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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 12/10/08

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 TOKYO 003357

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 12/10/08

INDEX:

(1) Age of crisis: Gist of keynote speech by Yukio Okamoto, foreign
affairs commentator (Yomiuri)

(2) LDP's reform-oriented inclination dwindling (Asahi)

(3) FA-18 training to be continued (Okinawa Times)

(4) Prime Minister Taro Aso delivered dumb speech in DPJ President
Ichiro Ozawa's home district (Shukan Gendai)

(5) TOP HEADLINES

(6) EDITORIALS

(7) Prime Minister's schedule, December 9

ARTICLES:

(1) Age of crisis: Gist of keynote speech by Yukio Okamoto, foreign
affairs commentator

YOMIURI (Page 13) (Full)
December 10, 2008

For many countries, this was an extraordinarily bad year, I think.
As the worst events of this year, the Russia-Georgia dispute,
rampant piracy, and the terrorist attacks in Mumbai can be cited in
the security area, and the steep rise in oil prices and the global
financial crisis triggered by Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy can be
listed in the economic area.

The world has fractured with the collapse of the cold-war structure,
and moves toward bloc formation have accelerated. This trend can be
symbolized by the 27 countries that joined the European Union (EU)
and by the expansion of members of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO). But such moves resulted in a clash of interests
between Russia and former western countries over Georgia.

The Ukraine lies ahead as another potential problem. Ukraine was the
heart of the economy of the Soviet Union. If the U.S. strongly urges
it to join NATO, global security will inevitably be affected
seriously. President-elect Barack Obama's pledge to "cooperate with
Russia in areas that need cooperation" has left the possibility of a
dialogue, so this pledge merits appreciation, in this sense. Now
that oil prices have begun to decline, it would be a good
opportunity for Japan to discuss matters with Russia.

Japan-U.S. cooperation is the bedrock of Japan's diplomacy, but
Japan has not created its own principle paradigm. What kind of
nation does Japan want to be? If Japan continues to just set aside
troublesome tasks, Japan will never be trusted by other countries.

In the security area, in particular, since Japan did not bring
closure to its war, many people now believe that staying away from
war or weapons is a sort of contribution to peace. For them, using
weapons is evil in any case. Saying their assertion came out of
respect for life sounds good, but the approach Japan took in the
Gulf War while explaining that Japanese people's lives are more
valuable than anything in the world ended in failure.


TOKYO 00003357 002 OF 008


More than 40 countries have made contributions in Afghanistan. The
Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) has supported patrol operations
by coalition forces in the Indian Ocean. Narcotics are transported
from Afghanistan to Somalia, while weapons are shipped from Somalia
to Afghanistan. The patrol operations are aimed at cutting off the
transport routes. Recently, however, armed pirates have appeared
quite often along the same routes. Many ships connected to Japan
have suffered damage, and a large tanker was attacked in April. We
must not forget the fact that the crew of the tanker was rescued by
a German military ship that had been refueled by the MSDF and was a
member of the coalition force.

The world has been forming a "guard community," but some in Japan
have insisted that the Japanese government should withdraw the MSDF
from the Indian Ocean. Is such a stance is proper for Japan? If it
is impossible to make a judgment about what is good and bad, Japan
may become a rootless nation in the international community.

On the bilateral side, it is more important to consider what kind of
relations Japan should establish with the U.S. than to predict what
policy the incoming Obama administration might take toward Japan. In
response to Japan's request, the Reagan administration succeeded in
persuading the Soviet Union to disband all its intermediate-range
missiles deployed on the east side of the Urals. As shown by this,
it is necessary to reconstruct the Japan-U.S. alliance to make it
firmer. To that end, Japan should reconsider now how it should
contribute to the international community on the security front.

(2) LDP's reform-oriented inclination dwindling

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
December 10, 2008

Public spending on economic pump-priming measures and lifetime
employment for job security used to be typical of Japan's systems.
Most political parties desire to maintain these systems, according
to findings from a survey of prospective candidates expected to run
in the next election for the House of Representatives. In
particular, those who are expected to run from the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party have such an inclination. The LDP's reform-oriented
inclination in the days of Prime Minister Koizumi has now vanished.

After the Aso cabinet's inauguration in September, the Asahi Shimbun
and the University of Tokyo's Masaki Taniguchi office conducted a
joint survey of about 9,000 prospective candidates and analyzed
answers from 735 persons.

In 2005, the House of Representatives was dissolved for a general
election over the liberalization of state-run postal services. In
that election, the LDP shifted to a reform of Japan's time-honored
systems. This time around, however, the LDP has tended to backpedal,
inclining much more than in the earlier 2003 survey toward
maintaining Japan's traditional systems. Nowadays, the LDP has
changed its attitude over public spending in particular. In the
latest survey, respondents were asked if they thought the government
should increase its public spending for the time being on economic
pump-priming measures. To this question, affirmative answers-"yes"
and "yes to a certain degree"-totaled 77 PERCENT among the LDP's
prospective candidates, showing a jump of 60 percentage points from
17 PERCENT in 2005. When asked if jobs should be secured with more
government investments in public works projects, affirmative answers
accounted for 58 PERCENT among the LDP's prospective candidates, up

TOKYO 00003357 003 OF 008


from 42 PERCENT in 2005.

Meanwhile, in the case of those who are expected to run from the
leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto), the
proportion of answers in favor of increasing public spending on
economic pump-priming measures doubled from 14 PERCENT . Even so,
the figure was 31 PERCENT . Among the DPJ's prospective candidates,
42 PERCENT were opposed to the option of making more government
investments in public works projects, leveling off from 39 PERCENT
in 2005. The DPJ also inclined to maintain Japan's typical systems
but maintained a reform-oriented inclination.

When it comes to security and foreign policies, the LDP is more
hawkish. Asked if Japan should participate in collective
self-defense, "yes" accounted for 73 PERCENT among the LDP's
prospective candidates, up from 50 PERCENT in 2005. This is
conceivably attributable in part to arguments over the right of
collective self-defense in the days of the Abe cabinet. Among the
DPJ's prospective candidates, the proportion of those in favor of a
further defense buildup was 17 PERCENT , showing a decrease from 32
PERCENT in 2005. As seen from these figures, the DPJ has turned
dovish.

Accordingly, the two parties' respective policy standpoints are now
more widely apart than in 2005, making it easy to see the axis of
confrontation between the two parties.

(3) FA-18 training to be continued

OKINAWA TIMES (Top play) (Full)
December 10, 2008

In connection with the recent crash of a U.S. Marine Corps FA-18D
fighter jet in the suburbs of San Diego, California, the press
division of the Marine Corps in Okinawa told the Okinawa Times
yesterday that the Marine Corps' aircraft operations are continuing
to operate as usual. "We cannot predict how the accident will affect
our air troops," a press division officer said. This officer
explained that FA-18 fighter jets, which are on a training mission
to Kadena Air Base from the Iwakuni base in Yamaguchi Prefecture,
will continue their training in Okinawa Prefecture until tomorrow as
scheduled.

The FA-18, classified into four types from A to D, may have
something wrong with the hinge of the ailerons and flaps. The U.S.
Navy and Marine Corps therefore began in late October to check about
480 FA-18 fighter jets based in the United States. In November, 10
FA-18s, including two in the United States, were grounded.

In response to the FA-18D accident, the Military Base Affairs
Division of the Okinawa prefectural government yesterday inquired of
a public affairs officer at the headquarters of the Marine Corps in
Okinawa about the FA-18's safety. The officer explained, "All the
FA-18 fighter jets were checked up before their flights from
Iwakuni.

Takashi Toyota, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, told the press
yesterday: "We've now made inquiries regarding the U.S. Forces
Japan. But they say they're still looking into this matter. So we
don't know anything in concrete terms yet."

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima said yesterday, "When there is such an

TOKYO 00003357 004 OF 008


accident, I have the feeling that I don't want them to fly until we
find out (the cause of the accident). But I'd like to abstain from
commenting until we have official information."

The Marine Corps is currently deploying about 35 planes-including
FA-18 and AV-8 Harrier vertical takeoff and landing jets-to Kadena
from Iwakuni for joint training conducted with the U.S. Air Force
from Dec. 1. The press division took the position that in
consideration of operational safety, it cannot reveal the number of
FA-18 jets flown from Iwakuni to Okinawa.

(4) Prime Minister Taro Aso delivered dumb speech in DPJ President
Ichiro Ozawa's home district

Shukan Gendai (Full) (Pages 36-37)
December 20, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso (68) on November 29 traveled to Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa's (66) home district in
Iwate Prefecture on a stumping tour. He made his first speech at an
open-air parking lot at the Aeon Super Center two kilometers away
from Tohoku Shinkansen Ichinoseki Station. About 1,000 people were
there to hear his speech. Most of them were in their 60's and 70's.
There were few people at their working prime or young people. Even
when the prime minister appeared, few people applauded. There was no
enthusiasm. Wearing a blue polka-dot tie, Aso breezily climbed on
top of a campaign car and started his speech: "Please raise your
hand if you think I look better in the flesh than my in the picture
saying "For a start, I will tackle the economy" in that poster over
there?"

He all of a sudden asked the audience to raise their hands, if they
agreed. However, the audience was bewildered. Aso expected them to
reply, "In the flesh." He then would have responded, "Mom, you have
good judgment." This is the usual pattern he exchanges conversation
with audiences, which he is very good at. However, it did not work
this time. Pulling himself together, the prime minister thanked the
audience for its support during the LDP presidential campaign. He
then touched on the package of economic stimulus measures, while
attacking the Ozawa-led DPJ. So far so good.

However, he gradually began coming into his own and displayed his
ignorance: "General Motors, Ford and Chrysler may go under. The
Japanese equivalent of the Big Three -- Toyota, Nissan and
Mitsubishi -- might fail."

If he wanted to liken Japan's three largest automakers to the Big
Three in the U.S., he should have cited Toyota, Honda and Nissan. It
was years ago when Honda's share became smaller than Mitsubishi's.
If a prime minister like Aso, who lacks such common knowledge,
explains the crisis of the global economy, people would just feel
uneasy, wondering whether it is all right to have such a person at
the top.

Prime minister, do you know the difference between the strong yen
and the weak yen?

Aso's ignorant manner of speaking was out in full blast, as can be
seen in his mistaking the strong yen for the weak yen. He said: "The
value of the yen has dropped. Sorry, the value of the yen has risen
against the dollar."


TOKYO 00003357 005 OF 008


He then noted: "Newspapers write only negative things. However,
gasoline prices have gone down due to the strong yen, haven't
they?"

He gradually slipped into a cruder language: "The gasoline price has
gone down from 180 yen to 120 yen, which means the price has gone
down by one-third. You are enjoying such benefits as the strong yen
and cheaper gasoline, aren't you? Am I not correct? "

He somehow took an overbearing attitude. At any rate, is the fall in
gasoline prices thanks to the strong yen? It should be a matter of
common knowledge that gasoline prices have gone down sharply with
speculative money withdrawn from the market due to the financial
crisis.

Furthermore, referring to his proposal for flatly lowering holiday
expressway tolls to 1,000 yen, the prime minister noted, "The
expressway toll from Tokyo to Osaka costs 30,000 yen. It's very
expensive."

The Tomei expressway toll from Tokyo to Osaka is, in fact, about
10,000 yen for a passenger car. He does not know the correct toll,
presumably because he has not paid the toll himself. It is no
wonder, as he once said that a cup noodle costs 400 yen. Such a
person cannot realize the rigor of people's lives.

Touting his cash benefit plan, he said: "What do you think brings
the most benefit? We have conducted research and found that it was
traditional New Year dishes. Stores are unusually inundated with
reservations for expensive dishes."

We have not heard that New Year dishes are selling well because of
the distribution of cash benefits, which has yet to be decided in
the Diet. A person in charge of public relations at Seibu Department
Store ruled out Aso's statement: "It is true that the sales of New
Year dishes have increased 5 PERCENT , compared with the previous
year, but that is not due to the impact of the cash benefit. The
increase is presumably because more people will spend New Year
holidays with their family at home."

Keio Department Store also made a similar reply. A public relations
officer at the Japan Department Store Association noted with a
forced smile: "It would be difficult to find any connection between
cash benefits and New Year dishes (laughs). I hope the prime
minister will quickly take a policy that will shore up consumer
mind."

To begin with, those who are really in need of flat-sum cash
benefits have no room for ordering expensive New Year dishes.

This is how things always go with Aso. There is no way of bridging
the gap between Prime Minister Aso and people.

"I will not quit, even if support ratings for my cabinet fall to 5
PERCENT "

The prime minister then made trips to the Iwate No. 4 Constituency,
Ozawa's home constituency, and returned to Tokyo the same day. In
reality, his footing is unsteady even before he goes into battle
against the Ozawa-led DPJ. Opposition to key issues, including the
reallocation of tax revenues for road construction, the sale of
government-held postal shares and a revision to the basic policy

TOKYO 00003357 006 OF 008


guidelines on economic and fiscal management and structural reforms,
is mounting within the LDP.

On November 26, 15 LDP members, including former State Minister for
Financial Services and Administrative Reform Yoshimi Watanabe and
former Chief Cabinet Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki, held a meeting of
the Voluntary Group of Lawmakers Seeking Immediate Policy
Realization. Former Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa reportedly
repaired relations with his supposedly political enemy State
Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Kaoru Yosano on that
occasion, playing mah-jongg. On December 2, the members of the
Zuirin-Kai, chaired by Acting Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara,
met after a long interval. Yoshimi Watanabe also took part in the
meeting.

President Ozawa is trying to poke his nose in the LDP, which is
becoming unsettled. One senior DPJ official noted: "President Ozawa
is trying to encourage LDP members to bolt their party, by pulling
out DPJ candidates from constituencies where they, including
Shiozaki, for instance, will likely face a difficult election." Diet
Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka predicted that some LDP
members would secede from their party around the year's end." Ozawa
in early October secretly met at a Japanese restaurant with LDP
member Koichi Kato and former Secretary General Taku Yamasaki
through Acting Chairman Shizuka Kamei of the People's New Party
(PNP). Kamei reportedly proposed, "How about a Prime Minister
Kato?"

After the party head talks on November 28, Ozawa dined with
Secretary General Hatoyama, New Party Japan Representative Yasuo
Tanaka and others at a sushi restaurant in Tokyo. Ozawa during the
meal proposed forming an ultra-grand coalition election control
cabinet joined by all parties.

Behind this initiative are presumably Yosano and Tsuneo Watanabe,
chairman of the Yomiuri Shimbun Group Head Office -- both are close
to Ozawa.

Prime Minister Aso is reportedly going around saying arrogantly, "I
will not step down, even if public support ratings for my cabinet
slip to 5 PERCENT ." One senior New Komeito official is alarmed
about Aso's move, saying: "The prime minister is a naughty boy. If
everybody thinks that there will be no general election, he then
wants to hold an election. There could be a Lower House dissolution
at Christmas." Political commentator Hisayuki Miyake noted, "After
all, the LDP has no other choice but to contest the next election
with the Aso cabinet. If the DPJ adopts a hard-line policy, it would
have to resort to the 60-day rule. It is impossible to dissolve the
Lower House between April and May. The only possibility would be a
dissolution at the outset of the regular Diet session. Chances are
high that if the Diet is dissolved, a DPJ administration will come
into existence. A major reorganization of political circles will
then begin."

Does he mean that we will soon become unable to hear Aso's
characteristic way of speaking?

(5) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, Sankei and Tokyo Shimbun:
Sony to cut 16,000 jobs, shut down 10 PERCENT of plants worldwide


TOKYO 00003357 007 OF 008


Nikkei:
Toshiba, Daiichi-Sankyo, Nittsu and other major firms see
difficulties raising funds in market, shifting to bank borrowing

Akahata:
MHLW informs regional labor bureaus to guide firms not to dismiss
regular workers

(6) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study)
survey: Classes must be attractive
(2) Decentralization requires solid politics

Mainichi:
(1) Swift uniform step for uninsured children good news
(2) TIMSS survey: Test scores not everything

Yomiuri:
(1) Increased lending key to slowing bankruptcies
(2) TIMSS survey: Children's interest in mathematics and science
must be increased

Nikkei:
(1) Obama-version New Deal reflects sense of crisis
(2) Sony's restructuring plan shocking

Sankei:
(1) Chinese ships' incursion into Japanese territorial waters
serious
(2) TIMSS survey: Japanese students can do better

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Is Aso administration capable of reorganizing government branch
offices?
(2) Make mathematics and science fun to study

Akahata:
(1) 1 trillion yen bank recapitalization plan requires strict
guidance and supervision

(7) Prime Minister's schedule, December 9

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 10, 2008

08:59
Met in the Diet Building with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister
Nikai, Agriculture Minister Ishiba, Foreign Minister Nakasone,
Finance Minister Nakagawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura, and
others.

09:32
Attended a cabinet meeting. Nakagawa stayed behind.

10:04
Met Social Democratic Party President Fukushima and others.

10:43
Met Special Advisor Yamaguchi at the Kantei.


TOKYO 00003357 008 OF 008


11:02
Met Nakagawa, Vice Finance Minister Sugimoto, Budget Bureau Director
General Tango. Followed by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Uruma.

12:47
Met former Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura.

13:28
Met former Finance Minister Omi. Followed by Assistant Deputy Chief
Cabinet Secretary Fukuda and Comprehensive Ocean Policy Office
Executive Secretary Oba.

14:00
Met members of the All Japan Ryokan Association, including Chairman
Sato. Later met Uruma.

15:10
Met Vice Foreign Minister Yabunaka and Deputy Foreign Minister
Sasae.

16:09
Met Russian Presidential Administration Chief Naryshkin. Followed by
Environment Minister Saito, Vice Environment Minister Nishio, and
Global Environment Bureau Director General Terada.
17:30 Met Lower House member Yaichi Tanigawa. Followed by Kawamura.

18:15
Attended a meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy.

19:30
Met Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsumoto.

20:23
Attended a meeting of his supporters' group at the Hotel Seiyo
Ginza.

22:35
Returned to his private residence in Kamiyama-cho.

SCHIEFFER

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