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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 12/18/08

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RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TOKYO 003447

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 12/18/08

INDEX:

(1) Japan must not just follow the strong (Mainichi)

(2) Editorial: ASDF pulls out of Iraq; Mission tested country on its
proper role (Yomiuri)

(3) Editorial: Refueling alone not enough (Nikkei)

(4) Civic groups engaging in campaign opposing U.S. Army's forward
command center at Camp Zama: "Directly-connected with battlefront,"
"Setup has been strengthened" (Mainichi)

(5) Administrative Reform Minister Akira Amari: Aso administration
places priority on how future generations will assess it, and not on
current popularity (Tokyo Shimbun)

(Corrected copy) Foreign financial institutions cut 3,100 jobs, more
than 10 PERCENT of Japanese payrolls, since last August (Nikkei)

ARTICLES:

(1) Japan must not just follow the strong

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
December 18, 2008

By Hiroshi Komatsu, deputy editor in chief

Appreciated by the United States as proof of its alliance with
Japan, the Self Defense Forces have accomplished their Iraq mission
with no casualties. This owes much to the troops' discipline and
devotion. Even so, I object to calling this Japan's success story.
The reason is because Japan has opted for siding with the strong
(United States) purely for its own national interests and also
because we have not discussed our association with the Iraq war in
our own terms.

Absurd logic has been used over the last five years. (In April), the
Nagoya High Court ruled the Air Self-Defense Force's airlift mission
unconstitutional, but then ASDF Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami
brushed aside it, saying: "I couldn't care less." The top SDF
officer looking down on the court ruling, the lawmakers sitting on
the sidelines, the Diet regarding Iraq and Afghanistan only as a
political tool... In Japanese history, security discussions have
never been treated so lightly.

With the widespread belief that anyone can say anything, our society
has slackened off. I wonder how many people have kept in the minds
the SDF troops who expended sweat in Samawah and Baghdad.

Japanese political leaders have neither earnestly discussed if there
was any justification for the military intervention in Iraq that
cost several tens of thousands of lives nor have they expressed
remorse and regret for the misinformation about the weapons of mass
destruction. After deciding to follow the strong, Iraq has become
someone else's problem to many Japanese people.

Over the last five years, the world has been struggling to overcome
the Iraq war's negative legacy of how to achieve the coexistence of
Western and Islamic societies, not to mention the proliferation of
terrorism. The United States, having sowed the seeds for such a

TOKYO 00003447 002 OF 007


situation, has learned through the Iraq war that resolving problems
takes more than military power. With the advent of a multi-polar age
including China, India, Russia, and the European Union (EU), a
search for a new international order has begun.

Having an alliance with the United States for a half a century is an
invaluable asset for Japanese diplomacy. But excessive reliance on
the United States to learn of the outside world only through the
prism of the United States often makes it difficult to see what is
actually going on in the world. The yardstick called the Japan-U.S.
alliance is longer sufficient for Tokyo to use in determining its
positions on finance, energy, the global environment, food, and all
other challenges we face.

How will Japan be able to provide support to Afghanistan will next
be tested. The incoming Obama administration that advocates new
alliances and rebuilding alliances is certain to ask Japan for its
ideas. Japan must think with its own head what it can do for the
peace of the region. Japan must not repeat the folly of losing its
ability to think independently as a result of blindly siding with
the strong based on its myopic logic of pursuing narrow national
interests.

(2) Editorial: ASDF pulls out of Iraq; Mission tested country on its
proper role

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

The Self-Defense Forces successfully ended an historic mission in
Iraq. Three Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) C-130 transport aircraft,
which had been used for airlifting operations between Kuwait and
Iraq, are now on their way home.

The ASDF flew 821 missions over five years, transporting
approximately 46,500 personnel, including multinational force and UN
personnel, and 673 tons of cargo. The government decided to pull out
the ASDF troops, coinciding with the expiration at the end of this
year of the UN Security Council's resolution that had asked each
country to cooperation in assisting Iraq's reconstruction.

The ASDF deserves high praise for completing its mission without
even one casualty. The reason is because of the meticulous care
taken to secure the safety of its personnel.

Since the dispatch of ASDF and Ground Self-Defense Force personnel
to Iraq involved unprecedented risk, it put to the test what the
proper role should be for Japan.

If the reconstruction activities had collapsed and Iraq had turned
into terrorists' haven, crude oil prices would have soared. The
peace and stability of the Middle East would also have been
undermined.

In such a critical situation, should Japan continue to provide just
financial assistance, while entirely entrusting dangerous missions
to other countries, as it did in the (first) Gulf war? Or should it
play a role in physically supporting international operations,
resolved to face a certain level of danger?

By opting for the latter, Japan, one can say, was not wrong. It has
taken a step away from its usual sort of international activity.

TOKYO 00003447 003 OF 007

Even though Japan had been engaged in transport activities overseas
connected with disaster relief operations, this was the first time
for the ASDF to be overseas on a mission for such a long period of
time. The ASDF must have learned the know-how on how to effectively
operate through its joint activities with other countries' forces.

The lessons learned during the mission, including how to use threat
information obtained in advance in efforts to secure safety and what
equipment is most useful.

It is not enough for the SDF just to introduce expensive equipment
and carry out exercises in order to be ready for a direct emergency.
It must proactively use troops in actual missions, including
dispatching personnel in the event of domestic disasters and
international peace cooperation activities.

Even though the ASDF unit has been withdrawn, Japan must continue
its assistance by other means, such as providing official
development assistance.

Public security in Iraq has improved. However, the situation there
is far from reaching the level that allows regular economic
activities.

Japan announced a $5 billion ODA program for Iraq in 2003, of which
grant aid totaling 1.5 billion yen has been disbursed. However, of
the 3.5 billion dollars for reimbursable loan aid, assistance for
the construction of a power generation system and the construction
of ports and harbors costing $2.5 billion has just entered the
implementation stage. The specifics of aid to be financed with the
remaining $1 billion have yet to be set.

Japan should rush to implement the remaining payable loan aid. It
should also get private-sector business and investment off the
ground. Otherwise, its Iraq reconstruction assistance effort will
remain incomplete.

(3) Editorial: Refueling alone not enough

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 17, 2008

The Diet has now enacted a law allowing a one-year extension of the
Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian
Ocean. The government will not have to call off the MSDF's refueling
mission there unlike last year. However, the situation in
Afghanistan is reportedly going from bad to worse. The international
community has growing expectations for Japan to do something more
than refueling.

The two prime ministers, Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda, were driven
out of office. That is primarily because the refueling legislation
could not be expected to clear the Diet. This is a result of all-out
resistance put up by the leading opposition Democratic Party of
Japan (Minshuto) with a majority of seats held by the opposition
parties in the House of Councillors.

This time around, the DPJ did not resist that far. This is probably
one of the DPJ's tactics aiming to have the House of Representatives
dissolved for a general election. However, it may be a sense of
realism that envisages a change of government. We would like to

TOKYO 00003447 004 OF 007


think of it that way.

Japan's refueling activities are appreciated to a certain extent in
the international community. In this sense, the cost efficiency of
such activities is high. However, the Afghan situation is growing in
severity. The international community wants Japan to do something
more than just refueling.

In a Dec. 9 media-sponsored symposium at Keidanren Kaikan Hall in
Tokyo, ambassadors and ministers to Japan from eight countries
expressed expectations for Japan.

U.S. Ambassador Schieffer said: "We understand that Japan cannot
send the Self-Defense Forces to Afghanistan. But civilians can go."
British Ambassador Warren asked Japan to send helicopters or provide
financial assistance for sending them. Canadian Ambassador Fried
pointed out the importance of activities in three areas-defense,
development, and diplomacy.

They all called on Japan to do something more than refueling. Above
all, U.S. President-elect Obama and his administration are insisting
on pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. Meanwhile, the Obama
administration is ready to send more troops to Afghanistan for the
war on terror. Obama is expected to call on the international
community to cooperate.

In the Afghan battle, more than 1,000 soldiers from at least 22
countries died. The number of casualties is on the increase. That is
why the international community needs to beef up its solidarity.
Japan can hardly blink.

There are no more than 100 Japanese nationals, including diplomats
and aid workers, serving in Afghanistan. The Foreign Ministry has
warned Japanese citizens to evacuate that country. There is a
dilemma about carrying out civilian activities. But as Ambassador
Schieffer said, "Every country takes a risk by participating."

(4) Civic groups engaging in campaign opposing U.S. Army's forward
command center at Camp Zama: "Directly-connected with battlefront,"
"Setup has been strengthened"

MAINICHI (Page 20) (Full)
Sagami Edition, December 18, 2008

How do those who monitor the moves at and collect information on
Camp Zama see the past year since the transfer of the U.S. Army's
forward command center to the site?

Tokio Kaneko (58), Sagamihara City Assembly member, who is
continuing monitoring activities at Camp Zama, said, "The setup has
been strengthened with the deployment of military vehicles and
communications facilities." He noted that many high mobility
multi-purpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV) that can be used on the
desert, fitted with such weapons as machineguns, are now deployed
there.

Junko Hara (56), a member of a civic group that is continuing a
campaign against the forward command center, watched soldiers
engaging in drills with the guns pointed directly outside the base.
She noted, "I felt the level of that drill was different from that
of drills carried out previously." She also said, "Their operations
used to focus on logistical support, such as transportation and

TOKYO 00003447 005 OF 007


communications. Now I got the impression that they are directly
connected with the battlefront." Concerning Zama City's policy
switch from opposition to the strengthening of base facilities to a
soft policy line, she said, "I wonder in what direction Japan will
head."

Kaneko touched on the circumstance of U.S. Army, "They presumably
have yet to set specifics of the realignment." Once President-elect
Obama assumes office, it would be possible for the U.S. to withdraw
from Iraq. He pointed out, "(The deployment) may be lagging behind
due to the economic slowdown."

(5) Administrative Reform Minister Akira Amari: Aso administration
places priority on how future generations will assess it, and not on
current popularity

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

The future course of the administration of Prime Minister Taro Aso
is seen as chaotic. With the approval rates for the Aso cabinet
plunging in the polls, many LDP lawmakers are now trying to distance
themselves from the prime minister. With an eye on dissolution of
the House of Representatives and a general election next year, calls
for political realignment are growing. This newspaper interviewed a
ruling coalition member who may hold the key to the political
situation next year.

-- The prime minister is having an uphill battle. What do you think
are his good points?

Amari: Up close, he has his charm. Unexpectedly, he can talk about
the heart of a matter with simple expression. In the recent summit
of the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea, as well, he
explained Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao the need to maintain the
dollar-based currency system in ways easy to understand. His
initiative in the trilateral summit was perfect.

-- The prime minister has often made slips of the tongue.

Amari: He should have had more simulations before making his
remarks. The prime minister's aides should make arrangements by
collecting necessary information beforehand.

-- The prime minister has put off dissolution of the House of
Representatives, citing priority on policy over politics.

Amari: He made the right decision. The U.S.-originated financial
crisis has gradually become serious. The United States is in the
process of a transition of power and Europe has never experienced a
financial crisis. I think he might have thought that he should not
create a situation in which there would be no one in control in
Japan, the U.S. and Europe.

-- Was there any chance for the prime minister to dissolve the Lower
House?

Amari: There was the only one chance and that was immediately after
he formed his cabinet. That option could have minimized the period
of the absence of the prime minister. If the ruling coalition had
won the election, the prime minister might have fulfilled his
mission, suppressing the opposition-controlled House of

TOKYO 00003447 006 OF 007


Councillors.

-- Do you have any idea how to put an end to his plunging
popularity?

Amari: The prime minister suggested the consumption tax should be
increased in three years, although he was aware that a tax hike is
unpopular. This could not be done by his predecessors. Somebody has
to deal someday with the issue of securing stable fiscal resources
for the social security system. Politics' true worth is to be
appreciated by future generations in a decade or two decades later.
It is not just going along with public opinion.

-- Some in the ruling camp are calling for a shuffle of the cabinet
and LDP leadership.

Amari: The prime minister probably has no intention to shuffle the
cabinet and party executive lineup, but I agree it is one of his
options. The current cabinet was formed based on the premise of
Lower House dissolution. It was not a full-scale cabinet for making
policies. I think there should be a dream team that would tackle the
difficult situation of a century by appointing bigwigs who are
policy experts to a new cabinet.

-- When do you think the prime minister will dissolve the Lower
House?

Amari: It is not a matter that a cabinet member can easily talk
about. However, the prime minister needs to dispatch a message how
Japan will deal with the global financial crisis in order to
stabilize the financial market. The prime minister has said that he
will implement comprehensive economic measures such as the fiscal
2008 first and second supplementary budgets and the state budget for
fiscal 2009 in succession. The government should at least come up
with the outline of such comprehensive measures.

-- What is the role of the "NASA group" composed of the prime
minister's close aides, including you?

Amari: We have risked our political life to support Mr. Aso since
the majority of the party members did not back him. We don't want to
be ridiculed by those who are riding on the trend. The group's
principle is to take frankly with the prime minister. I think our
group is playing some kind of roles in order to build a system to
support the prime minister by the party as a whole, because all
members are the central figures of the LDP factions.

-- Do you think the prime minister has changed?

Amari: Mr. Aso is always cheerful. He never lets his guard down even
while drinking. He is great.

(Corrected copy) 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,

TOKYO 00003447 007 OF 007


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
payrolls.

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
employees.

The Bank of America, 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.

ZUMWALT

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