Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More



Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 08/09/06

DE RUEHKO #4477/01 2210819
P 090819Z AUG 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.


(1) Poll on Yasukuni Shrine issue

(2) South Korea's foreign minister expects to see Abe play a role in
resolving bilateral issues

(3) Editorial: Yasukuni dispute; Mr. Abe should also join the ring

(4) Strategic overseas trips by cabinet ministers: Chuma says, "I
was treated like a state guest;" Yosano refuses to visit El
Salvador, citing, "It's too far from Japan"

(5) Ozawa Minshuto (Part 1): Ozawa devoted to winning single-seat
constituencies in Upper House election

(6) Pros and cons of prime minister's visits to Yasukuni Shrine:
Tetsuya Takahashi, professor at Tokyo University Graduate School -
Principle of separating politics and religion must be abided by

(7) Editorial: Under Aso private plan, Yasukuni would no longer be a


(1) Poll on Yasukuni Shrine issue

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
August 9, 2006

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage.)

Q: Prime Minister Koizumi, when he ran in the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party's 2001 presidential election, pledged to pay homage
at Yasukuni Shrine. Since coming into office as prime minister, he
has annually done so. Would you like him to do so on Aug. 15, the
anniversary of the end of World War II?

Yes 22.9
Yes to a certain degree 20.2
No to a certain degree 19.9
No 28.7
No answer (N/A) 8.4

Q: Would you like the next prime minister to pay homage at Yasukuni

Yes 22.2
Yes to a certain degree 18.2
No to a certain degree 20.2
No 30.1
N/A 9.4

Q: Which place do you think would be appropriate for the state to
console the souls of those who died in the war and mourn the war
dead? Pick only one from among those listed below.

Yasukuni Shrine at present 35.0
Yasukuni Shrine that separates Class-A war criminals 24.4
Chidorigafuchi Cemetery for the unidentified war dead 8.1
A new national secular memorial under state control 19.2
Other answers (O/A) 0.4

TOKYO 00004477 002 OF 010

N/A 12.9

Q: There's a view insisting on separating the Class-A war criminals
from Yasukuni Shrine. Do you agree with this opinion?

Yes 39.8
Yes to a certain degree 21.9
No to a certain degree 11.9
No 12.5
N/A 13.8

Q: A former Imperial Household grand steward's notes recently
discovered show that the late Showa Emperor (Hirohito) was
displeased with the enshrinement of Class-A war criminals at
Yasukuni Shrine and stopped paying homage at Yasukuni Shrine
thereafter. Did this affect you in your thinking about the issue of
the prime minister's Yasukuni homage?

Yes, very much 11.0
Yes, somewhat 26.4
No, not very much 28.9
No, not at all 26.3
N/A 7.4

Polling methodology
Date of survey: Aug. 5-6.
Subjects of survey: 3,000 persons chosen from among all eligible
voters throughout the country (at 250 locations on a stratified
two-stage random sampling basis).
Method of implementation: Door-to-door visits for face-to-face
Number of valid respondents: 1,741 persons (58.0% ).
Breakdown of respondents: Male-49%, female-51%.

(2) South Korea's foreign minister expects to see Abe play a role in
resolving bilateral issues

TOKYO (Page 1) (Full)
Evening, August 9, 2006

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe met this morning with Republic of
Korea (ROK) Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon at the
Prime Minister's Official Residence. Foreign Minister Ban told Abe
at the outset: "I think it regrettable that our countries have been
facing a grave situation since March over the historical issue." He
apparently was referring to Abe's visit to Yasukuni Shrine in April,
Prime Minister Koizumi's expected visit to the shrine on August 15,
the date of the end of the war, as well as expressing regret for the
dispute over Takeshima/Dokdo isles, which both countries claim as
their own.

In addition, Foreign Minister Ban, calling Abe "the next prime
minister," stated, "I hope that you will give these issues extra
special consideration and play a role to resolve them." He expressed
his hopes that Abe would tackle the resolution of the problems.

In response, Abe, avoiding any mention of his own visit to Yasukuni
Shrine, replied: "Regarding the historical issue, we must always
assume a humble attitude. If there is a misunderstanding, I would
like to make every effort to solve the problem." Turning to the
Takeshima dispute, he said: "We need to make mutual efforts in order
to quickly reach an interim framework." He advocated such measures
as the need to have a prior notification system for maritime surveys

TOKYO 00004477 003 OF 010

in the sea area.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe and Foreign Minister Ban agreed on the
need for both countries to cooperate in order to smoothly implement
the United Nations Security Council Resolution on North Korea
related to that country's launching of ballistic missiles.

(3) Editorial: Yasukuni dispute; Mr. Abe should also join the ring

ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
August 9, 2006

There is a month to go until the announcement of the Liberal
Democratic Party's (LDP) presidential election. The differences in
views of the candidates jockeying to become the premier after
Junichiro Koizumi steps down in September are becoming clear.

Foreign Minister Aso has released his personal view on the Yasukuni
issue, proposing that the shrine be turned into a national memorial
with the status of a special corporation, after disbanding itself as
a religious organization.

In order for the state to become involved, it is necessary in
compliance with the Constitution's principle of separation between
state and religion for Yasukuni Shrine to be transformed into a
non-religious entity. But this involves many important factors, such
as how the shrine's ritual ceremony should be changed, how Class-A
war criminals enshrined at Yasukuni should be treated. and most
importantly, whether the shrine will accede to a request to disband

The bottom line of Mr. Aso's argument is that Yasukuni Shrine should
remain as a place for mourning the war dead, but its organization
should be changed drastically so that anybody, including the emperor
and the prime minister, can visit without any problem.

It appears that Aso will not visit Yasukuni until his proposals are

In that sense, his argument has something in common with the stance
of Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, who categorically said that
he would refrain from visiting Yasukuni Shrine, while pinning his
hopes for a separate enshrinement of Class-A war criminals. The idea
can be called a kind of moratorium intended to put prime
ministerials visits to Yasukuni on hold.

The reasons given by Tanigaki are simple. He said that at this
moment, it is impossible for Prime Minister Koizumi to hold summits
with the leaders of China or South Korea. Therefore, he calls for
giving priority to repairing ties with neighboring countries.

Aso, who is responsible for the diplomacy of the Koizumi
administration, perhaps cannot afford to admit that the nation's
foreign relations are at an impasse. In giving those reasons, he was
careful about choosing words and said the shrine should be made a
nonreligious entity so that it can survive and the emperor can visit

However, Aso obviously thinks that there are too many problems with
the present nature of Yasukuni Shrine in order for the emperor to
visit it.

Regarding this issue, we have called on the prime minister to speak

TOKYO 00004477 004 OF 010

of his mind in an articulate manner. That is because we think
candidates for succeeding Koizumi cannot avoid the Yasukuni issue,
which has become a complicated political and diplomatic issue during
the Koizumi administration.

In that sense, we welcome that Mr. Aso and Mr. Tanigaki revealed
their stances. The point is the feasibility of their proposals. The
idea of the argument calling for making the shrine a special public
corporation is similar to the legislation to defend and maintain the
national polity, which was discussed more than 30 years ago and
scrapped in the end. How to secure the Constitution's principle of
separation between state and religion principle is a difficult
issue. It is also hard to think that the shrine would readily decide
to become a nonreligious entity.

The shrine has rejected the separate enshrinement of Class-A war
criminals because of Shinto teaching.

In the end, the only way to resolve the Yasukuni issue through the
government's own judgment is to create a secular national memorial.

It was unveiled that Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, a
front-runner in the LDP presidential race, had secretly visited
Yasukuni in April. He is keeping mum about it. The predominant view
is that he will probably continue to visit Yasukuni, even if he
becomes prime minister.

Does he intend to get away without talking anything about his
Yasukuni visit? Abe should also join the ring prepared by Aso and
Tanigaki and fairly and squarely challenge them in debate.

(4) Strategic overseas trips by cabinet ministers: Chuma says, "I
was treated like a state guest;" Yosano refuses to visit El
Salvador, citing, "It's too far from Japan"

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
August 8, 2006

Ministers of the Koizumi Cabinet have started a series of "strategic
overseas trips." Based on reflection on failure in Japan's bid for a
permanent UNSC seat, the Cabinet Secretariat has assigned at the
direction of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi cabinet ministers to
visit certain countries. The countries were selected by ministries
and agencies based on cabinet ministers' wishes. The countries were
picked from those African and the Latin American countries as yet
unvisited by any Japanese cabinet minister. One cabinet minister
said he was treated like a state guest during his visit. Another
minister refused to go, saying, "The country is too far from Japan."
As it stands, matters have not moved forward as Koizumi had

Having received satisfaction from his tour of Africa in May where he
receiving warm welcomes, Koizumi has advocated the need for
strategic visits to foreign countries by members of his cabinet.
According to a survey by the Foreign Ministry, there are 82
countries where not Japanese cabinet member has ever set foot. Of
those 82, the Cabinet Secretariat has chosen 20 countries for
cabinet visits. "Ministers will visit countries with diplomatic ties
with North Korea to seek their cooperation regarding the abduction
issue," said a government source.

Koki Chuma, state minister in charge of industrial revitalization
and administrative reform, already visited Latvia and Estonia. At a

TOKYO 00004477 005 OF 010

press conference, he said delightedly:

"I was received cordially. In Latvia, I was able to meet with the
president, prime minister, foreign minister and economic minister
individually. I was embarrassed to be escorted like a state guest by
police cars when moving one place to another."

Kenji Kosaka, minister of education, culture, sports, science and
technology, with a letter from the prime minister, wrapped up a trip
to Uganda. A total of nine ministers will visit 16 countries at the

Some countries asked for Japan's economic assistance.

Kaoru Yosano, state minister in charge of economic and fiscal
policy, refused to go to El Salvador, citing that "It's too far
away." The Cabinet Secretariat asked Internal Affairs and
Communications Minister Heizo Takenaka to visit Colombia along with
Brazil, but he turned down a trip to Colombia, citing that he would
be too busy preparing the country's reform policy guidelines. Some
ministers complained, saying, "Why should I go to such a country?"

Main countries visited or to be visited by cabinet ministers

Education Minister Kosaka
July 11-19

Administrative Reform Minister Chuma
July 18-26

Disaster Prevention Kutsukake
Aug. 3-13
MicronesiaMarshall IslandsPalau

Justice Minister Sugiura
Aug. 6-17
GabonCameroonCape Verde

Minister in charge of Declining Birthrate Inoguchi
Aug. 9-17
Trinidad and Tobago Nicaragua

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Kawasaki
Aug. 16-23

Environment Minister Koike

Science and Technology Minister Matsuda

Land, Infrastructure and Trade Minister Kitagawa
Late August

(5) Ozawa Minshuto (Part 1): Ozawa devoted to winning single-seat
constituencies in Upper House election

TOKYO 00004477 006 OF 010

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Slightly abridged)
August 8, 2006

Ichiro Ozawa, president of the main opposition party Minshuto
(Democratic Party of Japan), on Aug. 7 published a book titled Gowan
Isshin (Muscular Reform), comprising a series of columns he
contributed to an evening daily.

He has recently gotten a lot of media exposure.

Appearing along with Kazuo Inamori, honorary chairman of Kyocera
Corp., on a Fuji-TV program recorded Aug. 4 in Kyoto, Ozawa
categorically said: "In order to break the social deadlock, a change
of government is necessary. With a change in administration, real
reform will start."

He also stated on a Yomiuri TV program on Aug. 5:

"An Abe government, which will likely continue the political
approach of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, would hold as one of
its central beliefs that the strong will win in free competition and
that this cannot be helped. Salaried workers are concerned about job
security. I have insisted that the seniority system and lifetime
employment should be included in the framework of safety net."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe is the front-runner in the LDP
presidential race, and generational change is taking place within
that party. Underlying Ozawa's words and actions is his view of a
tense rivalry with an Abe government.

Ozawa, who became LDP secretary general at the age of 47, is now 64.
He is the third-longest-serving person in the House of
Representatives, now in his 13th term. This summer he mailed
postcards expressing his appreciation to supporters of his party. He
wrote on the postcards: "We will all work together and run toward
the goal of taking the reins of power. I will risk my political life
to lead the charge."

Ozawa, who headed the now defunct Jiyuto (Liberal Party), left it to
join Minshuto in September 2003, later assuming the top post of the
largest opposition party. He is trying to strengthen his own policy
imprint in the party.

Election strategy is one of them. Positioning the July 2007 House of
Councillors election as a battle with the ruling LDP, Ozawa has been
devoting himself intensely to the goal of forcing the ruling
coalition into a minority in the Upper House, especially through the
single-seat constituencies.

Of the 27 single-seat constituencies up for grabs, Minshuto won only
two in the 2001 Upper House election. In the 2004 Upper House
election, however, the party obtained 13. In the next Upper House
election, Tochigi and Gunma will be added to the single-seat

Ozawa aims to win between 15 and 20 of the 29 single-seat
constituencies contested this time. He says: "There are many
single-seat constituencies in rural areas, and the social divide is
clear. Many in the rural districts distrust the LDP, which has
attached importance solely to efficiency. We will be supported in
the rural districts."

Previously, Minshuto had lagged in creating support groups and

TOKYO 00004477 007 OF 010

depended on voter mood at the time of elections. Ozawa, has,
however, put his energy into firming up local support in the manner
that the LDP once did. Since May this year he has visited ten
electoral districts in Yamagata, Saga, and Fukui prefectures. He
tried to visit agricultural and fisheries cooperatives, as well as
commerce and industry associations, as often as possible.

Ozawa's own policy imprint is seen in his efforts to form a united
front with other opposition parties. Former party heads Katsuya
Okada and Seiji Maehara aimed at a single-party administration.
Ozawa instead has called on other opposition parties to form a
united front. He has even approached those lawmakers who bolted the
LDP in opposition to the government's postal-privatization

Soon after Golden Week in May, Ozawa invited Yoshihiro Kawakami, an
LDP rebel who was defeated in last year's Lower House election, to
his private office in Tokyo's Akasaka district and suggested running
in the Upper House election as a Minshuto candidate for the Tottori
single-seat constituency.

Two months later, it came to the fore that Kawakami had joined

Ozawa has recently focused on agricultural policy, focusing on
increasing the nation's food self-sufficiency to 100% and providing
3 trillion yen in income assistance to farmers.

Minshuto had advocated that food self-sufficiency should be raised
to 50% over the next 10 years, and to at least 60% in the future.
Ozawa has changed this pledge, however.

Some party lawmakers are, however, concerned that while farmers
would favor such a policy, how to pa for it is unclear, and urban
residents may criticize it as a waste of public funds.

Although Ozawa's policy of prioritizing election measures is
spreading through Minshuto, there does not appear to be any place
for decisions on policy.

Hokkaido University Prof. Jiro Yamaguchi, a self-proclaimed
supporter of Ozawa, made this comment:

"Mr. Ozawa belonged to the former Tanaka faction in the LDP. The
Tanaka faction focused on the redistribution of income to weak
areas, especially rural districts. I once criticized the politics of
the Tanaka faction, but I now appreciate it, because I disagree with
the Koizumi approach of rejecting measures that help the weak."

Some Minshuto lawmakers are now worried that Ozawa has changed from
an advocate of small government to a proponent of big government.

Many in the party are opposed to Ozawa's personal proposal to create
an armed force that would be on standby for UN missions. The party's
council on foreign and defense affairs has held no discussions since
Ozawa assumed the presidency.

One junior lawmaker stressed that the panel was waiting for Ozawa's
instruction, saying, "Unless the president shows us concrete policy
visions, we cannot hold discussions."

The party's leadership setup appears solid, but if it relies too
much on Ozawa, it could lose its vitality. The question is whether

TOKYO 00004477 008 OF 010

Minshuto can become the "combat team" that Ozawa hopes for. The
party has many challenges to overcome.

(6) Pros and cons of prime minister's visits to Yasukuni Shrine:
Tetsuya Takahashi, professor at Tokyo University Graduate School -
Principle of separating politics and religion must be abided by

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
August 9, 2006

-- What is the significance of the existence of Yasukuni Shrine?

Yasukuni Shrine used to be the central mechanism used to mobilize
national spirit toward war. It was indisputably an emotional alchemy
used to change the sorrow of bereaved families into honor, pride,
and even joy when these words were applied: "They laid down their
lives for their country. They are enshrined at Yasukuni as deities,
and the Emperor pays homage to them there."

-- What are your thoughts on the prime minister visiting Yasukuni?

The primary role of Yasukuni Shrine is to publicly honor the war
dead. In Yushukan, the exhibit hall on the site of Yasukuni, too,
past wars are defined not as aggressive wars but as self-defense
wars. Theoretically, that poses a problem. So Yasukuni is not the
proper place for the prime minister of a nation to visit with such
statements as his going there to pledge for peace or that war should
never happen again. Yasukuni undeniably is not a facility to
memorialize the war dead but a facility to exalt them. I can
understand why China and South Korea have fiercely reacted. There is
a high possibility that prime ministerial visits violate the
Constitution (the principle of separation of state and religion).

-- Calls are growing for removing enshrined Class-A war criminals
from Yasukuni Shrine as means to resolve Yasukuni-related problems.

If such would be possible, the diplomatic problems will be settled.
In such a case, however, the way would be cleared for the prime
minister and the emperor to pay homage at the shrine, so a major
problem would be overcome. A revival of militarism seems
inconceivable, but if Article 9 of the Constitution is revised,
Yasukuni once again could be made into a device to support a country
with a new potential to wage war.

-- There are calls for creating a new war-memorial facility.

I understand that such a facility is better than Yasukuni Shrine as
a political option. But if one pays respects to the war dead at the
new facility and also goes to Yasukuni, the effort would be
meaningless. Its contents are also important. The new facility
should not be made into something like a second Yasukuni Shrine.

-- What do you think is the best solution?

There is no option but for the prime minister to stop visiting
Yasukuni Shrine. If he stops visiting the shrine not in response to
criticism from China and South Korea but in accordance with the
principle of separation of state and religion under the
Constitution, diplomatic problems would be resolved. This principle
is intended to prevent the government from using Yasukuni Shrine to
affect the public spirit. It is essential to understand this

TOKYO 00004477 009 OF 010

(7) Editorial: Under Aso private plan, Yasukuni would no longer be a

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 9, 2006

Foreign Minister Taro Aso released his private proposal on the
status of Yasukuni Shrine yesterday. He proposed Yasukuni should be
secularized first and then be placed under state management.

Starting from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s, the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) presented to the Diet many times a Yasukuni
bill that called for changing the status of Yasukuni Shrine from a
religious corporation into a special corporation and then placing it
under state control.

At that time, there were growing calls mainly from the Japan
War-Bereaved Association for placing Yasukuni under state
jurisdiction. By nationalizing it, the association also aimed to
stabilize the shrine's financial situation.

However, the principle of separating politics and religion then
stood in the way of the notion of secularizing Yasukuni Shrine. As a
result, coordination work between the Cabinet Legislation Bureau and
the LDP ran into a roadblock. In addition, views critical of the
notion were presented, such as: "Should the shrine religious status
be removed from Yasukuni Shrine, its traditions might be
relinquished," and; "The shrine might be changed into just an
ordinary, secular facility." The bill was killed in 1974 in the

The Aso proposal seems to contain a similar problem. Honoring the
souls of the war dead cannot be separated from religion. Should the
religious status be removed from Yasukuni, it would no longer be a

A supra-partisan group aims to create a national secular war-dead
memorial at a different location from Yasukuni. Aso says: "There
should be no facility to replace Yasukuni Shrine." Under the Aso
plan, however, Yasukuni Shrine itself would be turned into a
national secular war memorial.

LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Hidenao Nakagawa and former
Secretary General Makoto Koga also have proposed that Yasukuni be

made a nonreligious entity. There are moves to make the debate on
Yasukuni Shrine a central issue of the campaign for the September
LDP presidential election. A close watch on such moves is needed.

The Aso proposal also suggested the need for Diet debate on which
souls should be enshrined at Yasukuni, including the propriety of
removing the enshrined Class-A war criminals. Compared with other
politicians calling for separating the war criminals from Yasukuni,
Aso seems to have suggested following a democratic process to reach
that goal. But what if public opinion became hopelessly divided in
this process? Who would win? It would be better to build momentum to
the move to separate Class-A war criminals from Yasukuni.

Consoling the souls of the war dead should be a matter of the heart
for the Japanese people. Yasukuni Shrine, as the symbolic entity to
that end, is also a part of Japan's spiritual culture. It is our
hope that Yasukuni Shrine, going beyond diplomatic or political
debate, will continue to be a quite war-memorial facility forever.

TOKYO 00004477 010 OF 010


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.