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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 10/28/08

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DEPT FOR E, P, EB, EAP/J, EAP/P, EAP/PD, PA;
WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION;
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SECDEF FOR JCS-J-5/JAPAN,
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CINCPAC FLT/PA/ COMNAVFORJAPAN/PA.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 10/28/08

Index:

1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)

4) Asahi poll: Aso Cabinet support rate stays about the same at 41
PERCENT , but public suddenly averse to early election, with 57
PERCENT saying no hurry (Asahi)

Diplomatic agenda:
5) Prime Minister Aso still wants a "Narita summit" that would
follow the upcoming financial summit in U.S. (Sankei)
6) Coordination begins to have Aso meet the U.S. president-elect at
the mid-November financial summit (Sankei)
7) Coordination to hold a trilateral Japan, China, South Korea
summit meeting (Mainichi)
8) Meeting today between U.S. and Japanese chief delegates to the
Six-Party Talks on North Korea (Yomiuri)
9) South Korea's National Assembly passes resolution calling on
Japan to "apologize" for WWII comfort-women issue (Yomiuri)
10) Decision to put off a two-plus-two meeting between Japanese,
Australian leaders (Yomiuri)

Defense affairs:
11) Due to opposition party resistance, possibility now that the
Indian Ocean refueling extension bill may not pass the Diet this
month as planned (Nikkei); Controversial reply in Diet on Oct. 23
by Foreign Minister Nakasone has the opposition riled (Nikkei)
12) MSDF may have supplied fuel to ships involved in anti-piracy
operations (Asahi)

Political agenda:
13) Strong likelihood now that the Lower House election will be
postponed until after the end of the year (Mainichi)
14) Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa grudgingly would go
along with a postponement of the election until early January but no
later (Nikkei)
15) DPJ heightening confrontational stance in Diet, making
deliberations very difficult (Mainichi)
16) New Komeito frenzied, seeing their goal of an early Lower House
election slipping away (Nikkei)
17) Prime Minister Aso, despite efforts to issue emergency economic
measures, sees no impact on the markets, as stocks tumble to
incredible lows (Tokyo Shimbun)

Articles:

1) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi: Nikkei: Sankei: Tokyo Shimbun: Akahata

TSE nosedives to 26-year low, closing at 7,162; Bank shares plummet;
Asian markets also collapse

Mainichi:
Lower House election not to be held this year: Prime minister to
avoid political vacuum to give top priority to measures to deal with
financial crisis

Yomiuri:
Hironobu Takezaki to take office as chief justice of Supreme Court:

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Will take lead in creating lay judge system

2) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
Market panic and general election
(1) Use every possible stabilization measure
(2) Is it all right to put off general election endlessly?

Mainichi:
(1) Record-low stock prices: Prevent political recession by seeking
voter mandate through general election

Yomiuri:
(1) Record-low share prices: Ruling and opposition camps must work
together to respond
(2) Local governments' financial standing: Quick approach needed to
recapitalize their financial base

Nikkei:
(1) Immediate and bold measures needed to deal with extreme stock
plunge and strong yen
(2) Sloppy judgment by Itoham Foods

Sankei:
(1) TSE dives to 26-year low: Take every possible measure to
stabilize market
(2) Tsushima -- Island on national boundary: Deepen defense
discussion

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Market stabilization measures: Use benefits of strong yen to
ease blow
(2) Food crisis: Mechanism to contain speculative money urged

Akahata:
(1) Sales tax increase: Government's destructive policy will harm
domestic demand

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, Oct. 27

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 28, 2008

10:08
Met Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura at the Kantei. Issued an
official appointment to BOJ Deputy Governor Yamaguchi, with Kawamura
and others present.

10:53
Met JICA President Ogata, with Foreign Ministry's International
Cooperation Bureau Director General Kitera..

11:27
Met LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Hori, New Komeito Policy
Research Council Chairman Yamaguchi, LDP global financial crisis
project team chairman Yanagisawa, Finance Minister Nakagawa,
Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Yosano and others.

14:00

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Met Foreign Ministry Foreign Policy Bureau Director General Bessho.
Followed by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Uruma.

15:15
Met Upper House member Yoriko Kawaguchi, chairman of the
international nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament council, and
other members. Followed by People's Political Association Chairman
Nobuo Yamaguchi.

15:58
Met Cabinet Intelligence Director Mitani.

16:59
Attended a party executive meeting in the Diet Building. Upper House
Chairman Otsuji, Upper House Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Suzuki,
and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kounoike stayed behind.

18:30
Dined with Secretary General Hosoda and Diet Affairs Committee
Chairman Oshima at a Japanese restaurant in the Hotel Okura. Joined
by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura. Hosoda and Kawamura stayed
behind.

21:47
Returned to his private residence in Kamiyama-cho.

4) Poll: "Snap election" dips to 33 PERCENT , "No need to hurry" at
57 PERCENT

ASAHI (Page 1) (Abridged)
October 28, 2008

Ahead of a potential general election for the House of
Representatives, the Asahi Shimbun conducted a telephone-based
public opinion survey on Oct. 25-26. In the survey, 33 PERCENT
answered "yes" when asked if they thought the House of
Representatives should be dissolved for a general election at an
early date, with 57 PERCENT saying there was no need to do so. In a
survey taken Sept. 2-3 right after former Prime Minister Fukuda's
announcement of his resignation, "yes" accounted for 56 PERCENT ,
with "no" at 33 PERCENT . In the survey this time, however, the
situation has changed. The cabinet support rate was 41 PERCENT (42
PERCENT in the last survey taken Oct. 11-12), and the nonsupport
rate leveled off at 38 PERCENT (38 PERCENT in the last survey).

Among those who support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, "yes"
for an early snap election" accounted for only 16 PERCENT , with
"no" overwhelming at 78 PERCENT . In the September survey, "yes" and
"no" were 46 PERCENT and 47 PERCENT among LDP supporters. As
compared to these figures, the fever for Diet dissolution has
extremely cooled down in the latest survey. Among those who support
the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto), "yes"
accounted for 64 PERCENT , with "no" at 34 PERCENT . Among those
with no particular party affiliation, however, "yes" and "no" were
at 33 PERCENT and 53 PERCENT .

In the survey this time, respondents were also asked if they had
expectations for Prime Minister Aso in dealing with the financial
crisis. To this question, "yes" accounted for 52 PERCENT , with "no"
at 40 PERCENT . "Yes" was at 27 PERCENT among those who do not
support the cabinet and 36 PERCENT even among DPJ supporters. Among
those who answered "yes," 21 PERCENT said the Diet should be

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dissolved for a general election at an early date, with 72 PERCENT
saying there is no need to hurry. Among those who answered "no," 51
PERCENT called for a snap election, with 42 PERCENT negative about
it.

Respondents were further asked which political party they would vote
for in their proportional representation blocs if they were to vote
now in an election for the House of Representatives. To this
question, 33 PERCENT chose the LDP, while 30 PERCENT opted for the
DPJ. In the last survey, the LDP and the DPJ were even at 32 PERCENT
. When asked about the desirable form of government, however, 37
PERCENT chose a DPJ-led coalition government, while 33 PERCENT
picked an LDP-led coalition government.

5) Prime Minister Aso still trying to find way to hold "Narita
summit" after G-20 summit

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
October 28, 2008

It was learned yesterday that the government, ordered by Prime
Minister Taro Aso, has continued coordinating with other countries
and regions an emergency summit in Narita, Japan, aimed at
alleviating the global financial crisis. Some government officials
revealed this. The government appeared to have given up the idea,
since it has been decided that an emergency summit of the Group of
20 economies will be held on Nov. 15 in Washington. The government,
however, is feeling out the possibility of holding a Narita summit
as a second emergency summit with the possibility of the global
financial crisis being unresolved in mind.

Aso ordered yesterday relevant ministers to come up with a second
economic stimulus package. Aso's aim is to play up his efforts and
leadership in dealing with the financial crisis as chair of the
Group of Eight (G-8).

Asked about his "Narita summit" notion in a House of Councillors
Budget Committee session on Oct. 16, Aso revealed that he gave up on
the idea of holding a summit in Narita, saying:

"I though it would be possible to hold a summit in Narita. So we
started (coordination with various countries). But some countries
did not show any interest in the idea."

A government official, however, said:

"The U.S. government had stressed that it would hold a summit its
own responsibility, since the financial crisis set of by the United
States has greatly impacted on the global economy. So, Japan gave up
its idea."

According to government officials, Aso has predicted that there is a
possibility that another summit will be needed after the emergency
G-20 summit in Washington. Aso is also considering calling on the
G-20 member countries and regions in Washington to hold a summit
again in Narita.

6) Coordination underway on meeting between Aso and U.S.
president-elect

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
October 28, 2008

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Prime Minister Taro Aso has sounded out close aides of the two U.S.
presidential candidates about arranging a meeting with the winner in
the Nov. 4 presidential election on the sidelines of an emergency
summit of the Group of 20 economies, which will take place on Nov.
15 in Washington, it was learned yesterday. Chief Cabinet Secretary
Takeo Kawamura stated in a press conference yesterday: "It is an
issue that we should consider whether it is possible or not, since
it is a great opportunity."

7) Coordination underway with possibility of holding Japan-China-ROK
summit on December 14

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
October 28, 2008

The government on October 27 entered into coordination with the
possibility of holding a Japan-China-South Korea summit in Fukuoka
City on December 14, according to several diplomatic sources. Prime
Minister Taro Aso will chair the meeting, joined by Chinese Premier
Wen Jiabao and South Korea President Lee Myung Bak. This will be the
first talks three countries will hold separately from an
international conference.

Aso met with Wen and Lee in Beijing on the sidelines of the
Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) conference. On that occasion, the three
leaders agreed to hold trilateral talks before year's end. The East
Asia Summit (EAS) is set to be held in Thailand on December 15. The
three leaders will likely head for Thailand directly from Japan.

8) Japan, U.S. chief delegates to six-party talks to meet today

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
October 28, 2008

The Foreign Ministry announced yesterday that a meeting of the
Japanese and U.S. heads of delegation to the six-party talks on the
denuclearization of North Korea would take place in Washington on
Oct. 28. They will discuss how to proceed with the six-party talks
that are expected to resume in early November and a verification
protocol that will apply to North Korean nuclear programs. They are
also expected to exchange views on Washington's policy course of
allowing Australia and others countries to take over Japan's share
in economic and energy aid to North Korea.

The meeting will be attended by Foreign Ministry Asian and Oceanian
Affairs Bureau Director-General Akitaka Saiki, U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State Christopher Hill, and others. It is going to be
the first meeting between the Japanese and U.S. officials
responsible for North Korean policy since the U.S. government
removed the North from its list of terrorism-sponsoring nations on
Oct. 11.

Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka held a press conference
regarding the meeting yesterday in which he said: "We would like to
make efforts for resuming the six-party talks at the earliest
possible time. The next round of talks would center on the
verification of (North Korean nuclear programs)."

9) South Korean parliament adopts resolution seeking Japanese
apology for comfort women issue


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YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
October 28, 2008

Yoshiharu Asano, Seoul

The South Korean parliament at its plenary meeting on Oct. 27
adopted by an overwhelming majority vote a resolution seeking an
official apology from the Japanese government for the issue of the
so-called comfort women during WWII, compensation to the victims,
and descriptions in Japanese history textbooks.

The resolution reads "the Imperial Japanese Army forcibly mobilized
and abducted women of various Asian counties, including Korean
women, during World War II and forced them into sexual slavery
(comfort women)." Further, the resolution expresses "deep concern"
that the Japanese government has not accepted the international
community's repeated admonitions.

10) Two plus two meeting with Australia put off

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
October 28, 2008

Tetsu Okazaki, Sydney

The governments of Japan and Australia have decided to postpone a
(two plus two) bilateral meeting of foreign and defense ministers
scheduled for early November in Australia. Sources familiar with
Japan-Australia relations told the Yomiuri Shimbun yesterday.

At the request of the Australian side, the two governments had
decided to hold a bilateral foreign and defense ministerial on Nov.
2-3 in Perth, from which Foreign Minister Stephen Smith comes.
Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, Defense Minister Yasukazu
Hamada, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Defense Minister Joel
Fitzgibbon had panned to attend the meeting.

However, the Australian government sounded out Japan about putting
off the planned bilateral ministerial through a diplomatic channel,
saying: "We can't coordinate the schedule since one minister will
not be able to attend." The Australian government seems to have
given consideration to a dissolution of the House of Representatives
and a snap election in Japan.

11) Refueling extension bill's passage this month uncertain

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged)
October 28, 2008

"No matter how much we compromise, the prime minister won't listen.
So we are going to have to take a tough approach." With this,
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) Secretary General Hatoyama
hinted at a hard-line stance against the prime minister in Diet
deliberations when he was in a meeting of DPJ lawmakers yesterday.

Nagatacho-Japan's political center-is now enveloped in a mood for
putting off a dissolution of the House of Representatives. This had
direct repercussions on a bill extending the Maritime Self-Defense
Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the DPJ yesterday held a
meeting of their Diet affairs committee chairmen from the House of

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Councillors. In the meeting, the DPJ's Susumu Yanase refused to hold
a vote on the bill in a meeting of the House of Councillors Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee today. "This is not a situation where
we can pass the bill with no objections like before," Yanase said.
Partly because Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone's reply in a
recent meeting of the House of Councillors Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee was confused, the DPJ is now geared up to attack
the LDP.

The ruling coalition, regarding the bill as a pillar of Japan's
international contributions, had envisioned voting down the
legislation today in the opposition-dominated House of Councillors
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, voting it down tomorrow in a
plenary sitting of the House of Councillors, and seeing it passed by
the House of Representatives in a second vote on Oct. 30. Meanwhile,
the prime minister has now told ruling party executives that he will
delay his decision to dissolve the Diet. As it stands, the DPJ is
about to change its tactic of accelerating Diet deliberations.

Turmoil over Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone's reply

Foreign Minister Nakasone definitively stated before the House of
Councillors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in its Oct. 23
meeting that activities conducted by such entities as the
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan do not
constitute the use of armed force. Under international law, such
activities are not seen as the use of armed force. However, the
government has taken the position that careful studies are needed
about whether such activities can be taken as the use of armed force
under the Constitution. The DPJ then said that if that were not the
use of armed force, the SDF also could go to Afghanistan. The
committee discontinued its deliberations.

Nakasone was also asked when the Japanese government was notified by
the U.S. government of its decision to delist North Korea as a state
sponsor of terrorism. The foreign minister reiterated, "I cannot say
anything specific about when." The committee's deliberations again
stopped over this statement. The committee's chair, Toshimi Kitazawa
(DPJ), cautioned the foreign minister: "It's only natural that the
lack of a report from you has thrown the committee into confusion."

12) MSDF fuel possibly used for antipiracy purpose

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
October 28, 2008

The Maritime Self-Defense Force, currently engaged in the task of
refueling foreign naval vessels for antiterror operations in
Afghanistan, has been found to have provided fuel in waters near
Somalia where the U.S. Navy has been conducting antipiracy
operations. The provided fuel could have been used for other
purposes. However, the Defense Ministry sees no problem about it.
"If the ships provided with fuel are mainly tasked with antiterror
operations, there is no problem even if they are concurrently
engaged in antipiracy activities," said a senior official of the
ministry.

According to a Defense Ministry document, the MSDF, since the
Refueling Special Measures Law's enactment in January this year, has
conducted refueling activities in such areas as the Gulf of Oman,
the North Arabian Sea, and the Gulf of Aden. The Gulf of Aden is
situated between Somalia in the eastern part of Africa and the

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Arabian Peninsula. This year has seen a sharp increase in the number
of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden. The United States has been
patrolling the Gulf of Aden since August, and its naval vessels and
airplanes, which have been tasked with maritime interdictions for
antiterror operations in Afghanistan, are also engaged there in
antipiracy activities as well. An MSDF supply ship provided fuel to
two U.S. naval ships and also provided fuel for a helicopter. Among
other countries receiving MSDF fuel, Canada, France, and Germany
have also been engaged in antipiracy activities in waters off
Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden.

The Defense Ministry has not unveiled which country's naval vessels
had received MSDF fuel in the Gulf of Aden. However, the ministry
admits that the weight of operations has now been shifted to
antipiracy activities, with an official saying: "They are now
downsizing their maritime interdiction operations for antiterror
activities, but pirates are rampant, so it's not strange even if the
purpose of U.S. naval activities there has changed in nature."
Another government official explains that the MSDF fuel has never
been used for any other purpose because Japan has only provided fuel
that is needed for maritime interdiction operations. However, it is
difficult to verify how the MSDF fuel was used.

13) House election not to be held this year: Prime minister to avoid
political vacuum to give top priority to measures to deal with
financial crisis

MAINICHI (Top Play)
October 28, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso has decided to put off the holding of the
next Lower House election within the year. Several government and
ruling party sources revealed on October 27. His judgment is that it
would not be good to create a political vacuum, by dissolving the
Lower House at a time when the global financial crisis is causing
stock plunges and affecting the real economy. Aso plans to release a
set of additional economic stimulus measures at a press conference
on the 30th. On that occasion, he will announce the decision not to
hold a Lower House election this year.

Ruling party members are divided between those who are seeking an
early dissolution, envisaging a scenario of official announcement on
November 18 and a vote on the 30th, and those who want to see a
House election put off until a later date. The New Komeito had been
strongly seeking an early dissolution of the Lower House. However,
when he met with New Komeito leader Akihiro Ota, the prime minister
told him his intention to put off the election, noting, "When the
international financial situation is at a critical juncture, I
cannot possibly create a political vacuum." Some New Komeito members
are still seeking an early dissolution. However, Soka Gakkai (lay
Buddhist group), New Komeito's power base, is inclining to approve
the postponement of the election.

It appears that the prime minister at first had intended to dissolve
the Lower House at the outset of the extraordinary Diet session.
However, the harsh result on the LDP's election situation survey has
partly affected his decision to put off the election. Various views
have been voiced in the government and ruling parties regarding the
timing of dissolving the Lower House, including "at the end of the
year after the completion of budget compilation" and "after passage
a second supplementary budget during a frontloaded regular Diet
session in early January. The prime minister will search for the

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timing after the completion of the fiscal 2009 budget compilation.

If Lower House dissolution is postponed, the DPJ is bound to switch
to a confrontational stance, affecting deliberations on key bills,
including one amending the new Antiterrorism Law to extend the
Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission. A point has been
made that the Aso administration would become lame-duck, tossed
about by the divided Diet.

14) Ozawa predicts the Lower House election in January

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 28, 2008

Speaking about the next House of Representatives election,
Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa said in a party
convention in Nagoya yesterday: "Even if Prime Minister Aso tries
hard to delay it, I believe the election will be held in January,"
according to a participant. Ozawa had predicted that the election
would be called in late November.

15) Prime minister decides to postpone Lower House election; DPJ to
reinforce its confrontational stance; Deliberations on refueling and
financial legislations to face difficulties

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
October 28, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso has decided to drop a plan to dissolve the
Lower House before the end of the year. This is because the global
financial crisis, which has also spread to the Japanese economy, has
necessitated prioritizing economic stimulus measures for the time
being. The prime minister's decision is also certain to prompt the
major opposition Democratic Party of Japan, which has been calling
for early Lower House dissolution, to reinforce its confrontational
stance, causing difficulties in Diet deliberations. A sense of
disappointment with the prime minister is simmering in the ruling
coalition, as well. The environment surrounding the prime minister,
including plummeting stock prices, is becoming increasingly severe.

The prime minister in an LDP executive meeting yesterday expressed a
strong sense of crisis over the current state of the Japanese
economy, saying: "The situation is such that the U.S. financial and
securities markets that cannot see the bottom are dragging down
other countries." The prime minister also ordered his party to draw
up market stabilization measures before the end of the week, saying:
"It is important to do things under the initiative of lawmakers with
a sense of speed beyond the administrative framework and timing."

It is unknown to what extent the government's and the ruling
coalition's emergency measures will work for the nation's economy
which has entered a contraction phase. The prime minister, who has
run a company in the past, has highlighted the importance of
economic stimulus measures. The future economic trend is closely
associated with the fate of his administration. The prime minister
expressed to the press corps last night his hope for revision talks
between the ruling and opposition camps on a bill amending the
Financial Function Early Strengthening Law, saying, "I would like to
see the best plan resulting from the DPJ counterproposal and the
government and ruling bloc plan."

Meanwhile, the DPJ rejected yesterday to take a vote on a bill

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amending the New Antiterrorism Special Measures Law to extend the
refueling mission in the Indian Ocean at an Upper House Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on Oct. 28. The ruling camp's
plan to enact the legislation before the end of the month has now
become uncertain. Diet Affairs Committee Deputy Chairman Jun Azumi
emphasized the confrontational stance, saying: "If Lower House
dissolution is postponed, we will face off with (the ruling bloc) by
using very possible means. We would even consider submitting a
censure motion against the prime minister."

16) Aso's intent to delay Lower House dissolution irritates New
Komeito lawmakers; Criticism erupting even from among LDP members

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
October 28, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso has decided to put off the dissolution of
the House of Representatives for the time being. In response, the
New Komeito yesterday began to take steps to urge Aso to change his
mind. But New Komeito members are becoming irritated as they cannot
find any effective cards to prompt Aso to change his mind. Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers who have distanced themselves from
the prime minister have also voiced criticism of his intention.

In a liaison meeting of the government and the ruling coalition
yesterday, New Komeito Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa called on
the government to dissolve the Lower House right after the
government-announced economic stimulus package is adopted. Kitagawa
said: "Depending on a response by the Democratic Party of Japan in
the Diet, it might become impossible to enact key bills, including
one to strengthen financial functions, as instructed by the prime
minister. The market may be negatively affected as time advances."

New Komeito President Akihiro Ota exchanged views over Lower House
dissolution with Aso at a Tokyo hotel on the night of the 26th, but
he failed to obtain (the prime minister's) word (about an early
Lower House dissolution), according to a senior ruling coalition
member. The party leadership has no cards to play. In its executive
meeting yesterday, too, participants just decided to work harder on
the prime minister to change his mind.

A mid-ranking New Komeito member, though, said: "Even if the Lower
House is dissolved, if the ruling coalition suffers a crushing
defeat, we will lose everything." An opinion poll conducted by the
LDP on Oct. 24-26 showed that the ruling coalition would fail to win
even 200 seats, giving a worse prediction than in the previous poll
in mid-October. Some junior members in the New Komeito are skeptical
of the idea of dissolving the Lower House for a snap election amid
the economic crisis, wondering if the people would understand it.

17) Aso, "confident of economic policy skill," facing crucial
moment, with economic measures producing no effect

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
October 28, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso yesterday instructed relevant ministers to
work out a package of emergency measures to stabilize the stock
market. Despite the announcement of the package, the key index of
the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell past its post-bubble low yesterday.
The packages of economic measures that Aso has come up with over the
past month since he assumed office have not halted falls on the

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stock market. Aso has advocated the need to give priority to
boosting the economy, but his efforts to that end might come into
question under the current situation.

The prime minister instructed Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa and
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Policy Research Council Chairman
Kosuke Hori yesterday morning to lay out an emergency economic
package. Aso told reporters, "I wonder how market players will
respond in the afternoon after learning about the new economic
package," expressing his hope for a rise in stock prices.

Tokyo stocks, however, continued to fall in the afternoon. In the
evening, the prime minister said before reporters: "Economic
stimulus measures do not necessarily produce (effects) immediately.
I am not up and down (about changes in stock prices)." But Chief
Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said in disappointment: "It is true
that the market did not respond as we had anticipated."

The government revealed on Oct. 14 a set of market-stabilization
measures that includes a measure to revive the bank recapitalization
law to enable the government to inject funds in financial
institutions. Following the passage of the fiscal 2007 supplementary
budget on Oct. 16, the prime minister will announce a package of
additional economic measures on the 30th, including those to help
small businesses.

Aides to Aso stresses that the prime minister has steadily done what
should be done, but no positive results have been produced.

Since the current financial crisis and falling stocks are worldwide,
the government's measures certainly have limits. All the measures
announced so far are still in the planning stage and have yet to be
implemented.

But it is true that stock prices have plummeted by more than 5,000
yen since he came into office. If stock prices continue to plunge,
the credit rating for the prime minister's economic skills will
inevitably come down.

SCHIEFFER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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