, "The
burden of my household budget will become heavier due to the rise on
gas prices. My lunch consists of just rice balls. Nothing else. I

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must save wherever possible." Her gas expenses in April were lower
than the previous month's level by 9,000 yen. However, there will be
an increase of 12,000 yen in May. That is because the gas price will
rise by about 30 yen per liter die to the revival of the provisional
gas tax rate and the higher crude oil prices.

According to a household budget survey (household with more than two
members) released by the Internal Affairs Ministry on April 30,
gasoline consumption in March fell 5 PERCENT , compared with the
same month a year earlier. The drop is attributable to consumers'
buying restraint in expectation of the expiry of the provisional gas
tax rate in April. However, household expenditures rose 13 PERCENT
due to the rise in gas prices caused by the higher crude oil prices.
Gasoline used for vehicles is often a necessity. People are limited
in what they can do to hold down their gasoline expenditures.

10) Prime Minister Fukuda left in the lurch: Cannot dissolve Lower
House due to poor cabinet support rate

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
May 1, 2008

The government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda yesterday resolved the
issue of reinstating the provisional gasoline tax rates, the highest
priority issue, by pushing through a tax-related bill in a Lower
House plenary session. However, there is a view that the hike in
gasoline prices will further lower the already poor support rates
for the Fukuda Cabinet. With confrontation continuing between the
ruling and opposition parties due to the lopsided Diet (with the
ruling camp controlling the Lower House and the opposition camp
dominating the Upper House), Fukuda remains in a tough position
since there are no prospects are in sight for boosting the
popularity of his administration.

Fukuda opened his press conference last night by saying:

"I sincerely ask the public to cooperate with the policy of shifting
revenues from gasoline and other road-related taxes to the general
account budget, as well as with the reforms to help average people
that I am trying to push forward with."

During the 12-minute press briefing, Fukuda sought the public to
understand the revival of the provisional tax rates and reform of
the special revenue resources for road construction projects. He
admitted with good grace his responsibility for the drop and then
the hike in the gasoline prices in one month. He stated: "I have no
intention to blame such on the lopsided Diet."

However, the Fukuda administration has been increasing finding
itself left in the lurch. According to a poll the Yomiuri Shimbun
conducted in mid-April, the cabinet approval rate dropped to 30
PERCENT due to the poor handling of the appointment of new governor
of the Bank of Japan, as well as the uproar over the introduction of
the new medical care system for those 75 and over. The introduction
of the new health care system for the elderly became the main cause
for the defeat of a candidate backed by the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) in Yamaguchi. One mid-level LDP lawmaker took
a pessimistic view, predicting the cabinet support rate would drop
even further.

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) is
now considering submitting to the House of Councillors a censure

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motion against the prime minister if a bill amending the Road
Construction Revenues Special Exemption Law is readopted in the
House of Representatives on May 13. If the Lower House holds a
revote on the bill, the Diet will be completely stopped, and the
panel set up between the ruling and opposition camps in April for
consultations is likely to hit a roadblock. Although Fukuda has been
trying to find a way for across the board discussion with the
opposition camp on the tax system and reform of the social security
system, having in mind drastic tax system reform in mind, there is
little hope that his desire can be met.

It is also difficult for Fukuda to turn the tables by dissolving the
Lower House. With the defeat of the LDP candidate in the recent
Lower House by-election in the Yamaguchi No. 2 constituency, the
prevailing view in the LDP executive is that the prime minister is
just not able to dissolve the Lower House for the time being.

11) LDP may submit no-confidence motion against Eda

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
May 1, 2008

The Diet yesterday approved a government-introduced bill revising
the Special Taxation Measures Law with a second vote that was taken
in the ruling-dominated House of Representatives since the
opposition-controlled House of Councillors did not deliberate on the
bill for a certain period of days and was therefore deemed to have
voted down the bill. In this connection, Hidehisa Otsuji, chair of
the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's lawmakers in the House of
Councillors, held a press conference yesterday, in which he implied
that the LDP could submit a no-confidence motion against House of
Councillors President Satsuki Eda. "House of Councillors President
Satsuki Eda's responsibility is extremely heavy," Otsuji said. "We
may submit a no-confidence motion against him," he added.

Otsuji also blamed the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan
(Minshuto) for its refusal to take a vote on the bill in the upper
chamber. He said: "If the majority party tries to block
deliberations, it would result in this course of action. The DPJ's
responsibility is also extremely heavy."

Eda rebutted to reporters yesterday: "The House of Councillors
indicated that it would be necessary to hold further deliberations.
It's very regrettable that this was regarded as voting down the
bill."

12) BOJ economic outlook report takes neutral stance on monetary
policy; Outlook for real economic growth revised down to 1.5 PERCENT


NIKKEI (Page 1) (Excerpt)
May 1, 2008

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) yesterday revised its previous policy that
had eyed the possibility of an interest rate hike, noting in its
Outlook for Economic Activity and Prices (Outlook Report) that it is
not appropriate to predetermine the direction of future monetary
policy. Governor Masaaki Shirakawa clarified the central bank's
decision to opt to take a neutral stance regarding future monetary
policy. He said, "We will manage monetary policy in a flexible
manner, by elaborately checking risks of both raising and lowering
an interest rate." Citing increasing downside risks to the economy,

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the BOJ revised down the outlook for real growth of the economy for
fiscal 2008 from 2.1 PERCENT in the previous report issued in
October last year to 1.5 PERCENT .

13) Foreign Minister Koumura off to Pakistan on May 2

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
May 1, 2008

Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura will visit Pakistan on May 2-5 to
meet with President Musharraf and Prime Minister Gillani. A Japanese
high official will visit the country for the first time since the
Gillani government was inaugurated at the end of March.

After a spate of uproars, including the assassination of former
Prime Minister Bhutto last December, Gillani was elected president
in the general election in February. Komura and Gillani will discuss
cooperation to fight against terrorism and economic assistance.

14) Senior vice foreign minister to be sent to Sudan

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
May 1, 2008

The government announced yesterday that it will send in early May
Senior Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera and Parliamentary
Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yasuhide Nakayama to Sudan. The

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government is considering a dispatch of Self-Defense Force (SDF)
personnel to PKO (United Nations peacekeeping operations), which has
been deployed in the country. The visit to Sudan by Onodera and
Nakayama is aimed to pave the way for the SDF's participation in the
PKO in the country. Onodera will visit Darfur on May 2-6 and meet
with President Al-Bashir and the governor of Darfur to urge them to
resume reconciliation talks. Nakayama will visit on May 5-11 the
site of UNMIS (UN Mission in Sudan).

15) Japan to provide 20 billion in aid to Sudan

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
May 1, 2008

The government decided yesterday to provide about $200 million
(approx. 20.8 billion yen) in aid to Sudan from 2008 through the
summer of 2011 to help with the reconstruction of a country saddled
with the Darfur conflict and other issues. In addition to aid
through international organizations, Japan will resume its bilateral
assistance that has been suspended since October 1992. In July,
Japan will host a meeting of Group of Eight (G-8) leaders at Lake
Toya in Hokkaido. Ahead of the event, the government is aiming to
make an appeal on Japan's international contributions as the G-8
host.

Parliamentary Foreign Secretary Yasuhide Nakayama will formally
announce the decision in a meeting of donors to be held in Oslo for
Sudan from May 5. Japan will make a donation of 1 billion yen
through the United Nations World Food Program and will also fund the
Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for its assistance
to repatriated refugees in Sudan. The security situation in the
southern part of Sudan has been comparatively stable since a peace
accord was reached. Japan will directly assist Sudan in that area
with road paving and other infrastructure improvement projects
through the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

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Senior Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera will visit the
province of Darfur tomorrow, and Nakayama will visit Sudan's
southern part on May 9.

16) Tibet discussed

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
May 1, 2008

Ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Japan, a group of
lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party held a symposium
near the Diet yesterday to consider human rights in China, with
former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Shoichi Nakagawa
presiding. In addition to former Prime Minister Abe and former LDP
Secretary General Aso, there were about 350 people in the symposium.

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Participants insisted that Prime Minister Fukuda should not attend
the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony and that the Japanese
government should also speak out for the genuine autonomy of Tibet.

Meanwhile, a suprapartisan group of lawmakers also held a general
meeting yesterday and adopted an urgent resolution on Tibet and the
Beijing Olympics.

17) Conservative lawmakers urge Fukuda to boycott Olympic ceremony

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
May 1, 2008

A suprapartisan group of conservative lawmakers, chaired by former
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma, held a general
meeting yesterday afternoon in an office building of Diet members
and adopted an urgent resolution calling on the government to be
cautious about the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony scheduled for
Aug. 8. Referring to the Tibet issue, Hiranuma said, "If the turmoil
continues, Prime Minister Fukuda should consider staying away from
the ceremony."

The resolution, touching on Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to
Japan from May 6, notes: "The government should work even more
strongly on the Chinese government to respect the Tibetan people's
human rights and resolve the situation through direct dialogue with
the 14th Dalai Lama who represents the Tibetan people. Meanwhile,
China may ask for the presence of Imperial Family members in the
Olympic opening ceremony. "The government could be blamed for its
political use of such a visit," Hiranuma said. He added, "The
government should forgo that."

18) Interview with Consul General to Okinawa Kevin Maher

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 2) (Full)
May 1, 2008

-- An announcement detailing the reversion of facilities in the
southern part of the main island (of Okinawa) has been delayed.

"The reversions south of Kadena will be the next stage after the
relocation of Futenma Air Station and the transfer (of Marines) to
Guam, so there is no need to fret. There has been an agreement to
return the part of Camp Zukeran (Foster) along Route 58, but
coordination is going on regarding the residential plan as to
whether to leave personnel who are single or those with families, so

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it will take a little time."

-- What about the delay in Futenma assessment?

"Politically, there are a various views in the government,
prefecture, and Nago City, but the procedures are advancing. The
assessment has been slow, but I am optimistic that the procedures
will move ahead steadily.

"The (U.S. side's) budget accompanying the transfer (of Marines
from Okinawa) to Guam involves delicate timing, in that there must
be a judgment that the Futenma relocation plan has been successful.
Budgetary procedures are advancing with the expectation that the
Futenma relocation plan will be implemented. There is a point of
view that if the Guam facilities are built, there could be a
transfer to Guam even without the Futenma relocation, but that is
mistaken. If there is no relocation of Futenma, even if the Guam
facilities are built, we would look for another use for them. I am
hoping that we can avoid that."

-- The prefecture and others are calling for moving the alternate
facility into the sea.

"The positioning of the runways has already been determined in
detail. There is no option for revision. The plan will either be
implemented or not."

-- Consideration is being given by the Department of the Navy to
moving the Marines in Okinawa to Hawaii.

"The plan to transfer 8,000 Marines to Guam has not been changed.
There is not plan (between the U.S. and Japan) to move them from
Okinawa to Hawaii."

-- What about the deployment to Okinawa of the U.S. Marines' Osprey
MV22?

"The Marines from before have said that there would be no change
from the CH47 helicopters at Futenma. There has no been no specific
plan to bring (Ospreys) to Okinawa."

SCHIEFFER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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