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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 12//08

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 TOKYO 003264

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: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

Index:

1) Top headlines
2) Editorials

3) Following terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Prime Minister Aso in
telephone call to India's Prime Minister Singh vows cooperation to
combat terrorism (Tokyo Shimbun)

Defense and security:
4) Government formally decides withdraw ASDF from Iraq after five
years of airlift support (Mainichi)
5) ASDF during five years of support in Iraq flew 800 missions,
carried 670 tons, and dispatched a total of 3,500 personnel
(Nikkei)
6) Defense Minister Hamada announces complete ban on cluster
munitions, including new types (Asahi)
7) Defense Minister Hamada beset with one ministry scandal after
another since assuming post (Tokyo Shimbun)

Political agenda:
8) Nikkei poll: Aso Cabinet in free fall, with support plummeting 17
points to 31 PERCENT and non-support soaring 19 points to dangerous
62 PERCENT level (Nikkei)
9) Hosoda: Diet dissolution not until next spring (Asahi)
10) Government in extended Diet session to quickly pass banking
recapitalization bill (Nikkei)

11) Democratic Party of Japan's Hatoyama says if second
supplementary budget is submitted next year, DPJ will boycott
session (Tokyo Shimbun)
12) Former Prime Minister Mori blasts junior LDP critics of Aso: If
they want to criticize, they should quit the party (Asahi)
13) DPJ head Ozawa says if Aso quits, it would make way for a grand
alliance of the parties (Nikkei)
14) With crisis all around him, Prime Minister Aso stops reading
comic books, buys serious reading at bookstore (Tokyo Shimbun)

Economy:
15) Asahi survey of 100 top companies finds 98 that see the economy
in recession, of which 70 PERCENT do not see recovery until at
least 2010 (Asahi)
16) Government to compile this week an emergency job package; Aso to
try to jawbone corporations to raise employee pay (Yomiuri)

17) IWC working group to meet next month to discuss research whaling
issue (Asahi)

Articles:

1) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi:
Apa Group head gave highest score to essay to ex-ASDF chief

Mainichi:
Mother in Okayama to challenge constitutionality of "300-day rule"
over refusal of notification of birth

Yomiuri:
Thailand still in chaos


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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

Nikkei:
Willcom to use DoCoMo's network to offer Internet service

Sankei:
Drastic measures to be taken against state control over local
governments: Decentralization Promotion Committee to present
revision plan tomorrow

Tokyo Shimbun:
Stabbing of former vice welfare minister and others

Akahata:
NHK Sunday Debate: General Secretary Ichita stresses political
responsibility for protecting jobs

2) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) U.S. troops in Iraq: Path to exit is now in sight, but issues
remain
(2) Reform of judo: Value importance of nurturing judoka

Mainichi:
(1) Withdrawal of informal job offers: Don't shatter young people's
dreams
(2) Government's Tax Research Commission report: We do not want a
silent organ

Yomiuri:
(1) Review road consolidation program, based on new traffic demand
projection
(2) Compensation for obstetric accidents: Detailed and polite
explanations needed

Nikkei:
(1) Government should use resourcefulness to generate demand
(2) Internet will change TV broadcasting

Sankei:
(1) Withdrawal of informal job offers: Easy-going employment
adjustment will have adverse effect
(2) Downward revision to traffic demand estimate still optimistic

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Tax Research Commission and Fiscal System Council: Clear lack of
discussion
(2) Raising ibises: Remember lessons of extinction

Akahata:
(1) Massive dismissals: Unconstitutionality is unacceptable

3) Aso, Singh agree in telephone conversation to work closely to
fight terrorism

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
December 1, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso had a telephone conversation with Indian
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last night. In it, the two leaders
confirmed that they would work closely in fighting terrorism in the
wake of the massive terrorist attacks in Mumbai.


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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

Aso said: "It is important that the latest incidents will not end up
destabilizing the region. To prevent that, Japan is ready to extend
as much cooperation as possible." Singh replied: "We would like to
cooperate with Japan in the war on terror. We will continue to do
our utmost so that Japanese people and companies can carry out
activities safely."

Aso offered condolences to the victims and condemned the acts of
terrorism. He also told his Indian counterpart: "I hope the Indian
people will be able to overcome this hardship swiftly."

4) Gov't decides to withdraw ASDF from Iraq

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Full)
Eve., November 28, 2008

The government held a meeting of the Security Council this morning
and decided to withdraw Air Self-Defense Forces troops sent on a
humanitarian and reconstruction mission in Iraq. Defense Minister
Yasukazu Hamada will issue a withdrawal order today.

The ASDF will send a support unit of about 70 troops in order to
help the ASDF detachment pull out of Iraq, and the ASDF airlift unit
will withdraw from Iraq in mid-December. The ASDF will be through
with its backlog there in January 2009. The Self-Defense Forces'
mission in Iraq under the Iraq Special Measures Law will now be
completed without casualties after about five years of service.

5) ASDF makes over 800 flights, airlifts 670 tons on Iraq mission

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
Eve., November 28, 2008

The government first dispatched the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq in
December 2003 to help that country with its postwar reconstruction.
The Air Self-Defense Force has been tasked with airlifting supplies
and troops since March 2004. Three ASDF C-130 transport planes and
about 200 ASDF members, stationed at Ali Al Salem Air Base in
Kuwait, have been engaged in activities there. The ASDF has made a
total of 810 flights as of Nov. 26 since its Iraq mission started.
The ASDF has flown a total of about 46,000 persons, and its airlifts
of supplies totaled approximately 671.1 tons.

On its Iraq mission, the ASDF was initially tasked with airlifting
supplies mainly for Ground Self-Defense Force troops deployed in the
southern Iraqi city of Samawah. In July 2006, the GSDF withdrew from
Iraq. After that, the ASDF flew C-130s from Kuwait to Baghdad in
Iraq and also to the northern Iraqi city of Arbil to airlift medical
and other supplies, as well as personnel, for the United Nations
staff and multinational forces. ASDF members on the Iraq mission
totaled 3,500. The GSDF and ASDF have had no casualties from attacks
made by insurgents and other groups against the stationing of
multinational forces in Iraq during their mission there over the
past five years.

6) Defense minister points to abolition of cluster bombs

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
December 1, 2008

The government is set to sign next month the treaty banning cluster
bombs. In this connection, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada in a

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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

press conference on Nov. 28 said: "We do not have the idea (of
possessing) new types of cluster bombs (that are not covered by the
treaty). We will not use any cluster munitions." As a result, all
cluster munitions possessed by the Self-Defense Forces will be
abolished. Hamada also said: "We don't have the idea of introducing
(new types of cluster bombs)." In revising the National Defense
Program Guidelines next year, the government is expected to present
a new approach to defense buildup that uses conventional arms
instead of cluster munitions.

7) Defense minister on hot seat over series of scandals

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
December 1, 2008

Takayuki Shimizu

In the wake of a series of scandals involving the Defense Ministry,
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, 53, has been on a bed of thorns.

Over the last two months since Hamada took office, his ministry has
been hit by a string of scandals, including the death of a Maritime
Self-Defense Force petty officer 3rd class during a training course,
the furor over a controversial essay by former Air Self-Defense
Force Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami, and a sexual harassment case
by an ASDF major general.

At the Diet, Defense Minister Hamada has been bearing the brunt of
criticism from the opposition camp over those scandals. Trading
positions with the opposition bloc, Hamada is now in a position to
offer cautious replies under heavy booing and heckling in the Diet.

The defense minister is a son of the former House of Representatives
member Koichi Hamada, who was dubbed "a rough neck in the political
world."

In connection with an action against Tamogami, an opposition member
provocatively said to the defense minister, "I believe your father
would have said to Mr. Tamogami, 'You should quit.'" In response, he
defense minister calmly said, "(My father) and I are two different
persons."

Defense Minister Hamada ordered the ministry to disclose information
on the series of scandals. He was aware that if the ministry failed
to disclose information, it would be criticized as an organization
quick to cover up and that would add insult to injury.

Despite that, it has come to light that the ministry had concealed
the dismissal of the ASDF major general over the sexual harassment
case. Defense Minister Hamada has not fully displayed his
leadership.

There are many major challenges before him, such as the reform of
the Defense Ministry, a review of the National Defense Program
Guidelines, and the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. As a
member of a new breed of defense policy specialists, his true worth
will now be tested.

8) Poll: Cabinet support plunges to 31 PERCENT

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Abridged)
December 1, 2008

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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08


The Nihon Keizai Shimbun and TV Tokyo conducted a joint public
opinion survey on Nov. 28-30, in which the rate of public support
for Prime Minister Taro Aso's cabinet was 31 PERCENT , down 17
percentage points from the last survey taken in late October. The
nonsupport rate rose 19 points to 62 PERCENT , topping the support
rate for the first time. Aso has now decided to forgo introducing a
second fiscal 2008 supplementary budget that is to substantiate his
additional economic stimulus package. In the survey, respondents
were asked if they supported the decision. To this question, 56
PERCENT answered "no," with 28 PERCENT saying "yes."

In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party stood at 39 PERCENT , down 2 points. The
leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) was at 30
PERCENT , down 1 point. The LDP has led the DPJ in public support
since June.

The cabinet support rate neared the 29 PERCENT rating that was
shown in late August for then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda right
before his resignation. The Aso cabinet's support rate is now about
to fall below the danger zone of 30 PERCENT .

Aso has also announced a plan to hand out cash benefits to each
household in his additional package of economic stimulus measures.
However, 66 PERCENT answered "no" and 26 PERCENT said "yes" when
asked if they appreciated it. Meanwhile, Aso has decided to forgo
dissolving the Diet. Asked about this, negative answers accounted
for 52 PERCENT , with affirmative answers at 33 PERCENT . The prime
minister's policy flip-flops and gaffes seem to have led to the
sharp drop in his cabinet's support rate.

The survey was taken by Nikkei Research Inc. by telephone on a
random digit dialing (RDD) basis. For the survey, samples were
chosen from among men and women aged 20 and over across the nation.
A total of 1,559 households with one or more eligible voters were
sampled, and answers were obtained from 938 persons (60.2 PERCENT
).

9) LDP Secretary General Hosoda: Lower House will be dissolved in
spring or later

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
December 1, 2008

Appearing on a TV Asahi talk show yesterday, Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) Secretary General Hiroyuki Sonoda took the view that the
House of Representatives would be dissolved for a snap election
after the passage of a state budget for fiscal 2009. He stated:

"(The Lower House will be dissolved) during the period between next
spring and fall. It would be difficult for (the prime minister to
dissolve the Lower House) before the FY2009 budget and
budget-related bills clear the Diet."

Appearing on a different TV program, Sonoda suggested his party's
stance of voting down a bill freezing the sale of state-owned shares
of Japan Post Holdings Corporation, which was submitted by three
opposition parties to the House of Councillors, in the Lower House
during the current Diet session. The main opposition Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ) has sought passage of the above bill as a prior
condition for passage of a bill revising the Financial Functions

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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

Strengthening Law.

10) Government, ruling camp urge opposition to vote on financial
bill in extended Diet session

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 1, 2008

The government and the ruling camp will urge the opposition to take
a vote on a bill amending the Law for Strengthening Financial
Functions in the extended Diet session. In harshly criticizing the
government's decision not to submit a second supplementary budget
bill for fiscal 2008 in the current Diet session, the Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ) intends to submit to the House of Councillors
its own economic bills that include measures to abolish the current
provisional gasoline tax rate. In the ruling camp, some members have
begun to suggest that a bill submitted by the DPJ, the Social
Democratic Party (SDP), and the People's New Party (PNP) to freeze
the sale of postal shares be handled on a priority basis.

Appearing on an NHK TV program yesterday, DPJ Secretary General
Yukio Hatoyama first said, "I have no intention at all to delay"
voting on the financial bill, and continued: "The postal bill has
not been deliberated on in the House of Representatives one year
after its submission. Priority should be given to deliberations on
this bill."

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda said in
the same program: "We absolutely oppose a bill calling for
continuing state ownership." He indicated that the LDP would vote it
down in the Lower House.

The DPJ will adopt the economic stimulus bill in a meeting of its
shadow cabinet on Dec. 3 and then start coordination with the SDP
and the PNP. The main opposition party plans to submit the bill to
the opposition-controlled Upper House as early as this month and
expose problems in the government's additional economic package
through debate.

11) DPJ Secretary General Hatoyama: DPJ will not cooperate on second
supplementary budget if it is submitted to Diet early next year

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
December 1, 2008

The government and ruling parties have decided to put off submitting
a second supplementary budget for fiscal 2008 until the next regular
session of the Diet. Referring in his speech delivered yesterday in
Matsue City to the government's decision, Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama stressed that his party would
not cooperate for the budget's early passage. He said: "The idea
that they want to pass it quickly is unacceptable because they are
delaying its submission."

Hatoyama also said: "If the second extra budget is presented in
early December, we are ready to pass it before the end of the year."
He continued, however: "If it is submitted early next year, such
would be a different story. It is unreasonable for them to ask us to
cooperate for an early passage."

Hatoyama gave his outlook that the DPJ would soon announce a third
group of candidates for the next House of Representatives election.

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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08


12) Former Prime Minister Mori criticizes junior LDP lawmakers
critical of Prime Minister Aso, saying: They should leave the party

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
December 1, 2008

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori yesterday delivered a speech in
the city of Sumoto, Hyogo Prefecture. In his speech, Mori strongly
condemned junior and mid-level Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
lawmakers who have openly been criticizing Prime Minister Taro Aso's
management of his government. He said:

"I wonder why they don't want to support a prime minister we elected
only two months ago. What they are doing is just for them, not for
the LDP. They only think about themselves."

With former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki in mind, Mori
stated:

"He runs down Mr. Aso before TV cameras. He should leave the LDP.
Despite having served as chief cabinet secretary in the Abe cabinet,
he has criticized (the prime minister). If he wants to be popular
with the mass media, he should become a comedian."

13) Ozawa hints at grand coalition if Aso steps down, aiming to
split ruling coalition

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 1, 2008

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa has indicated
a plan to form a grand coalition joined by both the ruling and
opposition camps if Prime Minister Taro Aso steps down in the next
ordinary Diet session, according to informed sources yesterday. His
motive is apparently to split the ruling camp by hinting at forming
a cabinet that decides to dissolve the House of Representatives for
a snap election.

After meeting with Aso on the night of Nov. 28, Ozawa met DPJ
Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama and New Party Nippon President
Yasuo Tanaka in Tokyo and revealed the grand-coalition plan.
According to a participant in the meeting, Ozawa said: "The Aso
cabinet will no longer be able to survive. He might walk off the job
in the ordinary Diet session," adding that if he steps down, "a
cabinet involving all political parties, namely, a grand coalition,
might be formed."

14) Prime Minister Aso buys books instead of manga comic books

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
December 1, 2008

Prime Minister Taso Aso visited a large bookstore near JR Tokyo
Station yesterday and purchased four books on international politics
and Japanese diplomacy. Included in those books were Tsuyoi Nihon e
no Hasso (Mindset for a Strong Japan) co-authored by Kimindo Kusaka
and Jinbutsu de Yomu Nihon Gaikoushi (Modern History of Japanese
Diplomacy through the Eyes of the Players). Although the Prime
Minister also picked up a manga comic book on a feudal warlord named
Naoe Kanetsugu, he did not buy it.


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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

Aso browsed such corners as new books, finance, and history for
about half an hour with his secretary.

15) In poll, 98 of 100 firms see economic recession; 70 PERCENT
predict recovery by 2010 at the earliest

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
November 30, 2008

Among the 100 major Japanese companies surveyed by the Asahi
Shimbun, 74 firms said that the economy is deteriorating, a sharp
increase the previous survey in June when only three companies felt
that way. The poll found 98 firms that saw the economy to be
receding, of which 24 firms felt that the slow down was moderate.
Set off by the U.S.-triggered financial crisis and the slowdown of
the global economy, business confidence of major Japanese firms has
been rapidly falling.

In the latest survey, conducted from Nov. 10 through the 21st, the
Asahi Shimbun interviewed presidents and other top executives at 50
major manufacturers and 50 leading non-manufacturing companies. The
Asahi carries out this kind of survey twice a year. More than 90
PERCENT replied that the economy is sinking into recession, the
first time for such a strong view since the survey began in
September 2001 (when 92 PERCENT of the 200 firms surveyed gave such
pessimistic views). At that time, the economy was in recession due
to the collapse of the IT bubble and the terrorist attacks on the
U.S., which took place just after the start of the survey.

Asked about the current state of the nation's economy, no
respondents said that the economy is expanding or moderately
expanding, unlike the previous survey, although one company said
that the economy is at a standstill and another firm gave no answer.
In the previous survey, only three companies said that the economy
was deteriorating, and 21 firms said that the economy was moderately
slowing down.

Triggered by the collapse of the U.S. leading securities firm Lehman
Brothers in mid-September, the business environment became
increasingly severe. Sony President Ryoji Chubachi stated: "The
economy has been in a negative spiral since September." Nippon Steel
Vice President Kiichiro Masuda also said: "With Japan's major
indicators all worsening, the economy has fallen into a recession."

Asked which two factors most influenced their views on the current
economic situation, 81 companies cited changes in corporate profits,
followed by 39 firms citing the present U.S. economic situation, 25
firms listing changes in personal consumption, and the trend in
exports.

There was no company that predicted the economy would return to a
recovery track in the first half of 2009. Nearly 70 PERCENT of the
100 firms said that economic recovery would be unlikely until the
end of next year. Asked what factors they thought would boost the
economy, many respondents cited the recovery of the U.S. economy and
the resolution of the ongoing financial crisis. Regarding the future
of domestic capital investment and personal consumption, a majority
of respondents gave a fainthearted view.

16) Government, ruling parties to come up with emergency job package
before end of week: Prime minister to ask business circles to give
pay raises

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YOMIURI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
November 30, 2008

Following the worsening employment situation in the wake of the
financial crisis gripping the world, the government and the ruling
parties on November 29 firmed up a plan to issue a set of emergency
employment measures and began the actual process. Prime Minister Aso
will directly ask for cooperation from executives of business
organizations on December 1. The ruling camp is expected to compile
measures to expand unemployment policy measures that operate through
local municipalities and to address the withdrawals of job offers to
new graduates by companies.

The prime minister will meet with Japan Business Federation (Nippon
Keidanren) Chairman Fujio Mitarai, Japan Chamber of Commerce and
Industry Chairman Tadashi Okamura, and other business leaders who
are making proactive efforts to upgrade irregular workers to a
permanent status. He intends to seek their understanding and
cooperation regarding pay raises as an emergency assistance measure
for household budgets.

A call for pay raises is included in the package of economic
stimulus measures released in late October. It is unusual for any
prime minister to ask for pay raises before the spring wage
negotiations with management start. Aso will also ask for
cooperation for stabilizing the employment of irregular workers.

17) IWC working-level meeting to be held possibly next month:
Research whaling on agenda

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
November 29, 2008

A working-level meeting of the International Whaling Commission
(IWC) will likely be held, possibly in December. Full-scale
discussions of such issues as research whaling, over which disputes
are continuing between whaling countries and anti-whaling countries,
are expected to take place.

The government targets for research whaling in the Southern Ocean to
be carried out between this month and next spring are about 850
black minke whales and about 50 fin whales. The annual target in all
areas until next fall is approximately 1,300, as it reported with
the IWC.

However, the actual catch of Japan's research whaling has fallen
short of the target due in part to acts of obstruction by
anti-whaling groups. The government is now estimating the
profitability of the whaling project, such as how many black minke
whales should be caught to turn a profit.

In the meantime, related countries are expected to compile a
compromise plan, including the number of whales to be caught and
methods for research whaling, by the annual meeting of the IWC to be
held next June. According to a related source, several countries
have sounded out Japan about a possible reduction in its whaling
target. The working-level IWC meeting will be held in December in
Europe. Such key issues as research whaling, coastal whaling and the
designation of non-whaling areas will likely be discussed at the
meeting.


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SCHIEFFER

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