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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 12/05/08

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 TOKYO 003323

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 12/05/08

INDEX:

(1) Scope column: Aso administration has ceased to function;
Election shift going wrong (Tokyo Shimbun)

(2) Liaison meeting of Council of Governors Hosting U.S. Bases and
governments of Japan and U.S. put on show of establishing friendly
relations; Gaps remain over local conditions, perceptions (Ryukyu
Shimpo)

(3) Questioning economic stimulus package (Nikkei)

(4) Japan needs to swiftly deploy alternative weapons (Yomiuri)

(5) Editorial: Gov't must go all out to retain deterrence (Sankei)

(6) Editorial: Door to textbook screening likely to open slightly
(Asahi)

(7) TOP HEADLINES

(8) EDITORIALS

(9) Prime Minister's schedule, December 4, 2008 (Nikkei)

ARTICLES:

(1) Scope column: Aso administration has ceased to function;
Election shift going wrong

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
December 5, 2008

The government of Prime Minister Taro Aso is becoming unstable even
before it marks 100 days since its inauguration. In the United
States, the term 100 days is called the honeymoon period. The
government and ruling parties have ceased to function, chucking the
basic principles for compiling a state budget for fiscal 2009 by
shelving the fiscal reconstruction policy. The prime minister of
course is responsible for the malfunction, but the absence of a
coordinator is another main reason for it.

"The running of the government is really being carried out by the
cabinet," said a senior ruling coalition member.

The prime minister picked his cabinet lineup and the executives of
the Liberal Democratic Party on the assumption that he would
dissolve the House of Representatives immediately after taking
office and call a snap election. The blame should be centered on the
prime minister, who will lead the LDP in the next Lower House
election.

LDP Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda and Chief Cabinet Secretary
Takeo Kawamura were ridiculed as foils for the prime minister and
seen as lightweights. Aso even whispered to members who received a
cabinet post for the first time: "With this, let's campaign in the
election."

Aso's close aides such as Shoichi Nakagawa and Akira Amari, who
should have played behind-the-scenes roles, assumed the posts of
finance minister and minister for administrative reform which are
top-billed cabinet posts. Although Yoshihide Suga was retained as

TOKYO 00003323 002 OF 010


deputy chairman of the LDP Election Strategy Council, there is no
Aso close aide in the government. Kawamura, who has not served in
any key party post and got a high post in the Prime Minister's
Office for the first time, has failed to fulfill his coordinating
role. Since Aso has delayed Lower House dissolution, his formation
of the "election shift" has gone wrong.

Therefore, the combination of Aso and Kawamura, who are
inexperienced in managing the government, has often formulated
policy on an ad hoc basis. Discord broke out between the government
and the LDP leadership over: (1) whether to cut three percent in
public works spending from the previous year, and (2) whether to
freeze the policy of curbing natural increases in social security
expenses by up to 220 billion yen in compiling a state budget for
fiscal 2009.

General Council Chairman Takashi Sasagawa declared in a meeting on
Dec. 2: "The council gives its concurrence to an idea of abolishing
the ceiling (budgetary request guidelines)," as many committee
members called for a review of the spending cut policy.

At a press conference soon after the meeting, the four LDP
executives stated that they would propose it.

Policy Research Council Chairman Kosuke Hori got upset about it. It
is the tradition that the Policy Research Council makes decisions on
party policy ahead of the General Council. At that time, the Policy
Research Council was discussing the handling of the ceiling. Hori
expressed his reluctance to the idea of proposing it to the prime
minister. Therefore, Sasagawa alone had to convey to Aso the
proposal of removing the ceiling.

A junior lawmaker said in disgust: "What on earth is the secretary
general (coordinator) doing?"

A senior ruling coalition member said: "The cabinet cannot be
shuffled," since it is only about two months since the cabinet was
launched. The prime minister cannot find any way to make his
administration function.

(2) Liaison meeting of Council of Governors Hosting U.S. Bases and
governments of Japan and U.S. put on show of establishing friendly
relations; Gaps remain over local conditions, perceptions

RYUKYU SHINPO (Page 2) (Full
December 4, 2008

A tripartite liaison meeting among the governors of 14 U.S.
base-hosting prefectures and representatives of the central
governments of Japan and the U.S. was held in response to a call by
the governors for a direct dialogue with the U.S., following a
series of incidents involving U.S. servicemen in Okinawa and
Kanagawa. Winding up their first meeting, participants extolled the
significance of the meeting with Kanagawa Prefectural Governor
Shigefumi Matsuzawa saying, "This is ground-breaking in the history
of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty." U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas
Schieffer noted, "This is an excellent approach." Participants
affirmed that friendly relations had been established between the
U.S. forces in Japan and local communities.

Okinawa already has a three-party liaison conference consisting of
the central government, the prefecture and the U.S. forces in

TOKYO 00003323 003 OF 010


Okinawa. This can be called a local version of the liaison council.
However, few meetings have been held recently. A Foreign Ministry
source said, "We all know that the three-way liaison meetings have
been a failure. We cannot hope for success if we simply file
protests with the U.S. military." The source stressed that in order
to have the U.S. side come to the negotiating table, there has to be
tangible benefit for it to take part in such a meeting.

Ambassador Schieffer during the liaison meeting called for setting
up a system designed to boost cooperation between the U.S. military
and local communities, instead of holding meetings only after
incidents occurred. He underscored, "It is important to obtain the
cooperation and understanding of local communities in order to
achieve the objectives of USFJ realignment." What he meant is that
if communication with local communities goes smoothly, it would
become easier to obtain cooperation.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima requested the U.S. to allow the Japanese
side access to U.S. bases in connection with environmental issues.
Kanagawa Prefectural Governor Matsuzawa sought implementation of the
USFJ realignment without delay.

However, the Okinawa Prefectural Congress has adopted a resolution
opposing the construction of facilities replacing Futenma Air
Station under the USFJ realignment agreement. The resolution,
however, might be conveying to the U.S. a request that does not
represent the consensus of Okinawa's residents. The meeting exposed
differences in situations in each local government and difficulty in
unifying their views.

Winding up the first meeting, one delegate from a certain local
government said, "We will naturally ask the Japan-U.S. Joint
Committee to reflect on the outcome of the meeting." One government
official welcomed the meeting, saying, "It was meaningful that such
a meeting was held.

However, one U.S. participant said, "The liaison council is not an
official body," indicating a perception gap between the two sides.
Timetables for the next meeting and operating procedures have yet to
be set, according to the Foreign Ministry. Although the liaison
meeting has got underway, it will remain fraught with complex
issues.

(3) Questioning economic stimulus package

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Slightly abridged)
December 5, 2008

Political News Section Chief Ryosuke Harada: Implementation, instead
of ostensible figures

The economy is deteriorating both at home and abroad at an
unprecedentedly fast pace. Few experts would oppose a call for
taking additional economic stimulus measures and effective policies
quickly. The situation is as serious as that.

More bureaucrats giving up Aso cabinet

To begin with, it is now impossible to resort to demand from foreign
countries. The real growth of the economies of Japan, the U.S. and
European countries has simultaneously sunk into negative territory
for the first time in the postwar period. The situation is totally

TOKYO 00003323 004 OF 010


different from the business slumps in the late 1980, when exports in
quantitative terms did not fall, despite the strong yen and the
collapse of the asset-inflated bubble economy starting in the late
1990s.

The manufacturing industry, Japan's forte, could become weakened. An
executive of a certain leading bank said, "It is a mistake to say
that the impact of the financial crisis on Japan is relatively
small. Since Japanese companies are operating all over the world,
they would suffer the greatest impact." As a matter of fact,
business confidence and consumption in Nagoya, where Toyota Motors
is located, has rapidly deteriorated.

The job of the government and the Diet at the time of the
unprecedented crisis is to analyze what is happening, make out a
prescription to find a breakthrough and consider how to find funding
resources and raise money out of scarce fiscal resources. However,
when it comes to the question of whether there are such
arrangements, the answer is regrettably 'no.' The postponement of
the submission and enactment of the second supplementary budget bill
to the regular Diet session to be convened early in the new year is
emblematic.

We have hardly heard that the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy
had even tried to come up with effective economic stimulus measures
under the initiative of Prime Minister Taro Aso. Economic growth
policy and structural reforms have been put on the shelf. Regarding
the reorganization of field agencies of the government, the showcase
of the decentralization policy, government agencies are putting up
strong opposition to the transfer of operations services to local
governments. There is no end to backpedaling discussions, such as a
revision to the privatized postal services and tax revenues for road
construction. More bureaucrats in Kasumigaseki have given up the Aso
cabinet, viewing it as an election-destined provisional
administration.

Confusion in the ruling camp over the compilation of the budget has
left it in shambles. Generous figures, such as 10 trillion yen or 30
trillion yen for additional economic stimulus packages, are going
round. What they are for and where funding resources are to be found
are unclear. However long Lower House dissolution is delayed, a
general election is bound to take place by next fall. Fear of a
devastating defeat is mounting in the form of a call for an
increased spending.

The turmoil was presumably triggered by the sharp decline in cabinet
support ratings in the Nikkei poll released in its December 1
edition. The support rate dropped to 31 PERCENT , down 17 points
from a month earlier. What was more shocking was that the number of
respondents who cited Prime Minister Aso as a person appropriate as
a prime minister after a general election dropped to 17 PERCENT ,
the same rate of respondents who recommend Democratic Party of Japan
President Ichiro Ozawa.

It has been about two months since the Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) chose Aso as prime minister, saying that it is impossible to
go into the next general election under then Prime Minister Fukuda.
Now that it has become impossible to expect Mr. Aso to show any
potential as prime minister, the only way the ruling camp can secure
support from voters is adopting additional economic stimulus
measures -- they are making such a stop-gap approach.


TOKYO 00003323 005 OF 010


The control tower is isolated at a time when it should find a
breakthrough, gathering the wisdom of many, and the Diet remains at
an impasse. What is most important about economic stimulus package
is whether effective measures can be taken promptly. Coming up with
additional figures as a slogan will make people skeptical about
whether the government has the ability to get things done. Voters
would give up on the government, if it toys with policies for the
sake of the election.

(4) Japan needs to swiftly deploy alternative weapons

YOMIURI (Page 13) (Abridged slightly)
December 4, 2008

Takushoku University Professor Satoshi Morimoto thinks cluster bombs
are extremely effective in attacking enemy troops who have landed in
Japan. Many experts share his view. The reason is because it is
difficult for Japan, a country with a long coastline, to be prepared
for enemy landings.

Some in the government wondered if national defense can be possible
without cluster munitions. But this May, then Prime Minister Yasuo
Fukuda decided to ink the Convention on Cluster Munitions in
deference to growing criticism at home and abroad.

At present, the Self-Defense Forces possess four types of cluster
bombs: (1) vehicle-borne rocket bombs, (2) howitzers; (3) bombs
dropped by fighters, and (4) anti-tank rocket bombs dropped by
helicopters. The treaty requires the signatories to abolish their
cluster munitions in eight years after the treaty goes into force.
Scrapping all cluster bombs is projected to cost 20 to 30 billion
yen.

It is imperative for Japan to deploy weapons that replace the
cluster bombs.

The convention allows the possession of new types of cluster bombs
that have an extremely low rate of unexploded bomblets. The
government does not intend to introduce such bombs, with a Defense
Ministry source saying: "They have small numbers of bomblets, so we
cannot expect much from them." Instead, the government plans to
introduce laser JDAM GPS-guided bombs that can attack targets with
high accuracy. A Defense Ministry source said: "Precision-guided
bombs that attack the enemy at certain 'points' cannot substitute
for cluster bombs that attack enemies on the 'surface.' We must
continue to study alternative weapons."

The United States has not joined the convention.

The convention allows its signatories to carry out a degree of
military cooperation and military operations with non-signatories.
But according to the Foreign Ministry, the Self-Defense Forces are
allowed to act in concert with vessel of U.S. forces in Japan
carrying cluster bombs but are not allowed to ask the U.S. military
to use cluster munitions.

In the trend of abolishing cluster bombs, how should Japan prepare
for contingencies? The country needs to swiftly work things out with
the United States.

(08120407st) Back to Top


TOKYO 00003323 006 OF 010

(5) Editorial: Gov't must go all out to retain deterrence

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 5, 2008

A signing ceremony was held in the Norwegian capital of Oslo for the
Convention on Cluster Munitions (Oslo Treaty), which bans cluster
bombs. The treaty was signed by about 100 countries, including
Japan, Britain, Germany, and France.

Cluster munitions contain a large number of smaller submunitions or
bomblets that widely scatter in the air. The weapons cause greater
damage to enemy troops. However, unexploded bomblets kill or injure
civilians after battles. Everybody would wish to have such weapons
eliminated.

However, we must not forget about national security that affects the
lives of many people. How will this treaty affect the peace and
security of Japan? Is the treaty really effective? These points have
been little discussed. We are concerned that an idealistic argument
went ahead and ended up with signing.

The Self-Defense Forces currently has four types of cluster
munitions, including those dropped from fighter planes. Japan,
surrounded by the seas, has long coastlines and many outliers. Given
such geographic features, Japan has no other effective means to
repel landing enemy troops. Moreover, Japan's neighbors-such as
China, Russia, South Korea, and North Korea-and even the United
States do not participate in the treaty. The Cold War still remains
strong in Northeast Asia, where Japan is the only country that is
without effective weapons.

It seems that cluster munitions in the possession of nonsignatories
account for more than 70 PERCENT of all cluster bombs in the world.
The United States and other nonsignatories have not used
antipersonnel landmines in actual fighting since a treaty banning
such weapons came into effect. Some therefore argue that cluster
bombs also cannot be used. However, there is no guarantee for the
effectiveness of prohibiting cluster bombs.

The United States, China, and Russia are moving to regulate cluster
munitions within the framework of the Convention on Certain
Conventional Weapons (CCW). The Oslo Treaty, which is even stricter,
is now in place. In a way, however, it is difficult to expect
effective restrictions.

Japan is mandated to scrap its cluster munitions within eight years
after the treaty comes into effect. Scrapping costs total over 20
billion yen. The Oslo Treaty allows its signatories to possess
state-of-the-art types that can hardly fail to explode. However,
Japan has chosen not to introduce such weapons. It will take more
than 10 years to develop and deploy alternative weapons. Will this
not leave Japan defenseless?

What concerns us is the Oslo Treaty's possible impact on Japan's
alliance with the United States. The Oslo Treaty allows its
signatories to engage in military cooperation and operations with
nonsignatories. However, Japan is not allowed to ask U.S. Forces
Japan to use cluster bombs. We want the government to do all it can
so that Japan's deterrence will not be marred.


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(6) Editorial: Door to textbook screening likely to open slightly

ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
December 5, 2008

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEXT) has
unveiled a reform plan to increase transparency in school textbook
screening. Once the screening process is over, how textbooks have
been screened will be made public in outline.

The screening system is designed for the government to examine the
contents and expressions in nominated school textbooks produced by
the private sector and to order to make modifications as necessary.

Under the system, the Textbook Authorization Council made up of
experts inspects an opinion paper produced by MEXT textbook
examiners who were selected from among scholars and others. Based on
its results, publishing companies are asked to make changes to their
textbooks.

The whole process is completely kept from public view. Council
meetings are held behind closed doors and the contents of an opinion
paper and what was discussed by the council are not disclosed. Even
the names of textbook examiners and council members are kept secret.
The ministry's logic is that discussions must take place in a quiet
environment.

The ministry's attempt to open the door slightly follows an episode
in which the ministry during the former Abe cabinet ordered some
publishers of high school history textbooks to delete descriptions
of the Battle of Okinawa that stated the Imperial Japanese Army had
forced people in Okinawa to commit mass suicide and later revised it
effectively.

The improvement plan calls for the disclosure of the names and
subjects of examiners, examiners' opinion papers, contents of
discussions in outline, and the names of council members. This seems
to be the limit of the ministry which fears that if what is being
discussed becomes clear in the process, it might come under pressure
from outside.

It is a step forward. People would be able to know, though after the
screening, who said what to prompt the council to decide to make
modifications. The disclosure of the screening process would make
discussions more earnest and cautious. People would be able to use
it as a reference in monitoring the next screening process.

That is not enough, however. Even if a situation similar to the
mass-suicide description case occurs, people would not be able to
know it until after a conclusion is reached. If the opinion paper
had been revealed during the screening process, experts on the
Battle of Okinawa would have offered their input.

Furthermore, the improvement plan offers no change to the present
practice of keeping council meetings behind closed doors and not
producing conference minutes. The gap with the Central Education
Council, which discusses the teaching guidelines that serve as a
guide in compiling school textbooks, is clear.

It makes us uncomfortable that the examiners' views remain
inaccessible until after the screening is over. It makes us even
more uncomfortable that what is in their opinion paper is to serve

TOKYO 00003323 008 OF 010


as the foundation of subsequent deliberations.

Needless to say, not only history textbooks but also all other
school textbooks are vital to the children. How are the contents of
the textbooks determined? Are the textbooks free from absurdities
and bias? There is every reason for the screening to be placed under
close public scrutiny. Greater transparency requires more reforms.

How should the screening be? Is the screening necessary at all?
Discussions must be conducted on such fundamental questions, as
well.

(7) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi:
2,000 non-permanent workers protest against job cuts

Mainichi:
Welfare minister calls for use of reserve funds for pension program


Yomiuri:
Patent Office to expand trademark protection to sound, moving
images

Nikkei:
European central banks cut interest rates simultaneously

Sankei:
First meeting between mid-level Japanese and Chinese officials on
anti-earthquake measures

Tokyo Shimbun:
Labor Ministry mulls extending by 60 days unemployed benefits

Akahata:
JCP Chairman Shii urged government to come up with emergency
measures for employment and small and mid-sized companies

(8) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) Textbook screening: Closed door to open a bit
(2) Road-related taxes: A plan to free up revenues from road-related
taxes for general expenditures will not be realized

Mainichi:
(1) We oppose abolishing the government's share of expenditures for
employment insurance
(2) Will merger of Nippon Oil and Nippon Mining lead to Japanese
version of Major?

Yomiuri:
(1) What came of road tax funds transfer pledge?
(2) Economic slump affects job market

Nikkei:
(1) Drastic interest rate cuts cannot wipe away concern
(2) Merger of Nippon Oil and Nippon Mining with resources and
environment in mind

Sankei:

TOKYO 00003323 009 OF 010


(1) Need for speedy court ruling on murder of former vice minister
and his wife
(2) Ban on cluster bombs: Take all possible measures to maintain
deterrence

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Ban on cluster bombs: This trend should be enrooted
(2) Will merger of two oil companies lead to Japanese version of
Major?

Akahata:
(1) Law to help disabled people become independent should be
abolished and new law to protect human rights is necessary

(9) Prime Minister's schedule, December 4, 2008

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 5, 2008

10:08
Met with Education Minister Shionoya and Vice Education Minister
Zeniya, followed by Special Advisor Yamaguchi. Then met with NHK
Management Committee Chairman Shigetaka Komori.

11:21
Met with Lower House member Kentaro Sonoura and former AJSSE
Chairman Kataoka. Sonomura remained. Then met with journalist
Soichiro Tawara.

12:18
Met with Japan Pension Corporation Establishment Committee Chairman
Okuda. Then met with Internal Affairs Minister Hatoyama and
Decentralization Reform Promotion Committee Executive Director
Miyawaki.

13:20
Vice Foreign Minister Yabunaka.

14:09
Met with Foreign Ministry North American Affairs Bureau Director
General Nishimiya, followed by Assistant Deputy Chief Cabinet
Secretary Fukuda and Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry Employment
Security Bureau Director General Ota.

14:58
Met with Japanese Trade Union Confederation Chairman Takagi. Welfare
Minister Masuzoe, Chief and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries
Kawamura and Uruma and Fukuda were present.

15:52
Met with National Small- and Medium size Retailers Summit Planning
Committee Chairman Toshihiko Kuwajima and others. Shionoya and
former Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki were present.

16:16
Met with Cabinet Intelligence Director Mitani, followed by Finance
Minister Nakagawa, Vice Finance Minister Sugimoto and Budget Bureau
Director General Tango.

17:02
Met with Executive Director Matsuo Yoshida of the National
Accounting Education Association (Zenkei), and others. Then met with

TOKYO 00003323 010 OF 010


Chairman Tanigaki of the project team on the reallocation of tax
revenues for road construction, and Secretaries General of the LDP
and the New Komeito Hori and Yamaguchi, and Kawamura.

18:25
Met with Polish President Kaczynski.

19:36
Joint press conference. Dinner party hosted by the prime minister
and his wife.

22:02
Arrived at the private residence at Kamiyama-cho.

SCHIEFFER

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