Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 05/27/08

DE RUEHKO #1447/01 1482247
P 272247Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Report of existence of more Japanese abductees in North Korea:
Possibly reflecting improving U.S.-DPRK relations (Mainichi)

(2) DPRK conveys to U.S. on Japanese abductees: "Several abductees
are alive and are ready to return home" (Mainichi)

(3) Scope column: Ruling coalition alarmed that new health insurance
system for elderly will become major campaign issue for Okinawa
prefectural assembly election (Tokyo Shimbun)

(4) U.S. government approves Japan's shipment of imported rice to
Philippines (Asahi)

(5) DPJ Secretary General Hatoyama: Futenma should be relocated to
Guam (Ryukyu Shimpo)

(6) Guide to choices in run-up to next general election: U.S.
military bases and livelihood (Mainichi)

(7) Stop cluster bombs - Voices of world and Japan (Conclusion):
Interview with Hidenao Nakagawa, former secretary general of ruling
Liberal Democratic Party: Prevent damage by adopting alternatives

(8) U.S. closely watching Japan's preparedness as its ally


(1) Report of existence of more Japanese abductees in North Korea:
Possibly reflecting improving U.S.-DPRK relations

MAINICHI (Internet edition) (Full)
May 27, 2008

(Asked about a report of North Korea admitting that several more
Japanese abductees existed,) a senior government official stated
this morning: "I don't know anything about it. If North Korea has
informed the United States about such, the U.S. should tell Japan
about it. On the other hand, there are (abducted victims) whose
whereabouts the police have not been grasp. If they are allowed to
return home, that would be progress (in Japan-DPRK relations)." The
official expressed a desire to respond positively if North Korea
were to let the abductees return home.

On the North Korea issue, the government has taken the position that
abductions and the missile issue are to be resolved comprehensively,
and it has been seeking a parallel resolution linked to reciprocity.
As the feeling grows that removal of North Korea from the U.S.'
terrorist-sponsoring list is becoming a reality, there is a growing
mood in the government that progress in the abduction issue may
come, too.

Foreign Minister Koumura stressed to the press in this morning's
news conference: "The Japanese government is making its own efforts,
as well, for we would like to see progress in Japanese-North Korean
relations centered on the abduction issue." There is a possibility
that the government in its secret negotiations may have picked up
hints about the existence of new abducted victims.

TOKYO 00001447 002 OF 008

(2) DPRK conveys to U.S. on Japanese abductees: "Several abductees
are alive and are ready to return home"

May 27, 2008, 15:00

In connection with the abduction issue, it was learned today from a
source connected to the government that North Korea had conveyed to
the United States that "there are still several Japanese abductees
inside the country and we are prepared to send them home." Those
abductees mentioned by North Korea seem to be different from the 12
persons recognized by the Japanese government as abductees whose
whereabouts are unknown. By playing the diplomatic card of letting
the abductees return home, Pyongyang apparently aims to give the
U.S. the impression that there is progress on the abduction issue
and then press it to remove North Korea from the list of state
sponsors of terrorism. Another motive seems to be to shake up Japan.
However, whether this will actually lead to abductees returning home
cannot be predicted.

Negotiating card intended to have Washington delist DPRK as state
sponsor of terrorism

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the U.S. chief
negotiator in the six-party talks, is to be visiting Beijing from
May 27 and meet with North Korea's chief negotiator Kim Kye Gwan
there. The two officials are expected to discuss North Korea's
planned declaration of its nuclear programs, the Japanese abduction
issue, and also what to do about the JAL Yodo-go hijackers, who live
in Pyongyang.

According to the government-connected source, information about the
existence of another group of Japanese abductees was conveyed to the
U.S. last fall. On the premise that all are alive, Tokyo has called
on Pyongyang to have them all return home immediately. Last October,
Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura in fact noted: "If all abductees
who are alive return home, most of the abduction issue will be
resolved. If some of them return home, that would mean progress."

As for the Yodo-go hijackers, Koumura noted: "I don't think there
would be progress even if they return home."

So far, the government has recognized 17 abductees, including Megumi
Yokota (who went missing when she was 13). Of them, five abductees
and their family members are back in Japan. Citing an apology by
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and the return home of five
abductees, North Korea had insisted that "the abduction issue has
been resolved," and that "all the abductees who are alive have
returned home."

Meanwhile, the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably
Related to the North Korea has registered some 470 Japanese as
missing persons who may have been abducted by North Korea. In view
of the situations under which they went missing, the commission says
36 of those missing Japanese are most likely to have been abducted
by North Korea.

(3) Scope column: Ruling coalition alarmed that new health insurance
system for elderly will become major campaign issue for Okinawa
prefectural assembly election

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)

TOKYO 00001447 003 OF 008

May 24, 2008

A major cause for the sharp decline in the public support rates of
the cabinet of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is public criticism of
the new health insurance system for people aged 75 and older. The
ruling parties are increasingly alarmed that the introduction of the
new medical insurance system for the elderly will adversely affect
the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly election on June 8. The official
campaign for the election will kick off on May 30.

The fixed number of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly members totals
48. Of the 48 seats, one seat is vacant, with 27 held by the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito, and 20 held by the
opposition parties -- the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the
Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP),
and the Okinawa Social Mass Party. It is considered that the ruling
camp led by Gov. Masahiro Nakaima will be certain to retain the
majority of the prefectural assembly. If the ruling camp fails to
secure the majority, the result of the election will have a
significant impact on the U.S. base issue in Okinawa.

A source connected to the LDP election process gave this severe
outlook: "The main campaign focus will be on issue connected to
social welfare and the daily lives of the people; it will not be on
base issues. The new medical insurance system for the elderly has
put the ruling camp at a disadvantage."

The ruling coalition was defeated in the Lower House by-election to
fill the Yamaguchi No. 2 district seat because older voters
distanced themselves from the ruling bloc. If the ruling camp is
defeated also in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly election, the
opposition, which has called for abolishing the new health insurance
system, will be certain to gain momentum. Should the row over the
medical insurance system result in aggravating the issue of U.S.
bases, which are the foundation of the Japan-U.S. alliance, the
result could be serious for the government and ruling parties.

In an LDP board meeting on May 23, Election Strategy Council
Chairman Makoto Koga instructed other senior party members to strive
for perfection in support arrangements, saying: "The council will
take the necessary response." The LDP has begun preparations to air
in Okinawa TV commercials calling for understanding for the new
medical system for the elderly. The party is also considering
sending a statement it has readied that counters the DPJ's criticism
of the new health insurance system. The LDP Okinawa chapter can use
it for reference. New Komeito leader Akihiro Ota visited Okinawa to
meet with Gov. Nakaima. The two agreed on the need to come up with
measures to improve the application of the medical insurance system.
Ota will call on May 24 at the offices of candidates on the New
Komeito ticket to explain possible improvements to the system.

The opposition camp is giving priority to the Okinawa election, as
well. DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama stated in a press
conference: "If the opposition force tops the ruling bloc in the
prefectural assembly, there would be a major impact on national

Hatoyama visits Okinawa on May 24. Deputy President Naoto Kan will
fly there next week.

(4) U.S. government approves Japan's shipment of imported rice to

TOKYO 00001447 004 OF 008

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
Evening, May 24

(Kaori Nishizaki, Washington)

The United States government on May 24 allowed Japan to ship rice
imported from the U.S. to developing countries suffering from
soaring food prices internationally and expressed hopes that the
rice market will calm down.

Representatives from the Japanese and U.S. governments met in
Washington on May 23. The U.S. side also expressed support for
Japan's positive response to the Philippine government's request
that Japan ship about 200,000 tons of imported rice to that nation.

In the 1993 Uruguay Round Agreement, Japan is required to import
rice under the so-called minimum access formula. Of the about
770,000 tons of rice Japan imports annually under the minimum import
obligation, about 50 PERCENT comes from the U.S. The U.S.
government had insisted that the imported rice should be consumed
within the nation, but the U.S. has now made a policy switch to
approve Japan's shipment of such rice overseas only for humanitarian

(5) DPJ Secretary General Hatoyama: Futenma should be relocated to

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 2) (Full)
May 25, 2008

The major opposition Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) Secretary
General Yukio Hatoyama yesterday arrived in Okinawa. The aim of his
trip to Okinawa was to lend his support to his party-backed
candidates for the upcoming Okinawa Prefectural Assembly election.
In an interview later in the day with Ryukyu Shimpo, Hatoyama
touched on the question of relocating the U.S. Marines' Futenma Air
Station, "I hope (the U.S. forces) will operate outside Japan as
often as possible in peace time." Speaking of the DPJ's "Okinawa
vision," which is under study for revisions, Hatoyama noted that the
vision should clearly declare the need to relocate the airfield to
anywhere else outside Japan as well as the prefecture. Hatoyama also
showed his intention to seek to relocate the Futenma airfield to
Guam, by noting, "(The Marines) are to be transferred to Guam. It is
only natural for us to keep in mind Guam as a relocation site for
the (Futenma) airfield."

Hatoyama articulated: "Ideally, I think it is better to relocate it
anywhere else outside Japan. But this idea may not necessarily
obtain the understanding of the United." Even in the case of pushing
the relocation of the airfield to anywhere else inside the
prefecture, Hatoyama implied that it would be necessary to set a
timeframe in a clear-cut manner for the duration of the airfield,
saying, "We must not allow the airfield to exist indefinitely."

Referring to the next Lower House election, Hatoyama mentioned the
Okinawa 3rd Constituency, where the DPJ-backed candidate and the
Social Democratic Party (SDP)-backed candidate will seek the same
seat and stressed: "Mr. Ozawa's strategy is to field a promising
candidate. If the other party's candidate is powerful enough, our
party may join hands with that candidate. But if our party's
candidate is promising, we will then seek the other party's

TOKYO 00001447 005 OF 008

cooperation. Our major aim is to beat the ruling Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner New Komeito." Regarding
the Okinawa 4th Constituency, Hatoyama revealed that the DPJ would
run a candidate on the premise that the candidate can beat the
LDP-backed or the New Komeito-backed candidate, noting, "Generally
speaking, it is likely that our party will have candidates-to-be vie
with each other inside the party in order to choose the strongest
one from among them." Speaking of the DPJ-backed candidate Denny
Tamaki for the Okinawa 3rd Constituency and another DPJ-backed
candidate Chobin Zukeran for the Okinawa 4th Constituency, Hatoyama
said: "They should become candidates who can win."

Hatoyama, talking about the Prefectural Assembly election, stressed:
"We want to reverse the positions of the ruling and opposition
parties. We want to change prefectural administration and let that
lead to a change in the national administration. In this sense, the
Prefectural Assembly election is important." "It is fully possible
that the results will affect the fate of the controversial medical
system for the elderly," he added.

(6) Guide to choices in run-up to next general election: U.S.
military bases and livelihood

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Full)
May 26, 2008

Differences in stances of Japan, U.S. appearing over transfer of 5th
Air Force headquarters from Yokota to Guam

In December 2003, then United States Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral
Thomas B. Fargo briefed the top brass of the Ground, Maritime, and
Air Self-Defense Forces and others about the planned realignment of
U.S. forces in Japan. The Admiral said: "The U.S. plans to integrate
the U.S. 5th Air Force headquarters (in Yokota) into the 13th Air
Forces headquarters (in Guam)."

A senior ASDF officer retorted: "Recently, war tends to start with
air warfare. An absence of our counterpart will really perplex us.
All the more because Japan and the U.S. have acted in cooperation
without any trouble, North Korea remains unable to make a move."

The 5th Air Force commander also plays the role of commanding the
U.S. forces in Japan. The ASDF officer feared that a transfer of the
5th Air Force headquarters to Guam could lead to weakening channels
to the U.S. Air Force.

However, the U.S. military's intention was to strengthen its base
functions in Guam in the western Pacific region. According to
analysis by a senior Defense Ministry official, the U.S. in this way
aimed to constrain China's moves to make inroads into the Pacific

The integration plan was returned to a clean state in the end, as a
result of joint efforts by senior ASDF officers and U.S. Air Force
members knowledgeable about Japan to scrap the plan.

In February 2005, the governments of Japan and the U.S. put a list
of "common strategic goals" into a document. It contained this
passage: "We urge a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan Strait dispute
through talks." But the draft as first presented by the U.S. Defense
Department had used this strong expression: "We will never allow
China to invade Taiwan." In response to Japan's strong request, the

TOKYO 00001447 006 OF 008

document also included a provision on Japanese nationals abducted by
North Korea.

Japan, with North Korea in mind, is eager to strengthen the
alliance, while the U.S. is eager to deploy troops to the western
Pacific on a priority basis in order to prepare for China's possible
advancement into the region. As it stands, differences in motives of
Japan and the U.S. are gradually emerging.

Complications arising in negotiations with affected municipalities

Japan and the U.S. have agreed to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps'
Futenma Air Station to the Henoko district adjacent to Camp Schwab
in Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture. At 06:30 on May 21, Sakae Toyama,
67, director of the Peace Citizens Liaison Council, which is opposed
to the government's Futenma relocation plan, told nine participants
in the coastal blocking action group: "I hope you will use
nonviolent means today." The members headed off in a rubber boat and
a canoe into the ocean to the spot where ich the environment impact
assessment by the Okinawa Bureau of Defense Policy is underway.

Futenma Air Station is a symbolic facility in Okinawa base issues.
Twelve years have passed since the U.S. and Japanese governments
agreed to return the facility. Okinawa Prefecture and Nago City had
agreed on a plan to relocate the functions to waters off Henoko
district. Under the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, however,
the construction site was changed to the coastal area of Camp
Schwab. Since then, relations between the central government and
affected municipalities have become strained. The relocation plan
has yet to be translated into action.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, who won the election by promising
to oppose the government plan, has called on the government to move
the construction site for a pair of runways further into the sea as
much as possible. Even so, the governor approved the start of the
environmental impact assessment, premised on the implementation of
the government plan. With no final agreement reached on the
construction site, the assessment was started this March. The
dismantlement of barracks on the compound of Camp Schwab was also
started in May. Preparations for constructing the runways are
steadily proceeding.

Toyama said: "The governor is expected to agree on the government
plan in the end. But Okinawa does not need any new military bases."

(7) Stop cluster bombs - Voices of world and Japan (Conclusion):
Interview with Hidenao Nakagawa, former secretary general of ruling
Liberal Democratic Party: Prevent damage by adopting alternatives

MAINICHI (Page 7) (Full)
May 24, 2008

Interviewer Ken Uzuka

Weapons are tools used by soldiers against other soldiers. Weapons
that kill and wound civilians indiscriminately deviate from the
norms in terms of international law. A worst-case scenario is for
unexploded bombs left after the end of a war causing harm to
civilians, blowing off their arms and legs. In this sense, cluster
munitions are called "the devil's weapon." Sometimes children suffer
damage from duds when they play with them as if they were toys. The
first priority challenge is to eliminate humanitarian damage as

TOKYO 00001447 007 OF 008

swiftly as possible. Old cluster bombs that have been scattered
across the world and whose failure rates are high must be removed.

I appreciate the fact that Japan is a member of the Oslo Process. I
deem it is necessary to change non-members' attitudes, for instance,
the United States, Russia, and China. The ultimate goal is to
eliminate all cluster munitions from the earth. We must do so, but
if our discussion of whether to totally ban cluster bombs drags on,
the damage to humans would simply expand. I think the important
thing is to consider alternatives to minimize the human damage and
improve the effectiveness of alternative weapons. In order to
prepare such alternative munitions, my idea is to budget for them. A
royal road to eliminate the harm to humanity would be to allow
alternative weapons to some degree.

The old-model cluster munitions the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have
stockpiled so far should be scrapped. I believe a dispatch of the
SDF abroad on missions to remove duds could obtain public

A draft treaty banning cluster munitions includes support for
victims and cluster-bomb users' responsibility to work together to
remove duds. I hope these things will be realized.

It may be a good idea to call on the Group of Eight (G-8) countries
at the upcoming G-8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit to work together to
realize them.

Because I have been elected in Hiroshima, I strongly desire to
eliminate nuclear weapons from the globe. There are neither winners
nor losers in wars, only victims.

(8) U.S. closely watching Japan's preparedness as its ally

MAINICHI (Page 13) (Full)
May 26, 2008

Satoshi Morimoto, professor at Takushoku University

The U.S. has carried out the transformation of its military force on
a global scale. In Asia, it focused on Japan and South Korea. It can
be said that the major aim of the U.S. military transformation in
Asia is to develop a China strategy. The U.S. thinks that it must
not allow any Americans to shed blood in Asia again and that to that
end, it is important to maintain a cooperative relationship with

However, when it comes to the moves of the Chinese military's
advance into the Pacific region, it is another story. The U.S.
attaches high importance to its maritime interests in the
Asia-Pacific region. It is determined to fight if China advances
into the region.

The U.S. studied what strategic system could deal with the Chinese
Navy and Air Force in a most effective manner and it decided to
transfer necessary functions to Guam, making it a strategic base. It
also decided to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to
Yokosuka, thereby attaching more importance to the western Pacific.
The aim of the U.S. force realignment is to make changes in the U.S.
forces in Japan so that they can meet the U.S. strategy.

If the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to

TOKYO 00001447 008 OF 008

an alternative facility does not go smoothly, it would cause the
structure of the realignment of the U.S. military presence in Japan
itself to suffer a major setback. Moreover, the U.S. would harbor
doubts about Japan's preparedness, resolve and ability to get things
done as its ally. The U.S. does not think that it should defend
Japan because of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. It is considering
changing the quality of alliances, after determining to what extent
its allies are prepared to maintain their alliance with the U.S. and
to what degree they are willing to make contributions to the
alliance. In other words, the U.S. is ready to end the alliance if
its allies have no intention to maintain their end of the alliance
with the U.S. Any state would plunge into crisis if it solely
depends on what is written in a treaty. Its prime example is the
Japan-USSR Nonaggression Pact.

There is a considerable gap between Japan and the U.S. in views of
the security treaty and Status-of-Forces Agreement (SOFA). The U.S.
sees the alliance from a global perspective, while Japan views it
from legal and technical standpoints. It thinks from the perspective
of giving consideration to its public. Japan is unable to possess
nuclear weapons. It cannot possess massive military power, either. A
military build-up is in progress among its neighbors. The time has
supposedly come long before for it to discuss a basic national
strategy of how to defend the nation over the next 50 and 100 years.
However, political parties do not readily pursue strategic
discussion, giving priority to maneuvering over party interests.

For the U.S., the Japan-U.S. alliance is part of its Asia-Pacific
strategy. In essence, its aim is to forge an alliance with a country
with which it can share maritime interests in the Pacific. Its ally
does not have to be Japan. It may consider forging a multilateral
alliance with countries with which it can share values, such as
Australia, New Zealand or Singapore.

Satoshio Morimoto: Graduated from Defense Academy. In the present
position at Takusyoku University, after serving in the Air
Self-Defense Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His works
include "The U.S. military transformation and U.S. Forces stationed
in Japan." 67 years old.


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