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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 05/12/08

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 13 TOKYO 001280

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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;
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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 05/12/08


Index:

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

Deputy Secretary Negroponte visit:
4) Deputy Secretary Negroponte meets Foreign Minister Koumura, calls
Japan lynchpin of U.S. diplomacy, discusses Japan's concerns about
North Korea talks (Mainichi)
5) Negroponte and Defense Minister Ishiba express common concerns
about China's expanding military budget (Nikkei)
6) Negroponte, Ishiba agree on need for steady implementation of
USFJ realignment plan (Akahata)

G8 Labor Summit in Niigata:
7) G8 labor ministers in Niigata meeting debate ways to improve job
situation (Nikkei)
8) ILO director in Niigata interview stresses that protection of the
environment will create jobs (Nikkei)

Burma tragedy:
9) Burmese living in Japan protest Burmese (Myanmar) junta holding a
referendum while their country suffers devastation from cyclone
(Asahi)
10) Prime Minister Fukuda sends personal letter to Burma's military
leaders (Yomiuri)

11) Fukuda in Washington Post interview wants United Nations to
intervene to assist flood-ravaged areas of Burma where government is
blocking entry (Mainichi)
12) Japan's additional 1 billion yen aid pledge to Burma for
humanitarian relief also meant to counter China's influence over
that country (Nikkei)

13) Following Hu Jintao's tour of Japan, both leaders are touting
success of the visit, but concerns remain about issues still pending
(Mainichi)

TICAD conference:
14) Japan having difficulty rounding up sufficient aid for Africa to
be announced at TICAD (Mainichi)
15) Fukuda plans to individually meet all 42 African heads coming to
TICAD conference (Mainichi)

16) "Fukuda vision" to be ready for announcement next month would
formally commit Japan to reduce by 2050 greenhouse gases by 60 to 80
PERCENT (Tokyo Shimbun)

Political agenda:
17) Democratic Party of Japan and Peoples New Party to present to
Upper House bill calling for revising the U.S.-Japan Status of
Forces Agreement (SOFA) (Mainichi)
18) Most DPJ lawmakers reluctant to file censure motion against
Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Fuyushiba on road tax
issue (Mainichi)
19) Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura warns that implementing global
warming countermeasures will also raise the price of gasoline
(Asahi)
20) Ruling parties next month will correct the inequity in the new
medical care program for the over 75 elderly by exempting low-income
people from fees (Mainichi)

TOKYO 00001280 002 OF 013


21) Ruling camp now sees no need to extend the current session of
the Diet, for it would only give the opposition more time to attack
them (Tokyo Shimbun)
22) Former postal rebel Hiranuma to form a new anti-LDP study group
(Mainichi)

Articles:

1) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi:
Survey: 60 PERCENT of local toll roads show deficit with actual
traffic volumes below forecasts in 76 PERCENT of such roads

Mainichi:
Cyclone in Burma: 220,000 people still missing, according to UN
estimate; Transportation of goods begins

Yomiuri:
Survey of metabolic syndrome health checkups and health guidance
across the country: 80 PERCENT of health guidance cases that follow
health checkups found to be offered free

Nikkei:
Survey: Summer bonuses likely to remain at almost same level as last
year, showing the lowest rate of increase since 2003

Sankei:
With failure of Fukuda to buoy up his cabinet by taking advantage of
Japan-China summit, political parties now in mood for political
realignment instead of dissolution of Lower House for snap election

Tokyo Shimbun:
Cyclone in Burma: International aid fails to reach people because
the country is under the control of junta

Akahata:
Rally in Yokosuka calls for establishing ordinance that will
stipulate referendum on whether to allow nuclear aircraft carrier to
base at Yokosuka Port

2) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) Small firms' state-of-the-art technology needs to be protected
(2) What is happening in America's "backyard" of Latin America?

Mainichi:
(1) Sectoral approach not enough to deal with climate change
(2) Ad hoc new curriculum guidelines unacceptable

Yomiuri:
(1) Eleventh-hour approach unacceptable when creating permanent SDF
legislation
(2) Admissions-office-based exams must not be used as means to
simply recruit applicants earlier than usual exam period

Nikkei:
(1) U.S. firms rely more on overseas markets because of slowdown at
home
(2) We favor giving suffrage at age 18


TOKYO 00001280 003 OF 013


Sankei:
(1) Basic education plans: Priority needs to be set for investment
(2) Lack of physicians: Remove regional gaps first

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Toyota's settlement of accounts: Japanese firms now being
tested
(2) Itai-itai disease: Patients still suffer pain

Akahata:
(1) Reform of MOD: Measures to enhance SDF's voice dangerous

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, May 9

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
May 10, 2008

09:04
Attended a cabinet meeting. Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura stayed
on.

09:27
Met Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ono at the Kantei.

11:16
Gave an interview to China Central Television.

13:02
Attended a Lower House plenary session.

15:04
Attended a joint examination meeting of the Upper House Financial
Affairs Committee and the Land and Infrastructure Committee.

18:55
Met Indonesia Regional Representative Council Chairman Ginanjar.

19:43
Retuned to his official residence.

Prime Minister's schedule, May 10

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
May 11, 2008

13:00
Gave interview to the Washington Post.

14:35
Met Lower House member Mitsuo Horiuchi.

15:53
Met advisor Ito.

Prime Minister's schedule, May 11

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
May 12, 2008

10:01

TOKYO 00001280 004 OF 013


Arrived at his private residence in Nozawa.

14:49
Arrived at his official residence.

4) Japan the keystone of U.S. foreign policy in Asia-Pacific region:
Negroponte

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
May 10, 2008

Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura met with visiting U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State Negroponte at the Foreign Ministry on May 9. At
the beginning of the meeting, Negroponte underscored the stance of
attaching paramount importance to Japan-U.S. relations, saying, "The
keystone of U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region is
Japan."

Negroponte's playing up the Japan-U.S. alliance is believed to
reflect an awareness of Japan's concern about current talks between
the United States and North Korea, as led by the Bush
administration, now in its final months. The United States and North
Korea last month seemed to meeting each other half way over North
Korea's declaration of all of its nuclear programs, including
uranium enrichment. On May 8, North Korea submitted documentation of
operating records for the Yongbyon nuclear complex. An environment
is now being created for the United States to delist North Korea as
a state sponsor of terrorism. "We are not able to hear everything
they discuss in their talks," said a senior Foreign Ministry
official, voicing concern about Japan unable to become involved in
the process of ongoing negotiations between the United States and
North Korea. "They came up with the operating records," Negroponte
said, "and this is a big step in the larger process of the six-party
talks." He stressed, though, that it would take time for progress to
emerge.

Negroponte is currently on a tour of Asia mainly for the purpose of
listening to the views of Japan, China, and South Korea. He seemed
to have intended in Tokyo to wipe away the government's growing
sense of distrust toward the United States over progress in its
talks with North Korea.

5) Ishiba, Negroponte express concern about China's expanding
military budget

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
May 10, 2008

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba met yesterday with U.S. Deputy
Secretary of State Negroponte, who was visiting Japan. He expressed
concern about the rapid increase in China's military spending, and
the two agreed on the view that China should make its military
budget more transparent. The two leaders also agreed to steadily
implement the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

6) U.S. military to push realignment steadily: Negroponte

AKAHATA (Page 2) (Full)
May 10, 2008

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba met on May 9 with visiting U.S.
Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte at the Defense Ministry.

TOKYO 00001280 005 OF 013

In the meeting, Negroponte stressed the need for Japan and the
United States to push ahead with the planned realignment of U.S.
forces in Japan in a steady manner, including the relocation of
Futenma airfield in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, based on an
intergovernmental agreement between Japan and the United States. "We
want to make efforts for all those concerned from the perspective of
maintaining the U.S. military's deterrence and alleviating the local
burden," Ishiba said.

Negroponte expressed his gratitude for Japan's resumed refueling
activities in the Indian Ocean under a new antiterrorism special
measures law.

Referring to China's growing military spending, Ishiba voiced
concern about its nontransparency. Ishiba and Negroponte confirmed
that the Japan and the United States would closely exchange
intelligence on China's military trends.

Later in the day, Negroponte met with Foreign Minister Masahiko
Koumura. In the meeting, they exchanged views about extending a
helping hand to Myanmar (Burma) due to its serious damage from a
recent major cyclone.

7) G-8 meeting of labor ministers: Discussion to be focused on
measures to improve labor markets

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
May 12, 2008

Senior officials from the Group of Eight (G-8) gathered in Niigata
City yesterday as part of the G-8 Summit (Lake Toya Summit) in July.
The participants launched a discussion on employment in connection
with the environment prior to the G-8 Summit, at which measures to
fight global warming will be high on the agenda. In the G-8 labor
summit, the participants will discuss how to improve the current
unstable labor markets due to global financial instability and to
protect the increasing number of irregular workers.

Participating in the conference are representatives from the G-8,
the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Representatives from
the Thailand and Indonesia have also been invited. The conference
will be wound up after a chairman's summary statement is announced
early tomorrow afternoon.

In the session on the first day, Minister of Health, Labor and
Welfare Yoichi Masuzoe, who chairs the conference, said in the
opening speech: "Workers' status and rights are being threatened by
speculation in the financial markets. We would like to find ways to
improve the situation." Representatives from the G-8 and various
labor and business organizations exchanged views.

John Sweeney, chairman of the Advisory Committee of OECD Labor
Unions, pointed out: "Rising oil and food prices, in addition to
sliding stock prices, triggered by credit woes stemming from the
U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, have negatively affected the labor
market." He then called on the governments and the central banks to
take bold and swift action.

8) ILO director general: Protecting the environment will contribute
to creating jobs

TOKYO 00001280 006 OF 013

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Full)
May 12, 2008

Juan Somavia, director general of the International Labor
Organization (ILO), who is currently visiting Japan for the G-8
meeting of labor ministers, said in an interview with a Nihon Keizai
Shimbun reporter yesterday: "Protecting the environment will not
undermine economic growth but will contribute to creating jobs." He
tried to apply pressure on developing countries that seek to give
priority to economic growth over efforts to protect the environment.
He added: "Such efforts can be the key to an agreement in
negotiations on forming a new mechanism to combat global warming."

Somavia said that it will be possible to prevent opposition from
growing by creating more jobs for constructing buildings that make
use of photovoltaic power generation and environment-friendly
technologies. He asked the Japanese government to map out assistance
measures effective in creating jobs by utilizing its high level of
technology and experience in the environmental area.

9) Burmese living abroad protest against their military junta
holding referendum

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
May 11, 2008

Burmese living in abroad on May 10 protested against their military
junta holding a planned referendum on a new constitution amid the
spreading damage caused by the recent massive cyclone. In Japan,
about 200 Burmese in front of the Burmese Embassy in Shinagawa Ward,
Tokyo, demanded the military junta help disaster victims instead of
holding a referendum.

10) Prime Minister Fukuda sends letter to Burmese military junta

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
May 10, 2008

The Japanese government also is working on Burma (Myanmar) to accept
aid personnel. Prime Minister Fukuda on May 9 sent a letter to the
head of the military junta expressing feelings of sympathy for the
cyclone victims. In the letter, he transmitted that a medical
emergency team was prepared for dispatch to Burma and he stated his
"expectation that you will consider positively" the acceptance of
aid personnel.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ken'ichiro Sasae on the 9th called the
Burmese ambassador to the ministry and asked that Burma accept the
aid personnel. The ambassador stated, "I, too, would like to work on
my home country to persuade them."

On the other hand, the government on the 9th decided to provide $10
million to Burma via international organizations. This was the third
time for the government to make a decision to provide assistance to
the victims in Burma. The amount in Japanese yen now totals
approximately 1.194 billion yen.

11) Prime Minister Fukuda calls for UN intervention in humanitarian
aid to cyclone-ravaged Burma

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)

TOKYO 00001280 007 OF 013


May 12, 2008

Takanori Ishikawa

In an interview with the Washington Post dated May 11, Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda referred to humanitarian aid to Burma, which
was hit hard by a cyclone, and said: "I hope the United Nations will
more actively intervene in such aid. I think it is essential for the
UN to lead humanitarian aid so as not to put the Burmese government
on alert." In the remarks, Fukuda indicated that although the
Burmese government has refused to accept UN personnel, the
international community needs to take action quickly to help Burma.
In the interview, Fukuda said: "Japan is considering sending an
(emergency) medical team (to Burma)."

12) Japan decides to offer additional 1 billion yen in aid to Burma
apparently in order to counter China's expanding influence in that
country

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
May 10, 2008

Japan has decided to offer a sizable amount of aid to Burma
(Myanmar), which is suffering significant damage caused by the
recent cyclone. Behind this move is Tokyo's judgment that
maintaining good relations with Burma is important for its diplomacy
in strategic terms. Moreover, motivation includes the desire to
counter China's rapidly expanding influence in Burma.

The government on May 9 announced $10 million (more than 1 billion
yen) in additional aid to Burma. Japan has become Burma's largest
donor, surpassing Britain, even though this year until early May,
when Burma was hit by the cyclone, Japan has announced aid only
totaling 64 million yen.

To help Burma respond to the cyclone's damage, Britain offered
approximately $10 million dollars in aid. China and the United
States also declared plans to offer Burma some $5.3 million and some
$3.25 million, respectively, in relief aid.

On May 5, Japan, ahead of China and European nations, announced its
aid offer to Burma. Japanese aid was the first package to reach
Burma, arriving on May 7 before that of other countries. But in
terms of size of the contribution, Japan was surpassed by the U.S.,
China, Britain, and Germany.

On the morning of May 8, the day after his meeting with Chinese
President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told Foreign
Ministry officials to consider increasing Japan's aid amount to
Burma, "You need to think about another tranche of fresh aid." On
May 9, Fukuda sent a letter to Burma's State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC) Chairman Than Shwe, the top leader of the military
junta, that stated: "I hope to see your country positively consider
accepting assistance and aid personnel from our country, other
countries, and international institutions."

Japan's emphasis on aid to Burma apparently stems from its policy to
secure natural resources, as well as its strategy toward China. In
that context, relations with Burma are considered useful. An
official in charge of security affairs cited these points: (1) Burma
is endowed with abundant natural resources; (2) Burma is located at
a geopolitically important spot, being located between China and

TOKYO 00001280 008 OF 013


India; and (3) if China's military presence in Burma grows stronger,
it could affect the security of Japan's sea lanes.

An uncertain factor for Japan in deciding to provide aid to Burma is
how the U.S. will respond to the disaster-hit country. The U.S. has
assumed a hostile attitude toward the Burmese junta. The U.S. in the
past repeatedly objected to Japan's providing aid to Burma, but
according to a government source, the U.S. itself is now positive
about providing Burma with humanitarian aid. Japan believes its
decision to offer additional aid to Burma will not create friction
with the U.S.

The question is how far Japan's aid diplomacy can be influential
over Burma and help democratize that country. On May 8, Burma
swiftly informed Japan of its intention to allow foreign diplomatic
missions stationed in the country to monitor a national referendum
slated for May 10, showing a certain degree of consideration to
Japan. Members of the upcoming Group of Eight (G-8) Hokkaido Toyako
Summit asked Japan in succession to strongly work on Burma to accept
aid personnel from other countries. In terms of policy toward Burma,
Japan's skills as the host nation of the G-8 summit will also be
tested.

13) Fukuda, Hu play up results of visit but mutually beneficial
aspect of Japan-China relations uncertain, with hard-line views
stilling running strong

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Abridged slightly)
May 11, 2008

Hu Jintao, the first Chinese president to visit Japan in ten years,
described the results of his visit as a resounding success, and
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said the visit went better than
expected. Issuing many joint statements, the two leaders have
accomplished their objective of affirming "mutually beneficial"
relations. At the same time, hard-line views toward each other
remain entrenched in both countries. The results, as shown in the
papers signed, are tendentious, and must be balanced with what
public opinion felt.

The official summit meeting between Fukuda and Hu on May 7 was
attended by officials from both counties, including economic
ministers. An informal dinner party held in Tokyo's Hibiya on the
night of May 6 was the only occasion for the two leaders to have
in-depth discussions on matters by themselves.

The summit meeting was attended by six on the Japanese side: Prime
Minister Fukuda, Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura, and four
incumbent and former foreign ministry officials. The participants,
picked by the prime minister himself, ended up exposing Fukuda's
reliance on bureaucrats. The prime minister also stopped short of
giving candid advice on the Tibetan issue.

The government was also not able to announce on time a joint press
release and the set of agreements until the morning of May 8, due to
a delay in the Chinese side's administrative procedures on two of
the approximately 70 items, according to a negotiations source.
Nevertheless, it was extremely rare for the government to expose
confusion after a bilateral summit. An exchange of words of
encouragement between Fukuda and Hu also exposed their dependency on
their bureaucracies. Mutually beneficial relations seem fragile.


TOKYO 00001280 009 OF 013


14) Japan unable to determine amount of aid for Africa, making
securing more support for Japan's approach to global warming
uncertain

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
May 11, 2008

A Yokohama declaration to be issued after the Fourth Tokyo
International Conference on African Development (TICAD 4), whose
full text was unveiled yesterday, will clearly state African
countries' support for the Japanese government's measures to fight
global warming. The expression of such support reflects the African
countries' hope for aid from Japan and also Japan's desire to take
the initiative in discussions on global warming at the Group of
Eight (G-8) Summit (the Lake Toya Summit in Hokkaido) in July. On
the amount of aid, though, views in the government have yet to be
unified. The proposed aid to Africa could end up as just a slogan.

TICAD was launched in 1993 as a policy arena for discussing African
development. In the Third TICAD in 2003, then Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi promised to offer one billion dollars in grant aid
over five years, but the African side did not greatly appreciate
it.

Behind this stance of Africa is the fact that other countries are
paying a great deal of attention to it. China and India are rapidly
approaching Africa recently in an attempt to secure its natural
resources. They have held similar joint development conferences with
Africa to the TICAD and have announced huge specific aid projects,
such as infrastructure construction. Western countries have also
been boosting their amounts of aid to Africa. Under such a
situation, Japan is losing its influence, as it has reduced its
official development assistance (ODA) disbursements.

Alarmed by the situation, the Foreign Ministry has been exploring
ways to present a large amount of new aid at TICAD 4. The Finance
Ministry, however, is still reluctant about financial disbursements
to that end, citing revenue shortages. It remains to be seen whether
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will be able to give a specific amount
in the upcoming conference.

Africa anticipates a huge financial contribution from Japan in
return for its support of Japan over the issue of climate change. If
its hopes are dashed, Japan might fall short of its aim of urging
the United States and other countries, on the strength of support
from Africa, to take specific measures to contain global warming.

15) Fukuda plans to meet separately with leaders of 42 African
countries

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
May 11, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda plans to meet separately with all the
African leaders who will participate in the upcoming Fourth Tokyo
International Conference on African Development (TICAD 4). The
government has confirmed as of yesterday that the leaders (kings,
presidents, and prime ministers) from 42 African countries are
scheduled to attend the conference. In the previous conference held
five years ago, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi held meetings
with 23 leaders. A Foreign Ministry official said: "It is
unprecedented for a leader to hold this many summits during a short

TOKYO 00001280 010 OF 013


period of time."

Some in the government said that it would be difficult for the busy
prime minister to hold meetings with all the participant leaders.
But the African leaders who expect Japan's financial aid have
expressed their desire to meet with the prime minister. In response
to an unofficial inquiry with the prime minister's office from the
Foreign Ministry, the office reportedly agreed to meet all the
leaders.

South African President Thabo Mbeki and Ghana President John Agyekum
Kufuor, chairman of the African Union (AU), will be included among
the participants in the upcoming conference.

16) Global warming greenhouse gas reduction: Japan to set its own
goal to be achieved by 2050; "Fukuda vision" to be released next
month

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
May 11, 2008

In a speech given in Sapporo City, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka
Machimura on May 10 indicated the government plan to reveal Japan's
goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved by 2050.

The government has already mapped out the Cool Earth Promotion
Program aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions throughout the
world by 50 PERCENT by 2050. It has determined that it would be
necessary to come up with Japan's own goal in the run-up to the Lake
Toya G-8 to be held in Hokkaido in July. Prime Minister Fukuda will
release it as the Fukuda Vision.

The government has already exchanged with Britain a memorandum
stipulating that industrialized countries are able to cut greenhouse
gases by 60-80 PERCENT by 2050. Its goal will be set, taking these
percentages into account.

Referring to the Cool Earth Promotion Program, Machimura said, "The
government has yet to come up with an answer regarding what Japan
will do in 2050." He then said, "We are now making full preparations
so that the prime minister can release a specific reduction target.
We also want to work on other countries so that the G-8 will make
headway successfully."

17) DPJ, PNP eye resolution calling for SOFA revision

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
May 10, 2008

In the wake of incidents caused by U.S. military personnel in
Okinawa and other parts of Japan, the Democratic Party of Japan
(Minshuto) and the People's New Party agreed on May 9 to present a
resolution to the Diet for revising the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces
Agreement.

18) DPJ execs cautious about censuring Fuyushiba

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
May 10, 2008

The leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) held a
meeting of DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa and other party executives in

TOKYO 00001280 011 OF 013


the Diet on May 9 to discuss what to do if the ruling coalition of
the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito takes a second vote in
the House of Representatives on a bill revising a special measures
law for road-related tax revenues. The lower chamber is expected to
revote on the bill on May 13 after it is voted down in the upper
chamber.

The DPJ has now forgone submitting a motion censuring the prime
minister in the House of Councillors. Instead, the DPJ leadership
discussed a motion censuring Land, Infrastructure and Transport
Minister Tetsuzo Fuyushiba. However, most of the DPJ executives were
cautious about censuring Fuyushiba.

19) "Gasoline tax may be raised, if it is to finance measures to
combat the greenhouse gases," says chief cabinet secretary

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
May 11, 2008

Referring to the shifting of special-purpose road construction tax
revenues to the general account, Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura
in a speech given in Sapporo City said, "If road revenues are freed
up, a tax in another form would be levied on gasoline. If such a tax
is intended as a measure to combat the greenhouse gases, the rate
would be higher than the current level." His speech thus hinted at
the possibility of raising the current level of the gas tax that
includes the provisional portion in order to constrain gasoline
consumption as part of measures to curb global warming.

20) Ruling parties to come up with measures to improve medical
system for elderly in June with emphasis on low-income seniors

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
May 12, 2008

LDP Secretary General Tadamori Oshima, appearing on an NHK talk show
program yesterday, said regarding the controversial medical system
for the aged: "Should low-income seniors continue paying (insurance
premiums)? We have begun studying ways to improve the system. What
must be corrected must be corrected by around late June." He thus
indicated that the ruling parties would come up with a set of
measures in June to reduce the burden on those with low incomes and
dependents based on a plan to maintain the foundations of the
system. New Komeito Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Yoshio
Urushibara also expressed a similar view.

The government and ruling bloc attribute their defeat in the April
27 Yamaguchi by-election to strong public discontent with the
medical system for the elderly. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
announced in a press conference on April 30 a plan to examine
problems associated with the system by mid-June when insurance
premiums will be automatically deducted from pension benefits for
the second time and take fiscal steps as necessary. The Upper House
LDP also plans to come up with its own measures later this month,
and the New Komeito, too, began discussions on May 8.

21) Many in ruling parties feel it is not necessary to extend
current Diet session, depriving DPJ chance to attack

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
May 10, 2008


TOKYO 00001280 012 OF 013


An increasing number of ruling camp lawmakers now feel it is
unnecessary to extend the current regular Diet session, which is to
be closed on June 15. The reason is because it appears likely that
even if the ruling parties readopt the bill amending the Road
Construction Revenues Special Exemption Law, deliberations on the
remaining bills would go smoothly during the current session, now
that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has decided not to submit a
censure motion against Prime Minister Fukuda. Fukuda, suffering from
poor support ratings for his cabinet, is also motivated by the
desire to deny opportunities for the DPJ to pursue him in the Diet.

The ruling parties enacted as many bills as possible before they
took a revote on April 30 to pass the bill amending the Special
Taxation Measures Law. The tactic was adopted out of readiness for
the DPJ likely rejecting Diet deliberations for the rest of the
term, and even adopting a censure motion against the prime minister
in the Upper House following the readoption of the bill amending the
Special Taxation Measures Law.

As a result, a plan to extend the session for about 10 days was
floated. The reason was to allow time to readopt in the Lower House
those bills that had cleared the Lower House on April 17 or later by
using the 60-day rule (Article 59 of the Constitution that states if
the upper house fails to take final action within 60 days after
receipt of a bill passed by the lower house, the lower house can
consider the bill rejected by the upper chamber). In response, the
DPJ shifted to a strategy of reserving its "card" of submitting a
censure motion against the prime minister. Diet deliberations thus
will likely progress smoothly even after the readoption of the bill
amending the Road Construction Revenues Special Exemption Law.

Commenting on this situation, one senior Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) member on the 9th pointed out, "We will steadily secure Diet
passage for bills that have been sent to the Upper House during the
remaining weeks of the session. It is unnecessary to extend the
Diet." A source related to the LDP Diet Policy Committee
underscored, "If the Diet session ends, the opportunities for the
DPJ to attack the ruling parties would decrease significantly."

One senior New Komeito member also said, "It is better not to extend
the Diet session. There are now no bills that will likely
necessitate a revote in the Lower House owing to confrontation
between the ruling and opposition camps."

22) Hiranuma, Watanuki to launch "Yajin no Kai," anti-LDP policy
group, in anticipation of political realignment

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
May 12, 2008

Former Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma, who has
bolted the Liberal Democratic Party by opposing the privatization of
postal businesses, and the People's New Party Representative
Tamisuke Watanuki, will launch a new policy study group tentatively
called the Yajin no Kai under the banner of anti-LDP. They plan to
establish the new group, composed of seven members, mostly PNP and
conservative independent lawmakers, later this month.

Hiranuma and Watanuki, both known as postal rebels, have strong
sentiments toward the LDP before the postal privatization. They are
apparently planning to launch the study group to create a "third
pole" with a view to political realignment.

TOKYO 00001280 013 OF 013

Muneo Suzuki also attends meeting

A meeting was held in Tokyo on the night of May 8 ostensibly to
cerebrate Watanuki's birthday. Besides Hiranuma and Watanuki, the
meeting brought together PNP Secretary General Hisaoki Kamei, New
Party Daichi Representative Muneo Suzuki, Sozo leader Mikio Shimoji,
and independent and former Construction Minister Kishiro Nakamura,
and others. They agreed on a stance to oppose the Fukuda
administration's policy course.

Touching on his cooperation with Watanuki, Hiranuma said a
commercial television program yesterday: "I share the same views
with the People's New Party, especially Mr. Watanuki." Hiranuma also
expressed his eagerness to launch a new political party before the
next Lower House election by citing his talks on April 28 with
Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa, saying: "Mr. Ozawa
strongly urged me to establish a new political party. Having the
deciding vote is the new body's mission."

DONOVAN

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