Search

 

Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 12//08

VZCZCXRO4054
PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #3492/01 3590119
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 240119Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9665
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/USDOT WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5//
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
RHMFIUU/HQ PACAF HICKAM AFB HI//CC/PA//
RHMFIUU/USFJ //J5/JO21//
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
RUAYJAA/CTF 72
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 3944
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 1587
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 5378
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 9526
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 2153
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6954
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2972
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3043

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 TOKYO 003492

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: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

Index:

Soft power:
1) Government coordinating to make exception to the three no-weapons
exports principle by granting Yemen patrol boats in order to deal
with pirates off Somalia (Tokyo Shimbun)
2) Japan faces legal hurdles in dispatching MSDF to deal pirates
threatening shipping lanes off Somalia (Nikkei)
3) Second supplementary budget contains 30 billion yen in aid
earmarked for Afghanistan (Nikkei)
4) Japan to provide Palestinians with financing for road
construction (Tokyo Shimbun)

5) Prime Minister Aso coordinating a visit to South Korea next month
(Yomiuri)

Political agenda:
6) Prime Minister Aso's unpopularity is strongly affecting the
Liberal Democratic Party's local organizations (Yomiuri)
7) Ambiguous agreement reached between Aso and the New Komeito over
specific wording about consumption taxes in mid-term program
(Mainichi)
8) Government's administrative reform effort is in retreat (Nikkei)

9) Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) environment policy vision
centered on introducing a green tax (Yomiuri)
10) Foreign missions in Japan making contacts with DPJ, eyeing
possibility of a change in government (Sankei)

11) Tamogami issue: Defense Ministry reforms to take care that
insubordination by uniformed personnel does not reoccur (Nikkei)

12) MOD preparing a defense strategy as part of its reform effort
(Yomiuri)

Articles:

1) Japan to offer patrol crafts to Yemen against pirates

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Abridged)
December 24, 2008

The government is coordinating to offer patrol ships or patrol boats
to Yemen at its request in order to back up the international
community's antipiracy efforts in waters off Somalia in the eastern
part of Africa, government officials revealed yesterday.

Patrol ships and boats-whose armoring is strengthened with
bulletproof glass-fall under the category of weapons that are
embargoed under Japan's three principles on weapons exports.
However, the government will except them from its tripartite
ordnance embargo. The opposition parties will likely voice concern
since the three principles may become insubstantial.

This is the second case of offering patrol crafts to a foreign
country, following the first case that was based on a cabinet
decision for Indonesia in June 2006. This measure is intended to
help Yemen improve its maritime security capability, and it is
expected to be implemented within the framework of nonreimbursable
funding cooperation (grant aid) for ODA. Yemen will be required to
promise not to use the crafts for military purposes.


TOKYO 00003492 002 OF 007

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

2) Gov't frets over barriers to MSDF dispatch for antipiracy efforts
off Somalia

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged)
December 24, 2008

An increasing number of merchant ships have been attacked by pirates
that are rampant off Somalia in the eastern part of Africa. The
government is upset about its incapability of launching any
effective antipiracy measures. One option is to create a new law to
send the Maritime Self-Defense Force, but this option seems
infeasible in the aftermath of intensifying confrontation between
the ruling and opposition parties in the Diet. Meanwhile, the
government is also looking into the possibility of sending the MSDF
within the bounds of a currently existing law or otherwise providing
indirect support through its official development assistance (ODA)
programs. These options, however, have many problems to clear. The
government is therefore getting delayed in its coordination.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has already been
conducting security operations in waters off Somalia against
pirates. China decided early this month to send naval vessels, and
South Korea is also reportedly considering a similar measure. "China
is also going to send naval vessels," a senior Foreign Ministry
official said. "I wonder if only Japan is allowed to do nothing,"
the official added.

The government and the ruling coalition are exploring the option of
establishing a general or permanent law that allows Japan to crack
down on pirates on the high seas. However, it will not be easy to
coordinate with the opposition parties that dominate the House of
Councillors. As it stands, the government and ruling parties are
also looking into the possibility of legislating special measures
that will limit the scope of MSDF activities to areas off Somalia
since damage from pirates is serious there in particular.

In either case, however, it is certain that the Diet will not enter
into full-fledged deliberations on relevant bills until after next
spring when the budget for next fiscal year is expected to clear the
Diet. It will be around May or June next year even at the earliest
when Japan can send MSDF vessels, according to a government
official.

For the time being, the government is exploring the option of
issuing an order for maritime security operations under the
Self-Defense Forces Law and sending MSDF vessels or P-3C patrol
aircraft. However, maritime security operations are originally for
the SDF to deal with emergencies in waters near Japan. There is a
view noting that sending MSDF vessels to areas near Africa deviates
from the law's purport.

In its maritime security operations, the MSDF is allowed to escort
and guard only Japanese ships. Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada
raised a question about this option, saying: "When I think of
international cooperation, I wonder if it's appropriate to consider
our country's ships only." Another issue is the government's
constitutional interpretation that prohibits Japan from
participating in collective self-defense. In this respect, there may
be cases falling under the notion of collective self-defense. In
addition, there are many other barriers to get over.

Another idea is to offer patrol ships through ODA programs to Yemen

TOKYO 00003492 003 OF 007

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

and other coastal countries. This idea, however, could be pursued by
the opposition parties in connection with Japan's self-imposed three
principles on arms exports.

3) Government earmarks 30 billion yen in aid to Afghanistan in extra
budget bill

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 23, 2008

In a move to accelerate reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan,
the government has earmarked 30.1 billion yen (330 million dollars)
in the second supplementary budget bill for fiscal 2008 to finance
such assistance measures as strengthening the monitoring structure
for the Afghan presidential election scheduled for next fall. The
government finds it difficult to make such full-scale contributions
as dispatching Self-Defense Force troops to Afghanistan. Given this,
Japan aims to keep its profile by extending generous financial aid.

The government plans to fund security measures, including one to
have the presidential election steadily implemented, and food aid.
The government has so far disbursed approximately 200 million
dollars in aid to Afghanistan annually on average. In fiscal 2007,
it contributed about 20 billion yen. But the government, keeping the
worsening security situation there in mind, has decided to secure an
amount about 1.5 times that provided in fiscal 2007.

4) Road construction funds to be extended to Palestinian Authority

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 24, 2008

The government on December 23 decided to extend grant aid worth 89
million yen for the Livelihood and Road Construction Program of
Jericho in the Palestinian Autonomous Area on the West Bank district
of the Jordan River and signed exchange of notes with Palestinian
Authority Prime Minister Fayed. The deal is part of Japan's concept
for creating the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity for co-existence
and co-prosperity between Israel and the Palestinians.

5) Aso starts coordination to visit South Korea next month

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 24, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso has started coordination to visit South
Korea, focusing on the three-day weekend starting on Jan.10,
according to a government source yesterday. Shuttle diplomacy -
regularized reciprocal visits between the Japanese and South Korean
leaders - has been suspended due to a dispute over the
Takeshima/Dokdo islets and other issues.

In the Japan-South Korea summit held on the sidelines of the
Japan-China-South Korea summit held on Dec. 13, President Lee
Myung-bak invited Aso to visit his country early next year. The
prime minister's move is in response to this invitation.

6) LDP local chapters perplexed by prime minister's unpopularity:
Call for solidarity of headquarters; Moves to directly express their
disgruntlement

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)

TOKYO 00003492 004 OF 007

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

December 24, 2008

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) local chapters are
perplexed by the sharp decline in public approval ratings for the
Aso cabinet. The party will hold on December 16 in Tokyo a meeting
of secretaries general and policy research council chairman of local
chapters from all over the nation. Participants are bound to express
their disgruntlement.

Senior members of the Ibaraki Chapter, including Chairman Buhei
Yamaguchi on December visited Secretary General Hosoda at the LDP
headquarters. They handed a protest note calling for a resolute
discipline and measures against the criticism of the prime minister
by some LDP lawmakers, calling such acts that only serve the enemy.

The Ibaraki Chapter sent a letter calling for support for Prime
Minister Aso to local chapters throughout the nation as well.

Yamaguchi, Ibaraki Chapter old guard, is known for his close
relationship with the prime minister. He has apparently thrown a
lifeline to Aso, who is in trouble due to the plunge in support
ratings for his cabinet.

Moves to submit a protest note are also seen in Fukuoka, the prime
minister's home district, Kumamoto, Yamanashi, Hyogo and Fukushima.
Their protest notes all express a sense of alarm about the
situation, as one by the Kumamoto Chapter notes that with a decisive
contest with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) close at hand,
selfish language and behaviors should not be overlooked.

On the other hand, other chapters are critical of the prime minister
and the leadership.

The Miyazaki Chapter had planned to make its own TV commercial, in
which a president of a small company is raising his voice, saying,
"I am worried about my employees. I am more serious than the prime
minister." The plan was, however, cancelled, meeting criticism from
and within the chapter that such a commercial would only be taken as
anti-Aso. The incident indicated how strong LDP local chapters'
disgruntlement is toward the unpopular Aso cabinet.

A senior member of the Fukushima Chapter on the 18th went to Tokyo
and lodged a protest directly with Election Committee Chairman
Makoto Koga, who referred to the possibility of taking a second look
at election cooperation with the New Komeito, saying, "When a harsh
election campaign is expected, the presence of the New Komeito is
great. I want you to know more about the situations local chapters
are facing."

The Kyoto Chapter started soliciting opinions to the prime minister
from among Kyoto Prefectural Assembly members and Kyoto City
Assembly members in order to convey dissatisfaction felt by local
assembly members to the leadership.

7) Prime Minister Aso and New Komeito reach ambiguous agreement on
wording of consumption tax increase to avoid damaging coalition

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
December 23, 2008

The decision in talks within the ruling camp to expressly mention in
the government's draft mid-term program "three years later" as the

TOKYO 00003492 005 OF 007

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

date for implementing a consumption-tax increase - wording that the
prime minister had insisted on - has saved the face of Prime
Minister Taro Aso. However, the truth of the matter is that the
settlement was ambiguous in order to avoid creating cracks in the
coalition, with the prime minister pitted against the New Komeito on
the issue.

The New Komeito absolutely wanted to avoid going into the next
election as the party that raised taxes. The settlement on the tax
program wording was a mere stopgap measure to keep the coalition and
by extension the Aso administration from cracking.

8) Administrative reforms in retreat

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
December 23, 2008

The government has decided to set up a center to promote human
exchanges between the public and private sectors to unify the
management of public servants' reemployment. Even after the center
is established, however, central government agencies will continue
to arrange jobs for their officials after retirement, according to
informed sources, and some ex-officials may be allowed to receive a
huge amount of retirement allowances through the repeated amakudari
(golden parachute) practice of finding employment in public
corporations or the private sector. Members in the Liberal
Democratic Party calling for continuing Koizumi reform plans have
criticized the retreat of administrative reform efforts.

The center will be launched on Dec. 31, based on the revised
National Civil Service Law enacted in 2007.

In a cabinet meeting on Dec. 19, the government adopted an ordinance
stipulating the details of the new center, including the date of its
inauguration. The ordinance allows the center to help ex-officials
find jobs after retirement as a three-year grace measure, as well as
to even assist ex-officials working in private firms in finding next
jobs.

In late 2007, an expert panel of the government decided to ban the
center from helping amakudari officials to find second jobs in the
private sector. Government agencies also issue reports promising not
to such a practice. In a meeting of the House of Representatives
Cabinet Committee in May, then State Minister in Charge of
Administrative Reform Yoshimi Watanabe replied that the report of
the expert panel will be respected under an ordinance.

Government sources admit that the ordinance adopted on Dec. 19 is to
override the trend of promoting administrative reforms.

In the LDP, those who have placed importance on the Koizumi reform
policy have sharply criticized the retreat of administrative reform
efforts.

9) Showcase of DPJ's draft Environment Vision includes tax to combat
global warming

YOMIURI (Page 21) (Full)
December 24, 2008

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on December 23 revealed its
draft Environment Vision showing its comprehensive approach to the

TOKYO 00003492 006 OF 007

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

environmental issues, including global warming. The package focuses
on imposing on companies a tax to combat global warming that limits
the use of revenues to the development of energy-saving technologies
and freezing dam construction projects throughout the nation for two
years.

The draft vision also calls for taxation of freon-gas emissions,
noting that revenues from those taxes will be allocated for
assistance for the development of energy-saving technologies on a
priority basis. Concerning emissions of greenhouse gases, the draft
vision proposes cutting more than 60 PERCENT from the 1990 level
before 2050. The DPJ had advocated in its Upper House election
campaign in 2007 a 50 PERCENT reduction by 2050. The DPJ also
proposed freezing dam construction projects for two years and then
assessing the impact on the environment. The package also includes
the enactment of a public works control law, which regulates
government-sponsored public works, and a basic asbestos measures law
designed to relieve health damage caused by asbestos.

The draft criticizes the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) economic
stimulus packages, noting that priority has been given not to the
environment but to economic growth and not to future generations but
to present generations. It also says that it is possible to strike a
balance between economic development and employment security, by
intensively promoting technological development for energy saving
and recycling.

10) Foreign missions in Japan making contacts with DPJ, eyeing
possibility of a change in government

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
December 23, 2008

The ambassadors and other officers at foreign diplomatic missions in
Japan are increasing their contacts with the Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ), such as by scheduling meetings with party executives.
This is not only directly connected to their diplomatic strategy
toward a possible DPJ administration should there be a change of
government following the next Lower House election, it also reflects
the desire of various foreign governments of building personal
contacts with the executives of that party.

According to a source in the DPJ, Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama
in early December met successively with the ambassadors of Britain,
France, and Australia for exchanges of views. China's ambassador,
too, reportedly has asked for an early meeting with DPJ head Ichiro
Ozawa. The same source in the DPJ said: "There is no end to the
requests for meetings from other diplomatic missions."

On the 19th, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense
Joseph Nye and former NSC Senior Asia Director Michael Green - both
Japan experts - met in a Tokyo hotel with DPJ deputy head Naoto Kan
and others, and they all agreed that it was important for the DPJ
and the U.S. Democratic Party to increase mutual exchanges.

After the meeting, Hatoyama, who had sat in, stated: "We exchanged
views on our policies toward Afghanistan, and listened to an outline
of the thinking of President-elect Obama. It appeared that
coordination of views centered on Afghanistan, where the U.S. is
increasing its troop presence, took place. According to an informed
source, "Under the Obama administration, if (Japan's) DPJ cancels
oil refueling activities in the Indian Ocean, and makes a move to

TOKYO 00003492 007 OF 007

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12//08

revise the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, it will be taken
as anti-U.S."

11) Defense Ministry's reform plan designed to prevent recurrence of
cases similar to Tamogami

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 23, 2008

The Defense Ministry held a meeting yesterday of its ministry reform
office, headed by Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, and finalized a
report spelling out basic views about the ministry's reforms that
will be implemented in fiscal 2010 and reflect a series of scandals
involving the ministry. The report proposes continuing efforts to
unify the missions performed by civilian personnel from internal
bureaus and uniformed personnel from the Self-Defense Force staff
offices. In reference to the issue involving former Air Self-Defense
Force Chief of Staff Gen. Toshio Tamogami, who was dismissed from
his post over a controversial essay different from the government's
view of history, the report specifies: "Studies will be conducted in
the ministry, with the issue of the former Air Self-Defense Force
chief of staff kept in mind," indicating an eagerness to hurriedly
implement measures to prevent a recurrence of similar cases to
Tamogami's.

Under the new policy, the ministry's Operational Policy Bureau will
be abolished, and the work of managing SDF units will be transferred
to the ministry's Joint Staff Office, which is composed mostly of
uniformed personnel. The defense buildup section responsible for
selecting key equipment will be integrated into the internal bureau
in charge of the same duty.

12) Defense Ministry draft reform plan includes defense strategy

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpt)
December 23, 2008

The Ministry of Defense in a meeting of its reform council on Dec.
22 adopted a set of basic reform policy options for structural
reforms in fiscal 2010. The main features of the policy course
contained in the proposals are the strengthening of the planning
function of the Defense Policy Bureau and the drafting of a defense
strategy that will indicate the country's national defense targets
and the means to get there.

The mandate for such policy options were contained in the report in
July of the defense reform council in the Prime Minister's Official
Residence (Kantei). The report proposed the unification of the
defense-capability building sections that lie in the internal
bureaus of the ministry and the staff councils of the three defense
forces. Although the focus was on establishing new units, the basic
premise of the policy options was to be based on the internal
bureaus.

ZUMWALT

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: