Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 12/29/08
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12/29/08
1) Aso Cabinet non-support rate rockets 11 points to 73 PERCENT ,
with support rate dropping 10 points to 21 PERCENT in Nikkei poll;
Public now favors DPJ over LDP (Nikkei)
2) Nikkei poll: Public picks DPJ head Ozawa (17 PERCENT ) over Prime
Minister Aso (7 PERCENT ) as next prime minister, but 34 PERCENT
remain undecided (Nikkei)
Defense and security affairs:
3) U.S, Japanese governments to soon sign accord on relocation of
Okinawa Marines to Guam, with ban on using funds for other purposes
4) Prime Minister Aso orders Defense Minister Hamada to look into
MSDF dispatch to Somalia waters for anti-piracy duty (Asahi)
5) DPJ head Ozawa finds no constitutional problem with sending MSDF
to waters off Somalia to cope with pirates (Asahi)
6) Government wants to send MSDF to waters off Somalia to deal with
pirates next month but may be hung up until spring over criteria for
use of weapons (Nikkei)
7) Government to reconsider plan to use F-22 as candidate for
next-generation fighter owing to lack of clarity about future U.S.
production of the plane (Yomiuri)
8) Defense Ministry report on controversial historical essay by
former ASDF chief Tamogami concludes that he lacked "self-awareness"
9) Speaker of the Lower House Yohei Kono to travel to Pearl Harbor
to lay wreathe at memorial for those killed by Japanese attack
10) Aso on winter vacation but staying in a working mode (Nikkei)
11) Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura: No Diet dissolution until
after the budget is passed next spring (Asahi)
12) LDP's Yoshimi Watanabe, a recent Aso critic, defies the party
and votes with the opposition camp, but receives only a party
reprimand for his "rebellion" (Asahi)
13) Democratic Party of Japan to begin regular talks with U.S. side
in preparation for expected win in the next Lower House election
14) DPJ preparing its own transition papers so that it will be ready
to take over power after the next election (Tokyo Shimbun)
15) U.S. Democratic Party's John Kerry in meeting with Environmental
Minister Saito calls on Japan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by
25 PERCENT by 2020 (Nikkei)
1) Poll: Aso cabinet supported by 21 PERCENT , not supported by 73
NIKKEI (Page 1) (Abridged)
December 29, 2008
The rate of public support for Prime Minister Taro Aso's cabinet
fell 10 points from last month to 21 PERCENT , the Nihon Keizai
Shimbun found from its joint public opinion survey conducted with TV
Tokyo on Dec. 26-28. The Aso cabinet's support rate markedly fell
below 30 PERCENT , which is said to be in the danger zone for a
TOKYO 00003508 002 OF 011
government. The nonsupport rate rose 11 points to 73 PERCENT . The
figures reflect the government's delay in dealing with the nation's
worsening economy and employment situation. In the survey,
respondents were also asked which political party they would vote
for in the next election for the House of Representatives in their
proportional representation blocs. In this public choice of
political parties, the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan
(Minshuto) scored 37 PERCENT , outstripping the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party's 24 PERCENT .
The nonsupport rate topped 70 PERCENT in only four surveys, which
were conducted in June and July 1993 when the Miyazawa cabinet was
at its last stage, and which were taken in December 2000 and in
February 2001 when the Mori cabinet was at its last stage. Both the
Miyazawa cabinet and the Mori cabinet stepped down after their
nonsupport rate topped 70 PERCENT in two successive polls.
In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the LDP
stood at 35 PERCENT and the DPJ was at 33 PERCENT . The gap,
however, reduced 7 points. The public choice of the LDP for
proportional representation in the next House of Representatives
election dropped 12 points from October, and the DPJ rose 6 points.
In the public choice of other political parties for proportional
representation, the New Komeito was at 4 PERCENT , the Japanese
Communist Party at 4 PERCENT , the Social Democratic Party at 2
PERCENT , the New Party Nippon at 1 PERCENT , the People's New Party
at 0 PERCENT , and the Reform Club at 0 PERCENT .
The survey was taken by Nikkei Research Inc. by telephone on a
random digit dialing (RDD) basis. For the survey, samples were
chosen from among men and women aged 20 and over across the nation.
A total of 1,416 households with one or more eligible voters were
sampled, and answers were obtained from 922 persons (65.1 PERCENT
2) Ozawa outstrips Aso in popularity ranking for premiership
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 29, 2008
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) President Ichiro Ozawa scored
17 PERCENT , topping all others in the popularity ranking of
politicians for prime minister. Prime Minister Taro Aso was at 7
Ozawa was supported by 30 PERCENT of his party's supporters and
also by 5 PERCENT of those who support the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party and 13 PERCENT of floating voters with no
particular party affiliation. LDP Vice Secretary General Nobuteru
Ishihara ranked second at 11 PERCENT , and he was chosen by 19
PERCENT of LDP supporters and 10 PERCENT of floating voters.
Among LDP supporters, Aso was on a par with Ishihara at 19 PERCENT .
Among those unaffiliated, Aso was at only 1 PERCENT .
Former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike ranked fourth, as well as Aso.
She was supported by 21 PERCENT of those who support the New
Komeito, which is the LDP's coalition partner. Among LDP supporters,
however, she was at 9 PERCENT .
Popularity ranking for premiership
TOKYO 00003508 003 OF 011
Ichiro Ozawa 17
Nobuteru Ishihara 11
Taro Aso 7
Yuriko Koike 7
Kaoru Yosano 5
Hidenao Nakagawa 3
Naoto Kan 8
Katsuya Okada 3
Yukio Hatoyama 3
Seiji Maehara 2
Other answers + can't say + don't know 34
3) Japan, U.S. to ink pact on transfer of Okinawa Marines to Guam,
banning use of fund for other expenditures
YOMIURI (Full) (Page 2)
December 28, 2008
It was learned on Dec. 27 that the Japanese and U.S. governments in
connection with the transfer of U.S. Marines stationed on Okinawa to
Guam will soon sign a pact that will include such provisions as a
ban on use of Japan-provided funds for purposes other than the
relocation of the troops. Since the expenditures estimated for the
transfer are huge, by strongly binding the amount of disbursement
through a bilateral accord, and stipulating the purpose for which
the money will be used, the aim of obtaining the understanding of
the Japanese people will be achieved.
The two governments will ink the pact at an early date after the
beginning of next year. Upon signing the treaty, the Japanese
government will present the draft to the Diet in its regular session
for approval. In the draft treaty, the Japanese government will
state that the amount of the money to be directly disbursed will be
"no more than $2.8 billion," as agreed on between the Japanese and
U.S. governments in 2006. In addition, the requirements of the U.S.
government will include: 1) a ban on the use of the funds for other
purposes; and 2) equal treatment of Japanese companies and other
companies in the bidding process.
In the roadmap for the realignment of the U.S. forces in Japan, as
agreed on by the two governments in May, 2006, it was stipulated
that approximately 8,000 Marines and their families of approximately
9,000 members, would be transferred to Guam by 2014. In order to
build the facilities and the social infrastructure, Japan would
provide $6.09 billion, including $2.8 billion in direct fiscal
4) Prime Minister Aso orders defense minister to study MSDF dispatch
as means of countering piracy in waters off Somalia
ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
Eve., December 26, 2008
In order to dispatch Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) warships to
waters off Somalia as a means of countering pirates operating there,
Prime Minister Taro Aso today ordered Defense Minister Hamada to
study specific responses, including the issuance of an ordinance for
maritime police action based on the Self-Defense Forces Law.
The Defense Ministry will delve into the possibility of dispatching
MSDF vessels under an ordinance for maritime police action. It will
also consider a specific response based on the (general law)
TOKYO 00003508 004 OF 011
Anti-Piracy Law that is expected to be presented to the regular Diet
session next year. This law would allow the protection of foreign
commercial ships, as well.
The prime minister at a cabinet meeting today stated: "I have
instructed the defense minister to make even swifter efforts so that
the Self-Defense Forces can rapidly carry out anti-piracy measures.
I would like relevant cabinet ministers to cooperate."
However, Defense Minister Hamada stated at a press conference: "Is
it all right from the perspective of international cooperation for
Japan to only (protect) ships with Japanese registrations?" He took
a cautious stance toward the effort. There is no precedent for
issuing a maritime police ordinance for anti-piracy measures. The
New Komeito also came out with a cautious view.
5) Ozawa: No constitutional doubts about dispatch to Somalia waters
to deal with piracy
ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
Eve., December 26, 2008
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa today
commented on the policy course of Prime Minister Aso to dispatch
Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) warships to waters off Somalia as
a means of dealing with pirates operating there. He stated: "There
are no constitutional doubts about protecting our country's ships."
He cited as an example the Japan Coast Guard's sending patrol ships
to protect shipments of plutonium being transported to Japan from
France during 1992-3. He was speaking to the press in the city of
6) Government aims at setting guidelines for dispatch of MSDF
vessels to waters off Somalia initially under existing legislation,
but criteria on weapons use could bog things down
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 27, 2008
As a measure to counter pirates operating in waters off Somalia, the
government has started to prepare for sending possibly next spring
escort vessels of the Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF). As the
first stage, the government envisions a dispatch under existing
legislation. Identifying existing feasible provisions, the
government plans to ready basic guidelines by the middle of next
January. But there is a possibility of coordination stalling over
the issue of the use of weapons, such as how far can the MSDF
respond to armed pirates.
The United Nations Security Council recently passed a resolution
that approved of countries attacking pirate strongholds in Somalia.
China, too, has dispatched a warship to the area. With these
developments in mind, Prime Minister Taro Aso on Dec. 26 ordered
Defense Minister Seiichi Hamada to study specific policy measures to
respond. Chief Cabinet Secretary Tateo Kawamura also asked the
ruling parties for cooperation for cooperation, and afterward, he
told the press corps, "The government will formulate its basic
thinking, and then I would like (the ruling camp) to use that as a
The government aims at responding in two stages at the time of the
dispatches of the MSDF vessels. For the time being, it will issue an
TOKYO 00003508 005 OF 011
ordinance for police action on the high seas, and carry out the
actual dispatch next spring. After that, the plan is to present a
bill for a new law to the Diet around mid-March. The police action
ordinance basically is an order to the MSDF to mobilize when there
is a crisis that the Japan Coast Guard cannot respond to. Two
examples of such ordinances was one issued in 1999 when a suspicious
vessel from North Korea entered Japanese waters, and in 2004, when a
Chinese nuclear-powered submarine violated Japanese territory.
A former senior Defense Ministry official pointed out the limits of
responding by police action on the high seas: "This case is unusual
in that it is a long-term dispatch. The dispatch to Somalia
undeniably is a stretch away from the intent of the law." Defense
Minister Hamada, as well, has kept a cautious stance toward use of
Under the maritime police action, there are limits to those vessels
subject to the order, such as it is impossible to escort foreign
vessels that have no connection with Japan. In case a foreign vessel
is attacked, there needs to be consideration given as what can be
done to help.
The biggest problem will be criteria for the use of weapons. During
the time when the maritime police action ordinance is in effect, the
law government police activities will be applied. Under it,
legitimate defense and emergency evacuation are recognized.
Originally, under the standards set by the Japan Coast Guard Law,
shots can be fired at a vessel after it has been asked to halt, but
legally, such would be difficult in waters off Somalia that are far
from Japanese territory.
There are many pirates in the waters off Somalia who are armed with
rocket launchers and heavy weapons. In case a Japanese vessel is
attacked, there is need to boil down how far can it go in
retaliating, and specifically what weapons can be used and what
procedures to take.
On the other hand, under a new law that the government has long been
considering in order to counter piracy, it will be possible to
escort foreign ships, and the provisions would include criminally
prosecuting those pirates in custody. Threatening actions would be
possible, such as firing at the pirates after they are asked to stop
It will be necessary for the MSDF to carry our prior coordination of
the application of the law. The MSDF is dispatching a refueling ship
and a destroyer to carry out refueling operations in the Indian
Ocean. But according to the Defense Ministry, it will be difficult
to carry out in parallel refueling and deal with piracy. The
likelihood is that separate ships will have to be sent from Japan.
7) Government plans to start again from scratch in the selection of
a next-generation fighter, since production in the U.S. of the
superior F-22 is unclear
YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
Eve., December 27, 2008
The government in choosing its next generation fighter (FX) has
decided on a policy course of reconsidering its preference for the
U.S.-manufactured state-of-the-art stealth fighter F-22 Raptor as
the most powerful candidate and will start again from scratch. The
TOKYO 00003508 006 OF 011
reason is that there is a strong expectation that the new Obama
administration will either curb or halt production of F-22s. Current
thinking has boiled down candidate aircraft to three models: 1) the
Eurofighter Typhoon, being jointly developed by NATO members
Britain, Germany, Italy, and Spain; 2) the F-35 Lightning II
produced by the United States; and 3) the F-15X manufactured in the
The U.S. Congress has banned exports of the F-22, fearing leakage of
its state-of-the-art technology. The Ministry of Defense put off the
timing of the introduction of the FX, having originally intended to
begin the process with funding in the fiscal 2009 budget. It asked
the U.S. government to remove the ban on exports of this aircraft.
However, the U.S. government was negative about additional
production of F-22s, the procurement cost of which is two to three
times that of other aircraft. Although it was pointed out that
exports to Japan would boost the chances of the U.S. Air Force
continuing production of the plane, the decision will be handed to
Defense Secretary Gates, who is said to be favoring a halt in
production, and the Obama administration. A senior Defense Ministry
official said that the Japanese government "gained the strong
impression that production would not be continued."
Some defense ministry officials favor the F-35, which has the same
bombing capabilities as the F-22, being a fifth-generation fighter.
But the F-35 is still not combat deployed even in the U.S. The
Europeans would like to sell the Eurofighter to Japan, but in order
to procure this aircraft from Europe, the understanding of the
Americans would have to be obtained first. For that reason, the FX
selection will be put off until the F-35 is combat ready. The plan
has been floated of either coping with a remodeled F-15, which is
now in stock, or purchasing F-15FX planes as a bridging model until
the F-35 is ready for combat.
8) Defense Ministry's report attributes the cause of Tamogami issue
to weak sense of awareness of his position as ASDF chief of staff
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
December 26, 2008
The Defense Ministry yesterday submitted to the government's council
of reform of the Defense Ministry a report on the issue of Gen.
Toshio Tamogami, who was dismissed as Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF)
chief of staff over a controversial essay contradicting the
government's history view. The report features measures to prevent a
recurrence of issues similar to the Tamogami case, including a step
to prepare well-defined internal procedures for publicizing essays
outside the ministry. Regarding the cause of the issue, the report
just notes: "He had a weak sense of awareness of his position as
ASDF chief of staff." The report thus gave priority to putting an
end to the issue, without including measures to review a system to
appoint senior Self-Defense Force members or to reform history
Gist of report on dismissal of Tamogami
? There was no problem in the report applied by the ASDF
? The former ASDF chief of staff's involvement in the organization's
essay was not confirmed.
? Hardly any problems were found in the teaching of history to
? The course "Views of history and the state" at the Joint Staff
TOKYO 00003508 007 OF 011
Council's school lacked balance, and it should be reviewed.
? Well-defined procedures for publicizing essays outside the
ministry should be prepared.
? A notification system should be introduced for essays to be
applied to prize competition contests, as well as for publications
to be announced outside the ministry.
9) Kono to visit Pearl Harbor
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
December 27, 2008
House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono will visit Honolulu,
Hawaii, on Dec. 28-30 to pay his respects to the souls of those who
died in the Japanese military attack on Pearl Harbor. Kono has made
it his lifework to seek peace and disarmament, and he has strongly
desired to visit the Hawaii site. He will visit the USS Arizona
Memorial in Pearl Harbor and the National Memorial Cemetery of the
Pacific to lay wreathes.
In September this year, Kono hosted a meeting of parliamentary
speakers from the Group of Eight (G-8) member nations in Hiroshima.
On that occasion, Kono met with U.S. House of Representatives
Speaker Pelosi and promised to visit Pearl Harbor, telling her: "You
came to Hiroshima with courage. I also would like to visit Pearl
Harbor as the speaker of Japan's House of Representatives."
Kono will also visit the monument to the Ehime Maru, a training ship
of Ehime Prefectural Uwajima Fishery High School that sank in a
collision with a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine. The accident took
place when Kono was foreign minister, so he wanted to lay a wreathe
at the monument.
10) Winter vacation for Prime Minister Aso finds him in working
mode, holding discussions with senior officials of foreign and
finance ministries, purchasing seven books
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 28, 2008
Prime Minister Taro Aso met yesterday with senior officials of the
foreign and finance ministries in succession at a Tokyo hotel to
have preliminary discussions about the next ordinary Diet session to
be convened on Jan. 5. Aso also exchanged views on a strategy of
public relations with Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Public
Relations Headquarters Chairman Keiji Furuya. Although Dec. 27 was
the first day of his 'winter vacation," Aso appeared to be intent on
preparing for the ordinary session, in which the ruling and
opposition camps will confront each other with an eye on dissolution
of the House of Representatives and a snap election.
At a bookstore, Aso purchased seven political, economic and history
books, such as Masayoshi Ohira, Mediterranean World after Rome
Disappears, Give up on Freedom and Democracy, and Beleaguered
11) Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura: "Government will not consider
Diet dissolution before budget bill is enacted"
ASAHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
December 29, 2008
TOKYO 00003508 008 OF 011
Asked about the possibility of the government dissolving the House
of Representatives in exchange for enactment of the fiscal 2009
budget bill, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura told a press
conference in Yamaguchi City yesterday: "Prime Minister Aso has
clearly said that he is not considering such a possibility. The
government's primary goal is to enact the budget bill. The
government will make utmost efforts to have the bill clear the Diet
without considering Diet dissolution."
12) Former Administrative Reform Minister Watanabe votes for
DPJ-resolution calling for Lower House dissolution, defying LDP's
ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
December 25, 2008
Yoshimi Watanabe, a former state minister for administrative reform
and member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, voted for a
resolution calling for dissolving the House of Representatives, on
Dec. 24 in a Lower House plenary session, defying the LDP
leadership's policy. The resolution was submitted by the main
opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). Watanabe stated at a
press conference that he had no intention to leave the LDP.
Meanwhile, the party's executive decided the same day to punish him
by giving him a warning. Watanabe's rebellious act may provide a
source of trouble to intensify anti-Aso moves in the next regular
Diet session, which will be convened on Jan. 5.
At the press meeting after the Lower House plenary session,
Watanabe, who has been critical of Prime Minister Taro Aso,
explained the reason why he had voted for the resolution: "(Lower
House dissolution) is my personal proposal. In an attempt to break
the present political stagnancy, I have said that there is no other
way but Lower House dissolution." The LDP leadership decided on Dec.
24 to give him a warning. Of the eight stages of punishments in the
LDP's regulations, a warning is the second lightest one. The LDP
leadership, however, reportedly says that it made the decision based
on the past examples.
At a press conference the same day, DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa
praised Watanabe's defiant act, saying: "I think he made that
decision based on his belief."
The DPJ submitted the resolution to the Lower House after its four
employment measures bills were voted down at the Lower House plenary
session, although they were approved by the House of Councillors.
The resolution criticized the Lower House for voting down the bills
that were approved by the Upper House as a "violent act". The
resolution calling for early Lower House dissolution and a snap
election was killed by the majority of the ruling coalition members.
The DPJ presented to the Upper House plenary session the same day a
resolution calling on the Upper House's right to respect
deliberations and the resolution was adopted by a majority of the
opposition parties. The resolution criticized the government and
ruling coalition, which had voted down the four employment bills,
for making light of the Upper House and it called on them to respect
the Upper House's decisions. However, the resolution is not legally
binding. It was the first time that such a resolution has been
adopted under the present Constitution.
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The current extraordinary Diet session then ended in effect.
13) U.S. approaching DPJ; Regular talks to start early next year,
with eye on change of government
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
December 29, 2008
With an eye on a change of government, the Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) will start regular talks with the U.S. government through
diplomatic channels early next year. This arrangement was agreed on
in a meeting between International Bureau Director General Tetsundo
Iwakuni and Deputy Chief of Mission in U.S. Embassy Tokyo James
Zumwalt in Tokyo on Dec. 16. Since last month, both sides have held
an increasing number of unofficial meetings, reflecting their desire
to build up a network of connections in preparation for a possible
establishment of a DPJ government.
Participating in the meeting on the 16th were International Bureau
Deputy Director General Ikuko Tanioka and Kenzo Fujisue, vice
economic and industrial minister in the shadow cabinet, besides
Iwakuni. In exchanging views on the Afghani situation, the U.S. side
emphasized that it (offering aid for Afghanistan) is not assistance
to the U.S. but an international contribution and then asked the DPJ
side to reveal what the party can do. The DPJ side spelled out its
bill to eradicate terrorism, which gives priority to irrigation
works and infrastructure construction by dispatching Self-Defense
Force troops to Afghanistan after a ceasefire agreement is reached.
DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa has proposed establishing an equal and
firmer Japan-U.S. relationship. He has also called for revising the
Status of Forces Agreement and relocating the U.S. Marine Corps'
Futenma Air Station to a location outside Okinawa Prefecture, but no
specific arrangement has been made for talks on these issues yet.
Under this situation, Ozawa increased one more post and installed
two bureau directors general in charge of U.S. affairs under the
date of Dec. 11, saying: "Let us increase the number of responsible
personnel ahead of the inauguration of the Obama administration.
Ozawa himself designated Tanioka as deputy director general.
Since Barack Obama was elected U.S. president in November, the
number of contacts between the U.S. and the DPJ has sharply
increased. There are more cases of U.S. officials calling on DPJ
members, and both sides have discussed wide-ranging topics covering
security, the environment, agriculture, and economics. The DPJ side
has explained its specific pledges, such as subsidies to farmers.
A senior member of the DPJ International Bureau commented: "The U.S.
is supposedly eager to establish a network of personnel with our
party in every area run-up to the next House of Representatives, but
its major interest would be in the Afghan issue."
14) DPJ's vision of running government
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
December 28, 2008
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the largest opposition force,
has launched preparations for running the government with an eye on
a change in government after the next House of Representatives
election. In order to realize politically-led decision-making, the
TOKYO 00003508 010 OF 011
DPJ is looking into the possibility of amending laws that would make
the ministers, senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries
as a team function. In order to smoothly run the government, the
party's vision indicates that a certain period should be secured
between the prime minister's nomination and the inauguration of a
DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa aims to create a new political system led
by politicians. Based on this political system, if a DPJ-led
government comes to fruition, the government will set up a "council
of three state affairs ministers" made up of the ministers, senor
vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries. The DPJ believes that
a politically-led decision-making system will be realized if the
council controls and supervises the entire ministries and agencies.
The party also insists that the new system will be able to prevent
policy that places a disproportionate emphasis on interests of each
In order to realize Ozawa's idea of installing about 100 DPJ
lawmakers in the ministries and agencies, the DPJ will work on
revising the National Government Organization Law.
Meanwhile, in an effort to prevent the bureaucratic control of a
government, the DPJ believes that a well-prepared government is
needed by securing a certain period of time between the prime
minister's nomination and the formation of a cabinet. Usually a
cabinet is formed within one day after the prime minister's
nomination. The DPJ, however, thinks more then three days are
15) U.S. Senator Kerry to environment minister: "Japan, U.S. should
slash greenhouse gas emissions 25 PERCENT from 1990 levels by 2020
NIKKEI (Page 3) (Full)
December 29, 2008
U.S. Senator John Kerry of the Democratic Party called on Japan to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 PERCENT from 1990 levels by 2020
when he met with Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito in mid-December,
according to informed sources. Kerry reportedly has influence over
environment policy by President-elect Barack Obama. Kerry's remarks
are likely to affect discussions in Japan on its mid-term target due
out in 2009. The Environment Ministry has not revealed the details
of the Kerry-Saito meeting.
Kerry and Saito held the meeting on Dec. 11 on the sidelines of the
14th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (COP14) in Poland. Kerry was the
Democratic Party's candidate in the U.S. presidential election in
2004 and took part in the COP14 as representative of the Democratic
Party delegation. He is scheduled to chair the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee starting in January 2009.
In order to have China, one of the world's largest gas emitters,
join a new international framework following the 2012 expiration of
the Kyoto Protocol, Kerry insisted that Japan and the U.S. must set
a specific numerical target. He stated: "At least, a 25 PERCENT cut
from 1990 levels (by 2020) is necessary," adding that if the economy
is negatively affected, a 20 PERCENT cut will also be acceptable."
Obama has proposed slashing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. On
this target, Kerry said: "In my personal view, this target is at a
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low level," indicating he would call on Obama to set a higher
The COP 15 in Copenhagen in late 2009 will become an arena for last
negotiations on a post-Kyoto framework. For an agreement to be
reached on specifics, Kerry said: "Mr. Obama will have to be
involved in the issue starting in February or March." He further
said that involving China and India in a new mechanism is
indispensable although China, India and poor countries will not
necessarily have to bear the same obligation as industrialized
countries, saying: "Unless a new mechanism involves all countries,
it will be impossible to obtain agreement from the Senate."