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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 10/17/08

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PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #2896/01 2910801
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170801Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8009
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/USDOT WASHDC PRIORITY
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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 2784
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 0431
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 4177
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 8488
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 1004
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5883
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1879
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2130

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 09 TOKYO 002896

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 10/17/08

INDEX:

(1) Premier considering holding Lower House election on Nov. 30:
Seeking chance of winning, touting economy as his selling point
(Nikkei)

(2) Editorial: Diet debate on refueling bill should be carried out
from broad perspective for Afghanistan (Asahi)

(3) Gap between Japan and U.S. over nuclear and abduction issues
(Sankei)

(4) Aso's favorite phrase is "for some reason or other": Is he
trying to conceal his embarrassment or give evasive answers? (Asahi)


(5) Maher: Environmental protection factored into Futenma relocation
plan (Ryukyu Shimpo)

(6) TOP HEADLINES

(7) EDITORIALS

(8) Prime Minister's schedule, October 16 (Nikkei)

ARTICLES:

(1) Premier considering holding Lower House election on Nov. 30:
Seeking chance of winning, touting economy as his selling point

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
October 17, 2008

Prime Minister Aso has started looking into a scenario of dissolving
the Lower House by early November and holding a general election on
November 30, based on the view that in order to steer his
administration, it would be indispensable to gain popular support,
by winning a victory in the next Lower House election with the
catchphrase "Aso for the economy." However, now that the financial
crisis is having a serious impact on the real economy, it is not
easy to determine the right timing.

LDP ready to go

LDP Election Committee Chairman Makoto Koga at a party of LDP Lower
House members on October 16 said, "Dissolution of the Lower House
and a snap election have come within range. The prime minister is
good at skeet shooting. He is now about to pull the trigger." He
thus corrected his statement made on the 9th that it is not possible
for the LDP to contest the next election with the current economic
climate.

Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda also said at another party of
Lower House members: "We are looking into compiling a package of
economic stimulus measures that will lead to a second supplementary
budget and then seeking the judgment of the people. A chance for
dissolving the Lower House for a snap election will come soon."

When he took office, Aso was toying with the idea of dissolving the
Lower House in early October at the outset of the extraordinary Diet
session and holding an election in early November. However, the New
York Stock Exchange registered the biggest loss in history on the

TOKYO 00002896 002 OF 009


day Aso made that statement. As a result, he had to order the early
start of Diet deliberations on the supplementary budget bill.

The prime minister has shifted his focus from "political crisis
rather than policy" to "economic stimulus package rather than
dissolution of the Lower House." However, the situation does not
allow him to devote himself to economic stimulus measures. Former
Secretary General Nobutaka Machimura at a meeting of senior members
of his faction revealed an outlook that the election would be held
on November 30. One senior member of the faction asked one of the
members of the leadership, "We want you to let junior members start
moving with a November 30 election as a premise."

Those who want to see an early dissolution think that the prime
minister should dissolve the Lower House while his administration is
still enjoying high support ratings right after the launching. Many
junior members are calling for putting off a Lower House
dissolution. They eagerly want the prime minister to decide to put
off the dissolution, because their reserve funds for the election
will not last long. In any case, both want the prime minister to
make a decision quickly.

The New Komeito now wants to have a Lower House election on November
30, instead of early November as insisted previously. Its members
are becoming impatient with one noting, "It is unforgivable not to
hold an election, after making us use money and manpower to this
extent." There is also an observation that the New Komeito had
applied pressure on the prime minister and the LDP on the strength
of its cooperation in the upcoming Lower House election.

Narrowing options

The DPJ's "smile strategy" of cooperating for the handling of bills
to pave the way for an early Lower House dissolution will end at the
end of the month. If it becomes certain that there will be no
dissolution, then the DPJ is bound to switch to a resistance policy.
There is a significant risk of the prime minister finding himself
held up because of the divided Diet, where the DPJ controls the
Upper House.

Another scenario is that if a Lower House election slips to
December, it is bound to affect the year-end compilation of the
budget, hurting Aso's catchphrase "Aso for the economy." It is
difficult to allow political vacuum to occur from January through
March next year, a period for Diet deliberations on the fiscal 2009
budget. As such, while a timeframe in which the Lower House can be
dissolved is narrowing rapidly, a time until the current term for
lower house members ends in September next year would come. The
prime minister appears to be inclining to hold an election next
month.

(2) Editorial: Diet debate on refueling bill should be carried out
from broad perspective for Afghanistan

ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
October 17, 2008

The Diet will start today deliberations on whether Japan should
allow the Maritime Self-Defense Force to continue its refueling
operation in the Indian Ocean with an eye on what Japan can or
should do for an international effort to fight against terrorism.


TOKYO 00002896 003 OF 009


It was exactly seven years ago when attacks on Afghanistan began in
October 2001 soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United
States. The battle ended in just one month and the government of
President Hamid Karzai was inaugurated in that country. However, the
development of that country has been far from the international
community's expectation.

The whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist
organization, has yet to be uncovered. As the Taliban has renewed
vitality, foreign forces taking part in the International Security
Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) have been on the defense. It
is said that the Karzai administration has control of less than 30
PERCENT of the entire country. Civilian and military casualties
have rapidly increased. Even Japanese nationals were casualties.

A pessimistic view that the Taliban will uncontrollably gain power
if nothing is done is spreading now in the U.S. government.

There are probably many reasons for such developments. For example,
security in Afghanistan has deteriorated because the U.S. military
was forced to cut down its strength there due to the Iraq war. Money
from poppy growing and drug smuggling became funding sources for the
resurgence of the Taliban. Other reasons include the collusive
nature of the Karzai government, many Afghan civilian casualties by
U.S. air strikes, and the loss of popular support.

The Bush administration has called on countries concerned for
additional dispatch of troops, shifting to a policy of reinforcing
its military strength. However, many countries have been reluctant
to do so. There are countries that have decided not to dispatch more
troops for the reason that in order to improve security in
Afghanistan, there is no other choice but to strengthen the Afghan
military. The notion being floated is to ask countries that will not
send more troops and countries that have not dispatched troops to
boost their shares of the war expenditures.

A British military commander in Afghanistan said: "We cannot defeat
the Taliban by military power" ultimately. This may be a conclusion
that the international community has finally arrived at after seven
years.

Therefore, what the international community should do is to conclude
a peace agreement with a moderate Taliban group through dialogue so
that the al-Qaeda terrorist group will be isolated. President
Karzai, who initially opposed a dialogue with al-Qaeda, and the U.S.
government have finally focused on the possibility of dialogue.

At the same time, it is important to send the dividends of peace to
Afghan people by boosting reconstruction assistance. It is also
necessary to have more Pashans join the Afghan government. The
Pashans are the main force of the Taliban. This will eventually lead
to the stabilization of the political situation in Pakistan, a
neighboring country of Afghanistan.

The present international effort to support Afghanistan, including
political, civilian and military assistance, should be reconsidered.
It may be difficult to launch a full-fledged study before the
inauguration of a new U.S. government. Until the new U.S. government
is launched, such moves as cross-border attacks against Pakistan
that would complicate the situation should be refrained.

It is meaningful for Japan to discuss now in the Diet as to how it

TOKYO 00002896 004 OF 009


should contribute to international efforts to reconstruct
Afghanistan and eradicate international terrorism. The Diet should
carry out a debate not only on the government-drafted bill aimed to
continue Japan's refueling operation but also on the Democratic
Party of Japan's (DPJ) counterproposals from a broad perspective.

(3) Gap between Japan and U.S. over nuclear and abduction issues

SANKEI (Page 13) (Abridged)
October 17, 2008

By Fuji Kamiya, professor emeritus, Keio University

Weak-kneed Six-Party members

The United States has now removed North Korea from its list of state
sponsors of terrorism. What is most puzzling about this matter is
that North Korea is referred to as a "terrorism-sponsoring" nation.
I find this expression odd.

As was admitted by the North Korean dictator himself, the North
abducted Japanese nationals for many years. Abduction is
unmistakably an act of terrorism. North Korea should be called a
terrorist nation instead of a terrorism-sponsoring nation. In my
view, a weak-kneed response to the North by the Six-Party members,
including the United States, lies behind this expression.

It is not about a matter of rhetoric. The United States designated
North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1988. At that point,
Japanese abductees were not officially recognized by the Japanese
government.

The Six-Party Talks began in 2003. Over the next five years, the
denuclearization of North Korea has dominated the talks, and the
abduction issue has rarely been discussed in plenary sessions.

U.S. likely to opt for an agreement by making compromises

The first term of the administration of President George W. Bush was
rather good in that it upheld a severe policy regarding the North
Korean nuclear issue. The administration, for instance, resolutely
demanded the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement
(CVID) of the North Korea nuclear programs.

A shift to conciliatory policy occurred in the second term of the
Bush administration, when Condoleezza Rice became secretary of state
after the departure of Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense.

The U.S. used to demand that the North must totally eliminate its
nuclear programs. The policy has been reduced to preventing nuclear
weapons from spreading to such rogue states as Iran and Syria and
international terrorism groups like Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Softening up its nuclear policy to that extent, it seems only
natural for the United States to find it difficult to line up with
Japan's hard-line approach on the abduction issue. Even so, it is
improper to justify Japan and blame the United States alone for a
rift between two countries over the North Korean nuclear issue.

Senior U.S. official have reiterated that they would not leave the
abduction issue behind, while Japanese officials have repeatedly
indicated that Japan has not lost its leverage with the delisting.

TOKYO 00002896 005 OF 009

Although those words are easy on the ears, they all lack specifics
about what constitutes a settlement of the abduction issue.

In Japan's public opinion, a settlement constitutes bringing all
abductees back to Japan and the complete clarification of complex
and odd circumstances surrounding the abductions. Japan is not in a
mood to find a settlement line somewhere between two opposing
assertions. In the end, we might have to settle on the "current
situation plus something extra," which is a far cry from the mood of
Japan's public opinion.

Meanwhile, the United States thinks there is no other option but to
make compromises in talks to reach an agreement. The question is how
to bridge the gap between Japan and the United States.

Independent ability to set off the North to take action

Work to find a settlement line is likely cause a fissure between
those who benefit from it and those who do not. Additionally, it
might cause not only serious mental stress in society but also bring
instability to Japan-U.S. relations. This tough issue could be
postponed, but we must be prepared to tackle it sooner or later.

Over the last some 60 years since the end of World War II, Japan has
endeavored to increase its economic power and international position
based on its alliance with the United States.

All in all, this policy course has brought about substantial
results. But for that, Japan has had to pay a huge price, namely its
own international political right not to depend on other countries.

Regarding Japan's hard-line approach on the abduction issue, Tokyo
cannot expect much from the United States in the future. Frankly
speaking, the other members of the Six Party Talks are gazing at
Tokyo with even colder eyes (than the United States). Will an
isolated Japan be able to be strong enough to independently nudge
the North to take action?

There is no doubt that Japan has a powerful weapon called a solid
ability to extend economic assistance. The question is if Japan's
political will is strong enough to seek a total resolution of the
abduction issue without attaching any conditions? A tug-of-war is
about to begin between Japan's public opinion and international
reality.

(4) Aso's favorite phrase is "for some reason or other": Is he
trying to conceal his embarrassment or give evasive answers?

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
October 16, 2008

Prime Minister Aso, whose distinctive personality is that he uses
rough language, has several favorite phrases. While he tries to be
explicit, by frequently using such words as "properly (kichinto)"
and "basically (kihon teki ni)," to keep up conversations, he
noticeably uses the phrase "for some reason or other (nantonaku)."
He uses this phrase when answering to reporters in impromptu
interviews. It sounds as if he uses that word to give evasive
answers so that he can avoid committing himself.

It has been about three weeks since Aso took office as prime

TOKYO 00002896 006 OF 009


minister. The number of times he uses the phrase "for some reason or
other" during impromptu interviews at the Kantei, which takes place
every day and during replies at Lower and Upper House Budget
Committee meetings tops 50 a day. He also frequently uses words like
"what shall I say (nanteino)" and "kind of (nanka)." The number of
times he uses such words has totaled over 80.

For instance, he kept using the phrase "for some reason or other"
during telephone conversations with two Japanese Nobel laureates in
physics on October 7. During the conversation with Professor
Toshihide Masukawa at Kyoto Sangyo University, he said, ""What shall
I say,' 'this sort of thing,' 'what shall I say,' the elementary
particles theory or something like that..." and "For some reason or
other, for some reason or other, we should have 'kind of' dreams. We
should not think studying or physics is difficult for 'some reason
or other'."

He made a similar remark in conversation with Makoto Kobayashi,
professor emeritus, at the High Energy Accelerator Research
Organization: "I often hear young people have no dreams for 'some
reason or other'. Since persons who have worked hard and done steady
research received the Nobel Prize, I feel you the results of your
steady efforts or efforts have borne fruit 'for some reason or
other.'"

He used the phrase "for some reason or other" 11 times in just two
two-minute conversations with them.

In impromptu interviews, he often tries to dictate conversation, by
raising questions or giving replies in the middle of questions. Even
so, he tends to use the phrase "for some reason or other."

He spoke his mind the day after he took office as prime minister: "I
felt anew that I have many people around me 'for some reason or
other.' I strongly felt the importance of my responsibility." He
complained about a question-and-answer session with DPJ Chairman
Ozawa during a plenary session of the Lower House, "We argued on
different planes 'for some reason or other.'"

In connection with global warming, Aso said when he released a list
of cabinet ministers on September 24 right after his assumption of
office, "A sea change is clearly occurring around us for some reason
or other." It is unclear whether he meant that it is clear that a
sea change is occurring or he meant that a sea change is occurring
for some reason or other.

The Kojien dictionary defines "nantonaku" as "for no specific
reason." The word is incongruous for the prime minister, who has a
reputation as a straight-talker. His frequent use of the word can be
taken as intended to cover his embarrassment.

An old acquaintance of Aso said: "Nantonaku had long been his
favorite phrase. I told him that since he is a politician, he should
say things clearly. He should stop using that phrase. However, he is
continuing to use it."

(5) Maher: Environmental protection factored into Futenma relocation
plan

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 2) (Full)
October 17, 2008


TOKYO 00002896 007 OF 009


In his regular press conference yesterday, U.S. Consul General for
Okinawa Kevin Maher was asked about what impact the motion adopted
by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) calling
for the protection of dugongs would have on the agreed-on plan to
relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to a coastal
area of Camp Schwab. He answered:

"Environmental protection, including dugongs, has been factored into
the (relocation) plan. To confirm it, the Japanese government is
undertaking procedures for an environmental impact assessment. There
will be no impact on the plan's timetable."

Maher explained that the construction work that has already started
on the site at Camp Schwab is related to the relocation of Futenma
Air Station. He expressed his view that there is no contradiction in
simultaneously carrying out the environmental impact assessment and
construction work. He added: "The Japanese government will decide
whether an underwater environmental impact assessment is necessary
or not."

Two working-level teams are tasked with discussing measures to
remove the danger and deal with other problems related to Futenma
Air Station. They held their first meetings in Okinawa on Oct. 15.
Maher indicated a certain level of understanding about the teams,
saying: "The government's working team and the prefecture's one are
making efforts. I welcome the teams' activities since they will
contribute to deepening the mutual understanding between the central
and prefectural governments."

Maher, however, repeated his conventional view about the prefectural
taskforce's demand that the construction site for the relocated base
be moved further into the sea, saying: "I expect the plan will be
implemented in accordance with the agreement."

Asked for his view about Nago City's request to study the noise
levels of helicopters, Maher just replied: "I do not know whether
such is necessary, but if requested, we will study the
possibility."

(6) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi:
Senior Vice Minister Kurata allegedly asked for short-term visas for
Filipino women who worked at bars in Japan

Mainichi:
Nikkei down 11.41 PERCENT , recording second largest drop

Yomiuri:
Japanese, South Korean firms to jointly own iron mine in Brazil as
countermeasure to soaring resource prices

Nikkei:
Japan mulling temporary freeze on corporate accounting rules in
addressing global financial crisis, following U.S., Europe

Sankei:
Two Chinese submarines detected in East China Sea early October,
suspected of trailing U.S. aircraft carrier

Tokyo Shimbun:
Lower House election on Nov. 30 becoming more likely

TOKYO 00002896 008 OF 009

Akahata:
Pensioners hold rallies across nation, calling for abolishing
elderly health plan

(7) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) Discuss Japan's contributions to Afghanistan in deliberations on
bill to extend refueling mission
(2) Politics-and-money scandals: Stop dependence on companies

Mainichi:
(1) Extra budget bill enacted: Prime minister should decide on early
Diet dissolution
(2) Scandal-tainted DPJ member Maeda naturally should not run in
Lower House election

Yomiuri:
(1) It's time to increase social security spending
(2) BOJ urged to take every possible step to contain global
financial crisis

Nikkei:
(1) Give priority to effectiveness over quantity in mapping out
extra economic measures
(2) DPJ should fully investigate Maeda scandal

Sankei:
(1) With passage of extra budget bill, full policy debate needed
between ruling, opposition camps
(2) Don't stop NHK reform, with reduction in viewing fees

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Don't miss opportunity to seek public confidence
(2) Two U.S. presidential candidates expected to engage in debate
that will lead to erasing public fears

Akahata:
(1) Thoroughly probe the cause of incidents of
pesticide-contaminated Chinese green beans

(8) Prime Minister's schedule, October 16

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 17, 2008

07:27
Arrived at the Kantei.

09:00
Upper House Budget Committee meeting.

11:30
Met with Upper House member Ichiro Tsukada

12:36
Met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura at the Kantei

13:02
Upper House Budget Committee meeting.


TOKYO 00002896 009 OF 009


15:05
Met with Vice Foreign Minister Yabunaka at the Kantei. Then met with
U.S. Senator Hagel and Ambassador to Japan Schieffer.

16:01
Met with Supreme Court Judge Shimada. Then met with Lower House
member Keisuke Suzuki and Cabinet Intelligence Director Mitani.

17:31
Upper House plenary session.

17:45
Met with State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Yosano.

18:16
Government and ruling parties meeting to discuss a new package of
economic stimulus measures, then met with Deputy Chief Cabinet
Secretary Uruma.

19:43
Dined with Finance Minister Nakagawa, State Minister for
Administrative Reform Amari and Deputy LDP Election Committee
Chairman Suga at a Chinese restaurant in ANA Intercontinental Hotel
Tokyo.

21:43
Went to Baron Okura, a bar in Hotel Okura, with secretaries.

22:44
Arrived at the private residence in Kamiyama-cho.

SCHIEFFER

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