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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 07/15/08

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PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
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RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
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RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 1228
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RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 9438
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RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0359
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 11 TOKYO 001952

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 07/15/08

INDEX:

(1) U.S. Consul General Maher raises question about Ginowan allowing
building houses near Futenma due to his lack of understanding
(Ryukyu Shimpo)

(2) U.S. consulate targeted possibly by firebomb (Ryukyu Shimpo)

(3) Editorial: We don't need a U.S. consul general like Kevin Maher
(Ryukyu Shimpo)

(4) Government launches taskforce for civil service reform,
reflecting Fukuda's eagerness to break through sectionalism (Asahi)


(5) Premier rules out bowing out in triumph after close of G-8
summit (Tokyo Shimbun)

(6) JCP membership increases by 9000 since last September (Asahi)

(7) Soaring crude oil, food prices: Ruling party applying pressure
for supplementary budget with next Lower House election in mind;
Government remains cautious (Tokyo Shimbun)

(8) WTO chairman's set of proposals urges political decisions to
save Doha Round (Asahi)

(9) SDF to scrap cluster munitions, mulls alternative weapons for
coastal defense (Asahi)

(10) Kasumigaseki Confidential: Responsibility for placing priority
more on nuclear programs than on abductions (Bungei Shunju)

ARTICLES:

(1) U.S. Consul General Maher raises question about Ginowan allowing
building houses near Futenma due to his lack of understanding

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 27) (Full)
July 12, 2008

Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha has indicated that the U.S. Marine Corps'
Futenma Air Station is violating the U.S. military safety standards.
U.S. Consul General for Okinawa Kevin Maher, touching on Mayor Iha's
statement, made this comment in a regular press conference on July
11: "In terms of the safety standards to restrict construction (of
houses) outside the base, there is conversely a question about why
the Ginowan municipal government has allowed building (houses)
outside the base near its runway." Maher's July 11 statement that
lacked consideration for the residents whose lands were forcibly
expropriated and for the past developments dealing up to the
construction of the U.S. base has drawn fire from Mayor Iha and
Ginowan residents, with some referring to the statement as "a lack
of understanding" and "preposterous (from the viewpoint of local
residents'."

Stock argument against mayor's comment on dangerous aspects of
Futenma Air Station

U.S. Consul General for Okinawa Kevin Maher rebutted Mayor Iha's
statement that Futenma Air Station is violating the U.S. safety
standards, saying: "There is conversely a question about why the

TOKYO 00001952 002 OF 011


Ginowan government has allowed building (houses) outside the base
near its runway."

Maher also held Japan responsible for constructing buildings outside
the base, saying: "The U.S. government has no authority over
building (houses) outside U.S. bases in Japan. The matter is under
the control of the Japanese government, the prefecture, and the
city; the U.S. side can do nothing about it. There is a tower near
the approach light on the runway in the south of Futenma Air
Station. It is not good for the U.S. in terms of safety, but the
U.S. cannot do anything about it, either."

Regarding the fact that Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has indicated that
the governments of Japan and the United States are in agreement to
relocate Futenma Air Station because it is dangerous, the consul
general strongly denied the view that the base will be relocated
because it is dangerous, explaining: "We do not think it is
especially dangerous. We are well aware of concerns about noise and
safety held by the residents near the base, and we have decided it
would be better to relocate it."

There is a move in the prefectural assembly to adopt a resolution
opposing the plan to move the base to the Henoko district. Maher
also said about such a move: "Although the ruling bloc now holds a
majority, I do not think it will have an impact on U.S. force
realignment." Further, he indicated that there has been no proposal
from the Japanese government for moving the relocation site into the
sea or for removing the danger of Futenma Air Station.

The consul general emphasized U.S. efforts to remove dangerous
aspects of Futenma Air Station, saying: "The question of safety has
always been dealt with by the Joint Committee, a venue to discuss
operations of each U.S. base. There has been no proposal for holding
talks on Futenma especially. We are aware of the need to ensure
safety, which is the top priority, and we have made efforts
accordingly."

U.S. admits to violation of safety standards

Comment by Masaaki Gabe, professor at the University of the Ryukyus:
The statement on the safety standards contains two problems. One is
because the United States has been aware (of the violation) since it
established the safety standards, the country should have decided
that it was a violation before Mayor Yoichi Iha mentioned it and
have felt responsible for it. The statement (posing a question about
why Ginowan has allowed building the houses outside the base) is
tantamount to the United States admitting to a violation of its own
safety standards.

The second point is that the houses and private facilities near the
runway have been built pursuant to Japanese law and they are not a
matter of concern of Ginowan but of the Japanese government. Futenma
Air Station is a U.S. military airport and its facilities have been
provided by the Japanese government. Accountability for building
houses and private facilities near the base rests with the Japanese
government.

The argument that although Futenma Air Station is not dangerous, the
base will be relocated because of local concerns is illogical. What
is the reason for injecting tax money? If the base is not dangerous,
(the governments of Japan and the United States) must offer a
convincible explanation to the residents. It that is not possible, I

TOKYO 00001952 003 OF 011


must say that local concerns are just.

Local residents angry with Maher's preposterous statement

U.S. Consul General Maher's comments drew an outcry from Mayor
Yoichi Iha and others of Ginowan, home to Futenma Air Station, on
July 11, with some describing them as "a lack of understanding of
the process leading up to the establishment of the base" and as
"preposterous because the houses have been there long before the
base was built."

Mayor Iha said: "Consul General Maher is not aware of the fact that
since Okinawa's reversion to Japan, Futenma Air Station has been
improved in defiance of the outside conditions and the U.S. military
safety standards. The governments of Japan and the United States are
required to establish a clear zone to against possible aircraft
accidents. In reality, there is no clear zone, and they should take
this fact seriously."

Ryoichi Tsuhako, chief of the Kamiojana district in Ginowan
criticized the U.S. consul general harshly saying: "It was the
United States that has built the base in violation of its own safety
standards. The residents have built their houses in accordance with
law. There have been houses there before the base was built. It is
preposterous to raise a question about why (Ginowan) has allowed
building the houses near the runway."

Zenji Shimada, the leader of the Futenma noise lawsuit plaintiffs,
too, said angrily: "His comments are outrageous. Who brought the
danger here? His logic is totally preposterous. Is he aware of the
court ruling that dismissed the argument that (the residents)
approached the dangerous aspects?"

(2) U.S. consulate targeted possibly by firebomb

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 3) (Full)
Eve., July 14, 2008

Something like a firebomb was thrown at the U.S. Consulate General
at Toyama, Urasoe City, early on July 14 at around 1:15 a.m. It hit
a concrete stage and ignited to burn a grass area of 30
centimeters.

According to an eyewitness who called police, a person wearing gray
clothes and a full-face helmet fled the scene, riding a small black
scooter. No one has claimed responsibility. The Urasoe Police
Station is investigating the incident on a charge of violating the
Firebomb Punishment Law. According to Okinawa prefectural police, no
firebomb has ever been thrown at the U.S. Consulate General.

According to the Urasoe Police Station, glass chips believed to be
of a bottle were discovered near the burned grass. The object was
thrown at a place about 30 meters away from the building. No one and
no part of the building was damaged. The fire died out.

Unforgivable conduct: Maher

Kevin Maher, U.S. consul general in Okinawa, condemned the incident
on the morning of July 14, saying: "Fortunately, there was no
injury. Okinawa prefectural police are now investigating the
incident, and I appreciate their cooperation. Such conduct is
unforgivable. It's not an appropriate act."

TOKYO 00001952 004 OF 011

(3) Editorial: We don't need a U.S. consul general like Kevin Maher

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 5) (Full)
July 13, 2008

During the U.S. Occupation, there was a military post called High
Commissioner in Okinawa. The person in this post wielded significant
influence as the top U.S. administrative authority of the Ryukyu
Islands. It was High Commissioner Callaway who once said "Okinawa's
autonomy is a mere myth." This remark drew an outcry from the people
of Okinawa. He exercised ultimate authority on the political and
economic fronts in Okinawa.

There is a reason to bring up the tale of Callaway, a person from
nearly half a century ago. There has appeared recently a person who
conjures up memories of that former "cruel bailiff": U.S. Consul
General for Okinawa Kevin Maher. We are struck by his anachronistic
words and actions.

On July 11, the consul general repeated his stock argument regarding
the danger of Futenma Air Station: "Why has the Ginowan City
government allowed the building (houses) outside the base near the
runway." His message seems to be this: Blame rests on the residents
who have arbitrarily build their houses near the base and the
Ginowan government that has allowed them to do so. (The U.S.
military is therefore not responsible for whether or not there is
noise or danger there).

The logic is the same as the Japanese government's so-called "moving
close to the danger" argument. Although the consul general intended
to rebut Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha's assertion that Futenma Air
Station is violating the U.S. military safety standards, his
thinking is utterly self-righteous. We are certain that the consul
general is aware of the process leading up to the establishment of
Futenma Air Station. Is he ignorant or simply playing innocent?

In the postwar period, the residents of Isahama, Ginowan, were
threatened with bulldozers and armed U.S. troops and forced to leave
their property. The U.S. military drove away the residents with
violence and destroyed their houses and farmland and built Camp
Zukeran on their land. About 10 families from among the residents
who lost their family landholdings had to immigrate to Brazil. Bases
have not been built on deserted fields. Futenma Air Station has a
similar story. Residents who returned to their lands after the end
of the war found a base there.

The consulate general used the same approach-to-danger argument to
evade responsibility. The argument was clearly dismissed in a noise
lawsuit ruling in June saying that the limited scope of choices to
determine living places on Okinawa's main island renewed the
residents' homing instinct to settle near Futenma Air Station where
they used to live before their lands had been expropriated. The
decision ruled that the residents who have built their houses near
the base were blameless.

What is the role of the consul (consulate) general? We understand
the primary purpose is to forge friendly ties with the local
residents. Repeating provocative statements to cause disputes with
the local residents must not be a purpose.

"Not telling a lie is the basic rule of diplomacy," Consul General

TOKYO 00001952 005 OF 011


Maher once said in an interview. Honesty based on ignorance is the
last thing we want to see. The U.S. consul general should stop
acting like a modern-day Callaway.

(4) Government launches taskforce for civil service reform,
reflecting Fukuda's eagerness to break through sectionalism

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
July 12, 2008

The government yesterday launched a taskforce to promote civil
service reform, headed by Prime Minister Fukuda. With views now
split in the government and ruling camp over civil service reform,
will the new panel be able to break through the traditional
sectional rivalries among government agencies and implement
administration from the viewpoint of the people, as pursued by the
prime minister? The prime minister's seriousness about this
challenge will be put to the test.

Fukuda emphasized in the charter meeting of the new panel held last
evening: "Politics and administration must be considered from the
people's standpoint. I want you to create an organization capable of
thinking of what public servants should be."

Fukuda hopes to give a boost to his administration by moving the
reform of government agencies forward while curbing the influence of
bureaucrats. Based on this desire, Fukuda named private citizens to
key posts in the taskforce. He tapped Hiroshi Tachibana (64),
councillor of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), as
director general, and Yoshiro Okamoto (49), chief researcher at
Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co., as one of the vice
chiefs.

One of the immediate challenges facing the new panel is the design
of a personnel bureau to be set up in the Cabinet Office. It has
already been decided that senior members of each government agency
will be placed under unified management and that the chief cabinet
secretary will produce a list of candidate members of the bureau.
How future discussions develop will determine to what extent
government agencies that hold information will be involved in the
selection process.

The formation of contact records between the government and the
bureaucracy, as well as a set of standards for information
disclosure, will also be the focus of discussion in the taskforce.
State Minister for Administrative Reform Watanabe plans to conduct a
fact-finding survey to determine the extent of daily contact between
bureaucrats and lawmakers, but some lawmakers have already raised
objections to the planned survey.

Director General Tachibana told Fukuda in an official appointment
ceremony yesterday: "It will be difficult for bureaucrats to reform
themselves. I want many persons from the private sector to join the
secretariat," indicating an eagerness to promote reform under the
lead of the private sector. An advisory panel to the prime minister
composed of experts will also be set up in the taskforce soon. What
personnel will be chosen as members of the secretariat and the
advisory panel is likely affect the fate of public service reform.

(5) Premier rules out bowing out in triumph after close of G-8
summit


TOKYO 00001952 006 OF 011


TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
July 12, 2008

The Tokyo Shimbun learned on July 11 that there had been growing
speculation that Prime Minister Fukuda might step down at the close
of the G-8 summit.

There had been a rumor going around since this spring that amid
dwindling cabinet support the prime minister would bow out amid
some triumph after the close of the G-8 summit. Speculation that the
prime minister appeared serious reportedly cropped up around the
9th, the day the G-8 closed.

One senior member of the Liberal Democratic Party on the 10th
visited the premier at the Kantei to ascertain his intention. This
official asked the prime minister about the rumor outright. The
prime minister reportedly clearly replied that he had no intention
whatsoever of stepping down. This official said, "I am now certain
that the prime minister will not abandon his administration."

(6) JCP membership increases by 9000 since last September

ASAHI (Page 4) (Slightly abridged)
July 12, 2008

The sixth convention of the Japanese Communist Party's (JCP) Central
Committee began on July 11. The highlight was a policy report of the
executive committee in which JCP Chairman Kazuo Shii revealed that
the party would place priority on strengthening its strength by
securing 6.5 million votes in the next House of Representatives
election. It obtained 4.92 million votes in the 2005 Lower House
election. The JCP also aims to secure more than 20,000 new members.
The JCP is expected to approve the new policy course on July 12.

Shii revealed that party membership had increased by about 9,000
since last September. He also clarified that the party would make
efforts to boost the number of supporters to 6.3 million, as well as
to secure more than 30,000 new subscribers of the Shimbun Akahata,
the party's organ paper.

During the convention, Shii indicated that the JCP would increase
supporters in order for the party to become a third political
center:

"A major campaign issue for the Lower House election is not to
choose the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) or the Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ) but to choose political reform. We will win the hearts
of those who hope to put an end to the current sense of impasse."


Since last summer when the Diet was divided between the ruling and
opposition camps in the House of Councillors election, the JCP has
taken a stance of linking up with the DPJ in managing Diet affairs.
For example, its members voted for DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa in the
vote in the Upper House to select the prime minister. The JCP,
however, intends to play up its presence with its own set of
policies.

Shii took the view that this would be a good chance to boost party
strength, saying:

"Under the neo-liberal economic policy, poverty has grown, and

TOKYO 00001952 007 OF 011


rampant capitalism has emerged in a barbarous fashion. A new age of
substantially questioning the present social and economic framework
has emerged."

Shii said: "We will work on young people. It is important for us to
listen to young people who have lost their pride because they were
used as disposable temporary workers."

(7) Soaring crude oil, food prices: Ruling party applying pressure
for supplementary budget with next Lower House election in mind;
Government remains cautious

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
July 12, 2008

Voices calling for enacting during the extraordinary Diet session to
be convened in late August a supplementary budget for fiscal 2008
incorporating measures for the steep rise in crude oil and food
prices are gaining ground in the ruling camp. The reason is that
there is a possibility of the situation having a serious impact on
the next Lower House election, unless measures to help the daily
lives of the people are included into a second budget.

Upper House Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Seiji Suzuki of the
Liberal Democratic Party in a speech given in Shiraoi Town, Hokkaido
on July 11 underscored, "The soaring crude oil and food prices are
taking a toll on the people. The government and the ruling parties
must help them. We should compile a supplementary budget."

The steep rise in fuel prices is seriously affecting the fishing and
trucking industries - both supporters of the LDP. As such, the LDP
is frantic about taking countermeasures to help them, as can be seen
in the fact that a Diet members' caucus promoting countermeasures to
deal with the soaring fuel prices has been launched with former
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori as supreme advisor.

One senior LDP official said, "We hear the fishermen's outcry. We
need a supplementary budget as a means to deal with soaring crude
oil prices and the damage caused by the Iwate-Miyagi earthquake."
Another official called for a large-size supplementary budget,
saying, "A supplementary budget will not produce effects, unless its
size is over several hundred-billion yen.

The New Komeito, which is enthusiastic about helping small to
medium-size businesses and the socially weak, is also calling on the
government to compile a supplementary budget.

With the term of office of Lower House members expiring in September
next year, a Lower House election could occur any time before that.
The ruling parties are envisaging a scenario of facing a Lower House
election after enacting the fiscal 2009 budget that incorporates
measures to cope with soaring crude oil and food prices. However,
they apparently want to prepare for a possible occurrence of an
emergency situation before that with a supplementary budget.

However, the government, which is in severe fiscal straits, is
tightly holding on to its purse strings. State Minister for Economic
and Fiscal Policy Hiroko Ota on July 11 told a news conference, "To
begin with, it is necessary to steadily implement the set of
measures issued late last month to deal with the steep rise in crude
oil prices. The government is not discussing a supplementary budget
at the present stage."

TOKYO 00001952 008 OF 011

Prime Minister Fukuda on July 10 took a cautious stance toward the
idea of a second budget, noting, "I will give it some thought, after
determining the situation in the coming months. This is not a matter
that should be looked into right now."

(8) WTO chairman's set of proposals urges political decisions to
save Doha Round

ASAHI (Page 6) (Slightly abridged)
July 12, 2008

In an effort to save the Doha Round of global trade talks under the
World Trade Organization (WTO), the chairman presented a 4th package
of proposals for agreement on July 10. The proposals in the package
are almost the same as those in the 3rd package produced in May,
leaving a decision on the controversial question of what to do about
numerical targets to a ministerial meeting that will start on the
21st. In Japan, where many are calling for caution about market
liberalization, the government is likely to be under intense
pressure to respond.

A government source said regarding the 4th package: "The chairman is
aiming to have lawmakers to stand their ground and make a
decision."

Countries are allowed to impose higher tariffs on sensitive products
in the agricultural sectors. The chairman's proposals call for the
ratio of sensitive items to the total to be reduced to 4-6 PERCENT .
Of all the products, Japan wants to designate 169 or about 12
PERCENT , including rice and wheat, as sensitive items. In the
industrial sector, the chairman's package sets the maximum tariff
rates at 7-9 PERCENT for industrialized countries but at 19-26
PERCENT for developing countries.

Japanese cabinet ministers concerned have repeatedly said they will
make efforts to bring about an agreement. Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries Minister Wakabayashi told a press conference yesterday:
"It was also confirmed in the Hokkaido Toyako Summit that reaching a
WTO agreement was also important for the global economy. We must
tackle the issue with considerably strong resolve." Minister of
Economy, Trade and Industry Amari said yesterday that the
possibility of a basic agreement to be reached at the ministerial
meeting is "fifty-fifty at the present stage," adding: "If we miss
this opportunity, a sense of urgency may disappear in WTO talks, and
no agreement may be reached for years."

A number of ruling party lawmakers representing domestic agriculture
have stressed that there is no need to quickly liberalize the market
when the government is about to urge farmers to increase domestic
output in response to the difficulty in securing food.

Chairman's 4th package Japan's assertions
Upper-limit tariffs on farm products No mention Opposition to a
tariff cap system
Ratio of sensitive farm products to total 4-6 PERCENT 10-15 PERCENT

Upper-limit tariffs on industrial products 7-9 PERCENT for
industrialized countries, 19-26 PERCENT for developing countries 10
PERCENT for industrialized countries, 15 PERCENT for developing
countries


TOKYO 00001952 009 OF 011


(9) SDF to scrap cluster munitions, mulls alternative weapons for
coastal defense

ASAHI (Page 33) (Full)
July 11, 2008

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) dispersed from cluster munitions causes
civilian casualties. An international conference held late this May
in Dublin adopted a draft treaty that bans all cluster munitions.
Meanwhile, Japan's Self-Defense Forces has four types of cluster
bombs. The Defense Ministry will scrap them all. Why does the SDF
have cluster bombs in large quantities?

"In the international community, cluster munitions are regarded as
offensive weapons."

With this, Chuo University Professor Motoko Mekata, who knows well
about cluster munitions and is also an executive member of the Japan
Campaign to Ban Landmines (JCBL), brushed off the government's
standpoint. The government was reluctant to subscribe to the idea of
doing away with cluster munitions, maintaining that there is no
problem with Japan's cluster munitions because they are for defense
only.

A cluster bomb is a weapon used to attack an extensive area all at
once. A discharged cluster bomb disperses a number of built-in
submunitions or bomblets over a wide area. At least 75 countries
have cluster munitions, and 14 countries are said to have used
cluster bombs.

However, cluster bombs are highly likely to cause civilian
casualties after combat because a certain percentage of the bomblets
do not explode. According to a Europe-based nongovernmental
organization, civilian casualties due to cluster attacks total about
13,000.

Why did the SDF stick to such dangerous munitions?

The reason dates back to the 1980s when the East-West Cold War was
still going on. At that time, the Defense Ministry and the SDF
anticipated that the enemy would adopt seaborne landing operations
when attacking Japan. Japan has long coastlines, so the Defense
Ministry and the SDF thought that they would need the means to
defend an extensive area all at once in order to block the enemy's
invasion with a limited number of troops.

This logic, however, derived from the Cold War period. In 2004, the
government reviewed its national defense program. As a result, the
government deemed it less conceivable that Japan would face a
full-scale invasion. The government is now focusing on terrorist and
guerrilla attacks.

The Ground Self-Defense Force currently deploys about 100 multiple
launch rocket system (MLRS) vehicles to five of its bases across
Japan-mainly in Hokkaido, Tohoku, and Kyushu. The Air Self-Defense
Force also was supposed to engage in operations using cluster bombs
to block enemy warships at sea and seaborne troops.

As a result of scrapping cluster munitions, however, Japan will be
urged to revise its national defense program substantially. GSDF and
ASDF brass hats are at a loss, with one of them saying it is a
"great shock," The Defense Ministry, which has now decided to scrap

TOKYO 00001952 010 OF 011


the SDF's cluster munitions, is studying how to accomplish the task.
Specifically, the Defense Ministry plans to break up the bombs and
remove powder from their bomblets or blast them. Its cost is
estimated at approximately 20 billion yen.

The SDF is now looking for weapons that can strike an extensive area
as alternatives for cluster munitions, because the SDF fears the
case where it has to fight hard against seaborne landing enemy
troops in defense of Japan's coastlines.

The GSDF currently has cluster bombs. In addition, the GSDF also has
203-mm self-propelled howitzers, which can attack 50 meters across
and can automatically fire six shells per minute. The howitzer's
target area is a 30th of a cluster bomb's.

In the case of the ASDF, its cluster bomb's attack area is 200
meters by 400 meters. However, its conventional bomb's coverage is a
160th of a cluster bomb's.

The Defense Ministry is therefore exploring alternative munitions
that can attack an expansive scope. The ministry is now looking into
the possibility of introducing French- or German-made smart bombs
that have self-destructive functions and can clear the draft
treaty.

Mekata is critical of such a way of thinking in the Defense
Ministry, saying: "Modern warfare is now in the age of pinpoint
strikes. Low-accuracy munitions are now outdated."

(10) Kasumigaseki Confidential: Responsibility for placing priority
more on nuclear programs than on abductions

BUNGEI SHUNJU (Page 235)
August 2005

Since North Korea made its great move, the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MOFA) has been experiencing tough times. Although all eyes
are now on the moves of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director
General Akitaka Saiki, who joined MOFA in 1976, what is being
questioned now is the leadership of Administrative Vice Foreign
Minister Mitoji Yabunaka, who entered the ministry in 1969, and
Deputy Foreign Minister Kenichiro Sasae, who joined the ministry in
1974. The reason is because both Yabunaka and Sasae served as
director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda instructed Yabunaka, when he announced
the roster of senior ministry officials, to give priority to the
North Korea issue. Taking Fukuda's intention seriously, Yabunaka has
requested Saiki to gather information whenever U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State Christopher Hill comes into contact with North
Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan. Fukuda has a strong sense
of rivalry toward former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took a tough
stance toward North Korea, attaching top priority to the abduction
issue. The prime minister has set an ultimate goal to push forward
on the North Korean nuclear issue and produce achievements. Yabunaka
has given consideration to Fukuda's intent. There was a hidden
motive that Saiki, who enjoys the confidence of the families of
victims of kidnapped by North Korea, would be able to minimize the
possible shockwaves in Japan.

As expected, Washington took the frequent holding of bilateral talks
between Tokyo and Pyongyang and trilateral talks among Tokyo, Seoul

TOKYO 00001952 011 OF 011


and Pyongyang as meaning that Japan, too, approved the policy of
moving forward on the nuclear front. Japan's holding negotiations
with North Korea became an excuse for giving a positive sign to
Pyongyang. As a result, the working-level Japan-North Korea meeting
in which Pyongyang made a vague promise to reinvestigate the
Japanese abductees became a defining factor for the United States to
start the process of removing the North from the list of states
sponsoring terrorism following Pyongyang's declaration of its
nuclear programs.

After ascertaining the moves of Japan and North Korea, U.S.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the Bush
administration's policy of lifting North Korea as a state sponsoring
terrorism. Showing various newspapers to Hill, who had visited Japan
the same day that Rice announced the U.S. decision to delist the
North, Saiki told him: "I want you to see how the U.S. decision is
having a serious impact on Japan." For Fukuda and Yabunaka, this
also became an excuse for saying that Japan was making efforts.

In fact, Fukuda told reporters: "I welcome the fact that the nuclear
issue is heading toward a resolution. There are no differences in
the views of the United States and Japan." If North Korea fails to
reinvestigate the Japanese abductees and if the abduction issue is
put on the back burner, responsibility lies not only with the bureau
director general but also with Fukuda and other high-ranking Foreign
Ministry officials.

CEKUTA

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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