Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 08/03/07-1
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 08/03/07-1
1. Top headlines
3. Prime Minister's daily schedule
4. Abe Cabinet reaches new support low of 22% in Fuji-Sankei poll,
with non-support rate at 64.8%
ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting:
5. ASEAN ARF closes after having given consideration to North Korean
abduction and comfort-women issues
6. Members of ASEAN ARF "disappointed in US" due to absence of
Secretary Rice for second time since 2005
7. North Korea uses soft-line diplomacy at ASEAN ARF with every
country but Japan, with which delegate engages in sharp exchanges of
8. Japan, North Korea trade nasty barbs at ASEAN ARF meeting
1) TOP HEADLINES
MHLW to suspend Fullcast over illegal job placement practices
132.91 million yen in pension money pocketed by Social Insurance
Agency employees in 1995-2006
Nominations of key officials, including BOJ president, to be
canceled if opposition DPJ votes them down in Upper House
Over half of Japan's population living in three major urban areas of
Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya
FNN poll: Cabinet support rate record-low at 22%; Over 50% favor
early Lower House dissolution
Government considering meeting DPJ amakudari plan halfway
Japan needs more doctors; Country ranks 27th among 30 OECD members
(1) LDP must further tighten Political Funds Control Law
(2) News Corp.'s purchase of Wall Street Journal raises question
about freedom of press
(1) Sweeping tax reform essential
(2) News Corp.'s purchase of Dow Jones: Multiple operations key to
(1) DPJ can't play politics with Antiterrorism Law
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(2) Asashoryu punishment: Dignity essential for yokozuna
(1) Expectation and concern over Kansai Airport
(2) Japan Sumo Association needs to take a hard look at itself
(1) Antiterrorism Law: DPJ must become responsible party that
prioritizes national interests
(2) International unity essential for resolving Afghanistan hostage
(1) Budget request guidelines need drastic approach
(2) Take bold political steps for relief of people suffering from
hepatitis C induced by contaminated blood products
(1) Abe cabinet unqualified to propose consumption tax hike
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, August 2
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 3, 2007
Arrived at Kantei.
Met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matoba, and afterwards met
Met with Deputy Foreign Minister Yabunaka and MOFA Southeast and
Southwest Asian Affairs Department Director-General Atsumi.
Met with Education Minister Ibuki. Later, met with Cabinet
Intelligence Director Mitani.
Met with Lower House members Hachiro Okonogi and Yasukazu Hamada.
Dined with Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki, Shimomura, Suzuki, and
Matoba at the Japanese restaurant "Senbazuru" at Hotel New Otani.
Arrived at Kantei residence.
4) Poll: Cabinet support hits low of 22%
SANKEI (Top play) (Lead paragraph)
August 3, 2007
Fuji News Network (FNN) conducted a public opinion survey of
political attitudes from July 31 through Aug. 1 after the July 29
election for the House of Councillors. According to findings from
the survey, the approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and
his cabinet was 22.0%, the lowest ever since the Abe cabinet came
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into office. The figure renewed the Abe cabinet's all-time low.
Meanwhile, the disapproval rating for the Abe cabinet was 64.8%,
breaking 60% for the first time. The survey shows that 56.0% want
the prime minister to dissolve the House of Representatives for a
general election at an early date. In addition, more than half of
those surveyed presume that Abe will step down within the year. Abe
has now clarified his intention to stay on. Yet, the figures shown
in the survey are severe for him.
5) ARF wraps up, expressing "humanitarian concerns" in its statement
regarding "abductions," "former comfort women"
ASAHI (Page 7) (Abridged)
August 3, 2007
Aya Kimura, Aihiro Makino, Akihito Sugii, Manila
The meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) joined by a total of
27 countries including ASEAN members, Japan, the United States,
China, and North Korea, closed yesterday, issuing a statement
welcoming North Korea's shutdown of its nuclear facilities. The
statement also mentioned the "importance of measures to deal with
humanitarian concerns." A high-level official of the host nation
Philippines explained that the term "humanitarian concerns" was
included in the statement as a "compromise to satisfy both Japan and
According to some Philippine officials, the Japanese side insisted
on including in the chairman's statement the issue of abductions of
Japanese nationals by North Korea. North Korean officials asked for
reconsideration, with one official arguing, "When it comes to
humanitarian issues, we, too, are concerned about the wartime
comfort women issue." As there was intense horse-trading behind the
scenes between the two countries, the Philippine government
reportedly decided to use the language "humanitarian concerns" in
order to avoid naming certain countries.
Japan has stressed the need to resolve the abduction issue at
international conferences and in bilateral talks. In order to
counter this, North Korea took up the abduction issue, to which the
Japanese government is somewhat hesitant about making a direct
rebuttal, at the ARF meeting this time, one of the few international
conferences the North attends, apparently encouraged by the US
House's recent approval of the so-called "wartime comfort women"
resolution. According to a source familiar with the ARF Meeting,
however, the North did not directly mention the abduction issue in
the ARF session.
According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Foreign Minister Aso
stated: "Japan is ready to play a leading part in the six-party
talks, including participation in economic and energy assistance (to
North Korea) if Japan-North Korea relations, including the abduction
issue, make progress." He also again made it clear that Japan was
ready to discuss the abduction issue and the issue of settling the
past events together.
According to a source familiar with the ARF Meeting, North Korean
Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun balked at Japan for its past colonial
rule, its upgrading the Defense Agency to the ministry status, and
its move for constitutional revision. On the nuclear issue, Pak
emphasized the propriety of the development of nuclear weapons,
arguing, "Our country has been exposed to the nuclear threat from
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the big power." On the implementation of the February six-party
agreement, he urged Japan and the United States to take action now.
He also called on the US to delist North Korea as a country sponsor
of terrorism. Aso against asked for permission to take the floor and
rebutted, "What the North Korean side has stated now included
something that goes against the facts. Our country cannot accept
Meanwhile, after the session, the deputy director-general of North
Korea's Foreign Ministry bureau praised Aso's remark that Japan
would deal with the abduction issue and the issue of settling the
past together, by saying: "It has been unusual in recent years that
the Japanese foreign minister suggested the past issues should be
also discussed in normalizing relations."
6) Some countries disappointed at Secretary Rice's non-attendance at
ASAHI (Page 7) (Full)
August 3, 2007
US Secretary of State Rice did not attend the meeting of the ASEAN
Regional Forum (ARF) because she was visiting the Middle East. This
was her second non-attendance to the ARF meeting, following her
absence in 2005, when she assumed the post of secretary of state.
ASEAN indicated understanding about her non-attendance with Foreign
Minister Yeo of Singapore saying, "The United States bears a big
responsibility in dealing with in the Middle East as well as Iran."
But President Bush, too, has delayed his first summit talks with
ASEAN leaders, which at one point were planned for September. Some
connected with ASEAN voiced disappointment.
US Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte, on behalf of Rice, attended
the foreign ministerial between ASEAN and the US held on Aug. 1
prior to the ARF meeting. He emphasized there: "In terms of East
Asia policy, relations with ASEAN are vitally important."
Singapore, which took over the role of the host nation of ASEAN from
the Philippines yesterday, had been energetically making
arrangements to host in September summit talks between President
Bush and heads of ASEAN as a commemorative event celebrating the
30th anniversary of the beginning of dialogue between ASEAN and the
US. But it has now been forced to delay the talks because of the US
In order to maintain a presence in the region, relations with the US
are vitally important for ASEAN. Nonetheless, Bush likewise pushed
aside his initial plan to attend the summit talks with ASEAN,
following Rice. All this is presumably attributable to the
relatively sinking status of ASEAN as China and India are rising.
One ASEAN diplomatic source commented, "We understand Iraq is
important, but (the US) should turn its eye to Southeast Asia."
Another source said, "The present-day US has no policy toward
7) Japanese, North Korean foreign ministers in verbal warfare at ARF
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
August 3, 2007
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Takashi Nakayama, Manila
Foreign Minister Taro Aso and his North Korean counterpart Pak Ui
Chun crossed swords over contentious bilateral issues, including
Pyongyang's abductions of Japanese nationals, in the ministerial
meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum
(ARF) in the Philippines on August 2.
Aso led off by saying: "I expect a favorable cycle to be created in
relations between Japan and North Korea, as well as in the six-party
talks by North Korea showing a sincere attitude in Japan-North Korea
normalization working group meetings." He then called on North Korea
to positively address the abduction issue.
According to Japanese delegates, pointing out Japan's recent moves,
such as the upgrade of the Defense Agency to ministry status, moves
for constitutional revision, and missile defense, Pak criticized
Japan by using the words "the revival of the Great East Asia
Co-prosperity Sphere." Referring also to Japan's move to auction off
the land and building of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of
Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, Pak complained that Japan
is now "in an inhumane state."
In reaction, Aso assailed: "North Korea's remarks include parts that
go against the facts, so we cannot accept them."
8) Japan, North Korea engage in verbal battle at ARF, but the North
takes flexible stance toward other countries
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
August 3, 2007
Foreign Minister Taro Aso and his North Korean counterpart Pak Ui
Chun traded verbal jabs over bilateral issues during the plenary
session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum
(ARF) in Manila. Pak, however, was friendly toward other
participants and succeeded in avoiding international isolation to
some extent. As it stands, soured relations between Japan and North
Korea were underscored in the ARF meeting, where the North played up
its flexible stance.
During the ARF meeting on Aug. 2, Pak made a strong attack on Japan,
using such words as "the revival of the Great East Asia
Co-prosperity Sphere." In reaction, Aso said: "North Korea's remarks
go against the facts and are totally unacceptable."
Although the expression "concerns about the abduction issue" was
inserted in the statement issued in the ASEAN+3 (Japan, China and
South Korea) meeting in January, the statement this time used this
expression: "Humanitarian concerns in the international community,"
apparently reflecting consideration by the Philippines, the chair of
the session, to North Korea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mitsuo Sakaba said: "I do not take it as
a retrograde step," but in order to resolve the abduction issue,
there will be no other way but for Japan to "continue to bring forth
the issue to the international community," as Sakaba said.
It has been reported that North Korea asked the Philippines in high
working-level ARF talks in May to incorporate Japan's wartime
comfort women issue in its chairman's statement. In an attempt to
send Japan into isolation, the North demonstrated a hard-nosed
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diplomatic stance to Japan.
Meanwhile, Pak contacted representatives from countries other than
Japan in a soft manner. Pyongyang's efforts to improve relations
with ASEAN countries reflect its desire to emerge from its current
isolated position, on the strength of high international evaluations
of its denuclearization moves.
In the 2000 ARF meeting in Bangkok, as well, North Korea also
engaged in vigorous diplomacy. But with the change of government in
the US, the North was described as a part of the "axis of evil" and
was eventually driven into international isolation. In the latest
meeting, Pyongyang showed its eagerness to take a more multilateral
diplomatic stance, in order to prevent a repetition of the failure