Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 06/18/08

DE RUEHKO #1679/01 1700833
P 180833Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) U.S. senators in exchange between Japanese and U.S. lawmakers
urge caution in removing North Korea from list of terrorist
sponsoring states (Sankei)

(2) Government, ruling coalition considering airlift operation in
Afghanistan; enactment of new law unknown (Asahi)

(3) Government, out of consideration to Okinawa, accelerating
working-level talks on shifting construction site for V-shaped
runways offshore, aiming at progress of Futenma relocation plan
(Okinawa Times)

(4) LDP increasing pressure for expenditures for ODA, education,
social security: Draft basic policy guidelines is near completion,
says state minister for economic and fiscal policy (Yomiuri)

(5) Poll on Fukuda cabinet, political parties, new healthcare system
for elderly (Asahi)

(6) Sankei-FNN poll on Fukuda cabinet, political parties,
consumption tax (Sankei)



(9) Prime Minister's schedule, June 17 (Nikkei)


(1) U.S. senators in exchange between Japanese and U.S. lawmakers
urge caution in removing North Korea from list of terrorist
sponsoring states

SANKEI (Internet edition) (Full)
June 18, 2008

Takashi Arimoto in Washington

The first round of discussions was held on June 17 in Washington
between a nonpartisan group of Japanese Diet members and U.S.
senators, with views exchanged on such subjects as the North Korea
nuclear problem and issues in the realignment of U.S. forces in
Japan. According to a briefing by the Japanese delegation, a number
of U.S. senators came out with the view that the issue of removing
North Korea from the list of states sponsoring terrorism "should be
handled with caution." The Japanese delegation sought the
understanding of the members of Congress on the abduction issue,
calling it "a matter of great concern," and urged them not remove
North Korea from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.

On U.S. force realignment issue, Senator Inoue (Democrat) stressed,
"Although I can understand the burden of hosting within your country
the military forces of another country, we need to deepen our mutual
understanding for the sake of the stability of Asia."

The U.S Senate has already been engaged in parliamentary exchanges
with China since 2004. This is the first time that the U.S. Congress
has held one with Japan in order to deepen the parliamentary
exchanges with the U.S.' ally Japan. The head of the Japanese

TOKYO 00001679 002 OF 010

delegation is former Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama from the Liberal
Democratic Party. Also joining the delegation is Seiji Maehara, vice
president of the Democratic Party of Japan. The next meeting will be
held in Tokyo.

(2) Government, ruling coalition considering airlift operation in
Afghanistan; enactment of new law unknown

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

An idea of sending Self-Defense Force (SDF) troops to Afghanistan to
assist airlift operations by multinational forces is now being
floated in the government and ruling parties. The reason is that the
United States and European countries, which are engaged in the
reconstruction of Afghanistan, have expected Japan to provide such
assistance. A new law is needed in the case Japan dispatches SDF
personnel to Afghanistan. However, there seems no prospect for
enacting a new law, since the House of Councillors is controlled by
the opposition camp.

The government sent on June 8 a fact-finding team to Afghanistan to
investigate whether to send SDF troops to that country for the first
time since the U.S. military's attacks on Taliban there in the wake
of the 2001 terrorist attacks on mainland America. The survey team
inspected mainly operations in Kabul by the International Security
Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF), led by the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO).

With an eye on airlift assistance by Maritime Self-Defense Force
(MSDF) transport aircraft and by Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF)
helicopters, the government mission visited airport facilities in
Afghanistan, as well as in Tajikistan. Although the government has a
dispatch of GSDF troops in mind, the prevailing view in the New
Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP), is that a GSDF unit should not be sent
because the campaign to eliminate anti-government forces, including
Taliban, by such NATO members as the United States and Britain has
become protracted. The United States once informally sounded Japan
out on the dispatch of GSDF CH-47 large transport helicopters. A
senior Defense Ministry official commented: "It is more realistic
for Japan to move ASDF transport aircraft from Iraq to Afghanistan
than to dispatch a GSDF unit to a dangerous area."

The reason for the government having begun to feel out the
possibility of sending SDF troops to Afghanistan is related to the
outlook that it might have to cease Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF)
C-130 aircraft's operations in Iraq at the end of the year.

The Iraq Special Measures Law will expire in July next year. The UN
Security Council resolution, which is the basis for the Iraq Special
Measures Law, will also expire at the end of December. Unless the
United Nations extends the resolution, Japan needs to conclude a
status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government in order to
continue SDF operations in the country.

With the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido coming up in July, the
government aims to play up its efforts to the United States and
Europe, which are having a hard time in reconstructing Afghanistan.
The government also has been motivated to have the Democratic Party
of Japan (DPJ) take part in debate on security with an eye on the
next January expiration of the special measures law on refueling

TOKYO 00001679 003 OF 010


Britain and other European countries are gradually moving their
operations from Iraq to Afghanistan. In an LDP national defense
related division meeting on June 11, Michael Green, a Japan expert
who is a former senior director for Asian affairs on the National
Security Council at the White House, expressed hopes for Japan's
involvement, saying: "Japan should go further in showing the
presence of the SDF."

However, in order to deploy SDF personnel to Afghanistan, Japan
needs to establish a special measures law or permanent law (general
law). There seems no possibility of securing approval of the DPJ,
which holds a majority in the Upper House. Even if the ruling camp
enacts a bill by resorting a two-thirds overriding vote, and if a
provision that would stipulate the requirement of Diet approval is
incorporated in the bill, the Upper House controlled by the
opposition bloc would be certain to vote down the bill. It will
likely be difficult to gain public understanding for the dispatch of
SDF troops to dangerous areas without Diet approval.

(3) Government, out of consideration to Okinawa, accelerating
working-level talks on shifting construction site for V-shaped
runways offshore, aiming at progress of Futenma relocation plan

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 1) (Full)
June 18, 2008


The government has launched a full-scale working-level discussion on
shifting the construction site for a V-shaped pair of runways at the
Camp Schwab in Nago City, as a Futenma replacement facility,
further offshore, according to informed sources yesterday. The
Okinawa and Nago municipal governments have asked the government to
shift the site. In the government, however, many officials are
cautious about this proposal, out of consideration to the U.S.,
which is opposed to revising the final agreement reached between
Japan and the U.S. The government unprecedentedly decided to move up
the planned working-level talks, based on the judgment that giving
consideration to the affected municipalities is necessary in order
to push ahead with the Futenma relocation plan.

Keeping in mind the possibility of shifting the construction site
out into the sea, the government held a division chief-level meeting
that also involved officials from Okinawa Prefecture in Tokyo on
June 2. The participants started discussing what can be done at
working-level talks. Participating in the talks were responsible
division directors from the Cabinet Secretariat, the Cabinet Office,
the Defense Ministry, the Environment Ministry, and the Okinawa
prefectural government. They exchanged views on such basic points in
dispute as the interpretation of the laws and ordinances pertaining
to the environmental impact assessment.

The government intends to continue to hold division chief-level
talks on an irregular basis. Responsible officials are expected to
exchange views on how far it is possible to shift the site offshore,
based on the ongoing environmental impact assessment. But with no
prospects in sight for the government and the prefectural government
to be able to sign an agreement on a note on how to proceed with
talks, uncertainty is still looming large over future negotiations.

TOKYO 00001679 004 OF 010

Under the environment impact assessment law, "slight changes" in the
relocation plan are allowed in each stage of drawing up documents
concerning procedures, preparations, and assessment. It becomes
theoretically possible, under the said law, to shift the site for a
V-shaped pair of runways 55 meters offshore.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has asked the government to move
the site 80-90 meters offshore from the plan agreed on between the
Japanese and U.S. governments. The government's official view taken
so far is that it cannot accept the request if there is no rational

To meet the prefecture's request for shifting the site 80 to 90
meters away, it will become necessary to make a slight change more
than once. But because of fear that the natural environment may be
negatively affected if the site is shifted further offshore, the
government finds it difficult to make several slight changes. Given
this, the government intends to approve a plan to shift the site 55
meters offshore just once, and it is reluctant to accept the Okinawa
prefectural government's request.

(4) LDP increasing pressure for expenditures for ODA, education,
social security: Draft basic policy guidelines is near completion,
says state minister for economic and fiscal policy

YOMIURI (Page 9) (Slightly abridged)
June 18, 2008

The draft basic policy guidelines for the fiscal 2008 national
budget, which stresses a stance of firmly holding to a fiscal
reconstruction policy, have drawn much criticism at policy division
meetings of the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP). There are
indications of pressure for increased spending growing even stronger
with some lawmakers calling for a boost for the official development
assistance (ODA) and public works budgets. The battle over spending
cuts will likely become fierce toward the end of this month, when
the draft is scheduled to be formally adopted.

Taku Yamasaki, chairman of the LDP Foreign Affairs Research
Commission, said: "Japan committed itself to doubling its ODA budget
for Africa at the recent Tokyo International Conference on Africa
Development (TICAD) conference. However, the ODA budget should not
squeeze other budgetary items." Participants in the LDP's joint
foreign affairs-related meeting held the same day adopted a
resolution calling for the removal of the ODA budget from the list
of targets for the spending reform. Chairman Yamasaki after the
meeting hand-delivered the resolution to State Minister for Economic
and Fiscal Policy Ota.

Since last week, Ota has been inundated with petitions seeking
special treatments regarding the basic policy guidelines. She said
she had received five to six such requests a day at the most.

A joint public work-related meeting was also held that day.
Participants drummed up opposition to the draft basic policy
guidelines with one saying, "We will let the government delete the
public works reduction policy from the draft." Voices criticizing a
proposal for cutting the education budget were also heard at a
meeting of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

Opposition was also heard among many cabinet ministers. Health,

TOKYO 00001679 005 OF 010

Labor and Welfare Minister Masuzoe stressed at a press conference
after the cabinet meeting yesterday, "I would like to raise a
question regarding whether it is possible to finance social security
expenses with spending cuts alone."

One senior finance ministry official pointed a factor contributing
to the growing criticism of the draft from within the party,
"Specifics of the draft are not solid, and this is why the draft is
sparking criticism."

The draft includes the government's stance of keeping the spending
cut policy line firm. It at the same time also incorporates language
"the spending cut policy does not assume expenditures should be
reduced evenly over five years," as adopted in the basic policy
guidelines for last year.

Concerning the reallocation of special-purpose road construction
revenues, the draft incorporates a policy of taking a second look at
the revenues from the perspective of working people.

As concrete examples, Prime Minister Fukuda at a meeting of the
Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy cited measures to deal with
the shortage of doctors and the improvement of an emergency medical
service system. However, this statement has encouraged those who
regard the reallocation of road funds as a good opportunity for
expanding spending for areas other than roads with one member of the
education policy clique saying, "The areas the prime minister
mentions will become new hunting grounds for fiscal resources."

Ota during a press conference played up the fact that the draft is
near completion. Whether she can maintain her determination not to
succumb to pressure for boosting spending will likely become a
touchstone in predicting the future course of the fiscal
reconstruction policy.

(5) Poll on Fukuda cabinet, political parties, new healthcare system
for elderly

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
June 17, 2008

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage, rounded off. Bracketed figures denote
proportions to all respondents. Figures in parentheses denote the
results of the last survey conducted May 17-18.)

Q: Do you support the Fukuda cabinet?

Yes 23 (19)
No 59 (65)

Q: Why? (One reason only. Left column for those marking "yes" on
previous question, and right for those saying "no.")

The prime minister is Mr. Fukuda 14(3) 3(2)
It's an LDP-led cabinet 33(8) 24(14)
From the aspect of policies 19(4) 66(39)
No particular reason 28(6) 6(4)

Q: Which political party do you support now?

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 22 (22)

TOKYO 00001679 006 OF 010

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 22 (26)
New Komeito (NK) 4 (3)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 2 (2)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 1 (1)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0 (0)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0 (0)
Other political parties 0 (0)
None 41 (38)
No answer (N/A) + don't know (D/K) 8 (8)

Q: Do you think the House of Representatives should be dissolved as
early as possible for a general election?

Yes 41 (49)
No 45 (41)

Q: If you were to vote now in a general election, which political
party would you like to vote for in your proportional representation

LDP 23 (23)
DPJ 36 (39)
NK 4 (3)
JCP 3 (3)
SDP 2 (1)
PNP 0 (0)
NPN 0 (0)
Other political parties 2 (1)
N/A+D/K 30 (30)

Q: The government and the ruling coalition will maintain the new
healthcare insurance system for the elderly after reviewing it,
including lowering the premiums for those with low incomes.
Meanwhile, the DPJ and other opposition parties are calling for
abolishing the system itself. Which side do you support?

Government, ruling coalition 30 (30)
Opposition parties 49 (53)

Q: The DPJ and other opposition parties submitted a censure motion
against Prime Minister Fukuda in the House of Councillors to clarify
that they do not support him over the new healthcare system and
other issues, and the House of Councillors passed the motion. Do you
support this?

Yes 42
No 39

Q: The Diet is currently divided, with the ruling coalition holding
a majority of the seats in its lower chamber and the opposition camp
controlling its upper chamber. Do you think this was good?

Yes 41
No 36

Q: Ahead of the G-8 Toyako summit, Prime Minister Fukuda came up
with a package of environmental measures, including a long-term goal
for greenhouse gas emissions cuts. Do you support this?

Yes 74
No 13

TOKYO 00001679 007 OF 010

Q: The prime minister plans to introduce a CO2 emissions trading
system this fall, with quotas allocated to industries. In this
regard, some believe the system will help to reduce CO2 emissions.
Others say it will impair business activities. Do you support this
emissions trading system?

Yes 45
No 25

Q: Japan and North Korea held talks, and North Korea promised to
look again into the issue of Japanese nationals abducted to North
Korea. In response, Japan decided to ease some of its economic
sanctions on North Korea. Do you expect this will move the issue
toward a solution?

Yes 12
No 80

Polling methodology: The survey was conducted June 14-15 over the
telephone on a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis.
Respondents were chosen from among the nation's voting population on
a three-stage random-sampling basis. Valid answers were obtained
from 2,040 persons (57 PERCENT ).

(6) Sankei-FNN poll on Fukuda cabinet, political parties,
consumption tax

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
June 17, 2008

Questions & Answers

(Note) Figures shown in percentage. Figures in parentheses denote
findings from the last survey conducted Apr. 2-3.

Q: Do you support the Fukuda cabinet?

Yes 22.0 (23.8)
No 61.3 (59.0)
Don't know (D/K) + Can't say which (CSW) 16.7 (17.2)

Q: Which political party do you support?

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 24.0 (27.4)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 24.6 (24.9)
New Komeito (NK) 3.5 (4.1)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 4.4 (3.2)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 2.0 (1.6)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0.5 (0.7)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0.0 (0.2)
Other answers (O/A) 0.7 (1.8)
None 39.0 (33.8)
D/K + Can't say (C/S) 1.3 (2.3)

Q: Do you have expectations for the following events?

Shuffling the Fukuda cabinet
Yes 30.5
No 60.5
D/K+CSW 9.0

Dissolving the House of Representatives for a general election

TOKYO 00001679 008 OF 010

Yes 58.4
No 32.5
D/K+CSW 9.1

Q: What form of government would you like to see after the next
election for the House of Representatives?

LDP-led coalition government 16.5
DPJ-led coalition government 30.2
Grand coalition involving the LDP and the DPJ 44.9
D/K+C/S 8.4

Q: There is an idea being floated to raise the price of cigarettes
to nearly 1,000 yen per pack in order to increase tax revenues. Do
you support this idea?

Yes 49.6
No 41.2
D/K+CSW 9.2

Q: Who do you think is the most appropriate person for Japan's prime
minister now among the following politicians?

Ex-LDP Secretary General Taro Aso 19.6
Ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi 16.7
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda 5.0
Ex-Defense Minister Yuriko Koike 2.8
Ex-Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano 2.5
Ex-LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa 2.3
Ex-LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Nobuteru Ishihara 2.1
LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Sadakazu Tanigaki 2.0
Other ruling party lawmakers 3.1
DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa 9.6
Other opposition party lawmakers 7.2
None 23.7
D/K+C/S 3.4

Q: The Diet is currently divided with the ruling coalition holding a
majority of the seats in its lower chamber and the opposition camp
controlling its upper chamber. What do you think about this? Pick
only one that is closest to yours from among those listed below.

There is a feeling of tension in politics, so it's all right to
leave the Diet divided as is 6.9
The ruling and opposition parties should compromise more through
talks 47.3
The House of Representatives should be dissolved early for a general
election 43.5
D/K+C/S 2.3

Q: There are arguments from within the government and ruling parties
calling for raising the consumption tax rate. What do you think
about this? Pick only one that is closest to yours from among those
listed below.

It would be unavoidable to raise the consumption tax rate if the
government eliminates its wasteful spending 53.4
It would be unavoidable to raise the consumption tax rate if its tax
revenues are used only for social security, etc. 26.7
The consumption tax rate should not be raised in any case 18.1
D/K+C/S 1.8

TOKYO 00001679 009 OF 010

Q: When would you like the next election to take place for the House
of Representatives?

It should be held right away following the passage of a censure
motion against Prime Minister Fukuda 12.3
After next month's G-8 summit, during the latter half of this year
When the current term ends, or next year 35.0
D/K+C/S 3.3

Polling methodology: The survey was conducted by the Sankei Shimbun
and Fuji News Network (FNN) on June 14-15.


Prime Minister Fukuda eyes securing separate budget for healthcare

Mainichi, Yomiuri, Nikkei & Tokyo Shimbun:
Fukuda: Time to consider whether consumption tax should be increased

Fukuda suggests consumption tax hike

Iwate-Miyagi earthquake: JCP calls on disaster management minister
for speedy repair of water supply and waterways


(1) Fiscal management: Break the gridlock with road revenues
(2) Taiwan boat accident: Calmness and caution needed

(1) Positive side of divided Diet exhibited
(2) Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry must put end to its
bid-rigging nature

(1) Taiwan should step back from collision row
(2) Ireland's rejection of Lisbon treaty a blow to EU

(1) Hostile takeover bids and defense measures require high
(2) A pack of cigarettes could be sold for 500 yen

(1) Bid-rigging scandal involving Hokkaido Development Bureau
(2) Australian prime minister's proposal for an expanded value-based
Asia-Pacific community

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Serial child-killer Miyazaki executed
(2) Punctuality essential for new metropolitan subway line

(1) Fisheries industry needs protection

(9) Prime Minister's schedule, June 17

TOKYO 00001679 010 OF 010

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

Attended a meeting of the global warming countermeasures taskforce
at the Kantei. Later, met Foreign Minister Koumura.

Attended a cabinet meeting. Issued an official appointment to Space
Development Minister Kishida, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura
present. Later met Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Masuzoe.

Met Masayasu Kitagawa, president of the policy group "Sentaku," and
Masamitsu Sakurai, chairman of the Global Environment Conference,
with Environment Minister Kamoshita present. Followed by incoming
ICC Chairman Victor Fung, with Assistant Deputy Chief Cabinet
Secretary Ando and Foreign Ministry Economic Affairs Bureau Director
General Oda.

Met leaders of news agencies from the G-8 countries. Followed by
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Futahashi.

Met Machimura.

Responded to an interview with news agency leaders from the G-8
countries at the Hotel Okura.

Attended a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy at
the Kantei.

Met Machimura. Joined by Resources and Energy Agency Director
General Mochizuki and Foreign Ministry Asian, Oceanian Affairs
Bureau Director General Saiki, and others.

Met Special Advisor to the Cabinet Okuda, METI Vice Minister
Kitabata, and others at his official residence. Joined by


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