Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 07/17/07-1
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 07/17/07-1
1) Top headlines
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule
Earthquake in Niigata-Nagano area:
4) Hit by earthquake, nuclear reactor near epicenter leaks some
radioactive water outside the plant
5) Government sets up emergency headquarters at the Prime Minister's
Official Residence to handle Niigata earthquake
6) Prime Minister Abe's rapid response to Niigata earthquake
designed in part to appeal to voters in upcoming election
7) One by one political leaders touring earthquake disaster area in
North Korea problem:
8) Japan, US delegates to the six-party talks meet, agree to
cooperate in the first stage of North Korea's denuclearization
9) Assistant Secretary Hill accepts Pyongyang's view of submit a
report on its nuclear programs prior to rendering nuclear plants
10) Government remains concerned that US progress on nuclear front
with the DPRK will leave Japan and the abduction issue behind
11) North Korea stepping up propaganda criticism of Japan as Upper
House election nears; No signs of thaw with Pyongyang anywhere
12) Group delivers protest letter to US Embassy in Tokyo on
1) TOP HEADLINES
Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, Sankei, Tokyo Shimbun & Akahata:
Quake measuring upper 6 on Japanese scale hits Niigata, Nagano
Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry eyes using tax grants
to promote realignment of public hospitals
(1) Niigata-Nagano quake: Concerned about earthquake-resisting
system of nuclear power plants
(2) Government must not cut last lifeline of welfare benefits
(1) Niigata-Nagano quake: First priority should be on assistance of
the weak from disaster
(2) Agriculture policy in 2007 Upper House race: Competitive policy
or income compensations for farmers?
(1) Being prepared key to reducing quake damage
(2) Don't relax pressure on North Korea to disable its nuclear
(1) Japan must prepare for great earthquakes
(2) Goal of six-party talks is to disable North Korea's nuclear
TOKYO 00003243 002 OF 009
(1) Seismic adequacy of nuclear power plants must be rechecked
(2) Boost public opinion on abductions in 2007 Upper House election
(1) Niigata-Nagano quake: Are the lessons of the past applied?
(2) Corporate protection: Shareholders will be scrutinizing how
companies are managed
Niigata-Nagano quake: All possible measures must be taken to support
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, July 16
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
July 17, 2007
Left Haneda Airport on JAL1841.
Arrived at Nagasaki Airport.
Met with Nagasaki Governor Kaneko at the Nagasaki Municipal Hall.
Gave a public speech in front of the Municipal Hall Park.
Arrived at Nagasaki Airport.
Left the airport on ANA3736.
Arrived at Haneda Airport.
Arrived at Kantei.
Left Kantei aboard an SDF helicopter, joined by METI Minister Amari.
Arrived at Satogaike Ground at Kashiwazaki City, Niigata
Arrived at TEPCO's facility adjacent to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa
Nuclear Power Plant and inspected the plant.
Met with Niigata Governor Izumida, Kashiwazaki Mayor Aida, and
others at Kashiwazaki City Hall.
TOKYO 00003243 003 OF 009
Visited victims at Kashiwazaki Elementary School.
Met with New Komeito Representative Ota at Kashiwazaki City Hall.
Left Satogaike Ground aboard an SDP helicopter, joined by Amari and
State Minister in Charge of Disaster Management Mizote.
Attended a meeting of relevant cabinet on Niigata Chuetsuoki
Earthquake at Kantei.
Arrived at Kantei residence.
4) Water containing radiation flows out from Kashiwazaki-Kariwa
Nuclear Power Plant due to largest jolt
ASAHI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
July 17, 2007
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) found from its survey yesterday
that the spent fuel pool at No. 6 nuclear reactor of their
Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant (in Niigata Prefecture)
overflowed into the sea. With the overflow containing a small amount
of radioactive materials, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency
(NISA) of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) takes
the situation seriously by noting, "It is unprecedented that
radioactive materials flowed out from a nuclear power plant because
of an earthquake."
According to NISA, water containing radioactive materials was found
in the non-radiation controlled area at such places as the third
floor of the Nuclear Reactor Building at around 12:50 a.m. after the
occurrence of the earthquake.
The amount of radioactive materials contained in this water was
found to be lower than that of the cooling water used to remove heat
from the nuclear reactor. In addition, it was discovered that water
from the spent fuel pool where spent nuclear fuel is stored in the
Nuclear Reactor Building overflowed because of the shock of the
earthquake. TEPCO inferred that this water overflowed from the
outlet into the sea, noting that the amount would be at least 1.2
As of late yesterday, this overflow has stopped, and there were no
abnormal levels of radiation found in the sea water, TEPCO said. No
impact on human bodies and the environment has been recognized.
5) Government sets up quake taskforce office in Kantei
ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
July 17, 2007
In the wake of an earthquake occurred in the Chuetsu region in
Niigata and northern Nagano prefectures, the government set up a
taskforce office at 10:15 a.m. yesterday in the Crisis Management
Center in the Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei). Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe ordered relevant ministries and agencies to work
on confirming the state of damage and administering lifesaving
TOKYO 00003243 004 OF 009
measures. After returning to the Kantei from Nagasaki Prefecture,
where he was campaigning for the July 29 House of Councillors
election, Abe along with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira
Amari made an inspection tour of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power
Station in Niigata and other places damaged by the quake.
The government yesterday afternoon dispatched an inspection team
made up of 26 officials from concerned ministries and agencies. The
team is led by Kensei Mizote, Minister of State for Disaster
Management. Last night Abe and cabinet ministers concerned held a
meeting at the Kantei. They compiled such measures as allowing free
of charge use of the Hokuriku Motor Expressway since Route 8 cannot
be used and the continuation of transportation of water and medical
supplies by helicopters of the Self-Defense Forces and ships of the
Japan Coast Guard.
In the meeting, Abe instructed to ministers concerned:
"In order to have disaster victims feel relief as early as possible,
I want you to do your best to secure lifelines and repair the
traffic network, as well as dispel anxiety of the sufferers."
6) Prime Minister Abe plays up speedy response to the quake,
visiting disaster-stricken areas; Some think he has Upper House
election in mind
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Excerpts)
July 17, 2007
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday quickly visited Kashiwazaki City
in Niigata Prefecture, which was hit by a severe earthquake after
returning to Tokyo from Nagasaki, where he had been on a campaign
trail for the House of Councillors election. It was unusual for a
prime minister to visit quake-hit areas the day the quake occurred.
He apparently wanted to show the public how speedily his crisis
management response was.
Abe just arrived at a venue for delivering a speech in Nagasaki City
from Tokyo at 10:13 a.m. yesterday when the quake occurred in the
Chuetsu area, Niigata Prefecture. Informed by his secretary of the
earthquake measuring upper 6 on the Japanese scale, Abe instructed
to the secretary two points: 1) relevant ministries and agencies and
local governments would take all possible measures; and 2) top
priority should be on saving lives. He said, "I will return to Tokyo
He started delivering a speech after 16 minutes after the occurrence
of the quake, but he stopped his speech in one and a half minutes.
Cancelling all his planned speeches in Saga and Kumamoto
prefectures, Abe left Nagasaki Airport for Tokyo.
When a prime minister visits local areas, a small plane stands ready
for emergencies in Air Self-Defense Force Iruma base in Saitama
Prefecture. Abe and his aides considered using that plane, but they
instead chose to use a commercial aircraft. As a result, he was able
to arrive at Haneda Airport before 2:00 p.m. yesterday. Arriving at
the Kantei, Abe told reporters, "I want to see with my own eyes the
quake-hit areas. I also would like have the victims feel relieved."
After about 40 minutes, he left for Niigata on a SDF helicopter from
the Kantei's roof.
7) Earthquake off Chuetsu District: Party head-class officials of
TOKYO 00003243 005 OF 009
both ruling and opposition camps visiting disaster site in
succession due in part to calculated motives with Upper House
election just ahead
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
July 17, 2007
Following widespread damage caused by an earthquake occurred off the
Chuetsu district in Niigata Prefecture, both ruling and opposition
parties have set up their countermeasures headquarters. Party heads
have also visited the disaster site in succession. This is the
second natural disaster that occurred during the Upper House
election campaign period, following Typhoon No.4 (Man-Yi). Senior
officials of all political parties had to extensively change their
stumping tours. Aware of the eyes of voters, both the ruling and
opposition parties stressed their stance of taking all possible
measures to face the disaster.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited quake victims evacuated at
Kashiwazaki Primary School in Kashiwazaki City, where he bumped into
Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ or Minshuto), who ended the inspection of the site. They
crossed, simply exchanging bows in silence. It was a scene
symbolizing officials of ruling and opposition parties racing to
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has set up a countermeasures
headquarters led by Secretary General Shoichi Nakagawa. Nakagawa was
making a stumping tour in Akita City at the time of the quake. After
making a street-corner speech, he flew into Niigata by helicopter.
He joined Lower House member Tadayoshi Nagashima, mayor of Yamakoshi
Village at the time when the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake hit his
village in October 2004, and received a briefing at the Niigata
Prefectural Government Office.
New Komeito head Akihiro Ota left from Haneda Airport to Asahikawa
Airport, Hokkaido just after 10:00 in the morning. He returned to
Haneda Airport at 2:30 in the afternoon and visited an evacuation
center in Kashiwazaki by land.
DPJ head Ozawa in the afternoon phoned Hatoyama from the party
headquarters and ordered him to inspect the disaster site. Hatoyama
was in a Shinkansen bullet train bound for Niigata City, when the
quake happened. He was trapped in the train at one point. Ozawa told
reporters, "I want the government to take sufficient measures. We
will do our utmost wherever possible."
8) Japan, US delegates to the six-party talks meet, agree to
cooperate in the first stage (of North Korea's denuclearization)
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
July 14, 2007
Prior to the meeting next week in Beijing of the chief delegates to
the six-party talks on North Korea, Assistant Secretary of State
Hill, the US envoy to the talks, met on July 13 with his
counterpart, Kenichiro Sasae, director general of the Foreign
Ministry's Asia and Oceanic Affairs Bureau. The two officials agreed
to jointly keep in step for the time being. However, In contrast to
the US side, which revealed a positive stance of starting talks on a
peace arrangement on the Korean Peninsula by the end of the year,
Japan continues to seek progress on the abduction issue, cautioning,
TOKYO 00003243 006 OF 009
"It is important to first complete the measures in the first stage."
The difference in the stanced of the two governments could carry
over into the main talks that start on July 18.
In the meeting, both officials agreed on the view that it was
crucial the North Korea implement as quickly as possible the
measures in the initial phase. On the measures in the next step as
well, the two confirmed that at the meeting next week: "We will have
in depth discussion on rendering inoperative all existing nuclear
facilities listed in the nuclear program." On the abduction issue,
too, Assistant Secretary Hill promised cooperation. He expressed his
hopes for a "implementing agreed matters in a balanced way,"
including at the Japan-DPRK and Japan-US-related working groups.
Earlier at Narita Airport, Hill stressed that above all,
denuclearization was currently the crucial agenda item, saying, "No
matter what instruments are used, without denuclearization, peace is
impossible. We cannot sign a peace agreement unless
denuclearization comes first." However, he announced that talks to
move toward a peace agreement that would end the truce agreement for
the Korea War would start in November in Washington. The talks would
involve China and the Republic of Korea, and Hill hinted at the
concept of further speeding up the US-North Korean dialogue.
Within the Japanese government, there is deep-seated alarm that the
US might get even further out front, taking advantage of these
talks. Prime Minister Abe, on July 13 in a campaign speech in
Aomori, restated his thinking that the highest priority item, even
in the Upper House election, was progress on the abduction issue,
saying, "Until the day comes when all of the abductees set foot on
Japanese soil and reunite with their blood relatives, I will
continue to tackle this issue with an iron will."
Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki, as well, in a press conference on
the same day, positioned the restarted talks as "an important
opportunity to confirm that the measures in the first stage are
being carried out quickly, as well as to start efforts heading into
the second stage." In addition, he referred to the issue of
providing North Korea with energy assistance, stating, "We must have
confirmation that there is progress in Japan-North Korean relations,
including the abduction issue." He stressed that there was no change
in the government's policy course of giving priority to progress on
the abduction front.
9) Hill concurs with North Korea's view that prior to rendering
nuclear facilities inoperative, the North would submit a report on
its nuclear programs
ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
July 15, 2007
Assistant Secretary of State Hill, who is the chief US delegate to
the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear problem, met with
the press corps on July 14 in Kanagawa Prefecture, where he was
staying. On the question of the North's denuclearization, he stated,
"Prior to the denuclearization of the nuclear facilities, there will
be a report on the nuclear program." He then added: "The report will
be given early in the next stage. It will either be in several weeks
or in two or three months." The US government thus has gone along
with the view of North Korea.
Obtaining a report from North Korea on its nuclear programs is
TOKYO 00003243 007 OF 009
expected to be difficult because of suspicion that it is enriching
uranium (HEU). The US government at first assumed that
denuclearization and the report would occur in tandem.
On North Korea's proposal, presented by the North Korean military
delegate to Panmunjom, for US-DPRK military, Hill said: "Such would
not be military but would be direct government-to-government talks."
He indicated his thinking that the proposal would not be taken up.
He stressed: "The peace settlement talks will occur in parallel to
the six-party talks, and they will not be substitute for them."
There is a strong possibility that the peace talks will include the
two Koreas, China and the United States. He gave consideration in
his statement to remaining concerns in the Japanese government.
10) Japanese government concerned abduction issue may be left
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
July 16, 2007
The Japanese government welcomes North Korea's announcement that it
has shut down its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, but it intends to
watch carefully how disarmament would proceed from now. If a certain
level of progress is made on the initial step of North Korea's
denuclearization under the February six-party agreement, the weight
of discussion in the six-party talks to resume on July 18 will be
shifted to "the next step." Japan may find itself in a more
difficult situation for its stance of offering no aid before
progress is made on the abduction issue.
A senior Foreign Ministry official said in even tones yesterday
about the North's statement: "It is no more than Pyongyang's
implementation of what it pledged in (an international accord)
February. I am neither surprised nor pleased at it." The United
States had presented an optimistic outlook about whether the North
would implement the first step. In the agreement, however, Pyongyang
should have shut down its nuclear facility in mid-April, three month
ago. Keeping this in mind, Japan will wait for the results of the
monitoring and verification work by an inspection team of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Japan has decided to keep the policy of offering no aid unless
progress is made on the abduction issue, even if discussion is
shifted to 950,000 tons of heavy oil in aid to the North in return
for its shutting down of the reactor, as the "next step" stipulated
in the planned six-party talks. Based on the view that "other
countries must be expecting Japan to join the aid," as noted by a
Foreign Ministry source, Japan expects the US and other countries,
in anticipation of Japan's aid, to urge North Korea to move the
abduction issue forward.
A government source, though, commented: "North Korea might take no
move before seeing what impact the outcome of the House of
Councillors election will have on the Abe administration."
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday: "(Further
progress under the disarmament accord) depend on what measures the
US and Japan in particular will take in order to drop their hostile
policies toward our country."
A meeting of the Japan-North Korea working group on normalization of
TOKYO 00003243 008 OF 009
bilateral diplomatic ties is an opportunity for Japan to press North
Korea to resolve the abduction issue. But the possibility is also
slim that a working group meeting will be held on the sidelines of
the upcoming six-party talks. The focus of discussion might be on
energy aid, with Japan being unable to see progress on the abduction
11) North Korea, with eye on Upper House election, intensifying
criticism of Japan
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Full)
July 15, 2007
North Korea is carefully watching the impact that the upcoming House
of Councillors election will have on the government led by Prime
Minister Abe, who is waging an uphill campaign. Pyongyang has
severely criticized Japan almost every day since early July. On July
18, the six-party talks will resume in Beijing, but the DPRK seems
determined not to take any action before the Upper House election,
leaving no hope for a thaw in relations.
The Rodong Daily News, the organ of the North Korean Communist
Party, carried a comment on Japan's Upper House election on July 11
in which it referred to the possibility that the prime minister
would step down. The daily wrote: "In the event that the Liberal
Democratic Party loses the election, the Abe administration might be
unable to survive."
According to sources related to the six-party talks, Vice Foreign
Minister Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea's chief negotiator, told United
States Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the US top
negotiator, when he visited Pyongyang: "The North will wait and see
how things go until the Upper House election ends." As shown from
this remark, North Korea apparently is highly interested in how the
election ends up.
Since then, the North has lashed out at Japan more harshly and
frequently than before.
In a statement and on other occasions, the North Korean government
has begun to bitterly attack Japan not only for its stance of
prioritizing a settlement of the abduction issue but also for its
move to auction off the land and building of the headquarters of the
General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon). A
statement issued by the North Korean Foreign Ministry on July 1
expressed hostility toward the Abe administration, saying: "The Abe
administration is behaving irrationally in an attempt to drive the
relationship between North Korea and Japan into the worst possible
situation and to prevent progress in the six-party talks."
In response to the North's criticism of Japan, a senior Foreign
Ministry official commented: "This proves that Pyongyang has begun
to have an interest in Japan." It is unlikely, though, that North
Korea will present any material that will work favorably for Prime
Minister Abe in the six-party talks starting on July 18.
From the beginning, North Korea has been moving to drive Japan into
isolation in the framework of the six-party talks. In addition, the
Upper House election is unlikely to be a positive element to improve
relations between Japan and North Korea in the six-party talks.
12) Letter of protest against "comfort women" resolution lodged with
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US Embassy in Tokyo
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
July 14, 2007
In reaction to the adoption of the so-called wartime comfort-women
resolution by the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, a group
consisting of 223 lawmakers, local assembly members, intellectuals,
and others, "Ianfu Mondai no Rekishiteki Shinjitsu o Motomeru Kai"
(council to seek the truth of the comfort women issue; represented
by Satoru Mizushima, president of Nihon Bunka Channel Sakura) lodged
a letter of protest calling for the withdrawal of the resolution
with the US Embassy in Tokyo on July 13. The protest said; "The
resolution was based on incorrect information that is not in line
with the truth. We hope you will verify it once again." The group
plans to send the same letter of protest shortly to all House