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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 06/18/08

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DEPT FOR E, P, EB, EAP/J, EAP/P, EAP/PD, PA;
WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION;
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: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 06/18/08

Index:

Defense and security affairs:
1) MSDF vessel to transport assistance goods to China for earthquake
relief (Yomiuri)
2) Prime Minister Fukuda says he plans to extend MSDF's Indian Ocean
refueling mission (Nikkei)

North Korea problem:
3) Assistant Secretary of State Hill to visit Japan and China from
the 19th (Yomiuri)
4) U.S., Japanese, ROK delegates to Six-Party Talks to meet to
disclose resumption of the talks, hear Japan's briefing of recent
bilateral talks (Asahi)
5) Ruling parties in Japan talking a cautions approach to partial
removal on North Korea sanctions (Mainichi)
6) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) may halt boycott in order to
attend Diet discussion of Japan-DPRK issues (Mainichi)
7) Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura: Japan will apply "action for
action" formula with North Korea (Asahi)

Taiwan dispute:
8) Taiwan's President Ma calls for talks with Japan on the Japan
Coast Guard's accidental sinking of small protest vessel near
disputed Senkaku Isles (Yomiuri)
9) Taiwan's representative to Japan resigns over the
vessel-collision incident (Yomiuri)
10) Anti-Japanese criticism in Taiwan heating up (Mainichi)

11) Japan to host ministerial-level conference on the Middle East
peace process next month (Yomiuri)

12) Japan, China arrive at settlement of E. China Sea gas-field
development issue with announcement of agreement today (Nikkei)

Political agenda:
13) Prime Minister Fukuda in interview says its time to start
thinking about raising taxes in Japan, but avoids specifics
(Nikkei)
14) Fukuda's remark about the possibility of tax hike is praised by
some in the LDP (Yomiuri)
15) Deep-seated opposition to tax hikes set off in the LDP by
Fukuda's positive remark (Nikkei)
16) Mainichi opinion poll: Respondents pick Fukuda over Ozawa, 19 to
15 PERCENT , as more appropriate to be prime minister, though 57
PERCENT find both unsatisfactory (Mainichi)
17) Speculation rife about a cabinet shuffle following the G-8
Summit (Yomiuri)
18) PM Fukuda reduces stress by a good sleep and drinking fine wine
(Nikkei)

Articles:

1) MSDF to ship supplies in aid to Sichuan quake victims

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
June 18, 2008

A Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer will visit Zhanjiang in
China's Guangdong Province on June 24-28, Defense Minister Ishiba
told a press conference yesterday. This is the first time for an
MSDF vessel to visit China. The MSDF vessel, Sazanami, will also

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deliver relief supplies, including blankets, canned food, masks, and
sticking plasters, for those affected in a recent earthquake that
devastated Sichuan.

The government, after the Sichuan earthquake, considered flying Air
Self-Defense Force aircraft to airlift tents and other supplies in
aid. However, the government has foregone its ASDF dispatch plan as
a result of consulting with the Chinese government that was
concerned about negative reactions from the Chinese public. The
Sazanami's sealift of supplies in aid is an alternative measure. In
August last year, Japan and China agreed in a meeting of their
defense ministers on MSDF and the Chinese naval visits to each
other. In November last year, a missile destroyer of the Chinese
navy visited Japan for the first time. Zhanjiang is where the South
Sea Fleet of the Chinese navy is based. An MSDF ship was initially
scheduled to visit China, but its visit has been postponed due to
the Sichuan quake.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ishiba is now coordinating to visit
China in mid-July. Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Japan in May,
when Japan and China issued a joint statement that incorporated an
agreement on his visit to China within this year.

Ishiba will meet with the Chinese defense minister and others in
Beijing. On that occasion, Ishiba will ask China to ensure
transparency in its growing defense spending. In addition, he is
also expected to exchange views on security in East Asia. He is also
considering visiting a base of the People's Liberation Army. In
September 2003, then Ishiba, who was the then director general of
the Defense Agency at the time, visited China. Japan's defense
minister will visit China for the first time since then.

2) Fukuda eyes extending MSDF mission in Indian Ocean

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged)
June 18, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda met representatives from the Group of
Eight (G-8) nations' news agencies yesterday and clarified his
intention to extend a special measures law, which is for the
Maritime Self-Defense Force's current refueling mission in the
Indian Ocean and is set to expire Jan. 15 next year, in order to
continue the MSDF mission. Fukuda judged that there would be no time
to enact a permanent law that will allow Japan to send the
Self-Defense Forces overseas whenever necessary.

3) Assistant Secretary of State Hill to visit Japan, China from June
19

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
June 18, 2008

A U.S. State Department press official announced on June 17 that
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the chief U.S.
delegate to the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue,
will visit Tokyo on June 19 for a tripartite meeting with his
Japanese and South Korean counterparts. Hill is expected to travel
to Beijing on June 20 to hold talks with Chinese Vice-Foreign
Minister Wu Dawei, chair of the six-party talks. A visit to North
Korea is reportedly not scheduled.

In the series of talks, a nuclear declaration by North Korea and the

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question of delisting the North as a state sponsor of terrorism are
likely to be discussed.

4) Japan, U.S., ROK delegates from the Six-Party Talks to meet to
discuss restarting the talks and hear Japan's briefing of its talks
with the DPRK

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
June 18, 2008

The delegates from Japan, United States, and South Korea to the
Six-Party Talks on the North Korea nuclear issue will meet on June
19 in Tokyo. This was confirmed yesterday by a source connected with
the government. In addition to Japan giving a briefing to the two
other delegates of its formal talks with North Korea in Beijing on
June 11-12, there apparently will be an exchange of views on such
matters as ways to get the six-country talks restarted. Assistant
Secretary of State Hill will come from the U.S., and Kim Sook, the
special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs will come from
South Korea. They will meet with the Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki
from the Republic of Korea. Following the talks between Japan and
North Korea, the possibility has grown strong that the U.S. will
move to remove the DPRK from the list of states sponsoring
terrorism. The Japanese government does not see "progress" on the
abduction front until the reinvestigation that North Korea promised
during the bilateral talks starts out in a concrete way, and at this
upcoming meeting, the plan is to strongly urge the U.S. to respond
cautiously.

5) Government undecided on when to ease sanctions against North
Korea, reflecting growing calls in ruling camp for caution

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
June 18, 2008

Japan agreed in the recent official working-level talks between
Japan and North Korea to partially remove its sanctions against
Pyongyang, but a number of ruling party members are calling on the
government to make a cautious response while carefully watching
moves by the North. In response, a slight change has been seen in
the government's posture. It initially decided to start the
procedures to partially lift the sanctions later this week, but the
view that it is still premature is gaining influence. Given this, it
is becoming uncertain when the sanctions will be eased.

Former Economic, Trade and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma,
chairman of a group of Diet members dealing with the abduction
issue, visited the Prime Minister's Office yesterday and told Chief
Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura: "The government should not
ease its sanctions before specific progress is made."

When the government announced a plan to ease its sanctions on June
13, it intended to quickly translate the plan into action, as a
senior Foreign Ministry official saying: "It will take several days
for coordination among the relevant government agencies." Since
then, though, the atmosphere has been gradually changing, Machimura
emphasized in a press conference yesterday that North Korea's
specific action should be the premise for Japan's next move.

But officials have different definitions of what is meant by North
Korea's "specific action." Former Liberal Democratic Party Vice
President Taku Yamasaki, chairman of a group of Diet members to

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promote diplomatic normalization talks between Japan and North
Korea, defined it as "an agreement on reinvestigation procedures."
But Kyoko Nakayama, special advisor to the prime minister, said:
"(Easing the sanctions) should be approved only after it is
confirmed that the other side has carried out a thorough
investigation."

6) DPJ to attend Diet deliberations on Japan-North Korea issues as
exception to boycott strategy

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
June 18, 2008

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) decided yesterday to agree to
calls for holding meetings of the Special Committee on the Abduction
Issue in the two houses of the Diet as an exception to its strategy
of boycotting Diet deliberations taken since a censure motion
against the prime minister was adopted in the House of Councillors.
In the party, many members have said that the party should
participate in Diet deliberations on Japan-North Korea issues. The
decision reflected such views. After a devastating earthquake hit
northeastern Japan, the main opposition also asked the ruling camp
to hold a meeting of the Anti-Disaster Special Committee. The DPJ's
strategy apparently has already begun wavering.

The DPJ's taskforce to deal with the abduction issue, chaired by
Hiroshi Nakai, held an executive meeting yesterday morning. On the
government's agreement in the recent Japan-North Korea working-level
talks to partially remove its sanctions against North Korea, the
participants in the meeting shared the view that problems in the
decision should be discussed at the Diet. Nakai asked Diet Affairs
Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka to call a meeting of the Special
Committee on the Abduction Issue.

DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa and Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama
discussed the proposal last evening in response to Yamaoka's
suggestion and agreed to hold a meeting based on the view that the
abduction issue is a humanitarian issue. They affirmed the need to
make exceptions in the cases of humanitarian and pressing issues.

7) Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura: "Action for action is the
principle for removing sanctions (on DPRK)

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
June 18, 2008

Speaking to the press corps yesterday, Chief Cabinet Secretary
Machimura made this statement about the government's plan to
partially remove sanctions imposed on North Korea in return for a
reinvestigation of the case of abducted Japanese: "We are not at the
dimension of trading words for words, but from now on, we will
respond with the principle of action for action. We do not take it
as action for (the North Koreans) to have uttered words." He
indicated that the condition for removing sanctions on North Korea
would be specific action in the form of the reinvestigation.

Machimura hinted at the possibility of staged easing of sanctions,
saying, "In response to the level of the action carried out by North
Korea, we will decide what action to take."

8) Taiwan President Ma praises acts of patrol boats, calls on Japan
for talks

TOKYO 00001667 005 OF 011

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
June 18, 2008

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou holding a press conference on June 17
claimed Taiwan's sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, known as
Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, and praised the fact that nine Taiwanese patrol
boats along with protest vessels entered waters near the Senkakus.
Ma also called on Japan for a peaceful settlement of the matter.
Taiwan authorities' plan to dispatch naval vessels to waters near
the Senkakus has been called off.

President Ma has announced his position for the first time since a
Taiwanese fishing boat sank after colliding with a Japan Coast Guard
patrol vessel in waters near the Senkakus on June 10. Ma criticized
the Japanese patrol boat's "intrusion" into the waters in question,
saying: "The Tiaoyutai belong to Taiwan. It is natural for a fishing
boat to enter the waters in question. I protest the interference by
another country."

Ma also called for Japan-Taiwan talks, saying: "Japan is not trying
to discuss the sovereignty issue, and the fisheries issue has yet to
reach any conclusion. There is a need to change that."

9) Taiwan representative to Japan to resign

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
June 18, 2008

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou announced on June 17 that he has
decided to approve the resignation of representative Koh Se-kai of
the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan, who
is Taiwan's de facto ambassador to Japan. Koh's successor is
undecided. Koh, who has lived in Japan for over 30 years, has served
as a professor at Tsuda University and held other posts. He is also
a senior statesman of Taiwan's independence movement. Koh announced
on June 16 his decision to resign from his present post after he was
criticized by the ruling Kuomintang as "favoring Japan" and being a
"traitor" over the Senkaku issue. President Ma praised Koh as having
contributed to the development of Taiwan-Japan relations.

10) Anti-Japanese sentiments growing in Taiwan following Senkaku
accident; President Ma says Taiwanese coast guard vessels entered
"our territorial waters"

MAINICHI (Page 6) (Abridged slightly)
June 18, 2008

Criticism against Japan is growing (in Taiwan) following an accident
in which a Taiwanese sport-fishing boat sank after colliding with a
Japan Coast Guard patrol boat in Japanese territorial waters near
the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands in Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture.
Feelings in Taiwan are heating up due partly to Taiwanese
newspapers' reports fanning the flames of confrontation with Japan,
as seen in one newspaper's article comparing Taiwan's military power
with that of Japan. The situation continues to become more chaotic.

President Ma Ying-jeou in an interview with local news agencies on
June 17 called for efforts to calm down the commotion, indicating
that the matter would be settled peacefully. At the same time,
touching on intrusion into Japanese waters by Taiwan's protest
vessels escorted by coast guard vessels, Ma said: "Since they are

TOKYO 00001667 006 OF 011


our territorial waters to begin with, they should be allowed to go
there." His comment that could be taken as a seal of approval might
prompt Taiwanese fishing boats and protest vessels to frequently
enter Japanese territorial waters. Known as a hawk on the question
of sovereignty over the Senkakus, Ma was apparently driven by public
opinion.

The Ma administration first gave a restrained response to the
accident in consideration of relations with Japan, but the
Kuomintang's criticism of it as weak-kneed prompted the
administration to take a hard-line stance. In the wake of the
accident, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry has decided to abolish its Japan
affairs office, and its de facto ambassador to Japan Koh Se-kai has
also announced he would resign from his post. The matter is becoming
increasingly complicated due to the closure of Taiwan's points of
contact with Japan.

Amid growing anti-Japanese sentiments, there are moves in Taiwan
exploring ways to calm the storm. For instance, the Presidential
Office and Kuomintang Chairman Wu Baixiong have successfully
dissuaded the national assembly from dispatching naval vessels to
the Senkakus as early as June 18.

Given strong anti-Japanese sentiments, the Taipei Economic and
Cultural Representative Office in Japan, Taiwan's point of contact
in Japan, on June 16 alerted Japanese residents in Taiwan with a
message on its website saying the safety of Japanese living in
Taiwan might be affected.

11) Government to hold ministerial conference on Middle East peace
in Tokyo next month

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
June 18, 2008

The government has decided to hold a ministerial conference on the
Middle East peace process involving Israel, Jordan, and the
Palestinian Authority in Tokyo on July 2.

In the conference, such issues will be discussed as how to give
concrete form to the Japan-proposed Corridor for Peace and
Prosperity, a project to develop the West Bank. The issue of Middle
East peace will also be on the agenda at the Lake Toya Summit in
Hokkaido in July. Prime Minister Fukuda will report in the Summit on
the results of the conference.

Japan's concept calls for the creation of agricultural land and a
distribution center in the Jordan Valley with Japan's financial aid,
in an effort to secure the economic independence of Palestinians.

12) Japan, China reach settlement on gas fields: Joint development
plan to be released today

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
June 18, 2008

The governments of Japan and China have reached a final agreement on
the pending issue of jointly exploring gas fields in the East China
Sea and will formally release it today. The showcase of the plan is
that joint exploration will be carried out on both sides of the
median line. China is now independently developing Shirakaba
(Chunxiao in Chinese) near the median line. Japan will invest in

TOKYO 00001667 007 OF 011


China's exploration company in order to secure a stake in that
company. Specific areas subject to joint development will be decided
when a treaty is crafted.

A settlement has now been reached about four years after the issue
of jointly developing gas fields cropped up in 2004. Both countries
will enter into working-level negotiations to sign an agreement for
the purpose of setting concrete plans for joint development.

Two areas are subject to joint development -- areas straddling the
median line, including Asunaro (Longjing in Chinese), and Shirakaba.
Regarding the development of Shirakaba, the Chinese side will keep
majority control with consideration given to the fact that it has
already made investment in the exploration of the area.

In the past negotiations on conditions for joint development, both
countries agreed that benefits from the developed gas fields should
be divided between them in proportion to the ratio of capital
contribution. A settlement is now likely as both countries finally
agreed on the exploration of Shirakaba, over which coordination of
views had faced difficulty to the end.

13) Strong resistance in LDP against early consumption tax hike out
of fear of negative impact on Lower House election

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
June 18, 2008

Many Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members are against an early
increase in the consumption tax rate. There is a possibility that
differences in the tax policy stances between those favoring a
consumption tax hike and the others like former Secretary General
Hidenao Nakagawa who advocate the need for economic growth without
tax increases would create conflict in the party. It is difficult to
foresee how the consumption tax hike issue will be resolved because
the view is strong among LDP members that fiscal resources necessary
for social welfare expenses should be covered by cuts in
expenditures, increases in tax revenues by economic growth, and
revenue funds from special account budgets.

The LDP predicts that it will face an uphill battle in the next
House of Representatives election. Many LDP lawmakers do not want to
make tax increase a main campaign issue. Mikio Aoki, former chairman
of the LDP caucus in the Upper House, told his aides: "It would be
impossible (to increase the consumption tax) before the Lower House
election, don't you think?" The prevailing view in the New Komeito,
the LDP's coalition partner, is that taking up the consumption tax
problem at present should be avoided, with a senior party member
saying: "Promising a consumption tax increase before the Lower House
race would be impossible."

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which had once
called for a consumption tax hike, set forth in last year's House of
Councillors election a policy of retaining the current consumption
tax rate, following party head Ichiro Ozawa's assertion that the
state can survive for the time being by reducing the waste of tax
money. The DPJ has shelved the issue. However, there is a view in
the largest opposition party that a three to five percent increase
in the consumption tax might be necessary.

14) Some LDP members praise Prime Minister Fukuda's remark on
consumption tax hike

TOKYO 00001667 008 OF 011

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
June 18, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda yesterday revealed his intention to seek
the timing for making a decision on an increase in the consumption
tax rate. One of the four executive members of his Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) praised Fukuda's remark, saying: "The Prime
Minister expressed his determination to do what should be done."

A government source pointed out: "He may have judged that the issue
has been boiled down through discussion in the National Council on
Social Welfare."

There is also a skeptical view about whether Fukuda will make up his
mind before the end of the year. A senior LDP member in the House of
Councillors said: "The idea of increasing the consumption tax will
not be approved by the LDP before the House of Representatives
election. So, it is not that the issue will be resolved soon."

A senior member of the New Komeito, the LDP's junior coalition
member, which is cautious about a tax hike, said: "The Prime
Minister might have meant it to be a future scenario."

15) Prime Minister Fukuda says now is time to decide on consumption
tax hike with eye on tax code reform for next fiscal year

NIKKEI (Top Play) (Excerpts)
June 18, 2008

Regarding the propriety of raising the sales tax, Prime Minister
Yasuo Fukuda during an interview yesterday with news agencies from
the Group of Eight nations said, "Now is a crucial time to make a
decision." He said, "Given the rapid aging of society, the choices
are becoming more limited." As a reason for a consumption tax hike,
he gave the need to secure fiscal resources for social security
expenditures. His statements were seen as a suggestion that a
consumption tax hike will be discussed as part of fiscal 2009 tax
reform. It will likely spur tax hike discussions in the government
and the ruling parties.

Fukuda stops short of touching on timeline for tax hike and margin
of hike

The prime minister on June 17 gave an interview at a Tokyo hotel to
news agencies from countries participating in the G-8 Summit in
Hokkaido in July.

He pointed out that the current level of the consumption tax in
Japan is much lower than the rates in European countries and the
U.S. He noted, "Japan has kept this rate even though it has one of
the world's highest percentage of elderly citizens, and this is why
it has such a high fiscal deficit."

Noting that securing funding for social security through other means
would be difficult, Fukuda said, "We have so far discussed the
matter extensively but have been unable to make a political
decision." He then suggested that he would keep an eye on public
opinion, saying, "My concern is how the people will react." He
stopped short of touching on a timeline for the envisaged tax hike
and the margin of the hike.


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Fukuda has thus far steered clear of making any in-depth statement
on a consumption tax hike. However, his comments yesterday may spur
tax code reform discussion. In the meantime, the government's
Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy at a meeting yesterday vowed
to keep the spending cut policy line. The panel has started
discussing basic policy guidelines for the fiscal 2008 national
budget, which include a call for the realization of a drastic reform
of the tax code, including the consumption tax, at an early date.

16) Fukuda tops Ozawa in popularity ranking for premiership

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
June 18, 2008

The Mainichi Shimbun conducted a telephone-based nationwide public
opinion survey on June 14-15, in which respondents were asked to
choose between Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Democratic Party of
Japan (Minshuto) President Ichiro Izawa as the appropriate person
for prime minister. In this popularity rating, Fukuda scored 19
PERCENT , with Ozawa marking 15 PERCENT . The Mainichi Shimbun began
to ask this question in April, and this is the third time. In the
last survey conducted in May, Fukuda stood at 14 PERCENT and Ozawa
at 18 PERCENT . In the latest survey, Fukuda outstripped Ozawa
again. However, 57 PERCENT answered that neither Fukuda nor Ozawa
is appropriate, remaining an overwhelming majority.

Among men, both Fukuda and Ozawa were at 18 PERCENT . Among women,
Fukuda stood at 21 PERCENT , with Ozawa at 13 PERCENT . Among those
in their 20s and 30s, Ozawa ranked higher than Fukuda. Among those
in their 40s and over, Fukuda was above Ozawa. Among those in their
70s and over, Fukuda was at 27 PERCENT , with Ozawa at 8 PERCENT .

Among those who support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, 53
PERCENT picked Fukuda. Among DPJ supporters, only 40 PERCENT chose
Ozawa. "Neither is appropriate" accounted for 40 PERCENT among LDP
supporters and 53 PERCENT among DPJ supporters. As is evident from
these figures, both Fukuda and Ozawa are questioned by many of those
who support their respective parties.

Meanwhile, respondents were also asked to answer which one between
the LDP and the DPJ they would like to see win in the next election
for the House of Representatives. To this question, the DPJ was at
46 PERCENT , down 5 percentage points from the last survey. The LDP
was at 25 PERCENT , up 1 point. "Other political parties" accounted
for 15 PERCENT .

The Mainichi Shimbun began to ask this question in a survey
conducted in August last year, and this is the tenth time. The DPJ
was above the LDP in all the surveys. However, the gap, which was
more than double in the last survey, narrowed in the survey this
time.

Among DPJ supporters, 93 PERCENT chose the DPJ. Among LDP
supporters, however, the proportion of those who picked the LDP was
just 79 PERCENT .

17) Possibility of post-G8 summit cabinet shuffle drawing increasing
attention: Ruling parties hope to boost administration

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
June 18, 2008


TOKYO 00001667 010 OF 011


The ruling camp has sharpened its interest in whether Prime Minister
will shuffle his cabinet after the Toyako G-8 Summit in Hokkaido in
July. Some lawmakers are holding out hope that a cabinet shuffle
will lead to buoying up the administration's sagging popularity.
However, it also could heat up the confrontation in the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) over the party's economic policy line. The
prime minister is now pressed to make a difficult decision.

Asked about the possibility of a cabinet shuffle, the prime minister
yesterday evening responded to reporters with this short answer: "I
do not hear voices calling for a cabinet shuffle. I am not thinking
about a cabinet shuffle right now."

The prime minister has not revealed his cards even to legislators
close to him, either. One cabinet minister speculated, "He probably
has no intention of shuffling the cabinet." However, ruling party
members are pinning high hopes on such a possibility.

When Prime Minister Fukuda took office last September, he
reappointed 13 out of 17 members of the previous Abe cabinet.
Another two also from the Abe cabinet were appointed to different
posts. Only two were newly appointed. Such being the case, the view
favoring a cabinet shuffle is gaining ground, mainly among those who
hope to become cabinet members.

The pet argument of former Prime Minister Mori, who is close to the
prime minister, is that Fukuda would be better off if he has his own
hand-picked cabinet that is to his liking. Former Secretary General
Tsutomu Takebe also met the prime minister on the 11th and offered
this opinion, "It is important to put together a new lineup to let
the people understand the Fukuda administration." His suggestion is
aimed at putting an end to the low cabinet support ratings.

Voices calling for a cabinet shuffle are also growing in the New
Komeito, which now has Transport Minister Fuyushiba in the cabinet.

In the event of the prime minister shuffling his cabinet, the
prevailing view in the ruling camp is that it might be either in
July or August prior to the convening of the next extraordinary Diet
session.

However, there are many challenges to a cabinet shuffle. One is on
how to consider the intraparty confrontation over a consumption tax
hike in setting up a cabinet lineup at a time when reform of the tax
code is close at hand in the fall.

18) Prime Minister Fukuda: To relieve stress, I sleep well and enjoy
drinking wine

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
June 18, 2008

Asked in a meeting yesterday with major new agencies from the G-8
countries how he relieved his stress, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
said: "To relieve stress, I sleep well." He then added: "(Being
prime minister) is nothing but pain." Asked about wine, his favorite
drink, he responded with a pleasant smile: "Having dinner with a
good wine is a way I relieve stress."

Fukuda, a wine expert, said: "I enjoy French wine, but American wine
is good, too." The representative from the Russian news company
asked him, "How about vodka?" Fukuda said: "It's all right to drink

TOKYO 00001667 011 OF 011


once in a while, but it's too strong for me."

SCHIEFFER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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