Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 08/12/08

DE RUEHKO #2209/01 2250103
P 120103Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



1) Yomiuri poll shows Fukuda Cabinet support rate inches up 1.7
points to 28.3 PERCENT , but non-support still a high 59.7 PERCENT

North Korea problem:
2) U.S. spokesman confirms that delisting of North Korea as country
sponsoring terrorism will be delayed (Yomiuri)
3) First day of talks between Japan, North Korea produced little but
generalities (Yomiuri)
4) North Korea in talks with Japan to reply today with concrete
proposal for reinvestigation of abduction issue (Mainichi)
5) Japan now seeking own card to use in talks with North Korea

Defense and security affairs:
6) Okinawa State Minister Hayashi meets Governor Nakaima (Yomiuri)

7) Increased calls in ruling camp for Japan to find counter-plan to
oil refueling in the Indian Ocean, which will expire in Jan.
8) Komeito head Ota in interview discusses anti-terrorist law and
other issues (Nikkei)

9) Comprehensive economic stimulus package outlined: Government
considering supplementary budget (Asahi)

10) Opposition parties plan to thoroughly pursue farm minister
during Diet session for disparaging remark about consumers being
"noisy" (Yomiuri)


1) Poll: Cabinet support at 28 PERCENT

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
August 12, 2008

The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted a face-to-face nationwide public
opinion survey on Aug. 9-10, in which the rate of public support for
Prime Minister Fukuda's cabinet was 28.3 PERCENT , up 1.7 percentage
points from the last face-to-face survey taken July 12-13. The
nonsupport rate for the Fukuda cabinet was 59.7 PERCENT , down 1.6
points. The support rate changed for the better in a telephone-based
spot survey taken Aug. 1-2 after Fukuda's shuffle of his cabinet.
However, the survey taken this time, a week after the cabinet
shuffle, shows that the effect of the cabinet shuffle was

In the survey, those who do not support the Fukuda cabinet were
asked to pick up to two reasons. In the breakdown of their reasons,
43 PERCENT answered that they could not appreciate the Fukuda
cabinet's political stance, with 42 PERCENT saying they could not
expect anything from its economic policy. Respondents were also
asked if they thought the Fukuda cabinet was appropriately dealing
with the recent rising prices. To this question, "yes" accounted for
only 7 PERCENT , with "no" reaching 89 PERCENT .

The Fukuda cabinet's public approval ratings, though the figures
cannot be easily compared, shrank from the 41.3 PERCENT approval
rating and the 47.0 PERCENT disapproval rating in the telephone

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survey taken right after the cabinet shuffle. The public is
apparently dissatisfied with the new Fukuda cabinet's failure to
take swift action against the rising prices. On the incident of food
poisoning from frozen dumplings made in China, the government did
not make public the fact that there were victims in China as well.
This is also believed to have affected the Fukuda cabinet's public
approval rating.

However, when respondents were asked which political party they
would like to vote for in the next election for the House of
Representatives, 31 PERCENT chose the ruling Liberal Democratic
Party (up 6 points from the last survey), with the leading
opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) at 25 PERCENT (down
2 points). The LDP outstripped the DPJ for the first time since May.
Respondents were further asked about the desirable form of
government. To this question, 43 PERCENT chose an LDP-led coalition
government, with 35 PERCENT opting for a DPJ-led government. On the
sidelines of his cabinet shuffle, Fukuda appointed LDP Secretary
General Aso for his appointment of a new lineup of executives for
the LDP. This seems to have boosted public expectations.

Cabinet shuffle's effect disappears

In the latest nationwide public opinion survey taken by the Yomiuri
Shimbun, the Fukuda cabinet's support rate remained at the level of
20 PERCENT . Masao Matsumoto, a professor of political science at
Saitama University and an expert on public opinion surveys, said:
"If the cabinet lineup changes, there will be more people positive
about the new lineup, and the support rate rises. That's natural.
The support rate did not rise so much in the survey. This probably
shows that there is now nothing fresh about the new Fukuda cabinet,
as one week has passed since the cabinet shuffle."

The Yomiuri Shimbun conducts periodic public opinion surveys on a
face-to-face basis. Changes in the cabinet's support ratings need to
be read out from the results of surveys based on the same polling
methodology. Accordingly, the Fukuda cabinet's support rate in the
latest survey is up slightly from the last survey taken in July
before the cabinet shuffle. The periodic survey this time was
conducted about a week after the cabinet shuffle, so the cabinet
shuffle produced little effect.

Meanwhile, the Fukuda cabinet's support rate was over 40 PERCENT in
the telephone-based spot survey. That survey was conducted in a
different way and at a different time. In addition, the periodical
survey's question is "Do you support the cabinet?" In the spot
survey, however, the question was "Do you support the new cabinet?"
This also seems to have affected the public's ratings for the Fukuda

2) U.S. confirms delaying N. Korea delisting

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Abridged)
August 12, 2008

WASHINGTON-U.S. Department of State Acting Deputy Spokesman Robert
Wood, meeting the press on Aug. 11, clarified that it was now
possible for the U.S. government to delist North Korea as a state
sponsor of terrorism but that the U.S. government is unlikely to do
so unless North Korea puts forward a reliable verification regime
for its nuclear declaration. In addition, a State Department
official also confirmed yesterday to the Yomiuri Shimbun that the

TOKYO 00002209 003 OF 009

U.S. government has forgone delisting North Korea. Meanwhile, Japan
and North Korea started working-level talks in China's Shenyang on
Aug. 11 and discussed such issues as North Korea's abduction of
Japanese nationals, one of the reasons the United States has listed
North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

3) North Korea stops short of indicating its view on reinvestigation
into abduction cases

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
August 12, 2008

Formal working-level talks between Japan and North Korea were held
on August 11 at a hotel in Shenyang, China. The Japanese side during
the talks called on North Korea to show a concrete approach to the
reinvestigation into Japanese abductees, which it pledged during the
previous talks in June. In response, North Korea indicated its
intention to come up with its opinion at talks slated for the 12th.

Participating in the talks were Akitaka Saiki, director general of
the Asian and Oceanian Affair Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, and
Song Il Ho, North Korea's ambassador for normalization talks with

The Japanese diplomat demanded that the reinvestigation into
abductees must be such that would lead to the discovery of survivors
and their return to Japan. He also indicated Japan's stand regarding
a method of the reinvestigation and the duration of such. The North
Korean side noted that it would indicate its stand at talks on the

The Japanese side also sought the extradition of hijackers of the
JAL jet named Yodo-go. It then conveyed its policy of implementing
in stages partial easing and lifting of the economic sanctions
against that nation, while monitoring North Korea's response,
including its effort to conduct the reinvestigation, which it had
pledged during the previous talks,.

4) Japan proposes concrete measures for reinvestigation of abduction

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
August 12, 2008

Yoso Furumoto, Shenyang

Working-level talks between Japan and North Korea began yesterday at
a hotel in Shenyang, China, with an eye on resuming negotiations on
normalization of bilateral ties. Regarding a reinvestigation of the
issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, which
Pyongyang agreed to in June, the Japanese side proposed specific
measures such as the method of implementing the reinvestigation and
when to start it. However, a conclusion has been put off to today,
since the North Korea side said that they would respond after
considering those measures.

Foreign Ministry Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General
Akitaka Saiki told the press after the meeting:

"We had very intense discussion. We confirmed anew the
reinvestigation and I conveyed Japan's view in detail about how,
who, what and how long the reinvestigation will be carried out to my

TOKYO 00002209 004 OF 009


The North Korean side reportedly just said to Saiki: "We would like
to tell you our view tomorrow."

Regarding Japan's partial removal of sanctions against the North,
Saiki explained: "I conveyed to my counterpart Japan's principle
that if North Korea takes a big step, we will take a big step. If a
step is small, our step will be small, as well." He indicated that
there would be a step-by-step removal of sanctions depending on
Pyongyang's response.

Meanwhile, the Japanese side demanded again the handover of
hijackers of a JAL plane, but there was no specific progress on the

5) Denuclearization of North Korea now unclear; Delisting of the
nation from U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism put off

ASAHI (Page 2) (Almost full)
August 12, 2008

The U.S. government on August 11 put the official removal of North
Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism on the back
burner. The U.S. has paid for its having wrapped up the North
Korea's nuclear report issue in an ambiguous way. The decision has
cast a pall over progress on the denuclearization of North Korea
during the Bush administration, whose term ends last January. In the
meantime, Japan-North Korea talks to discuss the abduction issue
started in Shenyang, China on August 11.

Japan searches for its own cards

"I thought at the stage when that nation had failed to agree to
accept specific verification steps that there could not be the
delisting of North Korea. This is the natural outcome."

Koumura made this remark, commenting on the U.S. decision to put off
the removal of North Korea from its list of state sponsors of
terrorism, which U.S. Secretary of State Rice conveyed to him in a
telephone conversation

The Japanese government had assumed that seeing through the Bush
administration's impatience in its desire to achieve satisfactory
results as its term approached the end, North Korea would persist
until the deadline. Japan had been determined to protest to the U.S.
if it decided to take North Korea from its list even though
sufficient verification had yet to be carried out, according to
senior Foreign Ministry official.

Japan is relieved for the time being. However, the reason for the
postponement is insufficient verification. It is within the range of
expectations that the U.S. could still take the nation from its list
if it abided by its promise, as Koumura noted. How far Japan could
apply pressure on North Korea regarding the abduction issue is
unclear, once the U.S. removed it from its list. Japan during the
ongoing working-level talks intends to call for the early
implementation of the reinvestigation into Japanese abductees and
the extradition of those involved in the hijacking of the JAL jet
named Yodo-go, using three cards: (1) personnel exchanges; (2)
acceptance of chartered flights; and approval of North Korean
vessels transporting humanitarian goods making port calls in Japan.

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6) Okinawa minister meets governor

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
August 12, 2008

State Minister for Okinawa Affairs Hayashi, who visited Okinawa
Prefecture for the first time since assuming his portfolio, met with
Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima yesterday at the Okinawa prefectural
government office in Naha. On the issue of relocating the U.S.
Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Nakaima asked Hayashi
to reach a conclusion to Okinawa's proposal of removing the danger
of Futenma airfield and moving its replacement facility offshore
from Camp Schwab's coastal area in the island prefecture's northern
coastal city of Nago. Hayashi answered, "The government wants to
work together with Okinawa Prefecture to alleviate the local

7) Ruling parties looking for an alternate to the refueling mission
in the Indian Ocean

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 12, 2008

One senior member after another in the ruling camp have begun to
suggest that the government should look for an alternative to a plan
to continue the Maritime Self-Defense Force's (MSDF) refueling
mission in the Indian Ocean by extending the new Antiterrorism
Special Measures Law at the next extraordinary Diet session. New
Komeito President Akihiro Ota said in an interview with the Nikkei
yesterday that the ruling and opposition camps should meet to
discuss new legislation and other matters. Eyeing also such issues
as when the session should be opened and the timing for the next
House of Representatives election, the government is now in a
quandary over the situation.

In the interview, Ota emphasized: "In order for Japan to
continuously implement antiterror measures, it is imperative for the
ruling and opposition camps to hold discussion again."

Ota indicated a cautious view about a use of an override vote on a
bill extending the said law in the Lower House on the assumption
that the bill would be voted down in the House of Councillors in the
next session. Ota said: "It is unpredictable what judgment the new
U.S. administration would come up with on Iraq and Afghanistan. I
wonder if it would be acceptable for the ruling camp to take the
same step (of using an override vote) as the one last year," adding:
"We cannot tell how long the current two-thirds majority will

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Taro Aso and Executive
Council Chairman Takashi Sasagawa, both of whom assumed office early
this month, referred to a plan to task the MSDF with escorting
Japanese commercial tankers in the Indian Ocean. Ota commented on
Aso's view: "I think he made the proposal as his personal view.
Various views should be welcomed."

Even so, views about contribution measures alternative to refueling
services have yet to be unified in the New Komeito. Party executives
are cautious about the dispatch of Self-Defense Force (SDF) troops
overseas. Now that the dissolution of the Lower House for a snap
election is coming into view, party executives apparently have a

TOKYO 00002209 006 OF 009

desire to delay a conclusion to sometime after the general

Ota spoke of the timing for the next general election: "The key
point is that we should seek the best timing. The attitude of just
waiting for the election won't do." The best timing for the New
Komeito is "sometime between late this year and early next year" in
order to pour its all energies into the Tokyo gubernatorial election
next summer.

If talks are held between the ruling and opposition blocs at the New
Komeito's call, the new administration will be launched in the U.S.
and a Lower House election might be held in Japan. Some speculate
that the New Komeito might be judging this option would be better
than coming under public criticism for a second Lower House vote.

A senior government official said: "Although we have conducted
discussion on various alternative options, we have yet to find out
proper services other than refueling activities. Abstract arguments
are meaningless." If the government aims to continue the MSDF
refueling mission, approval from the New Komeito is imperative. The
government is likely to face difficult coordination with the New

8) Interview with New Komeito President Ota

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 12, 2008

(Lower House dissolution)

It is undesirable for us to just wait for the ideal timing for a
House of Representatives election. We should not be so optimistic
that the ideal time will ever arrive. The Fukuda cabinet should have
a sense of crisis about the current state of people's livelihoods
and small businesses.

We still take the view that the election should come sometime in the
fall or later. When considering that (all Lower House members')
terms of office expire in one year, I think we must prepare for
action. The central issue in the election will be how to change
Japan into a 21st-century nation.

(New Antiterrorism Special Measures Law)

The global situation is changing due to such factors as the
presidential election in the U.S. It is known how long the current
(the ruling camp's) two-thirds majority (In the Lower House) will
last. In order for Japan to continuously implement antiterror
measures, I wonder if it is acceptable to resort to the same tactics
as those of last year. The people are seriously suffering from
soaring oil prices. I understand some take the view that since oil
comes from that region, the government should give top priority to
action there. It is necessary for the ruling and opposition camps to
hold discussions again (on options besides the ongoing refueling
mission in the Indian Ocean), focusing also on the situation one or
two years from now.

(Economic policy)

It think it is possible (to attain the goal of putting the primary
balance of the central and local governments in the black by FY2011)

TOKYO 00002209 007 OF 009

by growing the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) and increasing
tax revenues. The labor-distribution rate also should be raised. It
is necessary to inject buried money (surplus funds in special
accounts) into small businesses under the current situation, though
it might be temporary.

(Switch from structural reform)

The direction of fiscal reconstruction is correct, but it will be
undesirable if the weak are left to bear the burden when they are
suffering from skyrocketing oil and commodity prices. The government
must do its best to tackle "encouraging reforms" rather than painful

(Prospect for political situation)

The government should give priority to consumers and ordinary people
over producers in administering the affairs of state. In this sense,
the Fukuda cabinet's policy direction is in accordance with this
line. (On the possibility of forming a coalition with a political
party other than the Liberal Democratic Party), the situation after
the election is really unpredictable. Under the current situation,
it is impossible to forecast the timing for the election and the
post-election situation.

9) Comprehensive economic stimulus package outlined: Government
considering supplementary budget

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
August 12, 2008

The government and the ruling camp yesterday outlined comprehensive
measures for the "realization of peace of mind" to address rising
crude oil prices and the worsening economy. The package incorporates
assistance to small- and medium-size businesses and the promotion of
the development of energy-saving technologies. The government also
intends to look into compiling a supplementary budget to help
finance the package.

The outline consists of three pillars: (1) dissolving instability in
people's lives, including measures to deal with irregular employment
and the reinforcement of school buildings against earthquakes; (2)
strengthening the Japanese economy, including accelerating the
development of energy-saving technologies and new energy; and (3)
adopting measures to address soaring crude oil prices, including
assistance for improving the structure of industries that bear a
heavy fuel burden, and financial assistance to small and medium-size
businesses. The government will map out specific measures in
accordance with those key proposals.

State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Kaoru Yosano told a
news conference the same day, "Since we have adopted all these
measures, we cannot possibly drop the plan, saying we do not have
money." Concerning various measures to be implemented within fiscal
2008, he indicated the government's stance of looking into
implementing the package with the compilation of a supplementary
budget in mind.

The outline also noted that the comprehensive measures would be
implemented in stages, with the progress on reforming the tax code
taken into account. Though the government is determined to implement
economic stimulus measures to shore up the economy, Yosano indicated

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that it would be necessary to discuss ways to boost revenues,
including a hike in the consumption tax, to secure fiscal resources
to finance measures to be implemented in and after fiscal 2009. He
noted, "We cannot stop discussions of major reform of the tax

10) Opposition parties intend to thoroughly pursue farm minister
Ota's "noisy" remark; Ruling camp concerned about impact on cabinet
support rating

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
August 12, 2008

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi Ota's remarks
that consumers are too "noisy" about food safety are now creating
quite a stir.

Ota, appearing on an NHK TV talk show on Aug. 10, stated: "Japan's
(food) is still safe. However since the public as consumers are too
noisy, we will take stricter measures for food safety." He explained
yesterday about his controversial remarks to reporters at the Prime
Minister's Official Residence: "I meant that unlike socialist
countries, consumers in democratic countries have the right to speak

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda last night told the press corps in a
strong tone: "They were not appropriate remarks. Japanese consumers
have a strict discerning eye about matters in the world. This is a
strong driving force for companies to make better products." Fukuda
seems to have factored in Ota's remarks.

Minister of State for Consumer Administration Seiko Noda told the
press: "Consumer administration is the top priority issue for the
cabinet. I would like (cabinet ministers) to make efforts so as not
to make remarks that cause public misunderstanding" Chief Cabinet
Secretary Nobutaka Machimura told Ota yesterday on the phone: "The
Prime Minister is concerned (about the impact of those remarks). Ota
reportedly said without resistance: "In understand."

Meanwhile, Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Yukio
Hatoyama made a critical comment: "He represents the notion of
respecting the bureaucrats and looking down on the citizenry." The
DPJ intends to demand closed-hearing sessions during the Diet

Yoko Komiyama, vice chair of the DPJ's committee on human rights and
consumer affairs, indicated that Ota's remarks would affect
deliberations on a bill establishing an Consumer Affairs Agency,
which the government will submit to the next extraordinary Diet
session, saying: "Even if creating a Consumer Affairs Agency under
the present cabinet, which has such a minister, the agency would
work well." Social Democratic Party head Mizuho Fukushima pointed

"Such persons as Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General
Taro Aso (who sought to constrain the DPJ by comparing the party to
Nazi Germany) and farm minister Ota, who are prone to make gaffes
have already made slips of the tongue. The cabinet does not
understand the feelings of the public."

Ota was criticized for making the remarks in 2003 about a gang rape
showing young men's vitality. A senior LDP Upper House member

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expressed concern, saying: "He has given them the means of attacking
us. The cabinet support rating that has turned upward after the
cabinet was shuffled may go down."


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