Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 08/01/07-1

DE RUEHKO #3511/01 2130813
P 010813Z AUG 07





E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) US House approves "comfort women" resolution, emphasizes human
rights aspect

(2) US House passes comfort women resolution, Abe's historical view
of the war rejected

(3) Editorial: Mistaken historical views must be prevented from
developing a life of its own

(4) Editorial: The comfort women resolution harms Japan-US

(5) US House adoption of comfort women resolution may cast pall on
Japan-US relations

(6) Editorial: Comfort women resolution; Rectify factual errors
through joint efforts between government and private sector

(7) Estimation of Lower House election, based on votes ruling and
opposition parties gained in Upper House election


(1) US House approves "comfort women" resolution, emphasizes human
rights aspect

YOMIURI (Page 15) (Abridged)
August 1, 2007

Aya Igarashi, Washington

The United States House of Representatives on July 30 approved a
resolution asking for an official apology from Japan over the issue
of the so-called wartime comfort women. There is the possibility
that this issue may again flare as a dispute between Japan and the
US in the future as well.

In the full House on the afternoon of July 30 (before dawn on July
31, Japan time), when the resolution was adopted, eight Republican
and Democratic lawmakers rebuked Japan.

Tom Lantos (D-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is
a Holocaust survivor. He praised Germany's way of atoning for the
misdeeds of the last war, but he blasted Japan, describing it as
suffering from historical amnesia.

The female ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs
Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), saw the comfort women issue
in the same light of violence to women in Darfur in Africa and
stressed: "This sort of issue is still a problem even today."

One characteristic of debates on the comfort women issue in the
Congress was that the issue was regarded as a present-day human
rights issue not a past "historical issue."

This tendency is strong particularly in the Democratic Party, which
is portrayed as being pro-human rights and liberal as represented by
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and which has taken the control of the
House since the last November mid-term election. But even among the
Republicans, there were few who were sympathetic towards Japan.

TOKYO 00003511 002 OF 010

In the public gallery of the hall, former comfort women Yi Yong Su
listened to the deliberations on the resolution. In the face of this
living witness, Japan's assertion that there were no documents
indicating that women had been forced to work as comfort women was
ignored and only incurred backlashes.

In contrast to the heated debate in the Congress, the vast majority
of the American public is less interested in the passage of the
"comfort women" resolution. The Washington Post in its July 30
edition reported on the approval of the resolution in a small story
dispatched by a news agency.

Both Japan and the US at one point strived to resolve the issue in a
way so as not to let this "thorn" affect the entirety of the
Japan-US alliance.

The leaders of the House gave consideration to Japan by deciding to
take a vote on the resolution on July 30 after Japan's Upper House
election in order to prevent any possible impact on the election. On
July 31, the House committee approved another resolution highly
praising Japan's assistance to Iraq as a means to keep a balance
with the "comfort women" resolution.

The Democrats are positive about strengthening ties with Japan, an
ally, envisioning an opportunity to again returnt the post of
president to the party in the 2008 election.

Michael Green, former senior director for Asian Affairs at the
National Security Council, said: "The members of the Congress can't
say no to human rights issues. They tried to minimize the impact of
the passage of the resolution by giving consideration in a
meticulous manner."

The Nanjing Incident will mark its 70th anniversary in December of
this year. One journalist knowledgeable about the moves of Chinese
and Korean organizations in the US commented: "Some have already
begun seeking another resolution behind the scenes."

In California, the state from which Representative Michael Honda has
been elected, the Korean and Chinese communities are gaining
political influence. Honda stressed, "It's incorrect to think I have
acted according to instructions from the Chinese government." But
pressure for the submission of a similar resolution is likely to
increase every time the composition of the Congress changes, as a
result of congressional elections being held every two years.

It is not good if neither Japan nor the US takes any action, even
though both sides share the view that they cannot let the
comfort-women issue cast a pall on the bilateral alliance. Japan and
the US must make even more efforts to put this matter to rest and
are urged to constrain themselves even further.

(2) US House passes comfort women resolution, Abe's historical view
of the war rejected

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Full)
August 1, 2007

Yasuyuki Oguri, Washington

The US House of Representatives on July 30 unanimously passed a

TOKYO 00003511 003 OF 010

resolution calling on the Japanese government to formally apologize
to the comfort women of World War II. The passage of the resolution
is another blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has suffered from
a setback in Sunday's House of Councillors election. Why did the US
House of Representatives approve of the resolution? How will the Abe
administration respond to the US treatment? This newspaper will
attempt to analyze the background of the US House's approval of the
resolution and the future of it.

US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom
Lantos emphasized in a statement released immediately before the
vote on July 30: "After the end of World War II, Germany made the
right choice. Meanwhile, Japan has actively tried to forget." He
criticized the Japanese government for refusing to formally

A number of resolutions urging Japan to apologize over the Imperial
Japanese Army's barbaric acts were submitted to the US House of
Representatives, but the House did not pass any of them, as the
Japanese government's lobbying was successful. The government,
however, failed this time around. A source familiar with Japan-US
relations said that it was difficult for the Japanese side to oppose
a human rights issue.

The reason for the US House having turned a deaf ear to Tokyo's
assertion that it has already offered apologies is that Washington
has begun harboring doubts about Japan's attitude toward the history
issue, although the Japan-US alliance has strengthened through the
dispatch of Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and other

Abe claimed in March there was no proof the Imperial Japanese Army
coerced the women into brothels. Some lawmakers from the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the main opposition party,
Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), put an advertisement in the
Washington Post claiming that there is no historical document
proving that foreign women were forced into wartime brothels.

However, these efforts ultimately backfired. The House of
Representatives saw Japan's assertion as proof of it not reflecting
on its past conduct, prompting it to approve the resolution. US Asia
Policy Point Director Mindy Kotler took the view that the US House
of Representatives felt annoyed with Prime Minister Abe's influence,
as well as trends in Japan regarding (history issue) as seen in the
prime minister's remarks. Kotler analyzed the US House expressed its
doubts about a change in Japan's historical view of the war.

If Abe mishandles the comfort women resolution, criticism will flare
up again

There were cautious views about the comfort women resolution in the
US House of Representatives for fear of a possible negative impact
on bilateral relations. In the process of discussion on the
resolution, which was presented by Democratic Rep. Mike Honda,
Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye protested the trend of calling on
Japan to apologize, saying: "The United States also made historical
mistakes. But no countries have urged us to acknowledge, apologize
and accept historical responsibility." However, Inouye's comment was
unable to change the mood in favor of the resolution in the

Meanwhile, the expectation is that the Japanese government will

TOKYO 00003511 004 OF 010

ignore the resolution from the position that Japan already
apologized in the 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet
Secretary Yohei Kono. Should Abe offer a formal apology, he will

likely come under pressure from hawkish Diet members.

If the Japanese government expressly ignores the resolution,
Congress might stiffen its position. Although a source familiar with
Japan-US relations said that bilateral relations would not worsen by
the US House's approval of the resolution, the general view is that
unless the Japanese government takes specific measures, the issue
will smolder between Japan and the United States.

It is certain that criticism of Abe's remarks in March will grow
again as the government failed to prevent the US House of
Representatives from passing the resolution. Following the setback
in the Upper House election, Abe is now facing difficulty in dealing
with the issue.

(3) Editorial: Mistaken historical views must be prevented from
developing a life of its own

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Full)
August 1, 2007

The United States House of Representatives adopted a resolution
calling on the Japanese government to officially apologize over the
so-called comfort women issue. This resolution is apparently based
on an erroneous perception of the facts. Although it has no binding
power, we cannot overlook the passage of the resolution.

The resolution says: "The Japanese Imperial Army coerced young women
in various Asian countries into sexual slavery."

The Japan-US alliance naturally carries an extremely significant
meaning in light of Japan's national interests. Both countries have
established close ties on the military and economic fronts and also
share such core values as democracy and human rights.

Japan, however, must present a counterargument against the
resolution, which differs from the actual facts. If a mistaken view
of history develops a life of its own, the source of a problem might
be left untouched to trouble future Japan-US relations.

In the early 1990s, a certain newspaper reported that the Japanese
government had forcibly recruited women under the name of volunteer
corps. That article was totally contrary to the facts.

The statement issued in 1993 by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono
included descriptions that could be taken as constituted authorities
having brought in young women as comfort women against their will.
Reading the statement, many people inside and outside Japan began to
have an erroneous perception of the facts.

There is no evidence to prove the government coerced recruited
comfort women. The Japanese government has also repeatedly explained
that fact.

In Japan, as well, there are some who insist that there was coercive
recruitment. Such people, without specifying the contents of what is
meant by "coercive," regard the US resolution as only natural.

The resolution says: "The comfort women system is one of the largest

TOKYO 00003511 005 OF 010

cases of human trafficking in the 20th century."

It has been disclosed that the US occupation army made use of
comfort stations in Japan. During the Korean War, there were such
facilities for South Korean soldiers.

During World War II, there were also comfort stations for German
soldiers, and young women in areas occupied by Germany were
recruited systematically and coercively.

Why has Congress made only Japan the target of its attack? That is
because of the presence of a China-affiliated anti-Japanese group
supporting Democratic Congressman Michael Honda, who submitted the
resolution. There is not an anti-Germany group. Of course, there is
no group pursuing the US military for its "moral" responsibility.

In the Democratic Party-controlled US Congress, a similar resolution
to the comfort-women one could be adopted in the future. Japanese
diplomats must make more efforts to clear up the United States'

(4) Editorial: The comfort women resolution harms Japan-US

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 1, 2007

The approval of the comfort women resolution by the US House of
Representatives will probably end up harming Japan-United States
relations. This is a worrisome situation.

Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign
Affairs yesterday was set to approve a resolution thanking Japan for
its contributions to the Japan alliance. If this resolution is meant
to counterbalance the comfort women resolution, this signals that
the committee members themselves recognize the negative effect that
the resolution will have on bilateral relations.

This resolution is one of over a thousand that the House approves
each year. It is a document that holds no legal binding. Although
there is no need to overreact, we cannot close our eyes to the
resolution's adverse effects on the relationship between Japan and
the US.

The resolution calls for an official apology from the Japanese
government and the prime minister. The Japanese government, by means
of a 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, did
officially apologize to the former comfort women. The government
also offered them compensation through the Asian Women's Fund.

During his April visit to the US, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with
President Bush and congressional leaders and stated: "As an
individual and as prime minister, I deeply sympathize with the
former comfort women who suffered hardship and am filled with regret
that they were placed in such painful circumstances." This is close
to the official apology called for in the resolution.

Before Abe's US visit, when the US side was intensifying its
criticism of Japan regarding this issue, we wrote that "the
strangeness of hearing the US criticize Japan more vociferously than
China or South Korea is similar to the feeling that Americans get
when they hear Japan criticizing the US about its past treatment of

TOKYO 00003511 006 OF 010

Native Americans." We cannot help but feel the same way about the US
House's approval of a resolution asking for yet another apology.

This action, which could damage the image of Japan in the US and
stir up anti-US sentiment in Japan, is detrimental to both
countries. Besides the resolution, an increasing number of negative
elements have been growing between Japan and the US.

In Japan, there is a great deal of discontent with the Bush
administration's conciliatory approach towards North Korea. Ichiro
Ozawa, the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, the new majority
party in the Upper House, has stated his opposition to an extension
of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law. If the Self-Defense
Force's refueling missions in the Indian Ocean are discontinued, the
US will lose faith in Japan.

Having lost their political momentum, both the Abe and Bush
administrations are finding it increasingly difficult to resolve
problems. The comfort-women resolution is another unfavorable sign
for Japan-US relations. As a result, there is a high possibility
that the criticism of the Abe cabinet that is bound to come will act
as a kind of centrifugal force putting more distance between Japan
and the US.

(5) US House adoption of comfort women resolution may cast pall on
Japan-US relations

ASAHI (Page 9) (Abridged slightly)
August 1, 2007

The US House of Representatives approved a resolution on July 30
calling for an official apology from Japan over the so-called
comfort women system of forced military prostitution before and
during World War II. Ever since the resolution was submitted this
January, Tokyo has lobbied against the US House for fear that it
will have a harmful effect on Japan-US relations. That did not pay
off. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's words and deeds that drew a strong
reaction from the United States attributed to the House's approval
of the resolution. Although the position of the United States, which
regards the comfort women issue as a human rights abuse, is to give
advice as a "friend," the step is likely to leave some hard feelings
in Japan. Depending on how matters turn out, the thorny historical
issue with neighboring countries might cast a pall over Japan-US
relations, as well.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) said
in the July 30 session: "Japan's refusal to make an official
government apology is disturbing to all who value US-Japan
relations." Mike Honda (D-Calif.), a sponsor of the resolution, too,
said: "We must teach future generations that this horror must never
be repeated again." The resolution was adopted with a majority
approval without any objections.

Both Lantos and Honda come from California where there is a large
Asian-American population. In fact, in Honda's constituency,
Asian-Americans account for about 30% of the total population. With
the election of the US House of Representatives scheduled to take
place next year along with the presidential election, the wishes of
Korean organizations that have lobbied for the adoption of the
comfort women resolution cannot be ignored. Honda spent his early
childhood in a World War II internment camp where he himself
suffered from human-rights abuse. The US Congress, acknowledging its

TOKYO 00003511 007 OF 010

responsibility for the internment of Japanese-Americans, eventually
adopted legislation compensating the victims for such treatment
during the war. The president also sent letters of apology to them.

Earlier, in the period of the Republican-led US Congress, four
comfort-women resolutions were submitted, but none was adopted. The
US House adoption of the resolution this time comes partly from the
shift of power to the Democrats through the midterm election last
year and Prime Minister Abe's words and deeds.

Tokyo's position was that the Japanese government had already
apologized, citing the 1993 statement released by then Chief Cabinet
Secretary Yohei Kono.


Then on March 1, Prime Minister Abe told reporters, "There is no
evidence to prove there was coercion," adding, "There is no evidence
to prove the use of coercion in the narrow sense."

This complex explanation was taken to mean that Japan backed away
from the Kono statement, and US lawmakers reacted furiously, saying
Japan had not offered an official apology. The situation worsened
with Abe's defiant comment that Tokyo would not offer another
apology because the US Congress was about to adopt the resolution.

Finally becoming aware of the deteriorating situation in early
April, Abe offered an explanation to President Bush on the phone.
That was followed by his apology to Bush and US House Speaker Pelosi
during his visit to the United States in late April. The storm
calmed down temporarily, but the trend of adopting the resolution
again gathered momentum with a full-page protest advertisement that
ran in the June 14 issue of the Washington Post, submitted by a
group of Japanese lawmakers and others discontented with the

A sense of mission peculiar to the US

"The adopted resolution is not intended to blame the Japanese
people. They are words as a friend." Meeting the press after
adopting the resolution, Mike Honda, a sponsor of the resolution,
stressed that resolution was not intended to attack Japan.

Mike Mochizuki, a George Washington University associate professor
known for his studies of Japan, also said: "The resolution is a
message to Japan by American political leaders as their friends. It
is not an anti-Japanese resolution."

A perception gap exists between Japan and the United States on the
resolution. Above all, America's intent is hard to understand in

The US House was considerate enough to adopt the resolution after
Japan's House of Councillors election. Although it was a fact that
the resolution's adoption was triggered by Prime Minister Abe's
words, it did not target Abe.

On July 31, the US House also approved a resolution recognizing
Japan as one of the most reliable security partners of the United

US officials concerned, including Honda, regard the comfort women
issue as an abuse of human rights of the victims of sexual slavery.

TOKYO 00003511 008 OF 010

Japan naturally wonders if the US Congress has the power to meddle
in other country's affairs. But in the case of the United States,
the Congress is not the only one that makes request to other
countries regarding a set of "values." The US State Department
annually produces a report on trafficking in persons in other
counties. This year, Japan was categorized as not fulfilling the
minimum standards. American people have a special sense of mission
to protect and spread a set of values. This can explain why the US
House adopted the comfort women resolution.

Among US congressional members, the comfort women issue is referred
to as a "boutique issue," meaning it is not a national priority.
That is evident in the lack of similar moves from the Senate that
mainly discusses foreign affairs.

With the House's adoption of the resolution, the focus has now
shifted to Japan. Japan experts in the United States share the view
that it is important for Japan to have a handle on the situation in
the United States and abstain from overreacting to the adoption.
Asked in the July 30 press conference, "What would you do if Japan
did not offer an apology," Honda simply said: "I hope this will
serve as a foundation for a new dialogue (between the United States
and Japan)."

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Kurt Campbell, now
drafting an Asia policy for the upcoming US presidential race, urged
Abe and others to shift their stance on the historical issue. He
said: "Even extremely pro-Japanese Americans are displeased with
remarks by Prime Minister Abe and other cabinet ministers. It is
more beneficial to spend time on present and future issues than to
revise or correct interpretations of historical events."

(6) Editorial: Comfort women resolution; Rectify factual errors
through joint efforts between government and private sector

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 1, 2007

The full US House of Representatives approved a resolution calling
for a formal apology from the Japanese government on the comfort
women issue. Though the resolution is not legally binding, it is of
concern that the Congress of the US, Japan's key ally, has adopted a
resolution denouncing Japan.

The Abe cabinet has taken a reasonable approach to this issue. Prime
Minister Abe during the bilateral summit in late April expressed his
deep sympathy with former comfort women, and President Bush highly
evaluated his response. Japanese Ambassador to the US Ryozo Kato
sent a letter to key members of the House stating that the adoption
of a resolution denouncing Japan over the comfort women issue would
harmfully affect Japan-US relations over the long term. The
Democratic Party leadership in the House has reportedly put off the
adoption of the resolution in the plenary session until after
Japan's Upper House election, giving consideration to a possible
impact of the adoption of such a resolution on Japan's political
situation. Aside from the comfort women resolution, the House
Foreign Affairs Committee has approved a resolution recognizing
Japan's contribution to the anti-terrorist war. It can be said that
this represents that Japan's diplomatic effort has made a certain
degree of achievements. Even so, however, it was impossible to
prevent the House from adopting the resolution in the plenary

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A resolution was added with words indicating that the "the Japan-US
alliance is a linchpin in the Asian region"; and it is now at the
stage of the approval at the House Foreign Affairs Committee. As a
result, the wording of the adopted resolution was milder than that
of the initial resolution introduced by Democrat Congressman Mike
Honda. However, the resolution's basic errors have been kept intact,
as can be seen in the fact that it categorically mentioned that the
comfort women system was coercive prostitution for military
personnel adopted by the Japanese government during WWII.

It is true that the former comfort women experienced hardships
during WWII and deserve sympathy. However, it was private brokers
that mainly recruited them. The Japanese government did not
coercively recruit them for sexual services. More than 200 official
documents the Japanese government has collected over two years prove

Concerning the comfort women resolution, Japanese experts, including
journalist Yoshiko Sakurai, ran an opinion advertisement in a US
daily in which they produced evidence to prove the actual situation
of the comfort women. Some have criticized their action as having
incurred a backlash from the US Congress. However, offering no
rebuttal could mean in the international community acknowledging
erroneous historical accounts.

It was also revealed that an organization affiliated with China was
pressurizing the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman in the
background. This organization has close ties with the Chinese
government. It has criticized Japan on the wartime history issue.

The government and the private sector need to make further efforts
to rectify factual errors on the comfort-women issue.

(7) Estimation of Lower House election, based on votes ruling and
opposition parties gained in Upper House election

NIKKEI (Page 5) (Full)
July 31, 2007

Close battle likely, if LDP, New Komeito cooperate; DPJ would win
landslide victory, if LDP independently fights; Western Japan key to
DPJ initiative to take over government reins

Kyodo News Agency yesterday calculated a possible result of the next
Lower House election, based on the number of votes each political
party gained in the July 29 Upper House election, in which the
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) garnered 60 seats,
depriving the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of its status as the
largest party in the chamber. According to a simple calculation, the
DPJ would gain 350 seats among a total of 480 seats combining 300
for single-seat constituencies and 180 for the proportional
representation portion.

It was only if the LDP and the New Komeito fully cooperated in
single-seat constituencies, would they be able to gain 250 seats,
including those in the proportional representation segment, enabling
them to narrowly maintain their majority. If they fought
independently, the DPJ would win a landslide victory in Hokkaido,
Saitama, Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka, where there are
more than 10 single-seat constituencies. It would also win in
Aomori, Tochigi, Gifu, Wakayama, Tottori and Kagawa, constituencies

TOKYO 00003511 010 OF 010

where it was defeated in the 2005 Lower House election, as well as
in three seats out of four in Ehime, where it has never gained a
seat before. The DPJ would gain 350 seats in total, combining 85 in
the proportional representation segment.

The LDP would win all seats in Gumma, Shimane and Yamaguchi, but
suffer a setback in urban areas, only gaining two seats in Chiba and
one in Kanagawa. It would gain no more than 85, combining 34 in
single-seat constituencies and 55 in the proportional representation

However, if the LDP and the New Komeito cooperated, the situation
would be completely different, indicating the reality that the New
Komeito has the casting vote. The LDP and the New Komeito would
secure all of 11 seats in Fukuoka in stark contrast to the case of
the LDP independently running candidates in that region. The
coalition would recover from the setback in all single
seat-constituencies in the Upper House election this time, where the
DPJ made a leap forward. The estimation is that it would be able to
gain 165 seats in single-seat constituencies.

For the estimation, votes each party gained in municipalities in the
proportional representation segment in the Upper House election this
time were tallied, based on single-seat constituencies and
proportional representation blocs.

Tabulations of the number of seats each party would gain in the
Lower House election, based on the outcome in the Upper House
proportional representation segment, highlighted the reality that
the DPJ, which won most single-seat constituencies in the Upper
House election this time, would fight an uphill battle in
single-seat constituencies in western Japan. Provided that the LDP
and the New Komeito fully cooperate for the Lower House election,
the DPJ would be able to gain only five seats -- two in Hiroshima,
one in Tokushima, Kochi and Nagasaki -- in 71 Lower House
single-seat constituencies in the Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu
regions, while the LDP and the New Komeito would gain 66. The result
would be similar to that in the 2005 Lower House election, in which
the LDP won a landslide victory, leaving the LDP with only seven
seats in single-seat constituencies -- two in Okayama, and one in
Tokushima, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Oita. The result reflects
the ruling bloc's solid organizational power.


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