Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 06/04/08

P 040830Z JUN 08
USFJ //J5/JO21//
CTF 72




E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) DPJ coordinating with three other opposition parties on censure
motion against prime minister, depending on ruling bloc's response
to bill scrapping the medical system for elderly (Sankei)

(2) "We have various pieces of information," says Chief Cabinet
Secretary Machimura concerning Chinese Navy's test-firing of SLBM

(3) Fiscal Affairs Council underscores importance of fiscal
reconstruction: Fiscal System Council calls for discussion on
consumption tax in fall (Tokyo Shimbun)

(4) Japan's additional food aid reflects major importer's sense of
alarm about global food shortage (Tokyo Shimbun)

(5) Fukuda's four-nation tour designed to get acquainted with
European leaders to make G8 Summit a success (Yomiuri)

(6) DPJ may field Kazumi Ota for Tokyo No. 12 district (Sankei)

(7) Ruling coalition to approve use of weapons in protective action
under permanent legislation (Tokyo Shimbun)

(8) JICA, MOFA considering introducing qualification system for
"international collaborators" (Tokyo Shimbun)

(9) Is a Cabinet shuffle golden remedy or a poison pill? (Asahi)

(10) Reporters' monthly report: Prime Minister Fukuda often meets
with ruling coalition members (Tokyo Shimbun)


(1) DPJ coordinating with three other opposition parties on censure
motion against prime minister, depending on ruling bloc's response
to bill scrapping the medical system for elderly

June 4, 2008, 12:45

The major opposition Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) President
Ichiro Ozawa and other leaders this morning held an executives'
meeting at party headquarters and confirmed a plan to get the four
opposition party-sponsored bill intended for scrapping the
controversial medical system for the elderly through the Upper House
on June 6 and then demand that the ruling bloc adopt the bill in the
Lower House by the end of the current session of the Diet, which is
to close on June 15. They also decided to hold a meeting of
secretaries general from the four opposition parties possibly by the
end of the day to discuss whether to decide to submit a censure
motion against Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda if the ruling bloc
rejects the opposition bloc's plan, and push coordination of views
among the opposition parties.

After the executives' meeting, the DPJ's Diet Affairs Committee
Chair Kenji Yamaoka told reporters in a firm tone: "If (the
government and the ruling parties) decide to carry over the bill
aimed at scrapping the current medical system for the elderly to the
next Diet session and refuses to scrap that system, is it all right
for us to allow them to do so? Scrapping that system is the highest

priority task for the public."

(2) "We have various pieces of information," says Chief Cabinet
Secretary Machimura concerning Chinese Navy's test-firing of SLBM

Sankei on-line
June 4, 2008, 11:57

Referring to the strong possibility of the Chinese Navy having
test-fired in the Yellow Sea in late May a submarine-launched
ballistic missile (SLBM) slated to be fitted to its state-of-the-art
submarine, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura during a press
briefing on the morning of June 4 stated, "The government is always
trying to collect and analyze information on such a military
movement. It has various pieces of information." However, he stopped
short of making a categorical statement, simply saying, "I would
like to refrain from making any comment on individual pieces of
information, judging from the nature of the matter."

(3) Fiscal Affairs Council underscores importance of fiscal
reconstruction: Fiscal System Council calls for discussion on
consumption tax in fall

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
June 4, 2008

The Fiscal System Council reporting to the finance minister
yesterday submitted a letter of proposals concerning the compilation
of the fiscal 2009 budget to Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga. The
letter stresses the importance of fiscal reconstruction, noting that
it is necessary to firmly maintain the basic policy guidelines on
economic and fiscal management and structural reforms for the fiscal
2006 national budget, which stipulates that reform should be
promoted with strengthened growth potential and fiscal soundness as
the two wheels of a cart.

On the expenditure front, the letter points out that spending reform
in such areas as social security and local finances should be
strictly enforced. Regarding the revenue front, it notes that it is
necessary to secure stable fiscal resources instead of depending on
temporary fiscal resources. To that end, the letter indicates the
stand that it is necessary to realize at an early date drastic
reform of the tax code, including the consumption tax, instead of
depending on so-called hidden slush funds, such as reserve funds in
special accounts.

Chairman Taizo Nishimura during a press conference after the meeting
said that by revenue reform at an early date, the panel meant reform
should be carried out during the next budget deliberations. He thus
indicated the stand that discussion of reform of the consumption tax
should be held this fall.

Regarding individual areas, the report proposes a revision of the
current system of state contribution to pension insurance, including
a possible abolition. Concerning nursing-care insurance, too, it
calls on the government to make efforts to hold down spending,
citing that high growth in payouts is continuing.

On the education front, the report points out that a goal should be
set in terms of results to be produced, instead of input, such as a
budgetary amount.

The panel's proposal regarding official development assistance (ODA)
is that the budgetary amount should be constrained, while project
volume being secured through such efforts as to cut costs.

Concerning local finances, the panel is of the opinion that a local
tax code centered on taxes causing less imbalances among local
municipalities should be adopted, noting that it would be possible
to create a system that can improve local taxes and correct income
disparity as sought by local governments, if local tax taxes are
increased and revenues from such taxes are distributed, based on
objective standards, such as populations, as is the case of the
local consumption tax or a local transfer tax.

(4) Japan's additional food aid reflects major importer's sense of
alarm about global food shortage

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
June 4, 2008

In a speech Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda delivered on June 3 at a
United Nations' food summit, he revealed Japan's plan to offer
additional emergency aid to developing countries. This policy
decision also reflects Japan's sense of alarm toward the recent
global food shortage from the standpoint of being a major food

In a study meeting held at the Prime Minister's Office ahead of the
food summit, Fukuda instructed the participants to give priority to
what Japan, as a food importer, can do" in drafting the prime
minister's speech for the food summit.

Japan has imported about 770,000 tons of rice annually under the
minimum access requirement. The volume of imported rice in stock (as
of the end of last October) was 1.52 million tons. The government
plans to release such rice to developing countries facing
difficulties in procuring rice on international markets due to
soaring prices. The imported rice should be consumed in the nation
in principle, but the government has decided to ship such rice to
the Philippines from a humanitarian point of view and as an
emergency measure to curb skyrocketing international prices.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said that the food issue
"complicatedly involves a variety of factors. This is not such a
simple question as industrialized countries just extending
assistance to developing countries."

In actuality, the steep rise in grain prices has pushed up food
prices. In the speech he delivered at the food summit, Fukuda
referred to the need for Japan to raise its food self-sufficiency,
but it is also true that Japan is being pressed to improve its
structure of depending on imports for most of its non-rice grain.
Recently, public attention is being focused on the "food mileage"
index to gauge the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) discharged in the
process of transporting foodstuffs. The amount is calculated by
multiplying the volume of transported goods by the transport
distance. Japan's total amount is about three times larger than that
of the U.S. and about five times more than those of Britain and

Japan has given off such a large volume of CO2 in the air in order
to supply food to its people, bringing about climate change and a
food crisis to the poorest nations. Critics point out that Japan,

whose food self-sufficiency has dropped to below 40 PERCENT , has
also exacerbated global warming.

Such a severe situation surrounding Japan is represented in the
following words used by the prime minister in his speech: "I am
feeling a sense of urgency."

(5) Fukuda's four-nation tour designed to get acquainted with
European leaders to make G8 Summit a success

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
June 4, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, now on a European tour, has held talks
in succession with leaders of Germany, Britain, France and Italy.
Fukuda, who will chair this year's Group of Eight Lake Toya Summit
which is only one month away, has now met with all the leaders of
the G8 member countries except Canada. Although Fukuda has paved the
way for the G8 Summit, there still remain huge gaps among the G8
countries over climate change, especially their measures to cut
greenhouse gas emissions. There are a plethora of tasks that must be

On the morning of June 3, or the evening of June 3, Japan time,
Fukuda delivered a speech at the UN Food Summit in Rome, concluding
it with his enthusiasm for the G8 Summit.

Fukuda initially planned to make a European tour during the Golden
Week holiday period from late April through early May. But it was
called off as a result of giving priority to measures for the
divided Diet. Since becoming prime minister last September, Fukuda
had meetings only with the U.S. and Russian presidents of the G8
leaders. He was keenly aware of the need to have get-acquainted
sessions with other leaders ahead of the G8 Summit.

It was not easy to set up events for Fukuda's long-awaited European
tour. A Foreign Ministry source said: "There was no other option but
to hold a Fukuda-Merkel meeting on Sunday. Berlin was slow to give a
nod to it, saying, 'We will welcome Prime Minister Fukuda but not on
Sunday.'" Apparently in consideration of such circumstances, Fukuda
expressed his gratitude in a press conference after his meeting with
Merkel on June 1, saying: "German people work hard even on Sundays.
I am grateful for their consideration."

In his talks with G8 counterparts, Fukuda clearly expressed his
enthusiasm as the chair of this year's summit.

Touching on climate change in the joint press conference with
Merkel, Fukuda said: "Japan would like to clarify its policy before
the Summit, including its thinking about setting midterm targets
(greenhouse gas emission reduction targets between 2020 and 2030)."

Many industrial circles are reluctant to set midterm targets at an
early time.

Among the G8, the European Union, which is calling for a 20 PERCENT
cut, is at odds with the United States, which is opposed to setting
compulsory midterm targets for reducing emissions. A senior Economy,
Trade and Industry Ministry official took this view: "If Japan
presents a midterm target, that would make it difficult to handle
the matter as the coordinator."

Meanwhile, most of European leaders did not react positively to
Japan's sector-by-sector approach. British Prime Minister Gordon
Brown on June 2 urged Japan to join the emissions trading scheme. In
response, Prime Minister Fukuda simply indicated that Japan would
consider it. Although Fukuda seems to hold a positive view about
emissions trading, he apparently gave heed to such industries as
iron and steel and power in Japan. Difficulty ironing out views in
Japan and abroad has now become apparent ahead of the G8 Summit.

Under the divided Diet in which the opposition parties have control
of the Upper House, the prime minister is facing difficulties in
steering Diet businesses. Coming under public criticism over the
reinstated provisional gasoline tax rate and the healthcare system
for the elderly, he is struggling with sagging support ratings as

Given the situation, the prime minister is desperate to boost his
administration on the diplomatic front by making the G8 Summit a
success following the fourth Tokyo International Conference on
African Development (TICAD IV) held in late May. Such a sense of
crisis was evident from his jam-packed European tour.

(6) DPJ may field Kazumi Ota for Tokyo No. 12 district

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
June 4, 2008

It was once rumored that Ichiro Ozawa, president of the major
opposition Democratic Party of Japan, would run for the Tokyo No. 12
district in the next Lower House election, leaving his old
constituency. This time around, a plan has cropped up in the DPJ to
field Kazumi Ota, who won the Lower House by-election for Chiba
Prefecture's No. 7 district in 2006, for the Tokyo No. 12
constituency. A DPJ executive said yesterday, "It has not been
decided yet. (The Tokyo No. 12 district) is left to President Ozawa.
Such (fielding Ota) is possible."

The Tokyo No. 12 district is currently represented by Akihiro Ota,
head of the New Komeito. If the plan materializes, 28-year-old
Kazumi Ota, the youngest among the Lower House members along with
Taizo Sugimura of the Liberal Democratic Party, would vie for the
seat with the veteran New Komeito head.

The DPJ intends to confuse New Komeito supporters by fielding a
person with the same family name (as New Komeito's Ota), according
to a person connected with the DPJ. It can said to be another DPJ
tactic to apply pressure on the New Komeito, following the rumor
about Ozawa's switching constituencies.

In the process of coordinating candidates last December, the DPJ
officially decided to field Akira Uchiyama of the Southern Kanto
proportional representation bloc for the Chiba No. 7 district. Ozawa
commented about Ota: "She is going to play a major role in a new

(7) Ruling coalition to approve use of weapons in protective action
under permanent legislation

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
June 4, 2008

In discussing permanent legislation to enable Self-Defense Force

(SDF) personnel to be dispatched overseas as needed, the ruling
coalition decided yesterday to allow SDF troops to take some
protective action involving the use of weapons in self-defense if
they are attacked by criminal groups or terrorists. This measure
will be included in a draft plan to be released by the ruling camp's
project team on permanent law by the end of this month.

The items subject to SDF guarding include personnel from other
countries and United Nations members participating in peacekeeping
operations, Japanese living overseas, and goods and facilities
designated by the UN.

SDF overseas missions are currently limited to (1) ceasefire
monitoring; (2) humanitarian aid; and (3) logistic support.
Guarding, security activities, and ship inspections are not included
in the list.

(8) JICA, MOFA considering introducing qualification system for
"international collaborators"

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Full)
June 4, 2008

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) are considering establishing a
qualification system for "international collaborators" to give
credentials to those who took part in, for instance, the Japan
Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV). They plan to back up those
participants by establishing a qualification system so that they
will be given a qualification for their participation in the JOCV in
developing countries with the aim of their receiving a favorable
evaluation in the job market or at their workplaces.

Under the qualification system, a certification examination will be
conducted to see whether applicants have a certain level of
linguistic skills, as well as technical skills in the area of
cooperation. Whether activities in nongovernmental organizations
will be viewed as one of the activities required for certification
will also be discussed. A MOFA official noted in this context: "The
idea has yet to take shape. We need to flesh it out."

JICA will make a fresh start as a new organization to implement
official development assistance by integrating the Japan Bank for
International Cooperation's (JBIC) yen-loan sector and a part of
MOFA's grant aid projects. Establishing a qualification for
international collaborators is likely to help strengthen the
functions of JICA.

(9) Is a Cabinet shuffle golden remedy or a poison pill?

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
June 3, 2008

With the government and ruling parties started looking into
convening an extraordinary session of the Diet in late August, the
view has become stronger that in order to seriously tackle the
issues facing his administration, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will
likely shuffle his cabinet soon after the end of the Group of Eight
summit in July in Hokkaido. However, since there have been cases in
which a new cabinet was hit by scandals, a shuffle could turn out to
be a double-edged sword.

Growing calls for July cabinet shuffle to boost the administration's

One of the reasons for convening the extra session earlier than
usual is to secure sufficient time so that the House of
Representatives will be able to hold a revote on a bill amending the
refueling mission special measures law (after the House of
Councillors rejects the bill). Given an agreement between the ruling
camp and the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on a
revised bill to reform the public servant system, the DPJ may
cooperate on such bills as the one to establish a Consumer Agency,
which has the strong policy imprint of the prime minister, according
to a senior Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet Affairs Committee
member. To that end, the government and ruling coalition want to
secure sufficient time for deliberations.

In order to thoroughly deliberate bills with a strong Fukuda-policy
image, it is better for the prime minister to pick his own cabinet
members. This is one reason for the growing number of calls for a
cabinet shuffle before the opening of the extra Diet session. Of the
current cabine, only two -- Kisaburo Tokai, minister of education,
culture, sports, and science and technology, and Shigeru Ishiba,
defense minister -- were picked by Fukuda himself. A shuffle of the
cabinet therefore can be seen as a trump card to boost the
popularity of the Fukuda administration, which has suffered from
declining support rates in the polls.

The prevailing view is that the cabinet should be shuffled in the
second half of July, according to a former cabinet member. This
means that Fukuda would carry out the shuffle after he wraps up the
G8 Summit.

Former LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki stressed:

"A cabinet shuffle should be carried out soon after the G8 summit. I
cannot call the present cabinet the Fukuda cabinet. In order to
implement his own policies, Mr. Fukuda should form his own

One of the LDP executive members pointed out: "A cabinet shakeup is
a less expensive measure to boost cabinet support rates." A senior
New Komeito member expressed expectations, saying: "I want new
cabinet ministers to compile budgetary requests for next fiscal year
in late August and I want them to boost the government's

If a new cabinet comes into being by late July, the new cabinet
ministers will be able to attend the extra session after studying
their duties for about one month. It is good for them to be involved
in budgetary compilation from the process of budgetary requests.

In the ruling camp, however, there is a cautious view toward an
early cabinet shuffle, as well. Another former cabinet member has
called for convening the extra session in mid-September, noting:
"Because the opposition camp opposes the refueling mission bill,
three days are enough for deliberations on the legislation in the
Lower House." This is because a longer term of a session would be
disadvantageous for Fukuda because he would be grilled many times in
a prolonged Diet session. So, a cabinet shuffle will likely be
carried out in September.

In September, the DPJ is expected to hold its presidential election.

Another view is that there is no need for hurriedly convening the
extra Diet session because there is a possibility that if the LDP
holds the party leadership race while the Diet is in session, a
political cease-fire will occur.

With expectation of boosting Fukuda government's popularity, calls
for July cabinet shuffle growing

A cabinet shuffle not only boosts the cohesion of the administration
but also carries risks leading to discovery of scandals involving
new cabinet members. In the Abe cabinet, a series of scandals
involving new cabinet members were discovered immediately after the
cabinet was shuffled and they put an end to the Abe administration.
If Fukuda makes a mistake in picking new ministers, the Fukuda
cabinet may fall into the same rut.

In an attempt to boost the approval ratings for the Fukuda cabinet,
Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki said: "The prime minister should
appoint female lawmakers or private-sector persons as new cabinet
members." Since former prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo
Abe picked their cabinet members on their own style called
"single-rod-fishing," there are many mid-level LDP lawmakers waiting
for cabinet posts. If they are not given minister posts,
dissatisfaction could only grow in the party.

If Fukuda fails in a cabinet shuffle, he will lose everything. A
senior LDP member quipped: "The prime minister should be
thoughtful." However, Prime Minister Fukuda himself has not
mentioned anything about a cabinet shuffle.

(10) Reporters' monthly report: Prime Minister Fukuda often meets
with ruling coalition members

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

With an eye on future political realignment, ruling and opposition
Diet members recently have been often holding meetings at nights.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, too, resumed meeting with senior
members of the ruling parties soon after turning the corner in
converting tax revenues currently earmarked for road maintenance and
construction into general spen

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>


Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>