Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 06/20/08

DE RUEHKO #1707/01 1720828
P 200828Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Foreign Minister Koumura urges U.S. to continue to designate
North Korea a terrorist-supporting state: "Removing sanctions on
North Korea should be conditioned on start of reinvestigation of
abduction issue" (Sankei)

(2) Foreign Minister Koumura meets Hill, urges "strengthening the
framework so that we speak with one voice" (Sankei)

(3) U.S. declares it will take North Korea off nuclear blacklist;
Pyongyang's nuclear declaration in final phase; Nuclear weapons
unlikely to make declaration (Nikkei)

(4) Abe, Yamasaki criticize each other (Asahi)

(5) Editorial: U.S. Secretary of State Rice's unconvincing statement
to delist North Korea (Sankei)

(6) Postponed start-up of constitutional panels in both houses;
"Illegality" impermissible (Yomiuri)

(7) Probe into divided Diet - part 1: Unusual battle over gas tax;
"Do not stop stopgap bill," Ozawa orders (Yomiuri)

(8) Divided Diet (Part 3 - conclusion): Interview with Nobuo
Ishihara and Jun Iio (Nikkei) 8


(1) Foreign Minister Koumura urges U.S. to continue to designate
North Korea a terrorist-supporting state: "Removing sanctions on
North Korea should be conditioned on start of reinvestigation of
abduction issue"

SANKEI (Internet edition) (Full)
June 20, 2008

Foreign Minister Koumura, at a news conference this morning
following a meeting of the cabinet, made this statement about the
timing of removing partial sanctions that have been imposed on North
Korea: "At this stage, all we have between Japan and the DPRK is an
oral commitment. Once North Korea reinvestigates (the abduction
victims) and the investigation turns up living persons who will be
sent home (to Japan), that can be called real progress. We can at
that point remove the sanctions." He thus expressed his view that
the condition would be the start of a reinvestigation that was
accompanied by substance.

In addition, he noted: "However, if such is not the case, we could
take a step backward." In case the reinvestigation by North Korea
lacked honest contents, there could be a restoration of sanctions.
On the standard of what would be considered a substantive
reinvestigation, he pointed out, "The government will make that

With regard to the statement by U.S. Secretary of State Rice that
the U.S. would begin procedures to remove North Korea from the list
of states sponsoring terrorism once the North Koreans provide a
nuclear report, he expressed his understanding, saying, "She said in
her speech, 'If they want to be removed from the list, then they
should properly report'. It doesn't mean that the U.S. stance has

TOKYO 00001707 002 OF 010


On the other hand, the Foreign Minister pointed out, "Our stance is
that Japan's card (of North Korea being on the designated list of
terrorist-sponsoring states) will no longer be able to be used." He
said he would clearly ask Secretary Rice, when she visited Kyoto
June 26-27 for the G-8 foreign ministerial meeting, to continue to
list North Korea.

(2) Foreign Minister Koumura meets Hill, urges "strengthening the
framework so that we speak with one voice"

SANKEI (Internet edition) (Full)
June 20, 2008

Foreign Minister Koumura this morning met at the Foreign Ministry
with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Hill and Kim Sook, the
director for peace negotiations for the Republic of Korea's Foreign
and Trade Ministry. The three officials exchange views on how to
strengthen the trilateral framework on North Korea nuclear issues
and the resolution of the abduction issue. Komura stated: "We must
speak with one voice to North Korea. I would like us to have even
closer talks." Attending the meeting was the Foreign Ministry's Asia
and Pacific Affairs Bureau Director-General Saiki, Japan's senior
delegate to the Six-Party Talks.

(3) U.S. declares it will take North Korea off nuclear blacklist;
Pyongyang's nuclear declaration in final phase; Nuclear weapons
unlikely to make declaration

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Abridged)
June 20, 2008

In the wake of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's announcement on
Washington's policy to delist North Korea as a state sponsor of
terrorism, momentum is gathering for the six-party talks to resume
after a lapse of six months. A meeting of the chief delegates is
expected to take place to closely examine the contents of North
Korea's nuclear declaration, which is expected to be made as early
as later this month. The North is likely to present a declaration
that does not include its nuclear weapons. Will the North make a
substantial declaration envisaging the whole process up to
abolishing its entire nuclear program? The six-party talks will face
a moment of truth.

Through past coordination centering on the United States and North
Korea, the six-party talks agreed to separate two factors -- nuclear
proliferation and the highly enriched uranium (HEU) program -- from
the declaration. The questions of nuclear weapons and nuclear test
sites have also been postponed and will be dealt with in scrapping
the North's entire nuclear program. Bilateral and trilateral talks
have been held since mid-May. The six-party talks are gaining
momentum toward the completion of the second-phase, which requires
Pyongyang's nuclear declaration and disablement.

In her speech on June 18, Secretary Rice categorically said that
nuclear weapons are a matter for the third phase, indicating
Washington's intention to accept a declaration that does not include
nuclear weapons. She also indicated that the number of nuclear
weapons can be figured out from the amount of plutonium the North
has produced.

TOKYO 00001707 003 OF 010

U.S. puts high priority on verification

Rice also noted that efforts will be made to thoroughly verity the
accuracy and completeness of the North's declaration and that if
that is found out to be insufficient, such steps as the
re-imposition of sanctions and the cancellation of the delisting
might follow.

From the start, there has been a gap in views between Japan and the
United States, which puts high priority on efforts to prevent
nuclear technologies and components from spreading to the Middle
East and terrorist organizations. Directly exposed to the threat of
North Korean nuclear weapons, Japan cannot afford to overlook
Pyongyang's declaration devoid of such weaponry.

U.S. eyes third phase

Rice also indicated that with the disablement of nuclear facilities,
the North is becoming a safer country to the United States and its
allies. The Bush administration is already crafting a strategy for
the third phase.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, too, told reporters on June
19: "We must step up talks on measures for the next phase." Wu is
scheduled to hold talks with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State
Christopher Hill in Beijing on the night of June 20 to discuss a
timetable for heads-of-delegation meetings and other matters. Japan,
which as been insisting on a complete declaration of nuclear
programs, including nuclear weapons, is likely to lean toward
approving the U.S. policy if the abolition of the entire nuclear
program is ensured in the third phase.

The announcement by Rice of the U.S. policy of delisting the North
is intended to urge Pyongyang to take action, such as making a
nuclear declaration. In order to delist the North, the President
must notify Congress of his decision 45 days in advance. Defining
this period as a moratorium, the Bush administration intends to
convince hard-line congressional members.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted in April a bill
requiring a complete and correct declaration of nuclear programs and
effective verification in order to delist the North. Congress is
controlled by the Democratic Party. Senator Barack Obama, who has
locked up the Democratic presidential nomination, advocates a
dialogue policy toward the North. Chances seem slim for the bill to
clear the Senate and to be made into law.

U.S. administration wants to pave way for denuclearization of North
Korea before time runs out

The U.S. administration is eager to pave the way for the abolition
of North Korea's nuclear programs before President Bush's term of
office expires next January. Counting backwards from then, the Bush
administration could not wait any longer to have Rice announce the
delisting. The administration also intends to play up its diplomatic
achievement by bringing an end to the second phase through the
six-party talks. In August, the Beijing Olympics will take place,
and Congress will recess for the summer. The two major parties will
be engulfed in a confrontational mood in September, with the
presidential election just two months away. Given the situation, the
second phase must be completed by the end of July.

TOKYO 00001707 004 OF 010

(4) Abe, Yamasaki criticize each other

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
June 20, 2008

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, known for his hard-line stance
toward North Korea, and Taku Yamasaki, chairman of the Parliamentary
League to Promote Diplomatic Normalization between Japan and North
Korea, who advocates the need for a dialogue approach, have
continued to criticize each other on their respective policy line
toward North Korea. Abe, calling Yamasaki's moves dual diplomacy,
criticized him by saying: "What he is doing does no good and causes
a lot of harm." Yamasaki then yesterday rebutted: "I am not a
politician linked to interests. I have my doubts about the character
of a politician who slanders someone."

Abe was the one who started the criticism. In a speech on June 12 in
the Naigai News, he said: "It does no good and a lot of harm."
Yamasaki immediately rebutted: "No progress was made by taking
sanctions alone. (Mr. Abe) is naive." Abe, who heard this, said on
June 18: "If lawmakers say something that laxer than what is said by
government officials in talks, it hurts the government and I would
that interest seeking."

Referring to the fact that Abe used the word "interests," one member
of the Yamasaki faction argued yesterday in a faction meeting:
"That's defamation of character." Yamasaki sent a letter to Abe
calling on him withdraw the remark and make an apology.

(5) Editorial: U.S. Secretary of State Rice's unconvincing statement
to delist North Korea

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
June 20, 2008

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that North Korea would
soon present a declaration of its nuclear programs to China and that
President George W. Bush would then notify Congress of the intention
to delist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The Bush administration has so far insisted that North Korea must
produce a complete and accurate declaration of its nuclear programs
and permanently disable its nuclear facilities as conditions for the
United States taking off Pyongyang its list of terrorism-sponsoring

However, Secretary Rice's statement meant that if North Korea makes
an accurate declaration, the U.S. government will remove the North
from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Since it means that
the United States will reverse its long-held stance, it goes without
saying that it is extremely regrettable.

Secretary Rice also said that she cannot trust North Korea in view
of its past history. She also mentioned that the Bush administration
would assess the level of North Korean cooperation during the 45 day
period before implementing the delisting of North Korea after
notifying Congress. But the logistic step for the U.S. government is
to take the delisting procedure after assessing the contents of the

Secretary Rice only referred to the abduction issue by saying: "The
United States has supported talks between Japan and North Korea on

TOKYO 00001707 005 OF 010

the tragic abduction of Japanese nationals. The United States never
falls silent regarding human rights problems."

Two years ago when President Bush met Sakie Yokota, the mother of
abductee Megumi Yokota, released a message that the United States
would never forgive North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals.
Where has that message gone?

The U.S. decision to delist North Korea could have a fundamentally
adverse effect on the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has decided to partially lift its
sanctions against North Korea following the latest working-level
talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang. The government has begun
stressing its stance of asserting the North's reinvestigation into
the abduction issue.

In a meeting yesterday of the House of Representatives Special
Committee on Abduction Issue, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka
Machimura stated: "If the North takes concrete action on the
reinvestigation, Japan will respond accordingly." Machimura had said
that if Pyongyang altered its conventional position that the
abduction issue had been resolved, Tokyo would assess it a certain
level of progress and it would partially remove sanctions.

The government finally took the principle of "action for action."
That's natural. This tells strong public criticism and backlash
against the government's policy of partially lifting sanctions in
return for Pyongyang's vague promise to reinvestigate the abduction

The question is what action North Korea will really take. Japan
should not forget that North Korea has been dishonest. The
government should engage in negotiations with Pyongyang keeping in
mind that the public will not accept a reinvestigation that does not
lead to the repatriation of all the Japanese nationals abducted to
North Korea.

(6) Postponed start-up of constitutional panels in both houses;
"Illegality" impermissible

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
June 20, 2008

By Political Department Deputy Chief Riichiro Maeki

Nearly one year has passed since a decision was made to establish
special Constitution research committees of the two Houses of the
Diet. But it was impossible again in the current Diet session to
start up them, faced with opposition from the Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ) and other opposition parties.

It will become possible to propose revising the Constitution
starting in 2010. Prior to this, the new committees will provide an
arena for discussing constitutional issues. The National Referendum
Law, which was enacted in May of last year, specifies that the
committees shall be started up on the opening day of the Diet
session to be held for the first time after the enactment of the
law. The day corresponding to this stipulation was August 7 of last
year. Although two more sessions were held since then, rules on the
conduct of proceedings at the committees have yet to be set. Its
chairman and members have not been appointed, either.

TOKYO 00001707 006 OF 010

It is abnormal that lawmakers have not followed the law they
formulated themselves. The House of Representatives' Secretariat
calls the situation a "state of legal nonconformity," avoiding the
use of the word "illegality. But DPJ House of Councillors Steering
Committee Chairman Takeo Nishioka has recognized the deferment of
the start-up of the committees as an illegal act.

The ruling coalition did not stand idly by. Liberal Democratic
Party's (LDP) Constitution Research Council Chairman Taro Nakayama
and Acting Chairman Gen Funada made efforts to set the panels into
motion during the current Diet session.

One of the efforts is a signature-collection activity by a
suprapartisan constitutional assembly chaired by former Prime
Minister Nakasone. This January, the group submitted a signature
book bearing the names of 245 Lower House members to Lower House
Speaker Kono and a book with 73 Upper House members' signatures to
Upper House Chairman Eda. But the heads of the two Houses did not
take action during the session.

Nakayama and other lawmakers called on local assembly members of the
LDP and issued one petition after another calling for swiftly
starting up the panels. The number of petitions accepted was 44 in
the Lower House and 57 in the Upper House.

Who is to blame for the current situation? In the DPJ, many are
posing questions about the process that led to enacting the
legislation. The law was enacted by a majority only from the ruling
parties in May last year as they failed to reach an agreement with
the DPJ. Since the DPJ won an overwhelming victory in the Upper
House election last July, this issue has been completely at

DPJ President Ozawa has said that although the Constitution is an
important issue, its order of priority is lower than issues related
to the people's livelihoods. However, the DPJ Constitution Research
Council's chairmanship has been left vacant since last year.

The DPJ is aiming at grabbing political power without arranging even
a system to deal with important issues. Can such a political party
be called a responsible party? We call for the DPJ's serious

(7) Probe into divided Diet - part 1: Unusual battle over gas tax;
"Do not stop stopgap bill," Ozawa orders

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
June 20, 2008

The regular Diet session is to close on June 21. The clashes between
the ruling and opposition parties have become severe in the divided
Diet, as can be seen in the first-ever passage by the Upper House of
a censure motion against the prime minister. In an unprecedented
move, both camps engaged in a battle over a crucial issue of whether
to maintain the provisional rate imposed on the gas tax, using every
possible means to outmaneuver the other.

"Let it happen; don't stop it."

When he learned that the ruling parties were looking into a bill
aimed at extending the provisional rates on the gasoline and other

TOKYO 00001707 007 OF 010

related taxes, which were to expire on March 31, for two months
(stopgap bill), Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto)
President Ichiro Ozawa reportedly ordered party members not to
prevent the move.

Some senior government and ruling party officials had looked into
submitting such a bill since last year. The objective was to keep
the provisional rates in place until a revote would be taken on the
tax code-related bills in the Lower House on the basis of the 60-day
rule and pass them by a two-third majority vote. There is a legal
measure that if the upper house fails to take final action within 60
days after receipt of a bill passed by the lower house, the lower
house can consider the bill rejected by the upper chamber, paving
the way for a second vote on it in the lower house.

Ozawa had been aware of such a move as of the end of the year.
However, he stopped short of resisting the move. It appears that he
believed that even if the DPJ boycotted Diet deliberations, opposing
the ruling party's bill, the public would understand its stance. He
believed that if the party claimed that a bill that disregards the
presence of the Upper House is unconstitutional, this would enable
the DPJ to corner the government and force the ruling parties to
dissolve the Lower House.

Upper House Speaker Kono and Upper House President Eda moved to
avoid a decisive confrontation over the stopgap bill. They presented
a compromising plan for reaching a certain decision within this
fiscal year, after pursuing thorough deliberations.

Secretary General Hatoyama persuaded Ozawa, saying, "If the boycott
of deliberations continues, party members would become unable to
hold together." The DPJ in the end accepted the compromise plan.
Following the move, the ruling parties retrieved the stopgap bill.

"I will sew up revision talks, " says prime minister

Prime Minister Fukuda expressed his anger to a senior ruling party
member in late March, when the provisional gas tax was about to
expire. That is because the official had sounded out measures to
deal with the situation after the expiration of the provisional

The gap between the ruling and opposition parties, which was
supposed to have been narrowed thanks to a compromise plan by the
Lowe House Speaker and the Upper house President, once again widened
at that time, triggered by the roll call on the fiscal 2008 budget
bill and a set of tax code-related bills on February 29, while DPJ
members were boycotting the session. The DPJ put the tax
code-related bills on the back burner for a month in the Upper
House, insisting that the compromise plan had been invalidated.

Even so, the prime minister tried to find a breakthrough in revision
talks with the DPJ. He ordered the start of the revision talks at an
LDP executive meeting on March 3. He on the 14th directly worked on
the DPJ to hold the talks at an Upper House Budget Committee

However, the DPJ's response was tepid, as its aim was to realize a
dissolution of the Lower House. The ruling and opposition parties on
March 31 passed a special tax measures law excluding special-purpose
road construction revenues, such as the gas tax, and the provisional
rate on the gas tax expired on April 1.

TOKYO 00001707 008 OF 010

Effective measures not in sight

The opposition partied did not put tax code-related bills to a vote
by the end of April. As a result, the ruling parties readopted the
bills for the first time in 56 years, using a 60-day legislation
measure enabling the Lower House to proceed as if the Upper House
has rejected the bill and put it to a second vote for final
approval. As a result, the provisional rate was reinstated on May l.
However, the unusual situation has continued over this issue,
including the second adoption of an amendment to the road
construction fiscal resources special exemption law by the ruling
parties in the Lower House.

The ruling parties have resisted the opposition camp, which rules
the Upper House, with a strategy of taking in the Lower House a
revote on bills voted down in the Upper House. Both the ruling and
opposition parties have thus fought, using their weapons to the
full. The compromise plan presented the Lower House Speaker of the
Upper House President was not effective in settling their

(8) Divided Diet (Part 3 - conclusion): Interview with Nobuo
Ishihara and Jun Iio

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

Nobuo Ishihara, former deputy chief cabinet secretary: Prime
minister must explain important policies by himself

-- How do you view the battle between the ruling and opposition
parties in the current session of the Diet?

Ishihara: There are issues on which the two sides cannot coordinate
views due to differences in their philosophies. The Democratic Party
of Japan (DPJ) has tried to abolish the government-drafted health
insurance system, even though it has not presented any other
proposal. I don't think it's good for the party, which aims to take
over the reins of government.

When the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) suffered a crushing defeat
in the House of Councillors election held after Prime Minister
Noboru Takeshita and his cabinet resigned en masse, deliberations in
the Upper House stalled. But the ruling and opposition parties dealt
with important bills through discussion. Therefore, there was no
boycott of all deliberations as there is now.

-- How did you face up to the opposition camp while you were serving
as deputy chief cabinet secretary?

Ishihara: The UN Peacekeeping Operations Cooperation Law was
established under the cabinet of Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. In
order to enact the law, I tenaciously bowed my head to get
understanding from the opposition. What I had on my mind (while I
was serving for the cabinet of Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa and
other cabinets) was administrative consistency. Policy consistency
should be maintained. The rice import issue, the most controversial
issue, was resolved under the Hosokawa cabinet. Under the cabinet of
Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, the Self-Defense Force Law was
revised and the consumption tax was raised.

TOKYO 00001707 009 OF 010

-- What do you think of the role of prime minister?

Ishihara: It is important for prime minister to explain about
important policies by their own words. Prime Minister Koizumi showed
his political identity in dealing with postal privatization and
Yasukuni issues. He steamrolled the medical insurance issue on the
grounds that fiscal reconstruction was needed.

Mr. Fukuda has a tendency to avoid friction. With a shrinking
population, the most important job for prime minister is to combine
his wisdom with that of the people to keep public vitality.

Jun Iio, professor at National Graduate Institute for Policy
Studies: Make clear points at issues through party-heads debate in

-- There was noticeable turmoil in the disputes between the ruling
and opposition camps during the current Diet session.

Iio: It is valuable to make concessions, (the ruling and opposition
camps) should reach, compromise after thoroughly deliberating on
bills. If a compromise cannot be reached after thorough
deliberations, the bill will return to the House of Representatives
for a revote, and bills on which the House of Councillors fails to
take final action within 60 days after they had been sent from the
Lower House, the legislation can be passed by the Diet. Therefore,
it is wrong to say that nothing can be decided in the divided Diet,
under which the opposition camp controls the Upper House, while the
Lower House is controlled by the ruling bloc.

I wanted to see a party-heads debate every week. Even if the party
heads are unable to find common ground, the points at issue will
become clear. If the public wants the ruling and opposition parties
to make concessions, compromises will be made. If the ruling and
opposition camps are unable to compromise on issues, they will
become campaign issues for the next Lower House election.

-- Do you think the political parties are not making the best use of
their campaign pledges (manifestos)?

Iio: It is necessary to create a new rule that would stipulate that
manifestos for a Lower House election are promises to the public,
and that a party, which was defeated in a Lower House race, should
give consideration to the Lower House even if it has a majority in
the Upper House.

-- Do you think Prime Minister Fukuda can give his administration a

Iio: The Prime Minister has the right to dissolve the Lower House.
But many think that he won't be able to do so. He should make others
believe that he may do so.

-- What do you think of the strategy of Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa?

Iio: The principle of his behavior is unclear. I think party-heads
debate should be held every week. Why doesn't Fukuda question Ozawa?
Since he became prime minister, he has been questioned.

-- Maneuvering for political realignment has already begun.

TOKYO 00001707 010 OF 010

Iio: Political realignment should not occur after a Lower House
election because the Lower House members' make campaign promises to
the public when they run for their seats. Forming a new party this
way is not good.


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