Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 09/05/08
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 09/05/08
1) Top headlines
3) Four candidates declare for LDP presidency: Aso, Yosano, Nobuteru
Ishihara, and Koike (Nikkei)
4) LDP faces dilemma with too many candidates in the presidential
5) Fukuda, the "twilight prime minister," refuses press contacts,
skips important SDF function (Tokyo Shimbun)
6) LDP factions will let members vote freely for the presidential
candidate of their choice (Nikkei)
7) The economy and how to rescue it will be the main campaign issue
in the LDP presidential election (Nikkei)
8) LDP presidential candidate Taro Aso calling for three years of
active fiscal disbursements to pump up economy (Yomiuri)
9) Extra Diet to open on Sept. 24 but duration unsettled: LDP exec
10) Komeito's Secretary General Kitagawa predicts Diet dissolution
right after the supplementary budget is passed (Sankei)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on the move:
11) Alarmed by being overshadowed by the LDP presidential race, the
DPJ launches a media strategy campaign (Tokyo Shimbun)
12) DPJ writing up its own supplementary budget draft to counter
LDP's original version, aim being to gum up the works in the extra
Diet session (Asahi)
North Korea problem:
13) Pyongyang apparently "shocked" by Fukuda's sudden resignation,
which has derailed the easing of sanctions on the DPRK as promised
14) U.S., Japan, ROK delegates to Six-Party Talks to meet in Beijing
to discuss the North's decision to restore its recently disabled
nuclear reactor (Asahi)
15) Defense Minister Hayashi attending off-shore maritime exercise
stresses continuation of oil refueling mission in the Indian Ocean
16) Gov. Ishihara praises USFJ for joining Tokyo's large-scale
disaster drill but motivation question by others (Tokyo Shimbun)
1) TOP HEADLINES
3 lawmakers to challenge Aso in LDP presidential election
Mainichi, Yomiuri & Tokyo Shimbun:
4 candidates set to run for LDP presidential race
LDP presidential election to center on 4 candidates
Yosano announces candidacy for LDP presidential race
TOKYO 00002431 002 OF 012
Now Japanese Communist Party's turn
(1) Okinawa secret pact: Government must open documents
(2) Turmoil in Thailand: Loss of entire Asia
(1) McCain nominated presidential candidate: Keeping distance from
(2) Employment and Human Resources Development Organization: Is
argument calling abolishing body excessive?
(1) Innovation: How can planned fund attract outside capital?
(2) Confusion in Thailand: Weakness of democracy seen
(1) Japan International Broadcasting should dispatch to the world
correct information about Japan
(2) Mitsubishi Trading Co. -- Evading customs duties is problem
(1) LDP presidential race: Candidates must speak up on what they
would do for Japan
(2) Employment and Human Resources Development Organization: Need
for effective vocational training center
(1) Paralympics: Hope for success
(2) Kawabe River dome: Will dome threaten residents?
(1) LDP presidential election: LDP has neither awareness nor
3) Aso, Yosano, Ishihara, Koike to run in LDP presidential election
NIKKEI (Top Play) (Full)
September 5, 2008
Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano, Nobuteru Ishihara,
former Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) policy chief, and former
Defense Minister Yuriko Koike yesterday managed to secure 20
recommendations from LDP lawmakers, the number required to run for a
presidential race. As Secretary General Taro Aso, who is a strong
candidate, has already announced his candidacy, the LDP presidential
election to choose a successor to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is
expected to be contested by four candidates. Yosano has called for
engaging in thorough policy debate. As it stands, the economy,
fiscal reconstruction, among other economic issues will become major
Besides the four, some groups of junior and midlevel members are
looking into the possibility of filing their own candidates.
Yasufumi Tanahashi, former minister in charge of science and
technology policy, last night told the press corps: "I would like to
do my best to run in the presidential election so that a
generational change will take place in the LDP."
TOKYO 00002431 003 OF 012
Yosano has advocated the need for fiscal reconstruction by
increasing the consumption tax rate. Although Ishihara has placed
importance on fiscal discipline, he has attached more emphasis to
economic growth through the easing of regulations and structural
reforms. Aso, on the other hand, is positive about fiscal
disbursement in order to deal with the economic slowdown. He has
suggested that the goal of achieving a surplus in the primary
balance in 2011 could be put off.
Aso was busy yesterday with compiling campaign pledges as he has
planned to announce them early next week. His faction has been
actively working on other faction members to support him. The Ibuki
faction decided yesterday in a meeting its executives to back Aso.
It will today present its request to Aso.
Yosano told the press yesterday at the Prime Minister's Official
Residence: "I was determined yesterday to stand in the election,
engaging in policy debate. The economic policy is one of the key
Prior to this, Yosano visited the office of Mikio Aoki, a member of
the Tsushima faction and former chairman of the LDP caucus in the
Upper House, to inform him of his intention to throw his hat in the
ring. Aoki told him: "I want to support you." Yosano also called on
Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki at
his ministry and asked Tanigaki for cooperation.
Ishihara told reporters yesterday: "I would like to make efforts as
a midlevel lawmaker to make sure the presidential election is full
of lively discussion." He also stressed: "It is nonsense to compile
a 4-5 trillion yen supplementary budget, since the situation is not
so bad that financial institutions will go bankrupt." The Yamasaki
faction, to which Ishihara belongs, will make a decision on its
Asked by reporters about her efforts to collect recommendations,
Koike said with confidence: "I think I'm doing well." After a
meeting of the Machimura faction, to which she belongs, Koike said:
"I will maintain fiscal discipline, while attaching more priority to
economic growth. It is a difficult issue, but I will find a
4) LDP facing dilemma with several members intending to run in
presidential race: Will divided field benefit Aso? Party concerned
about decline in public interest
NIKKEI (Page 3) (Full)
September 5, 2008
Many in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) welcome the prospect of
several candidates running in the party's presidential race, with
one member saying, "We can expect an active policy debate." Some
believe that if many candidates run, it will work to the advantage
of Secretary General Taro Aso, who is viewed as the frontrunner.
Anti-Aso forces are caught in a dilemma.
Moves to field rival candidates have rapidly spread, reflecting a
sense of alarm in the party that if Aso is elected unopposed, the
rumor that Prime Minister Fukuda made a secret deal with Aso to
transfer power to him could reemerge, destroying the party.
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However, supply-side advocates in the LDP, who are distancing
themselves from Aso over economic policy, are concerned that if the
number of candidates increases, anti-Aso votes will be split. There
is also concern that if anti-Aso forces allow Aso an easy victory,
public interest in the election would wane.
Should that occur, the LDP's strategy of boosting its public support
through a dramatic presidential election with the next Lower House
election in mind would be derailed.
There is a possibility that anti-Aso forces could unite behind a
single candidate. Aso is the head of the sixth-largest faction in
the party, and his power base is not necessarily strong.
One senior member of the Aso faction said, "We want to pursue a
policy debate with several rival candidates instead of seeing
anti-Aso forces emotionally band together."
5) Prime Minister Fukuda rejects impromptu interviews and skips SDF
meeting; Experts urge him to perform duties
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 30) (Abridged slightly)
September 5, 2008
Following his refusal of impromptu interviews, Prime Minister Yasuo
Fukuda was absent form an important SDF meeting. His abrupt
announcement of his resignation has provoked a national outcry.
Although he is to remain in office until later this month, Fukuda
has been behaving if he has already resigned. Retired SDF officers
and crisis-management experts indicated that he should fully perform
his duties to the end, citing a plethora of pressing issues.
After announcing his resignation on the night of Sept. 1, Fukuda has
refused the impromptu interviews that had been carried out daily
previously. He was also absent from the SDF senior officers' meeting
that took place at the Defense Ministry on Sept. 3.
A senior officers' meeting is held annually to take the prime
minister's instructions to their respective units. Over the last 10
years, Junichiro Koizumi was the only prime minister who failed to
attend such meetings. He was absent twice due to overseas trips.
Fukuda, who was chief cabinet secretary at the time, attended them
as Koizumi's proxy.
Former GSDF Middle Army Commanding General Matsushima said angrily:
"He seems to be lacking the awareness as commander in chief of the
SDF. Having attended the meetings as the prime minister's proxy when
he was serving as chief cabinet secretary, it was unlikely that this
year's meeting slipped him mind. The prime minister must perform his
duties. The officers must have been waiting for instructions from
their commander in chief. For Mr. Fukuda, it might have been a minor
event. Nevertheless, it is regrettable that he was not able to sense
the feeling of those ignored."
Fukuda attended a meeting yesterday of a blue-ribbon panel on
government document archives. In the session, the prime minister
said with a smile on his face: "Records must be kept in an orderly
manner so that events like the prime minister's sudden resignation
can be found easily 100 or 1,000 years from now." There was no
apology for his sudden resignation in the Fukuda cabinet's Sept. 4
email magazine, either.
TOKYO 00002431 005 OF 012
Crisis-management consultant Tatsumi Tanaka noted: "When a top
corporate leader quits, he quickly loses passion for the job. A
person's true worth is determined by how he fulfills his
responsibilities when quitting. A crisis could occur today. I am
very worried that a vacuum might emerge in the crisis-management
system because of the de facto absence of the country's top
President Hiroshi Sugimoto of Kinsei Rubber of Sumida Ward said
disapprovingly: "He really does not understand the position of the
prime minister. In the private sector, it's impossible to walk off
job like that."
6) Most factions to allow members to vote their own choices in the
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
September 5, 2008
A major change can be seen in the moves of the Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) factions to field candidates for the upcoming party
presidential election. As of yesterday, Secretary General Taro Aso
is the only faction leader who has announced his candidacy. In
addition, the Aso and Ibuki factions are the only two factions that
have decided to require its members to vote for faction-endorsed
candidates. "Divisions" are seen in many factions. An increasing
number of factions have decided to allow their members to vote for
their own choices.
Former Upper House Caucus Chairman Mikio Aoki indicated yesterday
that he would back Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano.
Two days earlier, Sept. 2, the day the election timetable was
determined, Aoki told Chairman Yuji Tsushima of the Tsushima
faction, to which Aoki belongs, that even if the Lower House allowed
its members to make their own decisions, the Upper House would act
as one body. To most Tsushima faction executives, Aoki's action was
a bolt from the blue.
Lower House Tsushima faction members are still divided over Aso.
Chances are that the members will be allowed in the end to vote on
their own volition.
Yosano has been supported by the fiscal reconstruction group,
including Policy Research Council Senior Deputy Chairman Hiroyuki
Sonoda, and the so-called Koizumi's children who won Lower House
seats for the first time in the 2005 "postal" election. The Tsushima
faction is likely to join them.
Former Policy Research Council Chairman Nobuteru Ishihara is backed
mostly by mid-level lawmakers who were referred to as the "new
policy breed" in the party in the late 1990s. A structural
reform-oriented group led by former Secretary General Hidanao
Nakagawa is supporting former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike. Support
all rests on personal ties transcending faction lines.
Machimura faction in confusion
The faction led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura,
having decided not to field its own candidate, is somewhat
disoriented. With Koike in mind, Seishiro Eto in yesterday's
luncheon meeting of Tokyo-based lawmakers urged them to throw
unified support behind a faction member willing to run in the race.
TOKYO 00002431 006 OF 012
But his comment received a cold reception.
Meanwhile, Masaaki Shibayama, a junior member, called for the
elimination of factional influence, saying: "When visions differ,
the faction should let us back candidates belonging to other
factions." Throughout the meeting, no one cited Koike.
In yesterday's executive meeting, some said that Nakagawa should
throw his hat in the ring. But Nakagawa simply said: "I am
responsible for the party's defeat in the Upper House election, so I
will refrain from running in this presidential race." In the
luncheon meeting that lasted one hour and 40 minutes, 19 members
expressed their views. After the meeting, the faction's secretary
general, Nariaki Nakayama, said to the press corps: "We are not in
an age when a faction can force its members to vote for a certain
Ibuki faction set to back Aso
The Ibuki faction is the only faction other than the Aso faction
that has decided to rally around Aso. But some in the faction are
eager to back Yosano.
The Koga faction is leaning toward the view that fielding Land,
Infrastructure and Transport Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki is
difficult. In a meeting with junior members last night, Election
Strategy Council Chairman Makoto Koga indicated that his faction
would leave the voting to the discretion of individual members,
saying: "Mr. Tanigaki and I are responsible for the establishment of
the Fukuda administration. This time around, our members may have to
There is a high likelihood that the Yamasaki faction, too, will let
its members make their own choices without adhering to Ishihara
7) LDP presidential race will likely be contested between Aso and
three other candidates: Clear differences in stances over structural
reforms, consumption tax seen; War of words over economy likely to
NIKKEI (Page 3) (Slightly abridged)
September 5 2008
The major campaign issue in the upcoming Liberal Democratic Party's
(LDP) presidential race will be the management of the economy and
state finances. The pattern of confrontation in the race lines up
Secretary General Taro Aso, who is calling for a shift to a positive
fiscal policy line from the government's current stance of attaching
importance to the economy, against State Minister for Kaoru Yosano,
who is calling for maintaining fiscal discipline. The race also
includes former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike and former Policy
Research Council Chairman Nobuteru Ishihara, who are both seeking to
uphold the structural reform line. Maneuvering among party members,
who all have their eyes on the next Lower House election, has begun
to transcend traditional factional boundary lines.
Yosano yesterday told the press why he has decided to run in the
presidential race. He said, "It is desirable for the new president
to be elected after open policy debate." Yosano's longstanding pet
argument is that it is unavoidable to raise the consumption tax in
order to maintain the social security system, which is faltering
TOKYO 00002431 007 OF 012
under the weight of the rapidly aging society. Asked about his view
of the role expected of the next prime minister, Yosano during a
press conference on the 2nd said, "It is to set a path for fiscal
Propriety of Koizumi policy line
Aso hinted at putting on hold the government's goal of moving the
primary balance into the black by fiscal 2011, noting: "The economy
has entered a recessionary phase. It is necessary to adopt economic
stimulus measures." He intends to include in his manifesto boosting
local economies as a showcase. This has been one reason for the
present situation of LDP local chapters, which are beset by battered
local economies, pinning hopes on Aso becoming the next LDP
president. Yosano's declaration of his candidacy will challenge Aso,
who has been seeking to leave his opponents far behind in the race,
forcing him to respond to a head-on policy debate with him.
There is actually a strong criticism of Aso's policy as rejecting
the structural reform policy line adopted during the Koizumi
Former Defense Minister Koike on the 4th clarified her stance one of
the supply-side advocates in the LDP, saying, "Fiscal discipline
should be maintained, while importance being attached to economic
growth. The key point is whether structural reforms can be upheld."
Former Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, who is seen as Koike's
backer, has been insisting that the government goal of moving the
primary balance into the black by fiscal 2011 should be achieved
through economic growth and far-reaching spending cuts, without
resorting to a consumption tax hike. Koike is also eager to
thoroughly carry out administrative reform, saying, "Tax money is
being spent in a wasteful way."
Former Secretary General Ishihara also expressed his disagreement
with Aso's economic policy as one reason why he decided to run in
the race. He said, "Mr. Aso's thoughts are not those of the LDP. My
stance is diametrically opposed to that of Mr. Aso."
8) Outline of Aso's policy platform: Aggressive public spending for
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
September 5, 2008
The outline of the policy platform of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Secretary General Taro Aso, who will run in the party's upcoming
presidential race, was revealed yesterday, September 4. The policy
platform, "Japan's Potential," calls for continuing economic
stimulus measures without hesitating to boost fiscal expenditures
for the next three years, citing that it would take three years for
the Japanese economy to recover. This means effectively putting on
the back burner the government's goal of moving the primary balance
into the black by fiscal 2011. Aso's policy platform will be
released at a press conference to be held on the 8th.
The policy platform also promotes fixed-rate cuts in income and
residential taxes. Concerning the consumption tax, the outline
simply notes that a national debate should be pursued to secure
stable fiscal resources.
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On the policy front, Aso indicates his desire to continue refueling
operations in the Indian Ocean by the Maritime Self-Defense Force
(MSDF), noting that Japan will not flee from the war on terror. In
particular, concerning the North Korea issue, he says that he will
make a logical response to security issues and that he will also
work on the abduction issue.
The outline also includes his policy of establishing a consumer
agency, which Prime Minister Fukuda has advocated. It also lists
measures for the working poor, including raising the minimum wage
level, the promotion of decentralization and the introduction of a
doshu or regional bloc system.
9) Extra Diet session to convene Sept. 24, duration unclear: LDP
SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
September 5, 2008
Tadamori Oshima, chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's
Diet Affairs Committee, said in a satellite TV program yesterday:
"We're thinking of calling the next extraordinary Diet session on
September 24. After the (LDP) presidential election, we'll have to
hold it to designate the prime minister." However, Oshima did not go
so far as to clarify how long the extra Diet session will last.
"It's a delicate situation," he said.
10) Diet dissolution after extra budget passage: Kitagawa
SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
September 5, 2008
New Komeito Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa, meeting the press
yesterday, indicated that it would be preferable for his party to
have the House of Representatives dissolved for a general election
after the supplementary budget passes the Diet during its
extraordinary session. "We've agreed with the Liberal Democratic
Party's leadership to make sure to compile the supplementary budget
in order to implement an emergency economic stimulus package,"
Kitagawa said. "I don't think the Diet can easily be dissolved right
after the LDP's presidential election," he added.
11) DPJ launches media campaign so as not to be overshadowed by LDP
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
September 5, 2008
Now that it has become certain that several Liberal Democratic Party
members will compete in the party presidential election, Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama anxiously
said: "The media's attention has been directed at the Liberal
Democratic Party's presidential election." This trend might result
in bringing about a blow to the main opposition party in the next
House of Representatives election, which is likely to take place by
the end of the year. The DPJ's media campaign team urgently held a
meeting yesterday to map out measures to strengthen its
information-transmission capability. The party has begun to move to
prevent itself from being overshadowed by the LDP.
In the DPJ, it is likely to be decided on Sept. 8, the official
announcement day of the party presidential election, that President
TOKYO 00002431 009 OF 012
Ichiro Ozawa will win a third term without a formal vote. In the
LDP, however, active debate on economic policy is expected among the
In the media team meeting yesterday, Hatoyama expressed a sense of
alarm, remarking: "Our party's presence is likely to vanish. It is
important to show the people what we are doing." Public Relations
Committee Chairman Yoshihiko Noda, who once decided to run for the
party presidency but later gave up on his candidacy, critically
said: "(The LDP) apparently is trying to stage-manage the
presidential race and give a boost to the administration."
Hatoyama and other DPJ executives remember the time when the Lower
House was dissolved in 2005 over postal privatization. Media
attention was focused on the fights between "assassins" sent by the
LDP led by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and LDP postal
rebels. As a result, the DPJ suffered a crushing defeat.
This time, too, if the next prime minister, taking advantage of the
momentum in the aftermath of the presidential election, dissolves
the Lower House, the same situation might occur.
In the meeting, one member said: "The course of things will begin to
change after the new prime minister comes into office. The game will
start then." But all the party can do now is to play up its policies
through executive members' inspection tours. It has prepared no
Deputy President Naoto Kan said in a press conference: "We should
perform our initial duties without moving about in confusion. Aiming
for a real change of government, the party should make preparations
on policies, candidates, and an election strategy.
12) DPJ starts drafting own supplementary budget counterproposal,
centered on fiscal disbursements for social security
ASAHI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
September 5, 2008
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has started to compile its own
package of job and economic stimulus measures, centered on fiscal
disbursements for social security policy measures and designed to
counter the government's fiscal 2008 supplementary budget bill that
aims to tackle the receding economy. The idea is to make it a
campaign issue in the next Lower House election.
DPJ Acting President Naoto Kan and Policy Board Chairman Masayuki
Naoshima met on the third to discuss the party's response to the
flat-sum tax cut worked out by the government and ruling parties.
They confirmed a policy course of the DPJ coming up with it own
counterproposal that would have a greater impact on the economy in
terms of jobs and consumption than the flat tax cut. The package
would focus on fiscal resources in the social security area, such as
medical care, nursing care, pensions, and measures to help the
disabled. There is also an intention of forcing an early Diet
dissolution by using the opportunity of the DPJ's opposition to the
government's supplementary budget bill.
13) North Korea shocked at Fukuda resignation, seeing hopes for
partial removal of sanctions dashed
SANKEI (Page 6) (Excerpts)
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September 5, 2008
North Korea has been shocked at Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's abrupt
announcement of his decision to step down. The Kim Jong Il regime
had hoped the Fukuda administration would partially remove economic
sanctions against it. In the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the
establishment of the nation on Sept. 9, Pyongyang hoped to show the
lifting of sanctions as one of its political achievements. Senior
members of the General Federation of Korean Residents in Japan had
planned to visit North Korea, on the premise that Japan would
partially lift sanctions, but the members had to cancel the visit
following Fukuda's resignation announcement. As it stands,
Japan-North Korea relations will inevitably reach a stalemate, and
North Korea might begin to take a tough stance toward Japan.
Three North Korean newspapers in their editorials early this year
defined the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state as "a
year of changes that will go down in history." According to North
Korean sources, the changes indicate "progress in Japan-North Korea
negotiations" and "America delisting North Korea as a state sponsor
of terrorism." Pyongyang intended hold up Japan's removal of
sanctions in exchange for the North's reinvestigation into the
abduction issue as a surrender on the part of Tokyo.
Japan and North Korea resumed bilateral talks this June after a
lapse of nine months. In mid-August, both sides agreed to set up a
committee on reinvestigation of the abduction issue. Since
coordination on the details of the committee did not go smoothly in
the Japanese government, the committee was not established by late
August despite an agreement. Then the Fukuda administration
The U.S. froze its delisting plan due to concerns about nuclear
verification. In reaction, the North has resorted to restoring its
main reactor. North Korea also sees Japan's removal of sanctions put
on hold. A source connected to Japan-North Korea relations said:
"There is no showcase for National Foundation Day."
14) Japanese, South Korean, U.S. representatives set talks on North
Korea in Beijing
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
September 5, 2008
Chief negotiators from Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. will meet in
Beijing on Sept. 5 for talks on North Korea's denuclearization
process at a time when the North has begun restoring its Yongbyon
reactor. According to Japanese diplomatic sources, the three envoys
are scheduled to hold a series of trilateral and bilateral meetings,
including bilateral talks with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu
Dawei, the chair of the six-party talks.
The envoys will discuss how to work on North Korea to accept their
verification plan. On whether Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea's top
negotiator, would travel to Beijing during the three envoys' stay, a
senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official said: "There is no
information about it for now."
Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs bureau Director
General Akitaka Saiki, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East
Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill, and South Korean Foreign
Affairs and Trade Ministry's Special Representative for Korean
TOKYO 00002431 011 OF 012
Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Sook will meet for the
first time since they met in Tokyo in June. A Japanese diplomatic
source stressed: "North Korea's moves might interrupt the six-party
talks and bring about a serious situation." He indicated that Japan
would deal with North Korea in cooperation with the U.S. and South
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu stated in a press
conference on the 4th: "The countries should hold thorough talks and
keep in close contact in an effort to overcome difficulties and
resolve the problem at an early date."
15) Defense minister stresses need to continue MSDF refueling
SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
September 5, 2008
Defense Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi yesterday embarked on the
Maritime Self-Defense Force supply ship Tokiwa, which has been
engaged in refueling activities in the Indian Ocean, to inspect its
seaborne refueling operation in waters off the Miura Peninsula of
Kanagawa Prefecture. He there emphasized the importance of
continuing the MSDF's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.
"The MSDF has conducted refueling drills over the past 30 years,"
Hayashi told reporters onboard the Tokiwa after the inspection. "I
don't think we can hand over the task to another country," he
In the meantime, the House of Representatives is now more likely to
be dissolved at an early date for a general election. The government
has plans to introduce a bill amending the new Antiterrorism Special
Measures Law in order to continue the MSDF's refueling mission in
the Indian Ocean. The legislation, however, may not clear the Diet
during extraordinary session. "I will make efforts to make it
possible to continue the refueling mission somehow," Hayashi said.
16) Disaster drill participation "for U.S. military"
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 31) (Full)
September 5, 2008
The Tokyo metropolitan government conducted a disaster drill on Aug.
31, and U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) participated in the drill for the
third year in a row with a 40,000-ton ship, the largest ever for the
drill. USFJ has been deepening its cooperation with local
governments from year to year under the slogan of 'disaster
prevention.' However, there seems to be no end to trouble over the
U.S. military presence in Japan. Local officials are concerned that
such cooperation makes it hard to see what the problem is.
The USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship of the U.S. Navy, was
anchored in Tokyo Bay off Kasai.
"We're honored to be able to participate in the drill. I hope you
realize how high this ship's capability is when dispatched on a
disaster relief mission." With this, U.S. Naval Forces Japan
Commander Rear Adm. James Kelly looked proud in his briefing of
about 100 participants, including Tokyo metropolitan government
TOKYO 00002431 012 OF 012
personnel, in a simulation to carry those who are affected in a
disaster and can hardly get home.
The USS Essex-currently based at Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture-has a
displacement of 40,650 tons and an overall length of 257 meters. The
Essex, also known as a light flattop, is far larger than the USS
Gary, a 4,100-ton frigate, and the USS Tortuga, a 15,939-ton landing
craft, both of which participated in the Tokyo metropolitan
government's disaster drills in the past two years.
One of the Essex's features is its full lineup of medical facilities
with a total of 600 beds. This scale is equivalent to a hospital and
largest among U.S. naval vessels with the exception of hospital
ships. The Essex has an operating room and an intensive care unit
(ICU), and she has even a dental clinic.
"I feel very encouraged," said Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, who
inspected the drill onboard the Essex. A senior official from the
Tokyo metropolitan government also gave high marks, saying: "The
U.S. military sent a large ship that needs a large number of
crewmembers. This shows their positive stance."
Meanwhile, late this month the USS George Washington, a
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy, will arrive at
Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, for deployment. Japan cannot check
the George Washington's safety, and this causes local residents to
feel uneasy. Under international law, Japan cannot inspect U.S.
military vessels. U.S. military bases in Japan are also beyond
Japanese law, according to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement
or SOFA for short.
Actually, U.S. military vessels have caused trouble. Last month, it
was brought to light that the USS Houston, a nuclear-powered
submarine, had leaked a trace of radiation for two years from 2006
during its port calls at Yokosuka and Sasebo. The government did not
disclose this fact, resulting in facing strong criticism.
"The U.S. military's participation in our disaster drills is
inconceivable, based on our local feelings," said a senior official
of Okinawa Prefecture's Ginowan City, which is saddled with the U.S.
military's Futenma airfield. The city's population is daily exposed
to the risk of helicopter crashes and the flight training of
Futenma-based choppers over the city's residential areas.
The Ginowan city official said: "A disaster drill is pleasing to the
ear, but for the U.S. military it's just a kind of military training
exercise for themselves. Taking advantage of disaster prevention,
they may tell us to remain somewhat patient. We'll have to go over
the SOFA that gives them privileges. In addition, and there are
problems we must first resolve.