Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 05/19/08

DE RUEHKO #1364/01 1400820
P 190820Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Appointments requiring Diet approval likely to again come into
focus in Diet, which is to close in less than one month (Nikkei)

(2) Japan to host ministerial meeting on Northeast Africa on
sidelines of upcoming TICAD (Nikkei)

(3) EPA with Indonesia: Agreement reached in principle to start in
July; Nurses, care-givers to be accepted (Nikkei)

(4) MOD reform plan hard to understand; Establishing a body
assisting the defense minister a priority (Yomiuri)

(5) Reporters' eyes: My views about reporters' assertions on
poisoning of dumplings imported from China (Mainichi)

(Corrected copy) Ruling parties team agree on revisions to law that
would penalize by imprisonment even the simple possession of child
pornography (Tokyo Shimbun)


(1) Appointments requiring Diet approval likely to again come into
focus in Diet, which is to close in less than one month

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
May 19, 2008

Appointments of government agency posts requiring approval from both
chambers of the Diet are likely to again draw attention in the final
days of the Diet. In addition to the still vacant post of deputy
Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor, it is necessary to get Diet approval
during the current session of the Diet for several posts, some of
which will be vacated due to the expiration of the term in the fall
and some of which will be established in the fall. In the ruling
bloc, an idea is being floated of establishing a provision
specifying the Lower House's superiority over the Upper House
regarding Diet-approval requiring posts, but it appears difficult to
amend the law hurriedly at this point in time. If the ruling bloc
fails to obtain understanding from the opposition bloc about
appointments to those posts, some appointments may be deferred to
the next session of the Diet.

Government, ruling bloc rushing to come out with appointments to 25
posts in 9 government bodies

"We must reveal all appointments to the Diet by the end of May," one
government source said, referring to the question of appointments to
25 posts in nine government bodies of which the government and the
ruling bloc would like to obtain Diet approval during the current
Diet session. It takes at least two weeks to go through the
proceedings to obtain Diet approval. If the term of the current Diet
session, which is to close on June 15, is not extended, the
government and the ruling bloc need to fix the appointments by the
end of May. Otherwise, more vacant posts will be created.

Deputy BOJ post highest priority

The highest priority post is the deputy BOJ governor, which has been
vacant since Masaaki Shirakawa was promoted from deputy governor to
governor. A troika management style among the governor and the two

TOKYO 00001364 002 OF 009

deputy governors at the bank is the usual management style there.
The government's strong desire is to present a new proposal to
appoint someone to the post, along with its proposals for
appointments to other government body posts, so that the vacancy of
the deputy governor will be filled swiftly. Prime Minister Yasuo
Fukuda told reporters on May 14: "The sooner the better."

The government and the ruling parties, however, have yet to recover
from the legacy of the month of turmoil over the appointment of the
BOJ governor in March. A government source was cautious about
(submitting a proposal to appoint someone to the deputy BOJ governor
post), noting, "We are afraid to show the appointment plan if the
situation remains the same, namely, even after an agreement was
reached with a senior DPJ leader, the DPJ could upset it." The
government and the ruling camp envision even the possibility of
deferring the appointment to the deputy BOJ governor post to the
next extraordinary session of the Diet.

Appointments to posts related to a new personnel exchange system
between the government and the private sector is another headache
for the government. The system, which is to be established on Oct. 1
with the aim of monitoring retired bureaucrats landing cushy jobs,
is intended to consolidate management of reemployment of national
civil servants. In this regard, five appointments to such posts as
chair of the Committee to Monitor Reemployment, Etc. need to be
determined, and those appointments are subject to Diet approval. The
major opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which is opposed
to retired government officials getting plum jobs, is criticizing
the system itself for the consolidation of management of
reemployment of national civil servants. "The system can't be put
into operation should the chair and the members of the committee not
determined," one government official said embarrassedly.

DPJ holds key

The current Deposit Insurance Corporation's chair's term of office
is to expire on June 23. If according to the precedent, the
government comes out with a proposal to appoint a former Finance
Ministry official to the post, it is highly likely that the proposal
will be rejected by the DPJ.

The ruling parties will hurriedly reduce the number of candidates
for the post by examining moves by the DPJ over whether it will give
the nod to the ruling bloc's proposed candidate. For the ruling
bloc, reappointing the senior official whom the DPJ once approved
may be one option, but the DPJ could turn around from approval to
opposition as seen in the past cases. The ruling parties have yet to
fully assess how the DPJ will react.

Appointments of which the government wants to obtain Diet approval
during the current session of the Diet

Expiration date Titles Number of appointments
Already vacated Deputy BOJ governor/member of the BOJ Policy Board
Member of NHK Management Committee 1
June 23 Governor of Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan (DICP) 1
June 25 Board member of DICP 1
June 26 Chair of National Offenders Rehabilitation Commission 1
June 30 Member of Labor Insurance Appeal Committee 1
July 4 Members of Land Appraisal Committee 7
Sept. 30 Members of Council on Information Disclosure/Protection of

TOKYO 00001364 003 OF 009

Privacy 3
Oct. 1
(New and additional establishment of committees, etc.) Chair and
members of Committee to Monitor Reemployment 5
Members of Committee on Transport and Safety (Which will be a
reorganized committee of the Aviation and Railway Accidents Survey
Committee) with C 3

(2) Japan to host ministerial meeting on Northeast Africa on
sidelines of upcoming TICAD

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
May 19, 2008

Japan will host a ministerial meeting to discuss how to bring
stability to Northeast Africa, including Sudan, on the sidelines of
the upcoming Tokyo International Conference on African Development
(TICAD) in Yokohama City, which opens on May 28. Tokyo also is
making arrangements to host another ministerial meeting to urge
Israel and the Palestinian Authority to work together to bring peace
to the Middle East late June or early July by inviting both sides to
the conference. Through these efforts, Japan aims to hurriedly
produce actual results so that Japan will become a peace fostering

Tokyo expects 10 countries, including Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, and
Central African Republic, to join the ministerial session to discuss
stability in Northeast Africa. Japan will ask foreign ministers of
African countries who are to travel to Japan to attend the TICAD to
take part in the ministerial meeting.

Countries located in Northeast Africa include countries whose
political situation is unstable, for instance, Sudan, where civil
war, including genocide in Darfur, is continuing, and Kenya, which
was thrown into turmoil over the presidential election early this
year. Japan will build a dialogue with each country and is preparing
to issue a chairman's statement that will call on them to promote

To help the peace process in the Middle East, Tokyo aims to realize
ministerial-level talks among Israel, the Palestinian Authority,
Jordan and Japan. Tokyo has already asked relevant officials
concerned to attend the four-way talks.

This framework will follow the last one formed in August 2007, and
Tokyo expects Israeli Foreign Minister Livni, a relevant minister of
the Palestinian Authority, Jordanian Foreign Minister Bashir and
others to attend the talks. In the session, participants are
expected to discuss how to give shape to the idea of creating the
"Corridor for Peace and Prosperity" advocated by Japan and measures
to ease the tensions.

Ministerial conferences on Northeast Africa as well as peace in the
Middle East are both intended to put into effect Prime Minister
Yasuo Fukuda's concept of making Japan a peace fostering nation.
Both matters are likely to take center stage in the upcoming Group
of Eight Hokkaido Toyako Summit, so Japan wants to demonstrate its
stance of proactively contributing to resolving those issues.

As for the situation in Sudan, in early May, Japan sent Senior Vice
Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera and Parliamentary Secretary for
Foreign Affairs Yasuhide Nakayama to Sudan, and it decided to offer

TOKYO 00001364 004 OF 009

some 2 billion yen in aid to Sudan over the next four years starting
this year. Japan is also in the final phase of coordiantion to send
Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel to the United Nations
peacekeeping operations in Sudan.

However, the initial group of SDF personnel will be sent solely to
serve at PKO headquarters, and it is less likely that SDF personnel
will take part in full-fledged ground troops in the country. Hosting
the ministerial session on Northeast Africa is also intended for
Japan to "make up for its slow action when it comes to participation
in PKO in Sudan," a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

(3) EPA with Indonesia: Agreement reached in principle to start in
July; Nurses, care-givers to be accepted

NIKKEI (Page 5) (Full)
May 17, 2008

Japan will start accepting foreign workers under an economic
partnership agreement (EPA). An EPA between Japan and Indonesia
under which Japan agrees to accept a total of 1,000 nurses and
care-givers was approved by an Upper House plenary session on May
16. Both governments then held working-level talks and agreed in
principle to start implementation of the pact in July. The labor
shortage in the nursing and nursing-care areas is expected to become
more serious due to Japan's declining birthrate and aging society.
Many are of the opinion that the future of social security depends
on whether Japan can successfully open its labor market. The
touchstone will be whether Japan brings in more guest workers from
Indonesia and the system becomes established.

Memorandum to be signed, possibly on the 19th: One step taken toward
open labor market

The governments of Japan and Indonesia are set to sign a memorandum
of understanding (MOU) that would allow formal implementation of the
EPA in July. There is no need for Indonesia to undergo parliamentary
procedures for ratification. Once the MOU is signed, Japan will
solicit hospitals and nursing-care facilities that wish to accept
Indonesian workers. Indonesia will recruit nurses and care-givers
who wish to work in Japan. Government agencies of both countries
will serve as brokers and assign workers to hospitals and
nursing-care facilities.

The number of foreign workers in Japan has increased to about
750,000, double the number a decade ago. However, 80 PERCENT of
those workers are students, trainees or skilled labor trainees. Only
20 PERCENT are allowed in as experts in special technical areas. To
begin with, care-givers are not categorized as belonging to this
professional area. There is almost no track record of nurses being
accepted, either.

The EPA has a potential of serving as a breakthrough in revamping
Japan's labor market, which is said to be closed. The reason that
the nursing and nursing-care fields have been chosen as an area for
market-opening is because elderly people who receive services in
those areas are expected to increase rapidly. However, the young
labor force that provides such services is decreasing in Japan. The
Japanese Council of Senior Citizens Welfare Service consisting of
nursing-care facilities has been making a public appeal that foreign
workers are indispensable.

TOKYO 00001364 005 OF 009

However, there are many challenges regarding whether the workers,
once accepted, will settle into their work places. Indonesian nurses
and care-givers have to work as assistants with relatively low wages
before they can obtain Japanese licenses as qualified nurses and
care-givers. They must return home unless they pass the national
examination during their periods of stay -- three years for nurses
and four years for care-givers. Hospitals and nursing-care
facilities are to provide training opportunities. However, the
barriers for foreigners aiming to pass written examinations in
Japanese are high. It would be necessary to provide them with a
solid assistance system.

Liberalization of trade in items stipulated in the pact is certain
to be implemented, in addition to the acceptance of nurses and
care-givers. Indonesia will scrap import tariffs up to 15 PERCENT
imposed on electric and electronic equipment by 2010. Tariffs up to
60 PERCENT imposed on automobiles and trucks will be eliminated by
2016. Japan will also immediately abolish tariffs on almost all
mined and manufactured goods and tariffs up to about 5 PERCENT on
shrimps. No tariffs will be levied on bananas up to 1,000 tons a

In addition, in order for Japan to secure stable imports of natural
gas and mineral resources, Indonesia will inform of Japan in advance
in the event of its introducing a new regulation. The EPA also
includes bilateral cooperation on coal liquefaction and
energy-saving technologies.

(4) MOD reform plan hard to understand; Establishing a body
assisting the defense minister a priority

YOMIURI (Page 15) (Abridged slightly)
May 17, 2008

By Hidemichi Katsumata, Yomiuri senior writer

Main points

? The Ministry of Defense's (MOD) review work simultaneously covers
matters that must be addressed immediately and challenges that can
? Reform of MOD must begin with upgrading the Council on Reform of
the Defense Ministry to a permanent body placed directly under the
defense minister.

The MOD's reform promotion team is scheduled to present next week
its own reform plan to the Council on Reform of the Defense
Ministry, established in the Prime Minister's Office.

Problems associated with the underreported amount of Japanese fuel
provided to a U.S. supply ship in the Indian Ocean, the recent Aegis
destroyer's collision with a fishing boat, and a scandal involving a
former vice-defense minister have all exposed poor communications
between the civilian group (internal bureaus) and the uniformed SDF
staff offices. The vice-defense minister also has too much power in
deciding on policies, procuring equipment, and appointing

There is no doubt that the MOD needs reform. In considering reform,
there are two types of issues: those that must be addressed
immediately and those that can wait until after a certain direction
is set. I feel that those two aspects have become all mixed up in

TOKYO 00001364 006 OF 009

the ministry's reform effort under Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba.
The reason is because Ishiba has already come up with his reform
plan, which is designed to reorganize the functions of bureaucrats
and SDF personnel into three major components -- defense capability
buildup, operations, and accountability to the public -- to
establish a huge central organization composed of the civilian and
uniformed groups.

His plan is convincing to some extent. Ishiba said: "The Defense
Ministry is hard to use. There is a need to consider a system that
can assist the defense minister, who is an amateur." Reorganizing
the MOD must not be a predetermined conclusion. In view of
preventing misconducts by SDF personnel, reform must begin with
discussing ways to strengthen the system to assist the defense

At present, in accordance with Article 12 of the Ministry of Defense
Establishment Law, the vice-defense minister, the Minister's
Secretariat director-general, and bureau-directors general first
hear views from the SDF chiefs of staff on all matters from the
SDF's basic plan to the operation of units before offering direct
advice to the defense minister. In Japan's system, civilian officers
are placed above uniformed officers, whereas in Western countries,
civilian officers assist the defense chiefs with defense policies
and military officers with military affairs.

Japan's system derived from the National Police Reserve which was
launched from bitter lessons learned from the military's reckless
actions during the war. Civilian officers' domination over the SDF
has eventually led to clumsy responses to emergency situations, such
as the Aegis collision and the scandal involving the former
vice-defense minister. To improve the communication level between
the civilian and uniformed groups, a system and body must be created
for the two groups to jointly assist the defense minister.

To do so, the defense council, which has turned into a mere shell,
must be upgraded to a permanent body directly reporting to the
defense minister in accordance with the MOD establishment law.
Reduced power of the vice-defense minister combined with a venue for
a group of about 10 bureau directors general and SDF chiefs of staff
to jointly advice the defense minister is certain to result in sound
civilian control, becoming a symbol of the integration of the
civilian and uniformed groups.

The venue for MOD reform discussion will be shifted to the Council
on Reform of the Defense Ministry composed of experts to produce a
framework in late June. Reorganizing the central body can wait until
after that.

Some functions are overlapping between the internal bureaus and the
SDF staff offices, and that incurs waste in such areas as defense
capability buildup and defense exchanges. The MOD and SDF have been
making efforts for two years now with the aim of integrating
operations of the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces. A
variety of problems have been pointed out from the viewpoint of
operation of units. More challenges are likely to crop up. The MOD
is expected to arrive at answers to questions, such as ways to
launch a body composed of civilian and uniformed personnel, in the
process of addressing such challenges.

(5) Reporters' eyes: My views about reporters' assertions on
poisoning of dumplings imported from China

TOKYO 00001364 007 OF 009

May 16, 2008, 10:48 AM

By Masami Kojima (member of the Daily Living Information Center)

?Viewpoint of crime needed - overconfidence in strengthened
inspection dangerous

In this column, a number of reporters have expressed views or
assertions on the recent food-poisoning outbreak involving
Chinese-made frozen dumplings. In analyzing the nature of the
incident, I strongly feel that more should be added to their

Reporter Wataru Yukitomo (in an article dated April 18) stressed the
need to promote nutritional education. His argument is coincident
with the one found in an article by reporter Inoue (dated April 4),
in which he called for a mechanism that would contribute to raising
the level of food safety even slightly. But no satisfactory debate
has been conducted on the details of the proposed mechanism.
Dominant in the media are also views calling for increasing testing
of agrochemical residues. If a thorough inspection system had been
introduced, would the poisoning outbreak have been prevented?

It is highly suspected that the pesticide was intentionally mixed
into the dumplings by other parties. The Japanese Consumers'
Cooperative Union has decided to reduce the number of goods traded
and increase the items subject to testing regarding agrochemical

But I am concerned about overconfidence in strengthening testing.
Monitoring inspection is to check whether agrochemicals and
addictives have been properly used. In a criminal case in which a
poisonous substance is intentionally mixed into food, therefore,
even if the frequency of testing and numbers of items subject to
testing are increased, testing itself would be meaningless.

Critics have pointed out that the cooperative union's inspection
system to prevent food poisoning by pesticide residues or
microorganisms was insufficient, but I do not think so.

Products made by Tianyang Food Processing were found contaminated
with pesticide. But even the Japanese Agriculture, Forestry, and
Fisheries Ministry acknowledged the superiority of its
hygiene-maintenance system. The cooperative union examined its
inspection system regarding agrochemical residues and other
hazardous material at its plant first and then decided to entrust
production to the company. An executive of a leading Japanese food
business that was procuring stock for the cooperative union based on
their tie-up contract grumbled: "The union was taking strict
measures (for quality management), so we were having hard time
working together with it."

What should be done to prevent extraneous material or poison from
being mixed into foods? We should reconfirm the importance of going
back to the basic principle of process management, instead of vainly
increasing samples in a monitoring inspection. The basic principle
is to carefully check whether there is something abnormal or not in
the stages of cultivation, shipment, processing, distribution, and
sale of vegetable and other products. It is important to change our
concept of "inspecting" food to a concept of monitoring the process,

TOKYO 00001364 008 OF 009

assuming a possible crime.

The United States has prepared guidelines against such crimes as
food terrorism. To flexibly deal with such crimes, the U.S. has
strengthened its monitoring system, with the aim of eventually
preventing such crimes.

Surveillance cameras should be installed at plants and stores.
Strict checks should be conducted at the gateways, and uniforms with
no pocket should be provided to plant workers. The know-how covers a
wide-range of items and is detailed. Software efforts are expected
to become necessary, for instance, to encourage farmers to
thoroughly observe the laws relevant to the use of agricultural
chemicals and the like.

Officials in charge of food safety in the Ministry of Health, Labor,
and Welfare were aware of the importance of surveillance and
crime-preventive measures. But the ministry and the Food Safety
Commission did not fully disclose information on testing's
limitation to preventing crimes and on measures to deal with
intentional mixture of poisonous matter into foods.

In the poisoning of Chinese frozen dumplings, the focus of attention
tended to be on future options for the inspection system. But the
focus should be on the cooperative union's lax management of
information and lack of awareness about the importance of crisis

As Chairman Toshifumi Yamashita said, although the cooperative union
received a lot of complaints about dumplings giving off a terrible
odor found in Miyagi and Fukushima last fall, the information did
not reached its headquarters. Naturally, the information was not
shared among consumers' cooperatives.

Although complaints with similar contents had been made several
times, there was no mechanism to check their connections. The food
industry is now urged to establish mechanisms to share information,
like the safety system of emergency information on side-effects of
pharmaceuticals, as well as to provide information, in order to
prevent a recurrence of similar mismanagement.

In the first press conference held (on January 30) by the
cooperative union and Japan Tobacco Inc. after the poisoning
outbreak, their senior members gave explanations, but the
explanations were insufficient, causing a chain of distrust in them.
Though the incident involved human lives, the police did not
properly relay the information to various sectors. This shows a lack
of cooperation between the central government, and the relevant
local governments and police stations.

The dumpling scare resulted in exposing Japan's great dependence on
China in terms of food supply and also left a number of tasks Japan
should tackle. Such tasks include future options for its inspection
and monitoring system, as well as information management. Even so,
since the safety of frozen foods itself was not questioned,
consumers have returned to such foods unexpectedly quickly.
Consumers are behaving wisely while watching developments of the
situation cool-headedly.

Reporter Hideaki Nakamura posed questions in his article (dated
February 14) about the proposed integration of consumer regulations.
If we go ahead with hard-line arguments about future options for the

TOKYO 00001364 009 OF 009

inspection system, as Nakamura pointed out, it will just bloat the
central government bureaucracy. Each consumer must keep strict watch
on food-related organizations or corporations, as well as on
consumer policy.

(Corrected copy) Ruling parties team agree on revisions to law that
would penalize by imprisonment even the simple possession of child

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Excerpt)
May 17, 2008

The Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito's ruling parties
project team to reconsider the child prostitution and child
pornography law held a meeting on May 16 and reached general
agreement on amending the law. Although the current version of the
law does not ban the simple possession of child porno, such as
photos or film obtained for one's personal hobby, this will be
banned, and violations will be subject to imprisonment.


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