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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 07/29/08

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PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #2071/01 2110801
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 290801Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6144
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/USDOT WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5//
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
RHMFIUU/HQ PACAF HICKAM AFB HI//CC/PA//
RHMFIUU/USFJ //J5/JO21//
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
RUAYJAA/CTF 72
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 1451
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 9077
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 2807
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 7281
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 9660
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4595
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0585
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0974

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 TOKYO 002071

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 07/29/08

INDEX:

(1) U.S. military off-base housing in Okinawa: Housing bubble has
burst due to saturation (Tokyo Shimbun)

(2) New "base" expanding in Chatan, Okinawa, with U.S. military
households accounting for a third of total population; Ward mayor:
"Sunabe may be taken over by U.S. military" (Tokyo Shimbun)

(3) "Noncombat" zone cannot be guaranteed: ISAF commander (Shinano
Mainichi Shimbun)

(4) ISAF: Reconstruction and destruction-Agony over contradiction
(Shinano Mainichi Shimbun)

(5) Shirakaba gas field: China intends to uphold initiative,
constraining Japan's stake below 33 PERCENT (Tokyo Shimbun)

(6) Has Prime Minister Fukuda changed his political method to a
"Koizumi style"? (Yomiuri)

ARTICLES:

(1) U.S. military off-base housing in Okinawa: Housing bubble has
burst due to saturation

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 24) (Abridged slightly)
July 29, 2008

By Natsuko Katayama

Off-base housing for U.S. service members in Okinawa is increasing
due to hefty housing allowances. It is also having a serious impact
on the local economy. Although off-base housing has resulted in a
booming economy as an unusually high-yield investment, there are
concerns that the housing bubble will burst.

Monthly military housing allowance amounting to 160,000-270,000 yen

The website of Ryusei Kensetsu in Ginowan carries this explanation:
"In Okinawa, there is rental housing for U.S. military personnel and
civilian employees. Although rent is high, the occupancy rate is
over 90 PERCENT ." The company's sales representative, Keisuke
Matsuo, 30, said: "Housing on hills overlooking beaches and oceans
within a 30-minute drive to the base is popular." Such housing is
concentrated in Yomitan, Chatan, Kadena, and other municipalities on
the western coast in the central part of Okinawa.

The U.S. military housing allowance ranges from approximately
160,000 yen to 270,000 yen a month. The amount is higher depending
on rank; the allowance doubles for double-income families. Matsuo
also noted: "Customers usually search for housing that costs their
entire housing allowance, so rents are more than twice those of
private-sector housing. Off-base housing has been drawing attention
over the last 20 years as an investment. The trend caught fire about
10 years ago. Rents are so high that one can pay off loans for the
building and the land in 15 to 20 years. In many cases, investors
are people who inherited land, civil servants, and base workers."
Some have become billionaires building one block of apartments after
another.

High yields attract investors

TOKYO 00002071 002 OF 010

President Yuji Yokoda, 41, of Joy Housing, a local realtor that
mostly handles housing for foreigners, established the company 10
years ago. Yokoda said: "People said that the yield was unreal, but
as I checked the matter, it turned out to be true." A variety of
companies began entering the market at around that time. President
Yokoda, too, expanded his business quickly. Today, 99 PERCENT of
the apartments and houses his company handles is housing for
foreigners.

In early years, housing for foreigners was built mostly by people
who inherited land or people who needed to rebuild their houses.
Building such housing has spread by word of mouth as a high-yield
investment, and all sorts of people have entered the market over the
last five years. Inquiries have come from outside Okinawa. Major
real estate companies in such places as Tokyo and Kanagawa
Prefecture have entered the market in recent years.

Yokoda took this view: "The market peaked five years ago. Housing
has sharply increased and the market has been saturated over the
last several years. Occupancy rates have dropped, and the banks have
begun hesitating to lend money."

Apart from housing in good locations, old apartments and houses
become unpopular. In five to ten years time, rents are lowered, and
the option of renting them to Japanese people is considered.

According to another person concerned, there have been cases in
which investors have filed suits against the construction companies
for building new housing with no tenants.

Old housing unpopular, vacancy feared

Yokoda also noted: "I don't know if the high housing allowances will
continue forever. Developers in the Kanto and Kansai regions have
been pushing ahead with large-scale projects to build condominiums
and other facilities. Once those projects are completed, demand and
supply and the economic balance in Okinawa will collapse. The
housing bubble has burst."

One-third of the households in Chatan's Sunabe district is housing
for foreigners. Some people have moved away after their neighborhood
became filled with foreigners. Masaharu Teruya, chairman of the
Chatan Assembly's Special Committee on Military Bases, who lives in
the district, expressed concern: "Many new buildings have been
built, leaving old houses unoccupied. This area might be filled with
empty houses."

Lower House member Mikio Shimoji pointed out: "The development of
off-base housing should not have been left to real estate companies.
The administration said there was nothing it could do, but it
granted construction authorization. I think they were able to take
measures of some sort, such as a city landscape ordinance and
regulations."

Teruya added: "Construction authorization must be granted when there
is no illegality. Enacting an ordinance takes time. Development
progressed in a short period of time. Something must be done so that
the residents will not be driven into a corner any further."

(2) New "base" expanding in Chatan, Okinawa, with U.S. military
households accounting for a third of total population; Ward mayor:

TOKYO 00002071 003 OF 010


"Sunabe may be taken over by U.S. military"

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 20) (Excerpts)
July 28, 2008

A U.S. Marine living off base was arrested this February for the
rape of a junior-high school girl in Okinawa Prefecture this
February. The incident resulted in a new focus on "off-base housing"
in the area where the soldier lived. In Sunabe-ku, Chatan-cho, which
is adjacent to Kadena Air Base, a number of luxurious homes have
been constructed for use by U.S. military personnel and their
families. U.S. military personnel now account for a third of all
households in the district. This situation is quite abnormal. A
local residence complained: "Instead of bases shrinking, a new
'base' is expanding here."

In Sunabe-ku, smart-looking houses of the same design line both
sides of the street. A new luxury condominium also has been built in
the back. "The rent of this house is 250,000 yen. That house goes
for 300,000 yen. All of these are for U.S. service personnel and
their dependents," Sunabe Ward Mayor Shouji Matsuda said. He stopped
in front of the condominium, saying: "The rent of a one-floor
apartment with an elevator per family is 430,000 yen."

With a deafening roar, U.S. military aircraft frequently buzz the
top of the condominium. Due to the noise, more than 200 local
families have already moved away. About 970 local families and about
500 U.S. military families live side by side in the area. The
construction of two large condominiums (that can accommodate 125
households) is now underway and scheduled for completion next month.
There is also a plan to build houses for 288 families next to the
condominiums. The U.S. military has given no explanation to the
local residents. Matsuda muttered with a sigh: "The site of the U.S.
military base accounts for 56 PERCENT of the total area of this
town. U.S. servicemen began to live off-base in 2000, and the number
of off-base personnel has sharply increased over the past several
years. If no measures are taken, the number of U.S. forces-related
personnel may exceed that of local residents, and Sunabe may be
taken over by the U.S. military."

There is a beautiful beach in front of the large condominium. The
beach and a park on the side of the condominium are crowded with
U.S. military families on weekends. Matsu quoted an old neighborhood
woman as saying: "Once the mammoth condominiums are built, the beach
will inevitably become like a private beach. Since so many people
connected to the U.S. military live here, we cannot allow our
children to go alone to the beach."

U.S. servicemen and their dependents have no obligation to register
as local residents. One local resident complained: "We don't know
what kind of persons are residing here."

There was one American soldier who frequently invited his friends
over and they all drank and made merry until very late at night.
Local residents collected signatures to call on the U.S. military to
take proper countermeasures. In May, the U.S. military apologized
and made the soldier move back to the base compound.

There are many cases of on-street parking by cars owned by U.S.
military personnel or their families; the traffic jam in the area is
also terrible. The town or prefectural roads are repaired with tax
money. Garbage from U.S. soldiers' households is collected by

TOKYO 00002071 004 OF 010


contracted collectors, but some military households dump their
garbage at collection points reserved for local residents. U.S.
soldiers are not required to pay either the residential tax or the
residents' association fee.

Subsidies equivalent to salaries paid

Triggered by the alleged rape of a junior-high school girl by a U.S.
Marine, the U.S. military has now revealed how many personnel are
living outside the bases and under which conditions U.S. military
members are allowed to live off base.

As of the end of March, 25 PERCENT of all U.S. forces personnel in
Japan, or 24,800 (about 2,900 more than that in the previous year),
were living off base. Half of them live in Okinawa Prefecture.

The village of Chatan hosts 3,223 U.S. military personnel, the
second largest military population following Yokosuka City in
Kanagawa Prefecture. Of these, 35 PERCENT live off-base.

A survey conducted this March by Chatan-cho found that the numbers
of rental apartment buildings and detached houses for foreigners
increased by 114 PERCENT and 130 PERCENT , respectively, compared
to several years ago.

A real estate agent specializing in housing for U.S. military
personnel or civilians working for the U.S. forces explained: "The
rent of a house covering a 20-30 tsubo area is 130,000-170,000 yen
for a single person. In the case of families, the average rent of a
house of more than 40 tsubo runs about 250,000 yen. There are some
who live in houses covering 50-60 tsubo. These prices are about two
times higher than the rental market values in Okinawa."

The question is who pays such high rents. A Japanese woman whose
husband is a U.S. soldier and lives in a 250,000 yen-a-month
detached home said: "We receive almost the same amount of a housing
subsidy as my husband's pay. I was surprised at the sum at first."
She added they also receive a little under 60,000 yen for utility
charges.

20 PERCENT of houses on bases left vacant

It was found out this March that Japan has constructed a total of
10,295 houses at U.S. military bases at a cost of approximately 546
billion yen (estimated amount). The funding was disbursed from the
so-called sympathy budget over a period of about 30 years. In the
case of a facility in Zushi City, Kanagawa Prefecture, in
particular, the construction cost per unit reportedly was 78 million
yen.

Construction costs for housing units in bases in Okinawa over a
period of five years starting in FY2002 totaled approximately 30.2
billion yen. A huge amount of tax money was spent on the
construction project, but as of this January, about 20 PERCENT of
the houses were still vacant.

Mayor Matsuda said: "Allowances for off-base U.S. soldiers might
also come from the sympathy budget." Many local residents have the
same suspicion.

An official of the Defense Ministry's public relations office said:
"We paid utility charges from 1992 until 2000, but we don't any

TOKYO 00002071 005 OF 010


more." An officer of the U.S. Force Japan Headquarters stated: "The
U.S. government pays housing allowances for its off-base personnel.
Rental fees are determined in accordance with Japanese rental market
values."

House of Councillors member Tokushin Yamauchi said:

"It is inconceivable that the U.S. military, which should be
practical, allows its personnel to live off-base at an enormous
cost, even though there are vacant houses on base. Regarding the
sympathy budget, we are informed only in rough terms. I suspect that
Japan has offered funds to the U.S. side without letting the people
know about it and that the U.S. has paid rental fees with the money
given to it, much like the secret treaty reached between Japan and
the U.S. when Okinawa was returned to Japan."

Chatan Mayor Masaharu Noguni emphasized:

"Since the ratio (of U.S. forces-related personnel to the
population) has been on a sharp rise, we are finding it difficult to
administer the area. Before allowing its personnel to live off-base,
the U.S. military should carry out strict screening. It also should
consider the resident registration and tax issues."

A 50-year-old woman who moved to an area in which many U.S. military
personnel live nine years ago grumbled: "In a short period of time,
my residence was surrounded by U.S. housing units. From my house, I
can no longer see the ocean." There was a case in which a cigarette
was flicked into her place from the condominium next door. In
another case, stones were thrown at her house. She complained: "I
thought I should not have a biased view (toward U.S. soldiers) ...
We are asked to conduct exchanges, but we can't after witnessing
such rude behavior."

(3) "Noncombat" zone cannot be guaranteed: ISAF commander

SHINANO MAINICHI SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
Eve., July 17, 2008

Kazuhiro Kimura, Kyodo

KABUL-U.S. Army Gen. McKiernan, who commands the International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, met the press,
including Kyodo News, in Kabul on July 16. The Japanese government
is looking into the feasibility of sending the Self-Defense Forces
to Afghanistan, but the ISAF commander remarked that he "cannot
guarantee that there is a place where we will not encounter the
enemy."

The Japanese government has been restricting the scope of the SDF's
overseas activities to what it calls "noncombat areas"-or zones
where no combat operations are being actually conducted and where no
combat operations are anticipated to be conducted throughout the
period of SDF activities carried out there. The ISAF commander's
remarks can be taken as noting that the idea of "noncombat areas" is
unrealistic in Afghanistan where ISAF troops are fighting Taliban
insurgents and where terrorist attacks are going on. His remarks
will likely affect discussions in Japan.

Germany and some other countries have been refusing to participate
in full-scale combat operations although they are ISAF members. With
these countries in mind, McKiernan criticized their stance, saying,

TOKYO 00002071 006 OF 010


"Restricted military contributions reduce our (ISAF's) superiority
over the enemy."

McKiernan also clarified his intention to welcome "any
contributions," including the SDF's dispatch. He exemplified such
activities as airlifting supplies, giving medical support, and
training policemen. "Instead of sending soldiers (to fight), I think
we can send ideas," he added.

He also noted that ISAF is fighting Taliban insurgents and other
militants near the Pakistani border in the eastern and southern
parts of Afghanistan. "Most areas are comparatively stabilized," he
said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Wood met the press,
including Kyodo News, in Kabul on July 16 and revealed that he had
met with a fact-finding survey team sent from the Japanese
government in June and discussed specifics about candidate locations
and activities. However, he avoided referring to specifics about the
SDF's dispatch. "It is for the Japanese government to decide," he
said.

(4) ISAF: Reconstruction and destruction-Agony over contradiction

SHINANO MAINICHI SHIMBUN (Page 4) (Full)
July 23, 2008

Kazuhiro Kimura, Kyodo

ASADABAD and PULI KHUMRI-Japan has given up sending the Self-Defense
Forces to Afghanistan, where the International Security Assistance
Force, or ISAF for short, is now operating in full swing. Meanwhile,
ISAF is mopping up the Taliban, an antigovernment militia. In this
Afghan antiterrorist campaign, however, there are also an increasing
number of civilian casualties resulting from accidents, such as
mistaken bombings. ISAF is tasked with a contradictory set of jobs
called "reconstruction" and "destruction," and its soldiers agonize
over their duties as they constantly brush with death.

Asadabad is a small town in Afghanistan's northeastern province of
Konar. It is a mountainous region that is about eight kilometers
from the Pakistani border. "The international terrorist group Al
Qaeda is hiding in that mountain," said Konar Province's Governor
Walid, pointing to the steep mountain. Armed insurgents are hiding
in the border area, where U.S. troops under ISAF's command are
carrying out their mission.

In Konar, an 85-member provincial reconstruction team (PRT) is
assisting reconstruction, with more than 1,000 combat troops engaged
in military operations. They are separately based. Two days before
our visit there, nine American soldiers were killed in an attack.
The PRT base is armed with antiaircraft guns, and soldiers move on
armored vehicles with machineguns. They train their guns on all
passing vehicles-no smile on their faces.

They repair hospitals and schools and construct roads and bridges.
Their tasks are similar to what the Ground Self-Defense Force did in
the southern Iraqi city of Samawah to assist Iraq with its
nation-rebuilding efforts. PRT-assisted projects in Konar alone
total approximately 50 million dollars (about 5.3 billion yen). The
projects will estimatedly reach 100 million dollars within the year.
The Taliban regime has now collapsed, and Afghanistan has

TOKYO 00002071 007 OF 010


substantially improved its infrastructure. However, some local
residents are still backing the Taliban militants.

In Afghanistan, mop-up operations conducted by ISAF troops have
caused a large number of civilian casualties. One PRT official sent
from the U.S. government admitted that this has brought about a
local backlash. In the neighboring province of Nangarhar, a U.S.
military chopper recently raided a wedding hall, killing 47 people
including the bride. "The right hand (PRT) constructs buildings with
words of confidence and friendship, while the left hand (mistakenly
bombs and) destroys them," the official said. "But," he added with a
sigh, "combat operations are absolutely necessart."

We next visited Puli Khumri in the northern Afghan province of
Baghlan, where we were escorted by light-armed Hungarian soldiers
working on PRT projects and arrived at a local school that was under
repair. A group of local women wearing blue burqas was waiting there
with petitions in their hands. They asked the PRT for
infrastructure, including water and a power supply. "This year
alone," 1st Lt. Gabriel said, "we have received 842 petitions."

In Afghanistan, Konar Province was the most stable region. Hungary
made it a precondition for its troops to stay away from combat
operations for its activities there. Last November, however, a
suicide attack there killed 70 people, including local residents.
Since then, the local security situation has deteriorated.
Insurgents, according to Deputy Commander Sandor, "do not
differentiate PRT civilians from combat troops," The day before our
visit there, a soldier was killed in the blast of a roadside bomb.
The Hungarian base posted a photograph of another soldier who was
killed in June.

"If one more Hungarian soldier should die, that's the end of this
bullshit assistance. I want to let Afghans know that." With these
bitter words, one captain released his frustration.

ISAF integrated into antiterror war

Kazuhiro Kimura, Kyodo

BRUSSELS and KABUL-Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) are now sending reinforcements to the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) deployed in Afghanistan. Some NATO members
were reluctant to take part in combat operations there but have now
changed their minds. What lies behind that is strong pressure from
the United States calling that the price of participation in the
alliance. ISAF is tasked with maintaining public security in its
assistance to Afghanistan's reconstruction. Meanwhile, Operation
Enduring Freedom (OEF), a U.S.-led military campaign targeted at the
international terrorist group Al Qaeda, is also going on in that
country. The fusion of ISAF and OEF is also underway. ISAF's
assistance to Afghanistan and the U.S.-led war on terror are now
being mixed up.

Hungary made it a precondition for its ISAF participation to stay
away from combat operations, but it has now decided to send special
forces to the central province of Uruzgan. "While there are
countries sustaining a large number of casualties, there are
countries (like Germany) refusing to fight. This hurts the
alliance's solidarity." In response to this criticism from a
Brussels-based U.S. diplomatic source, Hungary made the decision.


TOKYO 00002071 008 OF 010


On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacked America at its nerve centers.
The United States and Britain took it as an attack on the West as a
whole. However, Afghanistan is a long way off from Hungary as well.
Even so, a Hungarian military officer said: "We're a member of the
alliance, so we cannot refuse to get our hands dirty. It's an
appropriate burden (to send special forces)."

One commander of ISAF troops deployed in the eastern part of
Afghanistan serves concurrently as a commander of OEF troops. ISAF
carries out airstrikes to back up OEF troops as needed. Such
military mixing is now conducted on a routine basis.

In Iraq, public security is now improving. In response, the U.S.
government has indicated that it would further scale back on its
military presence in Iraq and would instead reinforce its troops in
Afghanistan. "Relations between ISAF and OEF are too complicated.
It's possible to simplify their chains of command." With this, U.S.
Ambassador to Afghanistan Wood implied that the United States
strongly wanted to adopt a unified chain of command.

(5) Shirakaba gas field: China intends to uphold initiative,
constraining Japan's stake below 33 PERCENT

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
July 24, 2008

Beijing, Takamasa Suzuki

Japan and China have recently agreed to jointly develop gas fields
in the East China Sea. In this connection, it was learned from
several sources connected to bilateral relations that China intends
to constrain Japan's stake in the development of the Shirakaba gas
field to below one-third of the total investment amount in order to
fully demonstrate it has the lead in developing that field. This is
likely to cause controversy in Japan.

According to the agreement reached in June, Japanese companies will
participate in the development of the Shirakaba gas field in the
form of investing in the project, and profits will be distributed
according the proportion of investment. The proportion of investment
by Japan is to be determined in future talks. An informed source
said that China had proposed that Japan's stake should be below 33.3
PERCENT . The Japanese side reportedly has not objected to the
proposal.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation and China Petroleum and
Chemical Corporation have been developing the Shirakaba gas field
jointly with international oil majors. However, those two Chinese
companies alone are now investing in the project.

A Chinese official told the Tokyo Shimbun, "If Japan's stake in the
project exceeds one-third of the total investment amount, it would
top the stake held by either of the two Chinese companies. This is
unacceptable"

Japan and China have agreed to jointly develop a gas field in an
area straddling the median line -- near the Asunaro gas field --
between the two countries as Japan had insisted. The two countries
will likely develop this gas field under a fifty-fifty partnership.
However, opposition is growing in China, with one source noting that
China has made too many concessions to Japan.


TOKYO 00002071 009 OF 010


China has clearly made a distinction between the Shirakaba gas field
and another gas field within the area straddling the median line.
Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei noted: "Japan will take part in the
development of the Chunxiao (Shirakaba) gas field, based on Chinese
law and with the acknowledgement that China has sovereignty over
that gas field." By stressing its sovereignty and control over the
Shirakaba gas field, China presumably wanted to send a message that
it had not given in to Japan,.

(6) Has Prime Minister Fukuda changed his political method to a
"Koizumi style"?

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
July 25, 2008

On the night of July 10, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers
were enjoying bowling at the bowling center in the Prince Park Tower
Tokyo, Shiba Park, Tokyo. They recently have been bowling together
almost every week.

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is a member of the LDP's
bowling team. He has recently become enthusiastic about the game.
Many participants are motivated to use this opportunity to find out
the views of Koizumi, who is regarded as a key mover and shaker in
today's political situation.

After enjoying bowling, Koizumi dined with LDP Lower House members
Yasuhiro Nakagawa, Kuniko Inoguchi, and Junichiro Sakurai, who are
all now serving their first terms in the Diet. Hidenao Nakagawa and
Tsutomu Takebe, former LDP secretaries general and also members of
the bowling team, joined them for dinner.

"I will be quiet until the election; I don't deliver campaign
speeches anymore," said Koizumi, although he had just given a speech
at a party to celebrate the publication of a book coauthored by
former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, Lower House member Yukari Sato
and Inoguchi. He noted: "If you get support from these three
persons. Inoguchi, Koike and Sato, your campaigning will gather
momentum."

Koizumi has no intention to again assume the LDP presidency, even
though there have been calls on him to run again. He reportedly has
been trying to find a suitable candidate to carry out his structural
reform agenda.

During the dinner after bowling on July 10, Koizumi and Hidenao
Nakagawa had a long conversation. One participant felt that Koizumi
was trying to convince Nakagawa to keep his reform policy line,
which is being reviewed now in the government and ruling coalition.
Speculation, too, is that Koizumi is considering Koike as a possible
candidate to succeed Fukuda.

On July 3, as if to spur on the Fukuda government, Koizumi stressed
in a lecture:

"We politicians are now interested in three issues: Whether the
Prime Minister shuffles his cabinet soon; whether he dissolves the
House of Representatives; and whether the Lower House is dissolved
by Fukuda or other person. I never tell the Prime Minister what he
should do. I just tell him that I want him to make decisions, since
I will support any of his decisions, even those that are opposite to
my views."

TOKYO 00002071 010 OF 010

Whether Fukuda will accept Koizumi's direct advice is uncertain.
However, the view has gained ground that Fukuda's political method
of being a "coordinator" has now changed to Koizumi's top-down
style.

Last December, Fukuda made a political decision to provide blanket
relief to those who had contracted Hepatitis C. In March this year,
he announced a policy of abolishing the road tax revenue system. In
May, he ordered Japan to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
He has made those decisions in the face of strong resistance in
relevant agencies and the LDP.

Fukuda reportedly decided on his own the phrase "Realization of a
Low Carbon Society" used in the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in
Hokkaido for measures against global warming. A senior Foreign
Ministry official revealed that the phrase had been made suddenly
without holding any meeting of four cabinet ministers. The framework
of the meeting was created by the former Abe government.

Has confrontation between the ruling and opposition camps under the
divided Diet, added to his low public support, caused a change in
Fukuda's political method?

Ichiji Totsuka, former secretary general of the LDP Gunma
prefectural chapter, who has supported Fukuda in his home
constituency of Gunma Prefecture, said:

"When someone who does a remarkable job as the number two person
assumes the number one slot, that person cannot handle the top job
properly. To hold on to his administration, Fukuda needs to show his
determination as number one and he also needs a number two man
(chief cabinet secretary) like himself. To that end, I would like
him to shuffle his cabinet."

SCHIEFFER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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