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Cablegate: Tokyo Media Reaction - the Obama Team And

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DE RUEHKO #3293/01 3380219
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 030219Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 003293

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 - THE OBAMA TEAM AND
CRISIS IN THAILAND

1. LEAD STORIES: Top stories on Wednesday morning
included the collapse of the Somchai administration in
Thailand.

2. "Quick End to Turmoil Needed" The liberal Asahi
editorialized (12/3): "Criticism of the government in a
democratic state is a matter of course. However, such a
reckless act as occupying an airport is not
acceptable.... The decision by the People's Alliance
for Democracy (PAD) to end the airport closure is a
step forward. The government and antigovernment forces
should seize the opportunity and hold talks in a cool
manner in order to put an end to the antigovernment
activities that take place every time there is a change
of prime minister."

3. "Thailand on Verge of Anarchy" The top-circulation,
moderate Yomiuri wrote from Bangkok (12/3): "The
antagonism between forces led by former Prime Minister
Thaksin and those opposed to him has worsened.... The
Thaksin camp is likely to try to hold on to power by
forming a new party, while the anti-Thaksin bloc will
attempt to prevent this. Thailand is close to falling
into anarchy."

4. "National Divide Deepening" A Bangkok correspondent
for the liberal Mainichi reported (12/3): "The
stalemate in Thai politics has deepened following the
collapse of the Somchai government. Antigovernment
forces are proclaiming 'victory,' while government
supporters are reacting strongly to the Constitutional
Court ruling that was made without substantive
deliberation, calling it a 'judiciary coup.' The schism
among Thais is becoming more serious, and the country
is confronted with a national crisis."

5. "Court Intervenes in 'Civil War'" The liberal Tokyo
Shimbun commented in a dispatch from Bangkok (12/3):
"The Constitutional Court of Thailand in one bold
stroke pushed a Thaksin-backed government into
collapse.... However, no exit is yet in sight to the
turbulence that has deepened divisions in the country
and crippled international trust in Thailand."

6. "Dawn of New Era in Dark World" The liberal Mainichi
asserted in an editorial (12/3): "We hope that
President-elect Obama and Secretary of State-designate
Clinton will renew U.S. diplomacy through coordination.
They are urgently called upon to make a clear break
with the unilateralism and extreme neoconservativism
that pushed the U.S. into isolation and to restore
international trust in the country."

7. "The Future of Clinton Diplomacy" In an editorial,
the moderate Yomiuri claimed (12/3): "There has been
pronounced disarray within the State Department, the
Pentagon, and the White House over how to wage the war
on terrorism. A recurrence of this situation cannot be
accepted.... Close policy coordination among Obama,
Clinton, and Gates is imperative."

8. "Meaning of Secretary of State Clinton" The business-
oriented Nikkei argued in an editorial (12/3): "In
appointing Sen. Clinton as secretary of state,

TOKYO 00003293 002 OF 002


President-elect Obama said her appointment demonstrates
to America's friends and foes his determination to
renew U.S. diplomacy and repair alliances. Her
nomination is a sign of 'change,' while the retention
of Robert Gates as secretary of defense signals
'continuity' and 'stability.' Domestic political
considerations also played a role in their
appointments. The selection of Sen. Clinton was
intended to unite the Democratic Party, while the
decision to retain Secretary of Defense Gates was aimed
at stressing a bipartisan approach. With this,
President-elect Obama apparently hopes to ensure
stability in Iraq and Afghanistan."

9. "Attention Paid to Asia Diplomacy by Obama Team" The
conservative Sankei editorialized (12/3): "President-
elect Obama has expressed respect for America's
tradition of a bipartisan national security policy.
This realism is welcomed. Political stability is
finally taking root in Iraq. We hope the incoming
president will not be overly wedded to his election
pledge of an early troop withdrawal and will instead be
flexible in order to prevent all the accomplishments to
date coming to naught."

SCHIEFFER

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