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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 12/29/08

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PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #3518/01 3640814
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 290814Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9709
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 3970
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 1613
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 5404
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 9551
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 2179
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6982
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 3001
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3068

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 TOKYO 003518

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 12/29/08

INDEX:

(1) Poll on Aso cabinet, political parties (Nikkei)

(2) Fiscal 2009 budget bill lacks philosophy (Mainichi)

(3) Japan to dispatch MSDF vessels probably next spring to off
Somalia to protect Japanese ships from piracy; Government to submit
new law next March to Diet (Nikkei)

(4) Editorial: Why is MSDF dispatch delayed? (Nikkei)

(5) Aso family company used 300 POWs at coal mine (Tokyo Shimbun)

(6) TOP HEADLINES

(7) EDITORIALS

ARTICLES:

(1) Poll on Aso cabinet, political parties

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 29, 2008

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage. Parentheses denote findings from the
last survey conducted in November.)

Q: Do you support the Aso cabinet?

Yes 21 (31)
No 73 (62)
Can't say (C/S) + don't know (D/K) 6 (7)

Q: Which political party do you support or like?

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 35 (39)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 33 (30)
New Komeito (NK) 4 (5)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 5 (3)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 2 (1)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0 (0)
Reform Club (RC or Kaikaku Kurabu) 0 (0)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 1 (0)
Other political parties 1 (0)
None 16 (15)
C/S+D/K 4 (6)

(Note) The total percentage does not become 100 PERCENT in some
cases due to rounding

Polling methodology: The survey was taken Dec. 26-28 by Nikkei
Research Inc. over the 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) Fiscal 2009 budget bill lacks philosophy

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)

TOKYO 00003518 002 OF 006


December 25, 2008

The government adopted its fiscal 2009 initial budget bill at a
cabinet meeting yesterday, but the bill sidesteps such key issues as
the fiscal resources that will be needed for pension, medical,
nursing and other social security payments, and it ducks
highway-related budgetary reform. An analyst at Daiwa Research
Institute calls it a "budget lacking in any philosophy." The general
account budget totals a record high of 88.5 trillion yen. The bill
includes 1 trillion yen as reserves to cope with a further
deterioration of the nation's economy and 1 trillion yen more in
grants to local governments. The budget, however, does not specify
for which purposes these allocations will be used and just notes
that the funds are "prepared for economic emergencies".

In a press conference after the fiscal 2009 budget bill was adopted
in the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Taro Aso emphasized: "The
budget is designed to protect the people's livelihoods from the most
serious economic crisis of the century through drastic (fiscal
disbursements) over the short run and fiscal reconstruction by bold
tax reform over the medium run." Aso flatly stated: "Japan will
emerge from the recession earlier than any other countries," but
many of the economic stimulus measures in the bill, though their
scale is large, seem to be just reflecting the wish lists of the
ruling camp and government agencies. Now that uncertainty is looming
large over the job market, these measures apparently are not
powerful enough to buoy up the Japanese economy.

The stock market remained unresponsive to the adoption of the budget
bill yesterday. Stock prices plunged sharply on growing concerns
about a further worsening of the Japanese economy.

As fiscal resources for the government's plan to raise its national
subsidy rate for basic pension benefits to 50 PERCENT (2.3 trillion
yen annually), the government proposed using reserves in special
accounts as a stopgap measure, instead of its initial plan to secure
enough revenue sources first. The government intends to use reserves
in fiscal 2010, as well, but once reserves are tapped, revenue
resources will dry up. With this measure, concerns about fiscal
resources for pension payments will never be dispelled.

The bill also stopped short of discussing "necessary roads," an
important point in considering the issue of freeing up road
revenues. The government broke its promise to use road-related
revenues to fund environment-protection, child-bearing assistance,
and other measures to protect people's livelihoods.

The social security budget was boosted to a record high of 25
trillion yen in the fiscal 2009 budget bill in response to the
nation aging rapidly. Prime Minister Aso reiterated that the
government will squeeze out the necessary funds by carrying out
drastic tax reform plans, including a consumption tax hike, in the
government's mid-term program for fiscal 2011. State Minister in
Charge of Financial Services Shoichi Nakagawa, however, said in a
press conference yesterday: "We have never considered about what
percentage the consumption tax rate should be raised." Views in the
government thus have yet to be unified.

(3) Japan to dispatch MSDF vessels probably next spring to off
Somalia to protect Japanese ships from piracy; Government to submit
new law next March to Diet


TOKYO 00003518 003 OF 006


NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 26, 2008

The government is making arrangements to dispatch as early as next
spring Maritime Self-Defense Force escort ships to waters off
Somalia for sea patrol to protect Japanese commercial ships from
piracy activities. It is planning to issue for the time being an
order for maritime police patrol based on the present Self-Defense
Forces (SDF) Law. It the plans as the second stage to present to the
Diet by next March a new anti-piracy law that would allow the MSDF
to continue to provide maritime patrol activities.

Prime Minister Taro Aso will today order Defense Minister Yasukazu
Hamada to study specific measures, including the issuance of an
ordinance for maritime police patrol. The government is planning to
dispatch a fact-finding team, as well.

Aso told reporters on the night of Dec. 25:

"I think the matter is urgent. So we will deal with it under the
present law. Since other countries have responded to it in various
ways, Japan, too, of course should respond. Japan will hasten to
respond by providing patrol activities."

The Defense Ministry can order the MSDF to provide maritime patrol
activities to deal with a crisis to which the Japan Coast Guard
cannot respond. Since the MSDF vessels are not allowed to protect
foreign ships, the government has decided to utilize Article 82 of
the SDF Law for the time being. It intends to issue an order
probably in January at the earliest. A government official said: "If
the MSDF smoothly facilitates its preparations, it will be able to
send escort ships in February or March."

Aso, however, pointed out: "I wonder if it is acceptable that Japan
says it protects its own ships alone." The new anti-piracy law would
stipulate crackdown on piracy activities and punishments for
pirates. The government intends to come up with an anti-piracy bill
by early February and it aims to submit the bill to the Diet in
March after gaining consent from the ruling parties.

(4) Editorial: Why is MSDF dispatch delayed?

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

The government has not yet decided to send Maritime Self-Defense
Force vessels to waters off the coast of Somalia against pirates. It
was Oct. 17 when Prime Minister Taro Aso showed his willingness in a
Diet reply to a question asked by Akihisa Nagashima, a House of
Representatives member of the leading opposition Democratic Party of
Japan (Minshuto). While Japan was continuing its study, China
announced its plan to send naval vessels there.

There are three conceivable options for Japan to send MSDF vessels
to waters off Somalia. One of the three options is to issue an order
to the MSDF for maritime security operations. The second option is
to create a law for special measures, and the third one is to
establish a general or permanent law stipulating the Self-Defense
Forces' international cooperation.

The most desirable option is to enact a general law after changing
the government's constitutional interpretation of collective

TOKYO 00003518 004 OF 006


self-defense. However, consensus building is difficult at this
point. The government is said to be considering special legislation,
which is easier than general legislation to build a consensus
between the ruling and opposition parties. In point of fact,
however, such a special measures law cannot be expected to be
enacted.

The government can issue an order for maritime security operations
if it decides to do so. In this case, however, there are problems to
clear. Mobilizing the MSDF for maritime security operations is
premised on using Japan's right to defend itself. Accordingly, the
MSDF is allowed to defend Japanese ships. However, the question is
what to do if and when the MSDF happens to be near a foreign ship
that is under attack from pirates. This case needs to be cleared
up.

If that is ambiguous, everything will then have to be left to the
commanding officer's judgment. This is too heavy a burden. Politics
should therefore set guidelines for what to do or the rules of
engagement (ROE), under which the MSDF will normally be readied.

Two months has passed since the prime minister made the reply in the
Diet. If the government has yet to finish its study, that is too
late. It is also one idea to issue an order for maritime security
operations for the time being and do the minimum possible. This will
at least be a stronger deterrent on pirates.

China's naval deployment to waters off the Somalia coast is said to
be historic. The International Herald Tribune reported on this
deployment, with its subheading saying China will send naval forces
there for the first time in modern times. It is also true that Japan
and the United States have been nervous about China's naval power
projection, regarding it as an obstacle to U.S. naval operations.

Even if the Japanese government decides today to dispatch MSDF
vessels, it will take more than two weeks to ready them to set out.
It will probably take another three weeks to arrive there off
Somalia from Japan. During that time, Japanese ships may be attacked
by pirates and may be protected by Chinese naval vessels.

That can be taken for granted because the international community is
acting in concert to contain pirates. At the same time, it will also
draw mixed reactions because Japan has been wary of China and
Japanese ships will be protected by Chinese naval vessels.

(5) Aso family company used 300 POWs at coal mine

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 22) (Full)
December 20, 2008

Aso Mining, a now-defunct company that was based in Fukuoka
Prefecture and managed by the family of Prime Minister Aso, used 300
foreign prisoners at its coal mine during World War II. An official
document describing this fact has been discovered at the Health,
Labor and Welfare Ministry. Two years ago, overseas news media
reported it. The Foreign Ministry rebutted the news report, saying
that it had not information about such. However, its loose response
will likely be called into question.

The official document was disclosed at the request of Yukihisa
Fujita, a House of Councillors member of the leading opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto). According to the disclosed

TOKYO 00003518 005 OF 006


document, there were 197 persons from Australia, 101 from Britain,
and 2 from the Netherlands at a POW camp-which was set up at the
Yoshikuma coal mine in the Fukuoka prefectural town of Keisen-from
May 10, 1945 through Aug. 15, when the war ended. Among them, two
Australians died.

The ministry also disclosed a letter that Aso Mining sent to Army
Minister Hajime Sugiyama on Feb. 22 that year, asking for his
approval to use the POWs for a period of one year and work them for
12 hours in two shifts.

The official document was once in the possession of the Imperial
Japanese Army's Prisoners Intelligence Bureau. But the government
later reorganized its organizations. In 1957, the health and welfare
ministry at the time took over the bureau's archives.

In November 2006, the International Herald Tribune reported on the
forced labor of those foreign nationals. In this regard, the paper
ran a dispatch from Fukuoka, saying a group of Chinese nationals who
were engaged in forced labor during the war demanded compensation
from the Japanese government and other organizations. The IHI
article described that Aso Mining used forced labor from Asian and
West European countries.

The IHT report was a New York Times dispatch. At the time, the
Foreign Ministry, directed by Aso, who was the then foreign
minister, rebutted the article on the website of the Japanese
consulate general in New York. The Foreign Ministry denied that Aso
Mining forced foreign prisoners to work at its colliery, saying it
is unreasonable to make such a judgment without evidence.

Since the official documents were brought to light, the consulate
general deleted the rebuttal from the website this month. However,
the Foreign Ministry's countercharge two years early revealed how
slipshod it had been.

Fujita pursued this issue before the House of Councillors Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee in its Dec. 18 meeting. The Foreign
Ministry made an excuse, saying: "We checked at the time, but no
information was available." However, the Health, Welfare and Labor
Ministry commented on its disclosure of the official document, "We
have not looked into this matter because there was nothing on the
agenda about it." In other words, the Foreign Ministry made the
rebuttal at that time without even checking with the Health, Welfare
and Labor Ministry.

Moreover, among the official documents, the records of prisoners
were disclosed at a library of special documents. It is clear at
least from this document that Aso Mining used prisoners.
Furthermore, some segments of the media located and interviewed a
former prisoner. The two dead prisoners have already been
identified.

"I wonder if the Foreign Ministry knowingly ignored this matter or
did not look into this matter at all," says Aiko Utsumi, a visiting
professor at the graduate school of Waseda University. "At any
rate," she says, "they were irresponsible." She indicated that she
was appalled at the Foreign Ministry.

Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration, which also covered prisoners
of war during World War II. In addition, Japan also joined the
Geneva Convention, which stipulated how POW issues should be

TOKYO 00003518 006 OF 006


handled. Nevertheless, the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry has
done nothing about its archives regarding POWs for over sixty
postwar years. The Foreign Ministry has not looked at all into this
issue, either.

Fujita said: "The question is how to handle the POW issue. This is
an important diplomatic issue in gaining the international
community's trust. But no efforts were made. I will continue to
pursue this issue."

(6) TOP HEADLINES

Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri & Sankei:
Three non-life insurers -- Mitsui Sumitomo, Aioi, and Nissei Dowa --
mull merger

Nikkei:
Nissan, NEC to advance schedule for large-scale production of
lithium ion batteries

Tokyo Shimbun:
Law-evading donations by two political organizations formed by
former Nishimatsu Construction Co. senior

Akahata:
JCP's Koike: Employment measures should be pushed forward by those
with political responsibility

(7) EDITORIALS

Asahi:
(1) Air strikes on Gaza: Israel must first stop attacks
(2) Rapid increase in jobless workers: Find ways to respond to
heartfelt voices

Mainichi:
(1) Air assaults on Gaza: Prevent bloodshed from spreading by
mediation of other countries

Yomiuri:
(1) Government must push for better caregiver's pay
(2) Concern about deterioration in technology

Nikkei:
(1) Urgent need of diplomacy preventing violence in Middle East
(2) Expectations of linear-motor Shinkansen and issues to be
resolved

Sankei:
(1) Strikes on Gaza: First put end to worsening situation
(2) New Hamaoka nuclear power plant: Make anti-earthquake measures
doubly sure

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Air strikes on Gaza: Avoid a full-scale war
(2) Suspension of WTO talks: Nip protectionism in the bud

Akahata:
(1) Cut drastically military spending for FY2009

ZUMWALT

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