Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 08/17/07

DE RUEHKO #3794/01 2290313
P 170313Z AUG 07





E.O. 12958: N/A



The regular features - top headlines, editorials, and prime
minister's schedule - will be in the Daily Summary today.

1) Defense Minister Koike visiting Okinawa has impromptu meeting
with mayor of Nago City, controversial site for the relocation of
Futenma Air Station

2) Koike in Okinawa tries to dispel rumor of secret deal with
governor to remove Vice Minister Moriya

3) Newly elected lawmaker Sato, former commander of GSDF unit in
Iraq, says he was ready to send troops to help other forces under
attack, a violation of rules

4) Japan-North Korea negotiations: Government blames the current
stagnation on the North's reaction to the LDP's election defeat and
Abe's weakened position

5) Foreign Minister Aso's Middle East tour part of effort by Japan
to find a role in the peace process

6) But Japan's ability to be a mediator in Middle East peace process

7) Foreign Minister Aso says he finds Middle East diplomacy most

8) Aso as next LDP secretary general: prime minister trusts him but
the LDP has qualms about his capability for the job

9) LDP's Gen Nakatani, a former defense chief, blasts Abe for lack
of leadership in handling of feud between Defense Minister Koike,
Vice Minister Moriya

10) Since the LDP's election defeat, Prime Minister Abe has
essentially shelved the amorphous concept of making Japan into a
"beautiful country"

1) Nago mayor shakes hands with visiting Defense Minister Koike

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
August 17, 2007

Attending a press conference held in Nago City by a group planning
to market Okinawa's Kariyushi ware internationally, Defense Minister
Koike, yesterday noted, "I would like to see this ware sold all over
the world in order to prevent global warming."

Koike noted that her visit to Okinawa was to take part in activities
of the group in which she was involved when she was environment
minister. However, her visit to Okinawa at this time is drawing
attention, because of an observation that she might intend to use
the resignation of Moriya as a bargaining chip in talks (on the
Futenma relocation issue) with Okinawa, where there is a strong
resentment against that vice minister.

Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, mayor of Nago City, the relocation site for
the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station, unofficially took part in
the press conference, and he shook hands with her afterward.

TOKYO 00003794 002 OF 008

Right after the press conference, Shimabukuro denied as groundless
the view that the Okinawa's side worked on the defense minister to
replace Moriya. However, at the Nago municipal office, he indicated
his view that Moriya's resignation was appropriate, saying, "Serving
as vice minister for five years would be far too long by most
definitions. If he had stayed on, there would be a clash of views
with Okinawa prefecture and Nago City over the Futenma issue."

2) Defense Minister Koike avoided talks with Nago mayor: Tries hard
to deny rumor about secret deal over replacement of vice defense

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 17, 2007

Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, who is now at the center of a furor
over the replacement of the vice defense minister, yesterday took
part in a tourism event in Nago City, Okinawa, the relocation site
of the US forces' Futenma Air Station. There had been a rumor going
around that she would unofficially meet with Nago Mayor Yoshikazu
Shimabukuro, who reportedly was informed by Koike herself of her
pending decision to dismiss Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya.
However, Shimabukuro in the end only took part in a press conference
after the event.

Koike ruled out the possibility of meeting with Shimabukuro, who is
seeking a revision of the government proposal for the relocation of
the Futenma Air Station, noting, "I have no plan to discuss the base
issue with him."

A Nago City assembly member disclosed that there was a secret deal
between Koike and Okinawa Prefecture on the vice ministerial
appointment. The deal involves the Defense Ministry seeking
understanding from Okinawa Prefecture regarding its submission of a
report on an environmental impact assessment method to the
prefecture, the first step toward the relocation of the Futenma
facilities, in return for Koike dismissing Moriya, who has been
taking a hard-line stance on the base issue. Such a delicate
situation may have been behind the cancellation of a meeting between
Koike and Shimabukuro.

Koike tried hard to rule out the possibility of such a meeting. She
underscored during a press conference on Aug. 15, "I have never said
anything about the replacement of the vice minister to the Okinawa
side." To a question whether Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has asked for
the replacement of Moriya, Koike categorically replied, "He has
never made such a request. Such a request should not be made."

However, according to a senior Defense Ministry official, Koike
telephoned Nakaima on the evening of Aug. 6. The media reported the
replacement of Moriya on the morning of the 7th and on the noon of
the same day, the Defense Ministry submitted the method report to
Okinawa Prefecture. Is this a coincidence or was there a secret
deal? The secret deal rumor is making the furor even more

3) Upper House member Sato, former GSDF advance team in Iraq,
reveals he planned to "go to aid of allies" on mission in Iraq

MAINICHI (Page 22) (Full)
August 17, 2007

TOKYO 00003794 003 OF 008

Upper House member Masahisa Sato, former head of the Ground
Self-Defense Force's (GSDF) advance team in Iraq, revealed that he
had intended to go to the aid of his allies if they were attacked
while carrying out their mission together with his team. On this
revelation, about 150 persons, including lawyers, sent an open
letter defining such an act as "unconstitutional."

On a TBS news program aired on Aug. 10, Sato said that he had
planned to go to the aid of its allies as the commander of the
advance team in Iraq, adding: "I will be tried with pleasure if I
have to do so under Japanese law." Under the government's
interpretation of the Constitution, going to the aid of allies is
unconstitutional, based on the judgment that the act is beyond the
category of legitimate self-defense.

The letter called for replies to questions covering seven items,
noting: "The act is unconstitutional and illegal, going against
civilian control." The group also sent a letter to Prime Minister
Abe, asking him to recommend Sato resign from the DIet. A member of
Sato's office said: "He made the remark because he felt in Iraq that
there were legal flaws. Although we have not received the letter
yet, we will examine it in detail."

4) Repercussions of Upper House election on Japan-DPRK negotiations;
Concerns over stagnation grow within GOJ

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged)
August 17, 2007

Repercussions from the LDP's big loss in the Upper House election
continue, prompting growing fears within the government that
Japan-North Korea negotiations will stagnate even longer. The Abe
administration has not altered its policy of placing the utmost
importance on solving the abduction issue, but a loss of momentum
seems unavoidable now. Meanwhile, some say that North Korea, using
the clamp down on the General Association of Korean Residents in
Japan (Chongryon) as the reason, will continue its hard-line

Yesterday in Shenyang, China, where the latest round of six-party
talks on the denuclearization of the DPRK are taking place,
Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Kenichiro
Sasae, stated that there was agreement to restart meetings of the
working group to normalize relations between Japan and the North by
the end of the month. However officials at the Foreign Ministry have
suggested that there is a possibility that a Japan-DPRK meeting may
likely be pushed back to September, until after the summit meeting
between the heads of the two Koreas.

Regarding the results of the recent Upper House election,
Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shotaro Yachi stated that the
policy towards North Korea would not change, saying: "The election
results had nothing to do with whether our foreign policy was poor
or not." Yachi pointed to the election of Kyoko Nakayama, special
advisor to the prime minister on the abduction issue, as "proof that
the people understand the Abe administration's efforts in pursuing
the abduction issue." Yet one foreign affairs official expressed a
view that is growing within the government: "North Korea is looking
at the weakened Abe administration and choosing to ignore it.
Japan-DPRK relations will probably not move forward." North Korea's
change in attitude after the September 2005 "postal privatization

TOKYO 00003794 004 OF 008

referendum" general election, when the LDP under then Prime Minister
Koizumi had an overwhelming victory, lies in the background.

At the six-party talks held right after the 2005 general election,
the DPRK pushed day after day to have direct bilateral talks with
Japan. An official involved with the talks indicated: "North Korea
probably wanted to negotiate with Koizumi, who opinion polls showed
had overwhelming public support." In contrast, during the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in
Manila on August 2, right after the recent Upper House election,
representatives from North Korea gave a one-sided, aggressive
critique of Japan's treatment of Chongryon. There were no talks at
the time between the DPRK and Japan.

5) Aso gets agreement for Japan-proposed initiative for peace and
prosperity in Middle East, but rocky road lies ahead

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
August 17, 2007

Foreign Minister Aso left for Mexico after winding up his itinerary
in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian autonomous region on the
morning of Aug. 16, local time. In his tour of the Middle East, Aso
succeeded in soliciting agreement from the parties concerned to
bring about the Japan-proposed initiative, "Concept for Creating the
Corridor for Peace and Prosperity." Under this concept, Japan aims
to help Israel and the Palestinians build mutual confidence, but
there is still a long way to go before the initiative can be

In a four-party cabinet-level meeting by Japan, Israel, the
Palestinian autonomous region, and Jordan held in Jericho in the
Palestinian region on the West Bank of Jordan on the afternoon of
Aug. 15, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiation Bureau
Chief Saeb Erekat praised Japan's initiative. He said: "Japan
reminded us of the reality that we are living in this region
together." Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also stressed her
support for the initiative, remarking: "It will become an arena to
provide for the future of the Palestinians."

In a bid to bring about peace in the region, Japan's corridor
concept aims to have Israel and the Palestinians jointly engage in
economic activities and build up mutual confidence.

A Foreign Ministry official said: "If the project achieves success,
it will be a new model for Japan in offering aid to regions in

Energy resources are behind Japan's eagerness to be involved in the
Middle East peace process. If this region is stabilized, Japan's
securing of energy resources will be guaranteed.

But a Foreign Ministry source said: Europe and America "take a cool
view" toward Japan's involvement in the Middle East peace process,
given the complexity of the situation.

For instance, Jericho, in which the concept calls for constructing
an agro-industrial park, has been occupied by Israel since the
1960s. Israel and the Palestinians have been at loggerheads over who
should rule this ancient city.

In a four-party working-level meeting held in June, representatives

TOKYO 00003794 005 OF 008

from Israel and the Palestinian autonomous regions engaged in a
finger-pointing game over the issue. There was even a scene in which
the target of criticism was directed at Japan, questioning if Japan
really understood the circumstances."

6) Japan's ability as intermediary to be tested in Middle East peace

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
August 17, 2007

"Military force" has always affected politics in the Palestinian
autonomous regions. Local communities place their high hopes on
Japan's attempt to lay the groundwork to bring about peace in the
region with "industrial development" as a lever. Japan has carried
out assistance projects in Jericho, in which Japan plans to
construct an agro-industrial park, by constructing hospitals, etc.
Its governor said: "People in Jericho are feeling stronger affinity
toward Japan more than those living in any other autonomous
regions." The Israeli government has also expressed its support for
the Japanese concept, a Foreign Ministry spokesman remarking: "The
development of the Palestinian region will also contribute to
benefiting us." However, a perception gap between Israel and the
Palestinians has already come up to the surface. Japan is being
tested over its ability as an intermediary.

As a potential site for the construction of the agro-industrial park
in Jericho, the Palestinian government suggests an area occupied by
the Israeli military. Meanwhile, Israel insists on it being
somewhere else in the Palestinian autonomous area. Over a project to
reconstruct a bridge between the Palestinian region and Jordan, as
well, the Palestinian side calls for a large-scale one enough to
take care of transporting goods, while the Israeli side assails that
an "expanded bridge goes beyond our expectation." The construction
of a facility in a disputed area in the Middle East involves
complicated problems, such as a borderline to be set in the future
and security. A researcher at a Palestinian human rights group said:
"Japan must avoid giving excessive consideration to Israeli's voices
and confirming the state of its occupation."

7) Foreign Minister Aso leaves for Latin America in mood as if going
on graduation trip: Cites visit to Middle East as most interesting
work he did as foreign minister

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 17, 2007

Winding up his visits to Middle East nations, Foreign Minister Taro
Aso yesterday morning (afternoon of the same day, Japan time)
departed for Latin America, the next destination of his overseas
tour. A cabinet reshuffle and the changing of the LDP leadership
lineup are to take place later in the month. However, he is calmly
using up his remaining days as foreign minister. Since he is deemed
as most likely to be the next LDP secretary general, his travel to
Latin America is generating a mood that he is going on a "graduation

Aso during a press conference in Jerusalem was self-congratulatory,
because Japan's Palestinian Economic Revitalization Initiative was
highly appreciated at the cabinet minister-level four-party talks
for the promotion the Middle East peace process. He noted, "I
thought I wanted to live until the time when that desert becomes

TOKYO 00003794 006 OF 008

green in the years ahead."

Looking back on his tenure as foreign minister, Aso made a comment,
which could be taken as a declaration of resigning his post. He
said, "My visits to Middle East nations were the most interesting
part of the job as foreign minister."

However, he remained extremely cautious about the words he used when
he commented on personnel matters. Reporters asked about a rumor
about the replacement of the foreign minister during a joint press
conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni held after their
meeting. When Livni was having difficulty replying to the questions,
Aso saved the situation, telling him with a smile, "Please disregard
such a question,"

Jerusalem, Manabu Shimada

8) Aso's caliber as future LDP secretary general unknown: Abe trusts
him but many LDP members concerned about his ability

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
August 17, 2007

With the upcoming shuffling of the cabinet and the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) executive lineup on Aug. 27, Foreign Minister
Taro Aso, whose assumption of the LDP secretary general post has
informally been decided, made a statement in Jerusalem yesterday
summing up his current job. All eyes were focused on his remarks.
Now that the opposition camp controls the House of Councillors, the
ruling coalition will probably find it difficult to adopt its Diet
and election strategies. Therefore, some in the LDP are concerned
about Aso's capability to serve as secretary general since he does
not have much experience in party affairs.

Aso said in an informal meeting with reporters accompanying him to
the Middle East: "I think I have produced the most constructive
achievement (during this tour) during one year and ten months as
foreign minister." He desperately tried to avoid referring to topics
related to the political situation.

"Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has often conferred with Aso about the
reshuffles of the cabinet and LDP executive posts," said an aide to
Aso. Therefore, Aso appears not to give his word to the reporters.

Asked about the trust that exists between Abe and Aso in a TV
program on Aug. 12, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori stated: "Mr.
Abe and Aso competed in the LDP presidential race. I think (Abe)
recognized at that time (Aso) had something in him that he should
respect." A person close to Abe also pointed out: "The prime
minister expects Aso, who is good at making people laugh, will
become the party's strong point for the next House of
Representatives election."

In fact, Abe has relied on Aso, who is 14 years senior to him, as a
person to consult. On July 29, election day for the Upper Housel,
Abe told Aso at first his intention to stay on in office and Aso
encouraged him. Since then they have often met.

However, in contrast to Abe's trust in Aso, a former cabinet
minister made this comment:

"I have my doubts that the formation of an Abe-Aso leadership can be

TOKYO 00003794 007 OF 008

called a cabinet shuffle. I instead worry that the prime minister
would again make a cabinet of his close friends."

With the opposition having traded places with the ruling camp in the
Upper House, the next LDP secretary general will have such
significant responsibilities as rebuilding the party structure,
coordination with Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) regarding
Diet affairs, as well as measures for the next Lower House election.
It is said that Aso has little experience in dealing with Diet
affairs as he has engaged in economic and education policies.

A senior member of the Niwa-Koga faction said:

"In order to overcome a crisis in national politics, a politician
who has the capability of working to form a grand coalition with the
DPJ should serve in the secretary general's post. However, I have
never heard that Aso has any communication channels to the DPJ."

What government officials are concerned is that the faction headed
by Aso has only 16 members and his political footing in the party is
weak. A senior member of the Yamasaki faction pointed out: "The Aso
faction not only has a small number of members, but also there are
few members who have served in key party and cabinet posts."

9) "The prime minister's leadership is being questioned," says
Nakatani over transfer of vice defense minister

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
August 17, 2007

Commenting on the uproar over the appointment of the next vice
defense minister, former defense chief Gen Nakatani during a TBS
news program criticized the prime minister's handling of the issue,
noting, "Since the supreme commander of the Self-Defense Forces is
the prime minister, he must handle personnel matters in a way that
will not cause a situation like this. The prime minister's official
residence (Kantei) must find an answer to this problem, but it has
just put it on the back burner. The prime minister's leadership is
being tested on this issue."

Regarding Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, he called on her to
reconsider the personnel decision, noting, "It is unbelievable that
she did not talk about this issue with Vice Defense Minister
Takemasa Moriya. The matter has had an effect on the morale of the
SDF. The defense minister should take a hold of this issue by having
another look at her ministry and reconsider who would be suitable
for the post."

10) Prime Minister Abe shelves policy of creating a "beautiful
country" after LDP's setback in Upper House race, now placing
emphasis on daily lives of people

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Excerpts)
August 17, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has now essentially shelved his policy of
creating a "beautiful country" of Japan. Since his Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) suffered a crushing defeat in the July House
of Councillors election, he has never talked about this policy,
apparently disappointed that his policy was not understood by the
public and may have been one of the reasons for the LDP's
humiliating defeat in the election. Abe has now revised his

TOKYO 00003794 008 OF 008

strategy. He is trying to boost the popularity of his cabinet by
setting forth policy measures affecting the daily lives of ordinary
people. However, a change in his policy might prompt conservative
supporters for the Abe administration to distance themselves from

The "beautiful country" policy was the keyword of the Abe
administration, which aims at creating a country (1) that thinks a
great deal of culture and tradition, (2) that observes rules for
free society, (3) that is respected by the rest of countries. In his
policy speech delivered last September, the prime minister repeated
eight times the phrase "beautiful country."

To that end, Abe set forth the policies of reinterpreting the
Constitution so that Japan would be allowed to exercise the right of
collective self-defense, constitutional amendments and educational
reform. However, Since many of them were not directly related to the
daily lives of people, his LDP was defeated by Minshuto (Democratic
Party of Japan), which pledged to improve the peoples' lives.

The Abe government, therefore, has decided not to go forward with
the "beautiful country policy," although it will not abandon the
concept. The prime minister intends to refer to it once or twice in
the policy speech he will deliver in the extraordinary Diet session
in September. He also intends not to use as much as possible the
phrase he repeats like a mantra of "breaking with the postwar

However, since the Prime Minister's Official Residence's project
team of "creating a beautiful country" has received about 3,000
ideas from the public, the government plans to use them when it sets
forth policies.


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