Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 12/18/08

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1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)

4) Yomiuri-Gallup poll: 34 PERCENT of Japanese feel U.S.-Japan
relations are good, the lowest rate ever, but expectations are high
for improved ties under Obama (Yomiuri)

Defense and security affairs:
5) Japan ends Iraq assistance with final flight of ASDF cargo plane
from Kuwait (Nikkei)
6) Government in final coordination on USFJ-related outlays of 70-80
billion yen in the defense budget (Nikkei)
7) Government to allocate 60 billion yen for U.S. force realignment,
including building a Marine headquarters on Guam (Sankei)
8) Japan, Australia agree to set up security committee for sharing
of information on terrorism, natural disasters (Nikkei)
9) Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance
Paula DeSutter in Sankei interview acknowledges DPRK possession of
several nuclear weapons (Sankei)

Economies in crisis:
10) U.S. Fed lowers interest rate to near zero: Japan feels this
will help stabilize markets (Yomiuri)
11) Nissan to cut temporary workers to zero; Honda fiscally in the
red (Yomiuri)
12) Foreign-affiliated financial institutions in Japan cut payroll
by 3,100 employees (Nikkei)
13) New Komeito perplexed by LDP's tax policy program that calls for
consumption tax hike in 2011 (Tokyo Shimbun)

14) Prime Minister Aso seeks meeting with Democratic Party of Japan
head Ozawa (Asahi)



Asahi & Tokyo Shimbun:
Nissan to end all contracts with temporary workers by next March,
with output cuts at three plants

Internal Affairs Ministry to create new subsidies to support local
governments' employment measures

Only 34 PERCENT in Japan think Japan-U.S. relations are good

Panasonic agree to buy each Sanyo share for 131 yen from three major

FRB cuts interest rates to record low of 0 PERCENT to 0.25 PERCENT

Major Japanese firms increase reserves to 29 trillion yen over six
months since April

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(1) Zero rate in U.S.: Stem global deflation
(2) Spring wage offensive for 2009: Top priority must be given to
job security

(1) U.S. zero rate: Implement drastic measure with studious care
(2) 2009 spring wage offensive: Eagerness to protect non-regular
workers lacking

(1) U.S. unusually cuts interest rate to zero
(2) Withdrawal of SDF troops from Iraq: Japan must fully consider
future options for international contributions

(1) U.S. FRB shows bold posture to contain financial crisis
(2) Difficult tasks facing new Thai premier

(1) Mid-term program: Speak of consumption tax more frankly
(2) BOJ should decide to lower interest rate

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) 30th anniversary of China's openness policy: Political reform
unavoidable to continue economic development
(2) New strains of influenza: Meticulous preparations needed

(1) Companies must give consideration to workers

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, December 17

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 18, 2008

Had a walk around his private residence in Kamiyamacho.

Met National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan
Chairman Hirose, Association for Promotion of Digital Broadcasting
Board Chairman Mabe and others.

Met Japan International Broadcasting President Takashima, followed
by National Association of Towns and Villages Chairman Yamamoto.

Met LDP Fukuoka chapter chairman Shingu and others in the presence
of Chief Deputy Secretary General Harada. Afterward met ruling bloc
mid-term program project team leader Nukaga.

Met FIFA President Blatter, followed by Lower House member Seishiro
Eto. Afterward met Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Konoike.

TOKYO 00003441 003 OF 011

Met National Police Agency Director General Yoshimura, followed by
Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Hatoyama and Vice
Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Takino.

Attended a Tokyo Assembly LDP meeting held at a Japanese restaurant
in Akashicho, with Senior Deputy Secretary General Ishihara, joined
by Election Strategy Council Chairman Koga.

Met parliamentary secretaries of all ministries in the presence of
Matsumoto and Konoike, joined by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura.

Met at a Hotel New Otani bar with LDP president special assistant
Shimamura, Public Relations Chairman Furuya and others.

Returned to his private residence.

4) Yomiuri-Gallup poll: Low of 34 PERCENT say Japan-U.S. relations
in good shape

YOMIURI (Top play) (Full)
December 18, 2008

The proportion of people in Japan who think the current bilateral
relationship between Japan and the United States is in good shape
dropped from 39 PERCENT last year to 34 PERCENT , the lowest level
since 2000, the Yomiuri Shimbun found from a joint public opinion
survey conducted with the Gallup Organization, a U.S. pollster, in
mid-November. In the United States, it rose from 46 PERCENT to 53
PERCENT . The figures show a perception gap between the two sides.

In the survey, respondents were also asked if they trust each
other's country. In Japan, the proportion of those who trust the
United States was 32 PERCENT , down from 34 PERCENT last year. In
the United States, the proportion of those who trust Japan was 67
PERCENT , up from 61 PERCENT .

As seen from the figures, the Japanese public's attitude toward the
United States has worsened. This can be taken as reflecting a gap
between the two countries' respective policies toward North Korea
and repercussions from the financial crisis in the United States.

In response to a question asking if Japan and the United States have
been able to cooperate with each other on North Korea, "yes"
accounted for only 16 PERCENT in Japan, with "no" reaching 77
PERCENT . This implies the Japanese public's discontent with the
United States for its delisting of North Korea as a state sponsor of
terrorism with no concrete progress on the issue of Japanese
nationals abducted to North Korea.

Asked about the financial crisis, 83 PERCENT answered that their
faith in the U.S. economy has declined. The financial crisis seems
to be a factor that lowered the degree of trust in the United

In addition, respondents were further asked how they thought
Japan-U.S. relations will change with President-elect Obama and his
administration coming into office early next year. To this question,

TOKYO 00003441 004 OF 011

"improve" accounted for 28 PERCENT in Japan, with "worsen" at 11
PERCENT and "no change" at 51 PERCENT . In the United States,
"improve" accounted for 50 PERCENT , with "worsen" at 12 PERCENT .

Asked whether Japan has contributed to the international community's
war on terror, "yes" accounted for 49 PERCENT in Japan, with "no"
at 40 PERCENT . In the United States, "yes" was at 45 PERCENT and
"no" at 49 PERCENT .

5) Iraq support activities end; Last cargo plane leaves Kuwait; SDF
troops walked tightrope for five years

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
December 18, 2008

Hirofumi Matsuo, Kuwait

One of the Air Self-Defense Force's three C-130 transport planes --
the last one -- that have been on an airlift mission as part of
Japan's reconstruction support for Iraq departed from Kuwait for
Japan on December 17. Most of the some 200 ASDF troops there will
also return to Japan by government plane before year's end. Five
years of the SDF's reconstruction assistance in Iraq has now ended.

Ahead of the aircraft's departure, a withdrawal ceremony was held at
Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, at which Parliamentary Secretary of
Defense Ryota Takeda said: "Owing to efforts by the SDF troops, the
mission has been accomplished with no casualties and (Japan) has won
international trust and praise."

Constantly in danger of being attacked by armed forces, SDF troops
were forced to walk a tightrope in carrying out reconstruction
assistance in Iraq. The mission has also left many challenges, such
as what to do with the legal grounds for dispatching troops overseas
and the weapons-use criteria.

Looking back on the mission, a senior ASDF officer said: "The
temperature was 50 C, and you couldn't open your eyes in a
sandstorm. You were always in fear of a ground-to-air missile flying
at you. The atmosphere in the battlefield was tense." In the
aircraft, the alarm sounded often to indicate danger.

The Ground Self-Defense Force conducted water-supply activities and
public facility restoration work in the Iraqi southern city of
Samawah. Rockets landed near their camp, and gun battles between
armed groups also occurred in its vicinity.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has sent a letter to Prime Minister
Taro Aso praising Japan's effort, reading: "I appreciate the
Japanese government's important contributions. I hope Japan will
continue to support the United Nations' efforts in Iraq by other
means." But the reaction from among the Iraqi people has been mixed,
with one saying, "Japan should come back with industry."

Weapons of mass destruction, the basis for the Iraq war, have not
been found. As seen from this fact, the Iraq mission has left many
challenges for Japan. The legal grounds for dispatching the SDF
overseas have also presented challenges.

Regarding Baghdad as a combat area, the Nagoya High Court ruled the
ASDF mission unconstitutional. The use of weapons is limited to
justifiable defense and emergency evacuations. A former SDF member

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has raised questions about this rule. The idea of sending the SDF to
waters off Somalia to combat piracy has emerged in the government.
The question is how to make good use of the lessons learned in

6) Final coordination underway in government to incorporate 70-80
billion yen of U.S. force realignment cost in fiscal 2009 budget

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
December 18, 2008

The government has begun final coordination for incorporating in its
fiscal 2009 budget 70 to 80 billion yen of the U.S. force
realignment cost, including the U.S. base facilities cost, as was
agreed upon by the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO). The
cost will be increased significantly in preparation for the
relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam that will move into
full swing in fiscal 2009. Initially, the cost was expected to run
up to 100 billion yen, but given the yen's appreciation, the
government has reviewed the exchange rate. The government has also
reduced its estimate on the improvement of facilities.

About 35 billion yen will be earmarked for the construction of
billets and other facilities for the Marines moving to Guam. Also
included in the amount is the cost of relocating Futenma Air Station
(to a new site in Okinawa) and carrier-borne aircraft to the Iwakuni

7) FY2009 budget earmarks 60 billion yen for U.S. force realignment

SANKEI (Page 2) (Abridged)
December 18, 2008

The government decided yesterday to earmark about 60 billion yen in
its fiscal 2009 budget for the planned realignment of U.S. forces in
Japan. Next fiscal year is the initial year to start realignment
projects, and one of the projects is to construct facilities in Guam
for U.S. Marines to be relocated from Okinawa. The budget size is
about three times larger than 19.1 billion yen for the current
fiscal year.

In May 2006, the Japanese and U.S. governments agreed to realign the
U.S. military presence in Japan. Specifically, the two governments
have reached an agreement to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma
Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to Camp Schwab, a U.S.
military base located in the island prefecture's northern coastal
city of Nago. For this relocation of Futenma airfield, the Japanese
government plans to build an alternative facility in a coastal area
of Camp Schwab. Along with this relocation of Futenma airfield, the
United States will move about 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
This Guam relocation is specified in the U.S. government's roadmap.

According to the plan, realignment-related projects will start next
fiscal year. One of them is to build such facilities as headquarters
and billets in Guam. The government is now coordinating to
appropriate approximately 40 billion yen from the budgetary estimate
of 60 billion yen for Guam relocation.

Meanwhile, the government plans to build an alternative facility in
a coastal area of Camp Schwab for Futenma airfield. This
construction is premised on an environmental assessment of the
relocation site and its environs. However, this assessment is

TOKYO 00003441 006 OF 011

unlikely to be completed next fiscal year. The government will
therefore not incorporate a budget estimate for full-fledged
construction. However, the remaining budgetary estimate of around 20
billion yen is expected to be appropriated for such purposes as
dismantling billets at Camp Schwab and building hangars at the
Iwakuni base for carrier-borne aircraft to be redeployed there.

8) Japan, Australia to agree on information-sharing to combat
terrorism and disasters at bilateral security meeting

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 18, 2008

The governments of Japan and Australia have now begun finalizing a
plan to push ahead with information-sharing to deal with major
disasters and the threat of terrorism. The two countries will begin
discussions next year or later for formulating a treaty on
protecting secrets between them. The two countries plan to specify
it in a joint document showing new security and defense guidelines
after reaching an agreement at their two-plus-two defense and
foreign ministerial meeting to be held today in Tokyo.

The two countries will also confirm a plan to expand the scope of
joint training between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the
Australian military to be prepared for natural disasters in the
Asia-Pacific, such as tsunamis and earthquakes. Australia has
expressed a willing to take over part of Japan's energy aid to North
Korea (equivalent to 950,000 tons of heavy fuel oil) in accordance
with a six-party agreement. The two countries will search for ways
to coordinate their North Korea policies, as well.

9) U.S. Assistant Secretary of State DeSutter: North Korea possesses
a number of nuclear weapons; No compromises on such matters as
collecting test samples

SANKEI (Page 6) (Abridged)
December 18, 2008

By Takeshi Arimoto in Washington

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance
Paula DeSutter in an interview with the Sankei and other news
organizations made this statement about North Korea's nuclear
development program: "We don't know exactly how many they have, but
North Korea possesses a number of nuclear weapons." She said that to
resolve the nuclear issue, it was necessary to inspect the nuclear
facilities, including the nuclear weapons plant. She took an
uncompromising stance on such matters as collecting samples. She
stressed the view that North Korea was not recognized as a nuclear
power under the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Ms. DeSutter judged as "extremely insufficient" North Korea's report
in June of its nuclear programs. In addition, referring to the
verification process when Libya scrapped its nuclear program as
having been carried out sufficiently, she stressed, "Verification is
not a hostile act." She argued that verification was indispensable
for determining the veracity of the contents of the report.

On the question of activities to spread nuclear weapons to other
countries, as well as on the nuclear program to enrich uranium, she
said, "Their hands are still not clean." She took the view that
verification was also necessary regarding not only the nuclear

TOKYO 00003441 007 OF 011

program using plutonium, but also proliferation activities and
uranium-enrichment activities as well. Moreover, she also stated,
"There is a facility for making (nuclear) weapons," making her view
clear that the nuclear weapons plant, too, should be subject to

Ms. DeSutter stated that "it was very important" for North Korea to
quickly return to the NPT in order for the Six-Party Talks agreement
to be implemented. "They are not recognized as being a nuclear
power," she declared.

10) U.S. adopts unprecedentedly drastic monetary measure -- rate cut
to 0 PERCENT , monetary quantitative easing

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
December 18, 2008

Challenged by the serious downturn in economy, the Federal Reserve
Board (FRB) on December 16 adopted an unprecedented monetary policy
of cutting its federal funds target rate, a benchmark for short-term
interest rates, to nearly zero and strengthening its monetary
quantitative easing policy. The world is keeping close tabs on
whether the FRB can bail out the U.S. economy, which is on the brink
of falling into deflationary economy, with the unusual financial
policy, which Japan adopted during the economic slump after the
collapse of asset-inflated bubble economy?

Japan's case: Effective in stabilizing financial market

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) in February 1999 introduced a
zero-interest-rate policy in an effort to put an end to the
deflationary economy. When the economy temporarily showed signs of
picking up, the BOJ lifted the policy in August 2000. However, when
concern about immediate adverse influences mounted once again, the
BOJ adopted a monetary quantitative easing policy in March 2001. The
zero-interest-rate policy was kept in place until July 2006 for five
years and fourth months.

Under Japan's quantitative easing policy, a massive amount of
interest-free funds were supplied to financial institutions, with
which the BOJ had a business connection, so as to raise the cash
balance in their BOJ current accounts, instead of interest rates
being hiked or lowered by the BOJ. The aim was to revitalize the
economy, by increasing money supply to be used for loans to

However, many rated that policy produced only a small effect in
terms of buoying up the economy, loans to companies did not increase
much. The reason for that is since banks at the time were strapped
with an enormous amount of bad loans, they could not afford to
extend fresh loans.

However, it is believed that the quantitative monetary easing policy
was effective in stabilizing the financial system with the BOJ
supporting leading banks' cash management.

11) Nissan to end contracts with temporary workers: Honda to post
190 billion yen deficit in second half of fiscal 2008

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
December 18, 2008

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Nissan Motors on December 17 announced a plan to cut additional
domestic production -- 78,000 units and end contracts with temporary
workers at its domestic plants by the end of March 2009.This is the
first time for any leading automaker to stop employing workers
dispatched from employment agencies. Honda Motors the same day
released a plan for an additional production cut by 54,000 units at
its domestic plants and to slash contract workers by another 450.
There seems to be no end to production and employment adjustment by
leading automakers, following the slowdown in the global economy.

Nissan had been employing approximately 2,000 dispatched workers.
However, it released a plan in November to reduce the number to 500
before year's end. It will also stop operations for several days in
a month at four plants. This would reduce production in fiscal 2008
by 225,000 units, a drop of about 16 PERCENT from the target of
1.388 million units in the initial production plan.

Honda revealed an outlook that its group operating profit, which
shows profits from the main line of business, will show a deficit of
approximately 190 billion yen in the second half of fiscal 2008
(October 2008-March 2009). This is the first time for the company to
suffer an operational deficit in any half-year term since it adopted
the current accounting system. It projects that an operational
profit for the whole financial year ending in March 2009 would drop
to 180 billion yen, down 81.1 PERCENT from the preceding year.

Honda will flatly cut managers' salaries by 10 PERCENT , starting in
January 2009.

12) Foreign financial institutions cut 3,100 jobs, more than 10
PERCENT of Japanese payrolls, since last August

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
December 18, 2008

Hit by the ongoing financial crisis, foreign-affiliated financial
institutions have accelerated moves to slash jobs in Japan. Since
credit woes stemming from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis became
serious in August of last year through mid-December of this year,
3,100 jobs have been cut. The cuts amount to 11 PERCENT of the
Japanese on their payrolls (about 28,000 persons). Foreign firms are
expected to continue cutting jobs, and a total of 4,400 workers may
be thrown out of work by the middle of 2009, according to a report
produced by human resources consulting firm Executive Search
Partners Co. yesterday.

U.S. and European financial institutions began to step up
retrenchments in Japan in the wake of the failure of major U.S.
brokerage house Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in mid-September. With
financial institutions saddled with massive losses stemming from
turmoil in the markets, downsizing has spread from real estate and
securitization to market trading, investment banking, asset
management, and custodial services.

Goldman Sachs Japan Co., whose U.S. parent company logged its first
quarterly loss since it was listed in 1999, has cut nearly 150 jobs
in its investment banking, equities, custodial, and other
operations. Credit Suisse has axed more than 70 workers mainly in
its investment banking division as of the end of last week. Job cuts
at these two firms account for 10 PERCENT of their total Japanese

TOKYO 00003441 009 OF 011

Deutsche Securities Inc. has slashed nearly 60 jobs in
securitization and other sections. Morgan Stanley Japan Securities
Co. and Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co. have also reduced their

The Bank of Japan, a leading U.S. bank, plans to cut back its
workforce across the world by up to 35,000 over the next three
years, with its business integration with Merrill Lynch. European
financial institutions are also stepping up cutbacks. Executive
Search estimates that a total of 4,400 jobs at foreign financial
institutions could be eliminated by the middle of 2009. This figure
accounts for 16 PERCENT of their workforces in Japan.

13) Scope column: New Komeito agonizing over what approach it should
take to government's mid-term tax reform program

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
December 18, 2008

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner
New Komeito held a first meeting of a project team to discuss a
mid-term program for drastic reform of the tax code, which the
government had drafted. The project team launched coordination in
the ruling parties as to when to hike the consumption tax. The New
Komeito, however, is opposed to Prime Minister Taro Aso's plan to
include the phrase (about hiking the consumption tax) "three years
from now" in the government-drafted mid-term program. The New
Komeito, therefore, intends to press the government to modify that
wording in its mid-term program. In order to avoid a rift in the
ruling coalition from opening, the New Komeito is having
difficulties deciding what response it should take to resolve the

In the project team's first meeting yesterday, the New Komeito
frankly expressed displeasure with the government's mid-term program
as presented on Dec. 16. One New Komeito official stated: "I wonder
if it is good for the government to change the ruling coalition's
large package of tax revisions, on which we spent a lot of time, by
using a different expression."

The government's mid-term program includes the phrase that drastic
reform for the tax code, including the consumption tax, will be
implemented from fiscal 2011 (three years from now). Meanwhile,
after holding consultations from late at night on Dec. 11 until
before dawn next day, the LDP and New Komeito finally agreed to
their draft outline on reform of the tax code that stipulates the
vague expression "by the mid-2010s." Therefore, the New Komeito is
unhappy with the term "three years from now."

After yesterday's 90-minute-meeting, former Health, Labor and
Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi, chair of the New Komeito side's
project team, commented on the government's mid-term program in a
cautious manner: "I want to pose questions, since it mentions such
specifically." He did not react strongly to the government.

Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano has emphasized the
Aso administration's responsibility for reform of the tax code,
saying: "The government will lose its raison d'etre if it does as
the ruling coalition parties say." The LDP has decided to go along
with the prime minister's policy. Former Finance Minister Fukushiro
Nukaga, who is not a senior member of the LDP Policy Research
Council, chairs the LDP side's project-team. This proves that the

TOKYO 00003441 010 OF 011

LDP has already made its decision.

In addition, strains are beginning to appear between the LDP and New
Komeito due to LDP Election Strategy Council Chairman Makoto Koga's
remarks on Dec. 14 that election cooperation between the two parties
should be reviewed. As it stands, the New Komeito is unable to
decide what approach it should take to the consumption tax issue. A
senior New Komeito member said: "We cannot find a middle ground."

14) DPJ President Ozawa to ask Prime Minister Aso for meeting

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged slightly)
December 18, 2008

Four employment measures bills presented by three opposition parties
-- the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Social Democratic Party
(SDP) and People's New Party (PNP) -- will be approved today by a
majority of the opposition parties at the House of Councillors
Committee on Health, Labor and Welfare. DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa
intends immediately after the bills are adopted in the Upper House
to request Prime Minister Taro Aso to hold a meeting between them in
order to call for enacting the bills before the end of the current
extraordinary Diet session, which will run until Dec. 25.

The DPJ aims to play up its effort to tackle the employment
situation, which has becoming more and more serious. The ruling
parties, however, are strongly reacting to the DPJ's move.

The Upper House's Health, Labor and Welfare Committee hold a
directors meeting yesterday to discuss the four employment measures
bills. In the meeting, the ruling and opposition camps agreed to
initiate deliberations on Dec. 18, but the ruling coalition opposed
the DPJ's call for taking a vote on the bills the same day. However,
Committee Chairman Tsukasa Iwamoto, a DPJ member, decided by virtue
of his office that the bills were approved. Therefore, the set of
four bills is expected to be passed in an Upper House plenary
session today. The ruling bloc does not plan to deliberate on them
in the House of Representatives during the ongoing session.

In an attempt to appeal its stance of aiming to pass the four bills
during the current session, recognizing that the employment
situation is facing imminent danger, the DPJ has insisted that the
bills be put to a vote today in the committee. The JCP, SDP and PNP
will likely side with the DPJ, while they are criticizing the DPJ's
managing Diet affairs.

The DPJ will today play up its effort to dealing with the employment
issue, considering today's session the climax of the extended
ongoing Diet session. The DPJ's scenario is this: It will this
morning get together with the SDP and PNP to hold a rally calling
for an early enactment of the four bills; Deputy President Naoto Kan
and other leaders will deliver speeches there; the leaders of the
three parties will hold this evening a meeting after a vote is taken
on the bills; and it will then call on the LDP to hold a meeting
between Aso and Ozawa.

Meanwhile, the ruling coalition is strongly opposing to the
opposition steamrolling a vote. The ruling parties will attend
deliberations at the committee today but boycott a vote. LDP Upper
House member Seiichi Eto told yesterday a DPJ lawmaker, who called
on him: "What your party is doing is just a performance. That is
extreme nonsense."

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Moreover, regarding three of the four bills, the LDP's position is
that they have already been resolved by the first supplementary
budget for fiscal 2008, revisions to the ministerial ordinances
before the end of the year, and notifications. In a party last
night, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe stressed:
"I have already done what they say in the bills."


© Scoop Media

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