Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 08//08

DE RUEHKO #2120/01 2140800
P 010800Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Machimura, Komura to remain in Cabinet (Kyodo)

(2) PROFILE: Hori, former 'postal rebel,' gets LDP leadership post

(3) PROFILE: Sasagawa named as LDP General Council chairman (Kyodo)

(4) PROFILE: Koga reappointed as LDP election bureau chief (Kyodo)

(5) Aso to be appointed as LDP secretary general; Sasagawa as
General Council chairman, Hori as Policy Research Council chairman
(Tokyo Shimbun)

(6) LDP to pick Aso as LDP secretary general, retain Koga as
Election Committee chairman (Sankei)

(7) Aso to be picked LDP secretary general; Welfare Minister Masuzoe
to remain (Tokyo Shimbun)

(8) Shuffled Fukuda cabinet to be formally inaugurated on August 2:
Aso to take up post as LDP secretary general; Ibuki likely to be
given ministerial post (Nikkei)

(9) The end of the Japan-U.S. alliance's golden age (Sankei)

(10) Drifting Doha Round: Japan keeps low profile without serving as
intermediary (Asahi)

(11) Editorial: Who protects the world from protectionism? (Nikkei)

(12) Government considering levying fines on companies that caused
injury to consumers: Fines of up to 100 million yen to be imposed on
offenders of injury prevention order (Mainichi)

(13) Behind the scenes of Japan-North Korea abduction negotiations;
Even Hidekazu Hasuike is distressed (Shukan Shincho)


(1) Machimura, Komura to remain in Cabinet

Kyodo News
August 1, 2008

Some incumbent Cabinet members will remain at their posts in the
Cabinet reshuffle Friday, according to political sources.

They include Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, Foreign
Minister Masahiko Komura, and Health, Labor and Welfare Minister
Yoichi Masuzoe, according to the sources.

Hiroya Masuda, a former Iwate governor who does not hold a Diet
seat, will also remain in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
as minister of internal affairs and communications.

From the New Komeito party, the junior coalition partner of Fukuda's
Liberal Democratic Party, Tetsuo Saito will be named as environment
minister, according to the sources.

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Among others, Bunmei Ibuki will be appointed as finance minister,
while Kaoru Yosano will be named as economic and fiscal policy

(2) PROFILE: Hori, former 'postal rebel,' gets LDP leadership post

Kyodo News
August 1, 2008

Kosuke Hori is the first to gain a Liberal Democratic Party
leadership post as Policy Research Council chief among those who
were ousted from the party in 2005 by then Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi for opposing his postal privatization plan.

Hori, 73, is known to be well-versed in education administration and
has been involved in ruling coalition panels on amendment to the
basic education law and education reform even when he was still an

He joined political circles succeeding his father, who had served as
lower house speaker, and has refused to own a mobile phone.

Hori, who returned to the LDP at the end of 2006, is now serving his
10th term as House of Representatives member.

(3) PROFILE: Sasagawa named as LDP General Council chairman

Kyodo News
August 1, 2008

Takashi Sasagawa obtained the post of General Council chairman of
the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, after serving as acting General
Council chairman twice before.

Sasagawa, 72, was first elected to the House of Representatives in
1986 and is currently serving his seventh term. He once served as
state minister in charge of science and technology.

He became the chief of the lower house steering committee in
September 2007 and has been playing the role of a ''referee''
between the ruling and opposition camps.

Sasagawa, the second son of Ryoichi Sasagawa, who founded the Nippon
Foundation, often appears high up on the lawmakers' assets list.

(4) PROFILE: Koga reappointed as LDP election bureau chief

Kyodo News
August 1, 2008

Reappointed Liberal Democratic Party election bureau chief Makoto
Koga has assumed prominent posts since he was first elected to the
House of Representatives in 1980 at the age of 39.

In the Cabinet, Koga, 67, was appointed as construction minister in
1996, and within the LDP he has successively held important
positions, such as secretary general.

His father was killed in action in Leyte, the Philippines, and now
Koga serves as chairman of Nippon Izokukai, the Japan War-Bereaved

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As the head of an LDP faction and election bureau chief, Koga has
been struggling to find competitive candidates prior to the next
general election.

(5) Aso to be appointed as LDP secretary general; Sasagawa as
General Council chairman, Hori as Policy Research Council chairman

Tokyo Shimbun online (Chunichi Shimbun)
14:49, August 1, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, president of the Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP), today, August 1, started shuffling the cabinet and
reshuffling the leadership of the LDP. In selecting members for the
party leadership, he decided to appoint Taro Aso as secretary
general, who previously served in the post. He met with Aso face to
face this morning at the official residence and asked him to accept
his offer. Aso agreed to accept the offer. Fukuda will select a
line-up of his new cabinet in the evening, following the appointment
of the four party executives in the afternoon.

Aso ran in the LDP presidential race last September. He is
distancing himself from the prime minister. Fukuda has, however,
determined that in view of the fact that Aso is popular with the
public, he would be appropriate for the post in order for the party
to put forward a clearer all-party setup in the run-up to a
dissolution of the Lower House for a snap election.

Regarding the selection of the four party executives, Election
Committee Chairman Makoto Koga will be retained. Incumbent Secretary
General Bunmei Ibuki and General Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai
will be given key cabinet posts, such as finance minister. Takashi
Sasagawa, chairman of the Diet Steering Committee in the Lower
House, will succeed Nikai. The appointment of Kosuke Hori as Policy
Research Council chairman has also been decided.

Regarding the shuffling of the cabinet, Chief Cabinet Secretary
Nobutaka Machimura, Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura and Health,
Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe will most likely remain in
their posts. The LDP in the Upper House is calling for Gotaro
Yoshimura and Tetsuro Yano to be given a ministerial post.

The New Komeito at its standing executive committee held today has
left the party's approach to the cabinet shuffle to head Akihiro Ota
and Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa to work out. It is expected to
seek a replacement of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister

The prime minister this morning held talks with Ota at his office.
He formally conveyed his decision to shuffle the cabinet. Ota
agreed. On that occasion, Fukuda said: "We must structurally change
the mechanism of the economy to address the steep rise in raw price,
the declining birthrate and the aging society. I would like to
choose a lineup from that perspective."

The prime minister will receive letters of resignation from
incumbent ministers at a special cabinet meeting in the afternoon.
He will then ask at a special meeting of the LDP General Council to
give him a free hand to appoint party executives. He will then hold
a press conference at 9:00 p.m. after completing all personnel
matters and explain to the people why he has chosen the new lineup
and how he is going to run the government.

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An attestation ceremony at the Imperial Pace for new cabinet
ministers will be held tomorrow morning. The shuffled Fukuda cabinet
will be formally launched at the first cabinet meeting to be held
after the ceremony.

Machimura during a press conference today indicated a plan to
appoint senior vice ministers on the 5th and parliamentary
secretaries on the 6th.

(LDP secretary general)

Taro Aso. Graduated from Gakushuin University. Successively held
such posts as Policy Research Council chairman, internal affairs and
communications minister, foreign minister and LDP secretary general.
67 years old. Elected from the Fukuoka No. 8 Constituency.
Ninth-term Lower House member (Aso faction).

(Chunichi Shimbun)

(6) LDP to pick Aso as LDP secretary general, retain Koga as
Election Committee chairman

August 1, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will shuffle his cabinet and select new
Liberal Democratic Party executives this afternoon. Fukuda met New
Komeito President Akihiro Ota at the Prime Minister's Office
(Kantei) this morning. The two leaders confirmed the need for the
Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito to continue to be
united as partners. Later, Fukuda started coordination on selecting
executives. He called in former Secretary General Taro Aso to the
prime minister's official and asked him to assume the post of
secretary general. Aso accepted the offer. The prime minister has
also decided to retain Makoto Koga, Tadamori Oshima, and Hiroyuki
Hosokawa as Election Committee chairman, Diet Affairs Committee
chairman, and senior deputy secretary general, respectively.

The meeting between Fukuda and Ota started at 09:00 and lasted for
about 20 minutes. Machimura, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary
General Bunmei Ibuki, and New Komeito Secretary General Kazuo
Kitagawa were present.

Fukuda told Ota:

"To show my strong resolve to carry out reform, I want to shuffle my
cabinet, so I want you to extend cooperation. It is important to
tackle such issues as soaring oil prices and uncertainty over the
economy. Now that the nation has turned into aging society, it is
also imperative to reform the nation's economic structure to cope
with the change. While keeping these challenges in mind, I would
like to select the lineup."

Ota replied:

"That's fine. It is important to set forth the policy of pursuing
reform that will contribute to encouraging ordinary citizens. I want
you to give full consideration to ordinary citizens' points of

The two leaders did not mention the names of any specific

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candidates. They did not discuss Diet business, either, according to
informed sources.

The meeting between Fukuda and Aso started before 11:00. Last night,
Fukuda called Aso and offered the position of secretary general. But
Aso was reluctant to accept it. Fukuda therefore decided to meet Aso
to persuade him to accept the offer. Aso asked Fukuda that the
Election Committee chairmanship, which has been upgraded to one of
the four top executive officers, be again placed under the secretary
general as in the past. But Fukuda declined the proposal.

It has been decided that Machimura will stay on as chief cabinet
secretary. Coordination is now underway on a plan to appoint former
Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano as an economic minister.

Fukuda will hold a special cabinet meeting starting at 13:30 today
to obtain written resignations from outgoing cabinet ministers.
Later, he will hold an executive meeting with the incumbent
executive members at LDP headquarters to explain a plan to appoint
executives earlier than scheduled. After obtaining approval from the
Executive Council, Fukuda will call in new executives and ask them
to assume office.

(7) Aso to be picked LDP secretary general; Welfare Minister Masuzoe
to remain

August 1, 2008

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (President of the Liberal Democratic
Party) met this morning with New Komeito leader Akihiro Ota at the
Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei). In the meeting, Fukuda
conveyed to Ota his intention to shuffle today his cabinet and the
key LDP executive posts. Ota gave his concurrence. Starting with the
new lineup of LDP posts, Fukuda met this morning with Taro Aso to
offer him the secretary general's post. Aso accepted Fukuda's offer.

Aso ran in the LDP presidential race last September. Fukuda has
determined that Aso, a popular figure with the public, would be
suitable for the post in order to make clear that the party is
unified as he considers a possible dissolution of the House of
Representatives to be followed by a snap election. Recently, he has
distanced himself from Fukuda and his administration.

Following Aso's acceptance of the offer to become secretary general,
Fukuda will next award incumbent Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki the
finance minister's post. Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura,
Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura, and Health, Labor and Welfare
Minister Yoichi Masuzoe are to be be retained in their respective
posts. The LDP caucus in the House of Councillors has recommended
Kotaro Yoshimura and Tetsuro Yano as members of the new cabinet.

In a board meeting after the Fukuda-Ota talks, the New Komeito
decided to leave the party's response to the cabinet shuffle to Ota
and Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa. The party would like to
replace Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Minister Tetsuzo
Fuyushiba, and will decide on what member will enter the new cabinet
this afternoon (TN: The pick was Tetsuo Saito).

In the meeting, Fukuda told Ota:

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"To deal with the increase in the cost of raw materials, as well as
the falling birthrate and aging population, we must change the
economic system structurally. Based on such an approach, I plan to
arrange the new cabinet lineup."

In an emergency cabinet meeting this afternoon, Fukuda will receive
letters of resignation from the incumbent cabinet ministers. He also
seal the appointments of the party executive members in a General
Council meeting this afternoon. This evening after the selection of
the new party leadership, Fukuda will call in his choices to the
Kantei and form the new cabinet tonight. He will hold a press
conference at 9:00 p.m. and explain to the public the purpose of the
new cabinet lineup.

An attestation ceremony will be held on the morning of August 2 at
the Imperial Palace. The new Fukuda cabinet will then be inaugurated
in its first cabinet meeting.

In a press conference today, Machimura revealed that the new senior
vice ministers will be appointed on August 5 and the parliamentary
secretaries will be picked on August 6.

Taro Aso graduated from Gakushuin University. He served as LDP
Policy Research Council chairman, minister of internal affairs and
telecommunications, foreign minister, and LDP secretary general. He
is 67. He represents the Lower House Fukuoka No 8 electoral
district. He is now serving in his ninth-term in the Lower House. He
heads a LDP faction.

(8) Shuffled Fukuda cabinet to be formally inaugurated on August 2:
Aso to take up post as LDP secretary general; Ibuki likely to be
given ministerial post

Nikkei Online
13:39, August 1, 2006

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on the morning of August 1 met with New
Komeito head Akihiro Ota at his office and conveyed his decision to
shuffle the cabinet for the first time under his administration.
Fukuda's shuffled cabinet will be in effect launched on the evening
of the 1st. In reshuffling the leadership of the Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP), Fukuda has firmed his intent to replace Secretary
General Bunmei Ibuki with Taro Aso, who previously served in the
post. Ibuki will likely be appointed to a key cabinet post. Nobutaka
Machimura will remain as chief cabinet secretary, the key post in
the cabinet.

An attestation ceremony at the Imperial Palace will be held at 10:00
p.m. on the 2nd, followed by the first cabinet meeting around noon
of the same day.

The prime minister on the morning of the 1st met with Aso at his
official residence to discuss the reshuffling of the LDP leadership,
a focus of attention. They appeared to have discussed the selection
of members for the party leadership and a cabinet-formation policy.
Aso agreed to take office as LDP secretary general. One suggestion
being considered is to appoint Ibuki either as finance minister or
as health, labor and welfare minister. Some observers said that
Election Committee Chairman Makoto Koga would be retained.

(9) The end of the Japan-U.S. alliance's golden age

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SANKEI (Page 3) (Full)
August 1, 2008

Koji Murata, professor at Doshisha University

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) has again changed its
description of the Takeshima islets to "South Korean territory." To
begin with, the U.S. government should not have changed it to
"undesignated sovereignty." The Bush administration is already in
its final stage in such a serious condition that it cannot even
coordinate anything like this. Its back and forth response denotes a
lack of consideration for its allies, Japan and South Korea.

The United States' political intention is clear. President Bush will
visit South Korea from Aug. 5. However, talks between the United
States and South Korea over a free trade agreement (FTA) have become
deadlocked, and South Korea's Lee Myung Bak government is now in a
fix over the issue of U.S. beef imports. The Bush administration
went with South Korea's public opinion because it wanted the Lee
administration to remain stable.

Such a U.S. policy course can be interpreted in two ways. For one
thing, the United States needs South Korea's cooperation in the
six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear programs. For now, Japan
cannot take part in energy assistance to North Korea. As it stands,
the United States has to expect South Korea to substitute for

Second, Japan-when it comes to democracy-is trustworthier than South
Korea. The alliance between Japan and the United States is maturer
than that between the United States and South Korea. Taking this
into consideration, the United States, I think, has a sense of trust
in Japan, expecting its public opinion to remain calm.

However, we should also think that the United States has a sense of
disappointment with Japan. Bilateral relations between Japan and the
United States were in good shape when the Koizumi and Abe cabinets
were in office. Since then, the United States' stance toward Japan
has changed. This, I guess, might be ascribable to the Fukuda
cabinet's reluctance to reinterpret the Constitution for collective
self-defense. In addition, the Japanese government has decided to
call off the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in
the Indian Ocean and the Air Self-Defense Force's mission in Iraq.
This decision also might have affected the United States. It is
clear that the Japan-U.S. alliance's golden age like the one in the
Koizumi-Bush days is gone.

The Japanese government should not react at the same level as South
Korea and should assume a calm attitude. By doing so, Japan should
urge the United States to promise to pressure North Korea even more
strongly for a solution to the issue of Japanese nationals abducted
to North Korea. Furthermore, Japan should stabilize its domestic
political situation and remove its diplomacy's constraints.

(10) Drifting Doha Round: Japan keeps low profile without serving as

ASAHI (Page 7) (Excerpts)
August 1, 2008

(Ogata, Geneva)

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The ministers meeting under new Doha Round of global trade talks of
the World Trade Organization (WTO) have ended in rupture, although
an historic accord was in sight at one point. In the talks, the
Japanese government kept a low profile. Japan remained passive as it
watched industrialized countries and such emerging countries as
India and China locking horns.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab was the first person to show
up at the lobby of WTO headquarters before 18:00 on July 29, just
after the ministerial talks collapsed. She commented: "The meeting
was moving very close to an accord, but ...."

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Wakabayashi and
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Amari replied only to
questions from Japanese reporters outside WTO headquarters. A
government source commented: "I don't think they could have replied
to severe questions from foreign reporters." Seeing their
inward-looking posture, a foreign correspondent cynically said:
"(The Japanese delegation) is like an interest group that pays
attention only to protecting domestic farmers."

According to informed sources, when the U.S. clashed with China and
India over the so-called special safeguard mechanism (SSM), which
would allow developing countries to raise tariffs on farm products
in the event of an import surge, Brazil first tried to mediate
between both sides. When its effort ended in failure, the EU next
moved to bring about reconciliation.

Japanese negotiators must certainly have had this feeling, for as
one Japanese negotiator noted: "Regrettably, Japan cannot behave
like other major powers, so it only has the choice of serving as an
honest intermediary." There was an option for Japan to have its
national interests skillfully reflected in an agreement by devoting
itself to playing a mediating role. According to parties concerned
from other countries, however, Japanese delegates seemingly did not
move to mediate between the two sides in the agricultural sector.

When the situation was tense late at night on the 28th, a Japanese
negotiator cracked a joke: "Is 'SSM' an abridgment of 'special
spaghetti meat source?", showing little sense of responsibility for
the talks.

Other countries were pressing Japan to make a concession on the
number of sensitive farm products to be exempted from steep tariff
cuts. Despite such pressure, Japan gave the impression that it was
just hoping that its concession would be put on hold due to a
collapse of the round.

A Japanese government source cannot forget this remark made by one
Brazilian government official concerned: "It is the major economies'
responsibility to give explanations to reporters worldwide. If they
don't, they will be considered to have no friends anywhere in the

(11) Editorial: Who protects the world from protectionism?

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
July 31, 2008

A ghost named protectionism is coming back to life. Ministerial
talks of the World Trade Organization (WTO) collapsed at the
eleventh hour. The multilateral trade talks (Doha Round), which were

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supposed to advance trade liberalization, must now be put on ice for
the time being. The free trade system that has supported the growth
of the global economy now faces a serious crisis.

The talks' collapse directly came from a clash between the United
States and China and India over agricultural issues. Both China and
India with a population of more than 1 billion each could be huge
export markets for U.S. farmers. China and India, on the other hand,
want to protect their farmers. The United States, the quintessential
advanced country, fiercely clashed with the emerging economic

WTO leadership declining

The days are over in which advanced countries, such as the United
States and European nations, took the lead in establishing
international rules and developing countries followed them. The
collapsed WTO negotiations tell the cold fact that the dynamics of
the world order has shifted.

In the talks, the United States and the European Union (EU)
presented a compromise plan. Although the path to a basic accord
came into sight at one point, China and India, which regarded
themselves as representatives of the developing countries, reacted
furiously to the compromise plan. The negotiations fell apart
abruptly with a "veto" by the two countries.

Not only China and India but also Brazil continued to play a central
role in the talks. Those countries clearly demonstrated their
presence in place of industrialized countries whose leadership is
declining. The more globalization advances, the more the power to
control the order of the global economy disperses. The work to
establish international rules is certain to become more difficult.

What about Japan's role? As the chair of this year's G-8 summit,
Japan needed to contribute to reaching a broad agreement by becoming
involved in the talks more deeply than by the United States, the EU,
China and India.

In reality, Japan, which was totally on the defensive, was not even
able to keep pace with the talks. Japan should have demonstrated a
willingness to serve as a coordinator between the United States and
China and India.

Japan, which sustains economic growth in overseas markets and trade,
must not be called protectionist by developing countries. Those
engaged in agriculture and lawmakers representing farm-related
interests were relieved by the breakup of the trade talks. Although
cutting tariffs on farm products will be put off, this is no time to
feel relieved.

Suffering from a rapidly aging population and low productivity,
Japanese agriculture is now apparently facing a fatal situation. It
is high time to bravely address agricultural reform. The country has
to promptly take steps to reduce fallow land, nurture future
farmers, and expand opportunities for corporations' entry into the
agriculture sector.

Anyone seriously considering the future of Japanese agriculture
cannot opt for market closure. There is a need to reform agriculture
to increase the size of farmland and find ways to support farmers
without relying on high tariffs.

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If a Democratic administration led by Barrack Obama is launched in
next year, the United States' economic policy would strongly be
tinged with protectionism. Obama is clearly calling for a review of
such trade agreements as the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) and the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on the
grounds of protecting jobs in the United States.

Protectionism is rising in the EU as well. French President Nicolas
Sarkozy has criticized EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, who
has been expediting efforts for an accord, saying that farmers in
the region would suffer a loss.

Even if WTO talks resumed, ironing out differences in views among
member countries would be even more difficult in view of the
situations in the United States and the EU. As the economy following
the United States and the EU, Japan must play a major role rather
than sitting on the sidelines.

Discouraged by the difficulty of multilateral WTO trade talks, an
increasing number of countries would probably accelerate their
bilateral FTA strategies. Concluding FTAs is only a means to
complement the WTO. It must not be forgotten that the conclusion of
FTAs among a number of countries under the leadership of such major
powers as the United States, EU, and China has an exclusive

Japan must take steps for early resumption of WTO talks

The WTO, which is composed of some 150 countries and regions, is the
only organization that can build a new framework that can favor the
entire world with free trade. If member countries march toward
protectionism and an FTA race, the evolution of the free trade
system cannot be expected.

The Bretton Woods system was launched in 1944 with the aim of
bringing stability to the post-WWII global economy. The
International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and General Agreement
on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the predecessor of the WTO, were
founded under the system as the pillars of the global economy.

Through tough talks on trade liberalization from the Kennedy Round
of the 1906s to the Tokyo Round of the 1970s to the Uruguay Round of
the 1980s-1990s, countries around the world fought the temptation of
protectionism. As a result of such efforts, the rate of trade in the
global economy in terns of gross domestic product (GDP) topped 25
PERCENT in 2006.

The Doha Round must move forward so as not to allow the free trade
system to suffer a setback. Member countries, including Japan, must
take steps for resuming the trade talks without relaxing their

(12) Government considering levying fines on companies that caused
injury to consumers: Fines of up to 100 million yen to be imposed on
offenders of injury prevention order

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Full)
August 1, 2008

The government on August 31 started considering imposing fines up to
100 million yen on companies that violated the central government's

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injury-prevention order by causing food and food products-related
injuries to consumers. This policy will be incorporated in a
consumer injury prevention bill, which the government will submit to
the upcoming extraordinary Diet session for the purpose of setting
up a consumer agency in fiscal 2009. Heavy fines are to be imposed,
the intention being to deter such injuries from occurring.
Government agencies to be affected will likely criticize the idea of
imposing such heavy fines as constraining industrial development.

The bill is designed to prevent consumers from suffering injury
caused by goods and services that are not regulated under existing
laws, as can be seen in accidents caused by consuming Konjac Jelly.
The government's Consumer Administration Promotion Council, chaired
by Takeshi Sasaki, a professor at Gakushuin University Takeshi
Sasaki, had pointed out in the panel's final reports issued in June
the need to establish a new law.

At present, each government agency has jurisdiction over relevant
areas under its own ordinance, such as the Ministry of Economy,
Trade and Industry (METI) dealing with accidents caused by gas
equipment and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare responsible
for handling food poisoning cases. Such a system results in delayed
responses. There have also been cases in which sufficient measures
were not taken when incidents occurred that were not covered under
existing laws.

The envisaged consumer agency will be solely responsible for
collecting and analyzing information. It will then recommend that
relevant government agencies take appropriate measures. The consumer
injury prevention law will enable the agency to order businesses
that have caused problems to take necessary measures to prevent a
recurrence or an expansion of serious accidents affecting consumers.
This would speed up government responses to damage caused by

The bill sets the scope of punishments and the upper limit of fines
with reference to punitive clauses under existing consumer-related
laws, such as the Japan Agricultural Standards (JAS) Law. Companies
will be fined if they disobey orders to recall problem products or
suspend the use of such. The likelihood is that one-person companies
will also be subject to prison terms of no longer than a year or a
fine of no more than 1 million yen.

(13) Behind the scenes of Japan-North Korea abduction negotiations;
Even Hidekazu Hasuike is distressed

SHUKAN SHINCHO (Page 32) (Abridged)
August 7, 2008, issue

On July 24, at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) that was held in
Singapore, Foreign Minister Koumura repeatedly asked North Korea's
Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun about the reinvestigation of the
abductions, but he did not received a specific answer. Although
North Korea promised Japan at the June working-level talks to carry
out a reinvestigation in return for a partial easing of economic
sanctions, at present, there has been no progress or anything
forward-looking happening.

In response, Hidekazu Hasuike, the former deputy representative of
the association of families of abducted Japanese said: "North Korea
bragged about the abductions having been resolved, so the Japanese
government could do nothing about it to the other side. In that

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respect, the promise of a reinvestigation, I think, is progress.
However, until now, our response to North Korea has been solely
hard-lined, with the result that there have not been responses from
the North. Whenever I see my brother and talk to him, it makes me
think what would be the most effective way to deal with North Korea.
We cannot just simply wave economic sanctions at them; we must also
be flexible in our responses, perhaps. I think there is a need at
some point to compromise."

The change in Hasuike's thinking away from his previous hard-line
stance brought criticism on him from the family association, but his
decision, painstakingly made, was that any means should be taken in
order to resolve the abduction issue.

Actually, behind the scenes, Japan-DPRK negotiations may be reaching
a crucial stage. A senior Foreign Ministry official set the stage:
"North Korea has sounded us out privately that it is prepared return
several victims of abduction. The Japanese government's condition is
that unless the abductees are released, normalization of relations
will never advance. Having swallowed that, North Korea reportedly
will transmit to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Hill the names of
the abduction victims it will repatriate. In addition, talk has
arisen about the U.S. being the guarantor that the commitments by
both countries would be carried out."

As a result, Prime Minister Fukuda, when he meets President Bush at
the Beijing Olympics will inform him whether or not North Korea has
swallowed those conditions or not. Prime Minister Fukuda would like
to use the resolving of the abduction issue as a means to boost his
popularity, but will he instead be swallowing a "poisoned bean


© Scoop Media

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