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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 06/16/08

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PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #1638/01 1680801
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 160801Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5090
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/USDOT WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5//
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
RHMFIUU/HQ PACAF HICKAM AFB HI//CC/PA//
RHMFIUU/USFJ //J5/JO21//
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
RUAYJAA/CTF 72
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 0759
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 8383
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 2090
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 6647
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 8969
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3921
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 9919
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0335

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 TOKYO 001638

SIPDIS

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

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

SUBJECT: DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS 06/16/08

INDEX:

(1) Like-minded LDP members file one petition after another, aiming
to prompt new panel to start constitutional debate (Tokyo Shimbun)

(2) Due to divided Diet, 9 treaties to automatically clear Diet
(Tokyo Shimbun)

(3) Coordination on basic economic policy guidelines moving into
full gear: Focus is on implementation of spending cuts; Specific
measures likely to be forgone (Nikkei)

(4) Divided Diet (Part 1): With eye on Lower House election, autumn
winds have begun to blow; Turning tables difficult for ruling bloc
(Nikkei)

(5) SOFA revision debated in symposium (Ryukyu Shimpo)

(6) No alternative to base reduction: Honma (Ryukyu Shimpo)

ARTICLES:

(1) Like-minded LDP members file one petition after another, aiming
to prompt new panel to start constitutional debate

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
June 16, 2008

In an effort to prompt the newly established special Constitution
research committees of the two Houses of the Diet to start up,
like-minded Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members eager to spur
debate on the Constitution have submitted one petition after another
to the Diet. The committees were established based on the National
Referendum Law, but they remain unable to even meet. It is quite
unusual for the ruling coalition to actively file petitions. By
filing petitions, the coalition is aiming to create a stir to spark
a constitutional debate.

Under the petition system, people submit their requests to the Diet
through the introduction of lawmakers. If a petition is adopted
after being screened by the relevant committee, the petition will be
deemed as given an endorsement. The opposition camp frequently
resorts to this mechanism given its limited means to implement their
policy measures.

The debate on the Constitution has rapidly decelerated since the LDP
suffered a crushing defeat in the House of Councillors election last
year and then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was eager to revise the
Constitution, stepped down. The special committees in both chambers
of the Diet remain inactive, unable to even start deliberations to
determine such details as the number of its members and rules on
procedures.

The petitions -- submitted by like-minded LDP members -- urge the
Diet steering committees of the Upper and Lower Houses to quickly
set rues. In the petitions, former Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama,
who has served as chairman of the Lower House Constitution Research
Council, former Secretary General Taro Aso, and Policy Research
Council Chairman Sadakazu Tanigaki are cited as introducers. The
number of the petitions accepted in the Lower House is 44 and that
in the Upper House is 57.


TOKYO 00001638 002 OF 006


One of the introducers said: "It is negligent that the legislative
branch of government has not carried forward prearranged legal
procedures." In many cases of the petitions, screening has already
ended with no conclusion reached. Bur many anticipate that the
petitions related to constitutional debate will not be easily
disregarded, focusing on the lineup of key lawmakers as
introducers.

Even so, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has boycotted
deliberations since the Upper House adopted a censure motion against
the prime minister. It is now certain that the current Diet session
will be adjourned under an abnormal situation. On these petitions,
too, conclusion of the screening might not be reached by the end of
the session as anticipated.

(2) Due to divided Diet, 9 treaties to automatically clear Diet

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
June 15, 2008

The government has called for Diet approval of four treaties and
agreements. Of the four, two will clear the Diet automatically on
June 21. Since three treaties were approved on June 12, a total of
nine treaties will likely be automatically approved during the
current Diet session. Since only 13 treaties had been automatically
approved before the opening of the current session, the Diet
approval of nine treaties during one session is unprecedented.

The Constitution stipulates that in the case of failure by the House
of Councillors to take final action within 30 days, after receiving
a treaty or agreement, passed by the House of Representatives, the
decision of the Lower House becomes naturally the decision of the
Diet.

Most of the treaties, including the revised Japan-U.S. Security
Treaty in 1960, that were automatically approved were subjects of
controversy between the ruling and opposition camps.

The 9 treaties that passed the Lower House with the approval of both
the ruling coalition and the main opposition Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ) during the current session will all clear the Diet.

The DPJ asserted that it would not respond to deliberations, unless
the ruling camp promised to summon Naoki Akiyama, executive director
of the Japan-U.S. Center for Peace and Cultural Exchange, to testify
as a sworn witness before the Upper House Committee on Foreign
Affairs and Defense, which deliberates on treaties. The ruling
coalition, however, rejected the request. Therefore, the committee
has not held any meetings since May 22.

The prevailing view in the ruling camp was that incomplete
deliberations and unapproved treaties would be unavoidable, the
argument being that the ruling parties should not allow the DPJ do
what it wants. However, the ruling coalition chose a way for the
treaties to be naturally approved by extending the current session
from June 15 to the 21st. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda strongly
desired to see Diet approval of an economic partnership agreement
with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet Affairs Committee
Chairman Tadamori Oshima stated: "It is extremely regrettable that
the DPJ neglected doing its job." On the other hand, Committee

TOKYO 00001638 003 OF 006


Chairman Toshimi Kitazawa, a DPJ lawmaker, insisted that the ruling
camp, which would not agree to allow Akiyama to testify, should be
held to blame. He argued: "I told the ruling parties that they were
responsible for persuading the opposition to approve the treaties.
But they did not listen to me."

(3) Coordination on basic economic policy guidelines moving into
full gear: Focus is on implementation of spending cuts; Specific
measures likely to be forgone

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
June 16, 2008

The government and the ruling parties will enter into full-fledged
coordination to lay down basic policy guidelines on economic and
fiscal management and structural reforms for fiscal 2008 at the
beginning of this week. The government's Council on Economic and
Fiscal Policy (CEFP) is expected to discuss draft guidelines at its
meeting on June 17. Many ruling party members are calling for
increased expenditures, mainly in the social security area. Under
such a circumstance, how far Prime Minister Fukuda can adhere to his
spending cut policy will be the challenge. The prime minister on the
evening of the 14th called in State Minister for Economic and Fiscal
Policy Hiroko Ota to the Prime Minister's official residence and
conferred on the basic policy guidelines with her for about an hour
and a half. During the meeting, he said, "I would like to maintain
my reform stance in order to show to the people that the cabinet is
properly tackling reform policy."

The focus will be on the direction of the reform to unify
expenditures and revenues incorporated in the basic policy
guidelines for fiscal 2006, the last set of guidelines issued by the
Koizumi administration. Prime Minister Fukuda has announced his
stance of keeping the existing spending cut policy line firm in
order to bring the primary balance into the black by fiscal 2011.
This could be done by making such efforts as to constrain the 220
billion yen in social security expenditures.

However, pressure from the ruling parties for increased spending is
unusually strong. Participants expressed discontent with the prime
minister's spending cut policy at a plenary meeting of the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) on the 11th.

Regarding the spending reform as a whole, a proposal for modifying
"carry out maximum spending cuts" to "make efforts to make maximum
spending cuts" has been made.

An aide close to the prime minister said: "Writing basic policy
guidelines is like depicting dreams. It is not necessary to include
the minor details." Decision-making on the actual margin of cuts
will likely be put off until the time when the budget is compiled.

(4) Divided Diet (Part 1): With eye on Lower House election, autumn
winds have begun to blow; Turning tables difficult for ruling bloc

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged)
June 16, 2008

The current session of the Diet, in which the ruling coalition
parties have a majority in the House of Representatives and the
opposition DPJ controls the House of Councillors, is set to close on
June 21. The session has been tumultuous. With an eye on possible

TOKYO 00001638 004 OF 006


political realignment after the next Lower House election, lawmakers
have begun making moves.

On the afternoon of June 13, a Lower House plenary session decided
to extend the current Diet session for six days, and all ruling
party lawmakers immediately headed for their own constituencies. The
plenary session was not attended by many opposition parties,
including the Democratic Party of Japan, which had decided to
boycott Diet deliberations after the Upper House adopted days
earlier a censure motion against Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. Autumn
winds have begun to blow in the capitol district of Nagatacho.

The ongoing session of the Diet has put off many pain-inflicting
policy issues. This will force the next extraordinary Diet session
to handle such pressing issues as extending the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's refueling operation in the Indian Ocean and
raising the government's contribution to the basic pension scheme to
50 PERCENT of the total. The ruling bloc is eager to convene the
extra Diet session earlier than usual, thinking it might be
necessary to use a two-thirds Lower House override vote to pass some
bills in accordance with the constitutional 60-day rule.

How is the ruling bloc going to fend off the opposition camp's
fierce attack and grab a chance to turn the tables from the extra
Diet session in the fall through the regular Diet session next year?
The ruling bloc has a plan to achieve that.

The ruling coalition specifically intends to: produce bills to free
up road-related revenues for general purposes and to fundamentally
reform the taxation system and begin deliberations on them before
the end of the year; get the bills past the Lower House by the end
of January, and in the event the opposition bloc opposes them use a
two-thirds Lower House override vote to enact them before the end of
fiscal 2008; and dissolve the Lower House on the strength of the
administration's achievements of road and tax system reform and the
establishment of a consumer affairs agency.

The plan is also designed to apply pressure to those trying inside
and outside the LDP to unseat Prime Minister Fukuda, as well as to
give the prime minister a free hand to dissolve the Lower House.
"Even if Prime Minister Fukuda leaves power, he can still earn his
place in history," an LDP executive said to a Fukuda aide.

Meanwhile, DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama, appearing on an NHK
talk show and other programs yesterday, noted: "Cabinet resignation
should follow the adoption of a censure motion against the prime
minister. If the Fukuda administration calls an extraordinary Diet
session, we cannot support it." Many in the ruling camp are
skeptical about whether a cabinet with support ratings of about 20
PERCENT can carry through road and tax reforms.

On the night of June 11, hours after the censure motion against the
prime minister was adopted, Fukuda attended a meeting of some 60
young and mid-level LDP lawmakers. Before the attendants, Fukuda
jokingly said: "I stood trial today. The courtroom was too noisy to
hear the verdict." Fukuda then put his name on a Chinese phrase
indicating the importance of solidarity after an important event.

There is no doubt that the important event means the next Lower
House dissolution that would take place before September next year.
The prime minister cannot rule out the possibility that some
mid-level and young LDP lawmakers concerned about the next election

TOKYO 00001638 005 OF 006


will spearhead a drive to find a new face of the party for the
election.

The trauma of being labeled incompetent by one chamber will continue
haunting the prime minister. Fukuda attended a meeting of the
government and the ruling coalition on June 12, the day after the
censure motion was adopted, that decided on measures to improve the
medical insurance system for those aged 75 and older. With his gaze
fixed on the documents and remaining silent, Fukuda reportedly
seemed extremely depressed.

In the last weekend, the prime minister managed in between meetings
in the wake of the Iwate-Miyagi Inland Earthquake to be briefed by
State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Hiroko Ota and prime
ministerial advisor Tatsuya Ito on the draft 2008 basic economic and
fiscal policy guidelines and social security issues.

Finding it increasingly difficult to steer his administration under
the divided Diet, Fukuda seems to be alternating between confidence
and insecurity. The prime minister recently complained to a former
cabinet minister of the LDP over the phone: "Convincing the public
about matters is not easy."

(5) SOFA revision debated in symposium

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 2) (Full)
June 15, 2008

A nongovernmental organization seeking to revise the Japan-U.S.
Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) held a symposium yesterday at
Okinawa International University in the city of Ginowan to discuss
three opposition parties' draft revisions to the SOFA. Hiroshi
Honma, a professor emeritus at Surugadai University, cited problems
with the SOFA's current provisions while referring to its
applicability. "Okinawa Prefecture has yet to be on the same plane
as the rest of Japan," Honma said, pointing to the challenge of the
opposition parties' proposal of revisions to the SOFA. Shokichi
Kina, a House of Councillors member of the leading opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto), Mikio Shimoji, a House of
Representatives member who has formed a parliamentary group with the
People's New Party, and Kantoku Teruya, a House of Representatives
member of the Social Democratic Party, participated in the symposium
to discuss the future.

In their proposal of revisions to SOFA provisions, the opposition
parties suggest the need (for the government) to listen to local
views before constructing new bases. "They have paved the way to
have the voices of local residents reflected," Honma said.

Meanwhile, Honma touched on the U.S. military's base control rights
prescribed in SOFA Article 3. "The question is how to change the
rights that are convenient to the United States," Honma noted. He
also cited Germany's Bonn Agreement, which expressly stipulates that
Germany's laws are applicable to the U.S. military's use of bases in
that country. In this regard, Honma noted a problem, saying the
opposition parties' proposal leaves ambiguity about applying Japan's
laws to the U.S. military's use of bases in Japan. He specified
criminal jurisdiction, saying, "They should have prepared a system
that will allow Japan to go through on-base criminal procedures even
more easily."

Shimoji argued: "It's important to make clear for what purpose they

TOKYO 00001638 006 OF 006


will use bases. The question is how to ensure (the U.S. military's
stance of abiding by Japan's law). For that, the Japanese
government's diplomatic stance is needed. The opposition parties'
draft plan is not perfect. However, we will have to make a constant
appeal not only to the United States but also to the public in
Japan." Shimoji also suggested the need to apply Japan's law to U.S.
forces in Japan. However, he said, "They would not abide by Japan's
laws (in their use of new bases). Japan should clearly say this in
its diplomatic negotiations."

The opposition parties' proposal incorporates an environmental
clause. Teruya explained: "We have created Article 5 (for
environmental conservation) from the position that we should make a
drastic review of the SOFA from an environmental perspective."
Referring to the outlook for Diet discussions on the SOFA, Teruya
noted: "Even in the Diet, only a very small number of people have
concern and understanding on the issue of revising the SOFA. In the
House of Councillors, some people discussed a resolution calling for
revisions to the SOFA. However, all of us in the Diet should try to
adopt such a resolution unanimously. That will have a big impact on
the government and also on the United States. We will have to make
efforts." So saying, he indicated that it would be difficult to
present a resolution at the current Diet session.

Kina stressed that the opposition parties would aim to revise the
SOFA when they take the reins of government. "We can't revise it
unless we take office," he said.

(6) No alternative to base reduction: Honma

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 2) (Abridged)
June 14, 2008

Hiroshi Honma, a professor emeritus at Surugadai University who is
familiar with the U.S. military's status of forces agreements (with
Japan and other U.S. allies), told the Ryukyu Shimpo in an interview
yesterday that Japan should push for disarmament as a drastic
solution to U.S. military base issues. In late March, opposition
parties agreed on draft revisions to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces
Agreement (SOFA). Honma gave high marks to this fact. However, Honma
noted that U.S. Forces Japan is basically maintaining its status quo
with no substantial change in its presence. "When it comes to
matters at specific levels," Honma said, "there's no progress." He
added, "There is no choice but to carry out base reductions."

In the interview, Honma explained why the SOFA needs to be revised.
"NATO, which has been called a model, was concluded in 1951," Honma
said. "In those days," he went on, "the world was in the midst of
the Cold War." He added: "We were in a tense situation-both
politically and militarily. Today, we're in a different environment.
It's about time to rethink, even more fundamentally, the U.S.
military presence in Japan.

Concerning issues relevant to the U.S. military's jurisdiction over
criminal cases involving its SOFA personnel, Honma noted that the
U.S. military is aware of rights guaranteed by the U.S.
Constitution. He suggested the need to revise the SOFA instead of
improving its implementation at the U.S. military's discretion.

SCHIEFFER

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