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Cablegate: Tokyo Media Reaction - U.S. Raid On Al-Qaeda

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P 300435Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
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UNCLAS TOKYO 003022

SIPDIS

STATE FOR I/RF, PA/PR/FPC/W, IIP/G/EA, EAP/PD, R/MR,
EAP/J, EAP/P, PM;
USTR FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
TREASURY FOR OASIA/IMI;
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA;
CP BUTLER OKINAWA FOR AREA FIELD OFFICE;
PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO JA
SUBJECT: TOKYO MEDIA REACTION - U.S. RAID ON AL-QAEDA
SITES IN SYRIA AND AFGHANISTAN

1. LEAD STORIES: All Thursday morning Japanese dailies
led with an outline of the second pump-priming package
compiled by the GOJ that includes some 38,000 yen in
special living allowances, a drastic cut in highway
tolls, and massive mortgage tax breaks.

2. "Syria Unusually Low Key" The top-circulation,
moderate Yomiuri wrote from Cairo (10/30): "On the
reported U.S. attack on an Al-Qaeda site in its own
territory, the Syrian government unusually took a
flexible stance by minimizing criticism of the U.S.
France expressed regret over the cross-border assault,
and the rest of the international community is not
necessarily supportive of the U.S. The Assad
administration apparently hopes to proceed with Middle
East peace talks with Israel in its favor by playing
the role of 'victim' and courting international
backing."

3. "Neighbors Concerned about Iraq Being Used as Base
for U.S. Attacks" A Washington correspondent for the
liberal Asahi reported from Cairo (10/30): "The U.S.
cross-border raid on a terrorist site in Syria is
casting a shadow over the stalemated talks between the
U.S. and Iraq concerning a security treaty, as concern
has emerged among Iraq's neighbors that Washington may
use that country as a base from which to attack 'terror-
sponsor states' in the event that the two countries
seal an agreement on the continued stationing of U.S
troops."

4. "War on Terror at Crossroads" The liberal Mainichi
said (10/30): "The purported U.S. readiness to talk
with the Taliban was prompted by realization on the
part of the Bush administration that its military-
oriented strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan has
worsened the quagmire in the two countries. It also
represents a policy turnaround of adopting a mixture of
soft and hard approaches. However, the two governments
are distancing themselves from the U.S. amidst strong
anti-American sentiment among their people.... If the
next U.S. administration fails to produce results from
dialogue with the Taliban and ends up allowing
Afghanistan and Pakistan to be completely separated
from the U.S., the U.S.-led war on terrorism might sink
into a quagmire."

5. "U.S. to Begin Dialogue with Taliban" The top-
circulation, moderate Yomiuri stated (10/30): "The U.S.
readiness to talk with the Taliban demonstrates that
the seven-year operation to stamp them out, which
started shortly after 9/11, has hit a snag.... Dialogue
with the Taliban will be carried out primarily by the
Karzai government out of deference to anti-American
sentiment within Afghanistan, with the U.S. offering
indirect support.... However, as the Taliban's
political and ideological inclination is clearly
incompatible with that of the Karzai government, it
remains to be seen whether the dialogue will bear
fruit."

SCHIEFFER

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