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Cablegate: Testing Abe: Looking Like Ldp Win in Osaka 9th

VZCZCXRO5453
OO RUEHFK RUEHGH RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHOK #0607/01 2930932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200932Z OCT 06
FM AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0587
INFO RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 7763
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 0154
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA PRIORITY 2259
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 0142
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 0164
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0398
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1088
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0046
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0012
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0104

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OSAKA KOBE 000607

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV JA
SUBJECT: TESTING ABE: LOOKING LIKE LDP WIN IN OSAKA 9TH
DISTRICT BY-ELECTION

REF: 1) Osaka Kobe 00576

1. (SBU) The LDP/Komeito coalition candidate, Kenji
Harada, has surged ahead of his DPJ opponent Nobumori
Otani and will likely win the Osaka 9th District Lower
House by-election on October 22 (see reftel for why
this election matters), based on discussions with
politicians and political parties, the Soka Gakkai (SG)
Buddhist lay organization, business leaders and the
media, polling data and personal observations of
various political rallies and campaign events. Local
interlocutors say that a win by the coalition will help
cement the LDP's electoral chances next year and deal
yet another setback to the ailing DPJ leader Ichiro
Ozawa in a district that was once an opposition
stronghold. Here is a look at why post is calling the
election for Harada.

-------------------------------
THE KOMEITO/SOKA GAKKAI MACHINE
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) Candidate Harada is indebted to the New
Komeito Party and Soka Gakkai for delivering the votes
he needs for a win. SG has mobilized thousands of
young volunteers for weeks in the district, vocally
participating in Harada rallies en masse and calling up
family, friends, and friends of friends to try to
increase the network effects of the Komeito/SG voting
machine. SG is the most ideological, disciplined and
activist political group in Osaka and can be relied
upon to deliver reliable voters to the polls. SG
openly declared to poloff that without the SG/Komeito,
the LDP in Osaka would be declining, not gaining,
electorally. Citing Japanese electoral terminology, he
said that Abe provided the "wind" (the election mood,
or buzz) but Komeito was the "geta," (Japanese high-
heeled wooden sandals) which 1) "boosted" the height of
the candidate and 2) hustled eager voters to the polls
to vote in the right direction. This is an apt
metaphor for the coalition's modus vivendi in the Osaka
election.

--------------
LDP STAR POWER
--------------

3. (SBU) Given Abe's high initial support rate--the
third highest of any Japanese Cabinet at its start, his
immediate improvement of ties with Beijing and Seoul,
and his ability to "get tough" on Pyongyang following
the DPRK nuclear test, Harada's campaign has soared on
Abe's coattails. Abe and Komeito President Akihiro Ota
campaigned together in Ibaraki City on Sunday, and more
LDP starpower was unleashed when former PM Junichiro
Koizumi gave a speech the following day.

4. (SBU) We attended Koizumi's speech, which was
standing room only in a community center holding more
than 1,200 LDP faithful. In reportedly his first
speech since he ended his premiership, Koizumi again
demonstrated his mastery of political rhetoric and the
ability to captivate an audience, using self-
depreciating humor and personal reflections of his 5
years leading the coalition to draw in his listeners.
He then delivered the most concise and digestible
reasons to vote for the LDP: 1) that Abe was doing very
well as Prime Minister; 2) that there was no such thing
as reform fatigue--without reform, there would be no
growth, and if voters want growth, they needed to
support reform; and 3) it would be reckless to turn
over the reigns of power to the DPJ now with the North
Korean situation so dangerous and the need for further
reforms so great. He asked the audience if they wanted
to go back to the 90s, when there was one American
president and 7 Japanese prime ministers over the same
period. In arguing for ruling party continuity, he
reminded them that the DPJ leadership has changed at
least four times in as many years.


OSAKA KOBE 00000607 002 OF 002


5. (U) Harada and his supporters have been emphasizing
the need for educational reform (assigning
responsibility for school performance problems and high
profile on-campus crimes to lax teachers and a flaccid
Nikkyoso teachers' union, both strong DPJ supporters),
and returning to an age when families were strong, kids
were disciplined, and Japanese were patriotic.

----------------
DPJ: NO TRACTION
----------------

6. (SBU) Unfortunately for DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa,
his appearance in the district coincided with the DPRK
announcement of its nuclear test, which of course
proceded to dominate the day's news cycle. In addition
to lacking political buzz, Ozawa also appeared tired
and restrained, reminding observers of his well-
publicized health issues in late September. Although
the DPJ leadership has been visiting Osaka, they don't
appear to have captured the imagination of voters.
Otani has been campaigning tirelessly but has not
dispelled the impression that this is now an extremely
tight race that he no longer dominates.

7. (U) Otani, in what appears to be a test of next
year's DPJ campaign issues, continues to stress
pocketbook issues like pension reform, healthcare, and
the growing inequalities in the economy and society,
blaming them on Koizumi and Takenaka's reforms.

RUSSEL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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