Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 08/23/07

DE RUEHKO #3884/01 2350127
P 230127Z AUG 07





E.O. 12958: N/A



1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule

Abe in India:
4) Abe, Singh agree to fight global warming, issue joint statement

5) Prime Minister Abe's stress on economic cooperation with India
aims at checking China's growing regional influence

6) Pakistan's president tells Defense Minister Koike that Japan must
extend the anti-terror law that allows Indian Ocean refueling,
including Pakistani ships

DPJ in action:
7) Former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Maehara
expresses approval for Diet extension of the Anti-Terrorist Special
Measures Law
8) Maehara favors revision of bill to extend the anti-terror law
before Diet gives its approval
9) DPJ sending fact-finding mission to the US in connection with row
over extending the anti-terror law
10) Maehara: 99.9 PERCENT sure that there will be no "grand
alliance" between the DPJ and LDP

Abe in trouble:
11) Former defense chief Nakatani says, "The prime minister should
12) LDP does post mortem on Upper House election loss but stops
short of blaming Abe
13) Local chapters of the coalition partner New Komeito are
shouting: "Leave Abe's LDP!"
14) Growing mood in the New Komeito from the regions to the center
that the party should "part ways with Abe"

15) METI aims at expanding mutually financed oil stockpiles in East
Asia, starting with a pact with New Zealand

16) Defense Ministry estimates that a next-generation Stealth-type
fighter aircraft would cost 14 billion yen, based on domestic

17) Government plans to launch liberalization of farm land next year
to allow large-scale agro-business

18) Japan's birth rate took another dive during the first half of
this year



TEPCO asks 23 companies to cut power use

Saga Kita wins 1st Koshien title

Government to liberalize farmland lease to companies in FY2008

TOKYO 00003884 002 OF 012

Showa Denko, others cut output on TEPCO's reduced power supplies

Japanese, Indian leaders agree to strengthen bilateral security

Tokyo Shimbun:
Japan, India agree to work together on post-Kyoto framework

Illegal livelihood-protection administration in Kita-Kyushu caused
man to die of starvation


(1) Saga Kita wins 1st Koshien title
(2) Murder-suicide involving police officer: Introduce stricter
check system on police officers' use of gun

(1) Murder-suicide: Review of police stations' character necessary
(2) Fiscal investment and loan program: Show vision of second-stage

(1) Introduction of expert-staff system should be treated as part of
reform of civil servant system
(2) Prosecutors' crisis-management ability in question

(1) Develop Japan-India relations into multilateral Asia policy
(2) Allow Yokozuna Asashoryu to return home

(1) Police officer and gun: NPA's management responsibility is being
(2) Collectively devise measures to hike minimum pay

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Abe diplomacy: Excessive emphasis on values might give wrong
(2) Efforts needed to decrease animal experiments

(1) Having plan to construct new military base canceled with
opposition by people in Okinawa essential

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, August 22

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 23, 2007

Left the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi, India. Attended a welcoming
ceremony held at the presidential residence. Offered flowers at the
Raj Ghat Mahatma Gandhi memorial. Delivered a speech at the Indian
parliament. Met President Patil at his official residence.

TOKYO 00003884 003 OF 012

Met Minister of External Affairs Mukherjee at the Taj Mahal Hotel.
Dined with Indian economic organization leaders at the Le Meridien
New Delhi.

Met Lower House leader Advani At the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Held summit talks with Prime Minister Singh at the Hyderabad House.
Signed a joint statement. Received a set of proposals from the
Japan-India Business Leaders Forum. Held a joint press conference.
Attended a dinner party hosted by Prime Minister Singh.

4) Japan, India confirm efforts to tackle global warming; heads of
state issue joint statement

Asahi Shimbun (Page 1) (Excerpts)
August 23, 2007

By Kimitaka Nishiyama

New Delhi - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is visiting India, met
with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on the
evening of 22 August (on the night of the same day, Japan time). At
the meeting, Abe explained his own-proposed global warming
countermeasure aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
In response, Singh said that he "approves" of the measure, but
stressed that India will promote reduction efforts in a manner that
will not hinder its own economic development. Although the meeting
opened the way for cooperation over future efforts to tackle global
warming, it appears that creating a concrete roadmap will face tough
going. Prime Minister Abe refrained from expressing a clear stance
on whether Japan will support the "US-India nuclear treaty" as asked
by India. Abe said that Japan "will carefully study it."
Meanwhile, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf requested Defense
Minister Yuriko Koike, who is visiting Pakistan, that Japan continue
Self-Defense Force's refueling mission and extend the anti-terrorism
special measures law.

At the Japan-India summit, Prime Minister Abe elaborated on the
"beautiful planet 50" initiative aimed at halving greenhouse gas
emissions by 2050 with the participation of large producers of the
emissions. The prime minister also called on India to participate
in the formulation of a framework after the "Kyoto Protocol," which
obliges mainly developed countries to reduce the emissions.

Prime Minister Singh expressed approval of Abe's proposal, saying,
"The proposal will contribute greatly to discussions in the
international community." He also indicated that India will
"seriously consider" joining the formulation of the post-Kyoto
Protocol framework.

5) In speech at India's parliament, Prime Minister Abe emphasizes
significance of cooperation with eye on "economy" and in effort to
contain "China's moves"

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Excerpts)
August 23, 2007

Satoshi Harada, New Delhi

TOKYO 00003884 004 OF 012

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday met with Prime Minister Singh in
New Delhi and delivered a speech at the parliament of India. When he
was planning to make a tour of Asian countries, Abe first picked
India to visit. Abe's sudden approach to India reflects his desire
to step up economic cooperation, and it is also seen as an attempt
to forestall China, which is rising in prominence in Asia.

"I'm convinced of the importance of the friendship between India and
Japan. I'm sure it will strike a chord in both sides' hearts."

In the speech at the parliament, Abe reiterated that he had a sense
of affinity with India. During summit talks with Singh, Abe
indicated his plan to help India improve its social capital so that
Japan could invest more in India. Abe also set a target of doubling
trade in value terms between the two countries in three years.

The reason why Abe is enthusiastic about stepping up economic
cooperation with India is because doing so is indispensable for
Japan's growth strategy given its declining population. India has a
population of 1.027 billion persons, the second largest in the world
after China. Its population is on the rapid rise. Abe wants to
introduce India's vitality into the Japanese economy.

Also, in terms of power balance in the international community, Abe
attaches importance to India. Abe has hammered out a foreign policy
of beefing up strategic dialogue among Japan, India, the United
States, and Australia, as countries that share the values of
"freedom, democracy, basic human rights, and the rule of law." In
the speech here in India, too, Abe emphasized the significance of
cooperation among those four countries.

It is obvious that this policy strategy has come about out a
conscious awareness of China, whose social system is different from
those of the other four countries.

6) Pakistan asks Japan to extend MSDF mission

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
August 23, 2007


ISLAMABAD-Defense Minister Yuriko Koike met with Pakistan's
President Musharraf and Prime Minister Aziz in the suburbs of
Islamabad on Aug. 22 local time.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force has been staging its vessels in
the Indian Ocean to refuel naval vessels from the United States,
Pakistan, and other foreign countries under the Antiterrorism
Special Measures Law. In this connection, Koike explained that the
law is to expire Nov. 1. Musharraf asked Koike to extend the law,
saying: "We need the MSDF's activities for our continued
participation (in antiterror operations). I really want their
mission extended."

Koike indicated that the government would endeavor to extend the law
in this fall's extraordinary Diet session, saying, "The government
will continue to make efforts to obtain the opposition parties'

Aziz stressed that Japan, should it discontinue its activities,

TOKYO 00003884 005 OF 012

would give a negative message to the international community. Koike
also met with Pakistan's Defense Minister Iqbal. In their meeting,
Iqbal said it would be difficult for Pakistan to continue its
activities without Japan's assistance. With this, the Pakistani
defense minister indicated that Pakistan, based on cooperation in
the Indian Ocean, wants to step up defense exchanges.

7) Former DPJ President Maehara favors extension of the
Antiterrorism Special Measures Law

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
August 23, 2007

Seiji Maehara, former president of the Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) took the view again yesterday that extending the Antiterrorism
Special Measures Law beyond its Nov. 1 expiration would be
desirable. He stated in a speech at the Foreign Correspondents' Club
in Japan:

"Based on the (law), refueling operations of Maritime Self-Defense
Force vessels in the Indian Ocean should be continued. In an attempt
to fight against terrorism, Japan's continued participation in
international efforts is meaningful."

8) DPJ's Maehara turns cautious about extending antiterror law

SANKEI (Page 5) (Abridged)
August 23, 2007

Seiji Maehara, a former president of the leading opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto), met the press yesterday
at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ). Maehara
suggested the need for Japan to take part in the war on terror.
"But," he said, "it's not the war on terror to continue what Japan
has done so far." He added, "it's about time to verify." With this,
Maehara indicated that he would not be caught up in the idea of
simply extending the Antiterrorism Special Measures Law, under which
Japan has sent Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to the Indian
Ocean. Maehara appeared on a commercial TV program that was aired
Aug. 12. On that TV show, he said the MSDF's refueling in the Indian
Ocean was the "best" possible option. He has now slightly changed
his stance over the issue of extending the law.

"About 75 countries are now participating in OEF (Operation Enduring
Freedom), ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), or PRT
(Provisional Reconstruction Team)," Maehara said. He also said, "In
the sense of blocking terrorism, Japan's continued participation is
important." So saying, Maehara pointed to the significance of
Japan's role in the international community's Afghanistan-related
antiterror drive. He also urged the government to disclose its
information about the MSDF's activities. "It's important that the
government racks its brains to create a situation in which our party
can support (the idea of extending the antiterror law)," he said,
laying the onus on the government.

9) DPJ to send parliamentary delegation to US and Europe in
connection with anti-terror law issue

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
August 23, 2007

In connection with the issue of extending the Anti-Terrorist Special

TOKYO 00003884 006 OF 012

Measures Law, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto)
yesterday began coordination on sending a parliamentary mission in
Sept. to the United States and Europe in order to look into possible
assistance measures for Afghanistan that would replace the oil
refueling assistance now being provided by Maritime Self-Defense
Force ships in the Indian Ocean. The judgment was reached that as
long as the party does not indicate an alternate proposal and just
opposes the extension of the anti-terror law, it will not be able to
obtain the support of the Japanese public. The delegation would
exchange views with government officials and others in those
countries visited on such matters as the assistance measures being
sought of Japan and the results of the refueling efforts.

10) Former DPJ President Maehara: Grand coalition is almost

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
August 23, 2007

Former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Seiji Maehara,
yesterday in a speech at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan,
took the negative view toward the possibility of the DPJ and the
ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) forming a grand coalition. He

"A grand coalition is 99.99 percent impossible." He then added:

"It is important for us to obtain the reins of government by
creating a two-party system that would enable political change so
that we will be able to carry out high-level debate on policy and
national visions. We should refrain from forming an easygoing grand

11) Former defense chief Nakatani: Prime Minister Abe should resign

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
August 23, 2007

Gen Nakatani, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
and former defense chief, expressed again his view yesterday that
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should step down from office. He stated in
a speech in Tokyo:

"Residents in the regional areas are now living in a destructive
situation since their economies and employment situation are bad.
Makeshift measures, including a cabinet shuffle, are no longer
working. He should reconsider the basic policy of the (government
and ruling coalition) by holding an LDP presidential election."

12) LDP committee to sum up Upper House election forgoes directly
referring to Prime Minister Abe's responsibility for defeat

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
August 23, 2007

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) yesterday convened a meeting of
its committee to sum up the July House of Councillors election. The
members discussed in general terms the results of the election.
Yoshio Yatsu, head of the Election Strategy Headquarters, chaired
the committee.

The committee in its overview gave such reasons for the LDP's

TOKYO 00003884 007 OF 012

crushing defeat in the Upper House poll as: (1) a lack of crisis
management by the government and ruling coalition over a set of
three adverse conditions -- the pension record-keeping debacle,
money-politics scandals, and controversial remarks by cabinet
ministers, (2) lack of consideration for socioeconomic disparities -
the negative legacy of administrative reforms, (3) a lack of
cooperation between the party's sections in charge of policy,
election, and Diet affairs, and the cabinet, (4) failure in public
relations strategy, and (5) weakening foundations of the party due
to a drastic decrease in the number of assembly members because of
mergers of municipalities, as well as the weakening of industrial
associations due to administrative reforms.

Yatsu said that he would call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to give
consideration also to the "negative part" of structural reforms,
including the growing social divide. "We will make a report
including suggestions so that our discussion will not end with just
letting off steam," he stressed

One participant raised this view:

"It is important for the Upper House members to strengthen their own
support organizations, not just to rely on Lower House members. I
think we should incorporate a proposal increasing rank-and-file
party members."

The committee will hold a meeting today to discuss the matter again.
It intends to submit the report to a party board meeting on the 24th
and to the General Council. With an eye on the reshuffle of the
cabinet slated for the 27th, the panel is expected to include a
proposal that those who assuming assume cabinet posts must give
accountability if they involve in money-politics scandals and if
they can't do so, they must quit their cabinet posts.

Responding to the opinions heard from Diet members and senior
prefectural assembly members, as well as unsuccessful candidates in
the Upper House race, former defense chief Gen Nakatani, a member of
the Tanigaki faction, and former Administrative Reform Minister
Seiichiro Murakami, a Komura faction member, called on Abe to resign
as prime minister. However, since the report fails to refer to the
prime minister's responsibility for the defeat in the election,
there is a possibility that views of displeasure will spread across
the General Council.

13) New Komeito's local assembly members call on the party to
"distance itself from Abe-led LDP"

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
August 23, 2007

Hiroshi Shinkai

Prime Minister Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are both
responsible for (the junior coalition partner New Komeito's)
crushing defeat in the July Upper House election. The New Komeito
held a meeting of representatives from its local chapters at party
headquarters yesterday in order to examine the causes of the
crushing defeat. In the session, some 200 local assembly members who
were in attendance voiced this kind of critical view that: the party
should distance itself from the LDP in preparation for the next
Lower House election.

TOKYO 00003884 008 OF 012

In examining the causes of the defeat, Representative Akihiro Ota
also cited the Abe cabinet's poor crisis management and its wrong
priority order of policies as the causes of the (New Komeito's)
defeat. Ota stressed: "From now on we will become prompt to check
the cabinet."

However, there was a burst of complaints about policy cooperation
with the LDP by participants. One participant argued: "Why do we
have to offer excuses for the LDP's misconducts?" Another contended:
"The New Komeito should reflect its own assertions in (the policy

A certain local assembly member complained, "In the recent election,
even those who were usually in supportive of our party had strong
reactions against our party," revealing that the New Komeito's power
base, Soka Gakkai members also were highly discontent with the
party's joining in the coalition government with the LDP.
Particularly eight incumbent Lower House members elected in
single-seat constituencies were strongly concerned about the recent
election results that the party put up candidates in five
constituencies, but that only two won seats. One Lower House member
sounded an alarm, arguing, "The fate of our party hinges on the next
Lower House election."

Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa, however, stressed, "The LDP-New

Komeito line remains firm and solid." Considering the good results
produced by reforms pursued by the coalition government, Kitagawa
sought the understanding of the participants, saying, "It's no good
to say that everything is over because of the defeat this time."

After the meeting, one senior New Komeito member explained to
reporters, "There were some who called on the party to act as it
pleases, but it is unlikely that our party will leave the coalition
with the LDP." However, if the approval ratings for the Abe cabinet
stay at low levels, the party would then find it difficult to
contain the complaints.

14) New Komeito searching for ways to move away from Abe; Ota and
others erupt with frustration at humiliating results of Upper House

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged)
August 23, 2007

The New Komeito yesterday held its national convention that brought
together all party lawmakers and prefectural representatives to
examine the results of the July House of Councillors election in
which the ruling coalition suffered a crushing defeat.
Representative Akihiro Ota voiced discontent with Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe's response to a series of improprieties involving cabinet
ministers, including office expense problems. Local representatives
also criticized the administration. This suggested a growing mood in
the party to move away from Abe. The New Komeito is likely to
demonstrate its originality in policy coordination with the Liberal
Democratic Party in the days ahead.

House of Representatives member Kazuyoshi Akabane pointed out the
ruling coalition's failure in the election campaign to further the
New Komeito's priority policies, such as social welfare. He also
warned that excess cooperation with the LDP might bring about a
defeat in the next Lower House election as well.

TOKYO 00003884 009 OF 012

Some local representatives also expressed the following opinions in
a meeting ahead of the convention: "The campaign ended by just
offering explanations (for improprieties involving cabinet
ministers) instead of discussing the administrations' achievements,"
or "The Democratic Party of Japan played up livelihood-oriented
issues in place of the New Komeito."

Ota apologized, saying: "We must frankly acknowledge the
leadership's insufficient response to the perception that our party
and the LDP were essentially one body. Voters expressed strong anger
and dissatisfaction with the administration's poor crisis-management
capability. Above all, there was a gap between the Abe
administration's reform policy course and the voters' priorities."

Ota's newfound criticism of the Abe administration apparently comes
from growing discontent with Abe in Soka Gakkai, the lay Buddhist
organization that serves as the New Komeito's main support base. The
New Komeito has given top priority to maintaining the coalition
administration despite its reluctance to go along with Abe's policy
goals, such was constitutional revision. The humiliating results of
the July election triggered Ota's bitter reaction. If voters regard
Ota as "pro-Abe," he might end up bearing the brunt of criticism
from the public.

Nevertheless, chances are slim for the New Komeito to actively make
moves to topple the Abe administration at this point. The party is
aware that given no clear successor to Abe, destabilizing the
political situation would only benefit the DPJ. The party plans to
closely watch developments in the LDP for the time being, though it
is not totally happy with the Abe administration.

Attention will be focused on the New Komeito's move when the option
of a Lower House dissolution for a snap general election becomes a
real possibility. In the closing days of the former Mori
administration, which was suffering from low support ratings, the
New Komeito led by Takenori Kanzaki spearheaded the drive to dump
Mori. With an Upper House election drawing closer in those days, the
view was prevalent that achieving a victory under Prime Minister
Mori was difficult. A Soka Gakkai executive said: "A cabinet
reshuffle would not be able to change the situation dramatically. We
cannot fight the next Lower House election under Prime Minister
Abe." In the event the Abe administration fails to regain momentum
and its support ratings do not rise, the New Komeito might again
initiate a drive.

15) METI to start negotiations with New Zealand for oil interchange

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Full)
August 23, 2007

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) plans to create a
system for interchange of oil reserves with countries close to Japan
in an emergency. Under the system, countries will sell their oil
reserves to each other if oil prices soar or if a certain country
suffers an oil shortage because of a natural disaster or a dispute.
Japan will first sign an oil stockpile agreement with New Zealand.
Following New Zealand, Japan aims to consolidate the system so that
oil will be interchanged within East Asia, such as China and South

In East Asia, demand for oil is on the rapid rise. If a certain
country suffers an oil shortage, its economy will become unstable

TOKYO 00003884 010 OF 012

and affect other countries' economies in the region closely linked
to one another through trade. METI thinks if a system for oil
interchange in preparation for an emergency is established, that
will help stabilize the regional economy as well as oil prices. METI
also expects the system to reinforce oil stockpiling.

Japan will today start talks with New Zealand on the concluding of
an oil stockpile agreement. METI Minister Akira Amari, who is
visiting Singapore, will meet with the vice minister of energy of
New Zealand and issue a joint statement that will specify that the
two countries will begin negotiations in this regard.

Under the agreement, the countries concerned will pay in advance
$1-2 per kiloliter as an option to each other, and in an emergency,
the countries concerned will exchange crude oil, light oil, and
gasoline with each other. For example, in the case of New Zealand's
buying oil from Japan's oil reserves, it will pay the option and the
current price for oil to Japan. Japan will sell a portion of oil
stockpiled in the private sector (some 42,000,000 kiloliters).
Either Japan or New Zealand can refuse to interchange if they have
no oil to exchange because of an oil shortage.

The European Union (EU) has a system to prevent the regional economy
from becoming instable because of an oil shortage. For instance,
Germany has concluded a bilateral agreement with France and Italy to
interchange oil in an emergency. The amount of oil reserves in New
Zealand is merely 1,700,000 kiloliters. Japan intends to call on
East Asian countries, which consume a large volume of oil, during
ministerial talks or on other occasions to conclude an oil stockpile
agreement in the region.

16) Defense Ministry to earmark 14 billion yen for test stealth

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 23, 2007

The Defense Ministry will earmark approximately 14 billion yen in
its budget request for fiscal 2008 to develop an experimental
stealth fighter with advanced technologies, officials said
yesterday. The experimental aircraft is a test version model for the
fifth-generation fighter jet of high mobility and radar
invisibility. The ministry plans research and development for a
period of five fiscal years from 2008. The total cost is estimated
at 50 billion yen. The new aircraft will combine Japan's own
cutting-edge technologies as an indigenous base model for future

Japan is interested in the F-22A Raptor, an advanced stealth fighter
developed by the United States, as a likely candidate for the Air
Self-Defense Force's follow-on mainstay fighter. However, Japan
faced difficulties in negotiating with the United States due to the
F-22A's confidentiality. The Defense Ministry has therefore implied
that Japan could develop its own stealth fighter. This is also aimed
at urging the United States to give in. Actual development will cost
a huge amount of money. Moreover, Japan's option to develop its own
stealth fighter will inevitably bring about repulsion from the
United States. As it stands, Japan will go no further than to
manufacture a test model.

Japan began in 1995 to research various technologies relating to
fighter jets. In addition, Japan has now ended its stealth

TOKYO 00003884 011 OF 012

performance test in France to find radar reflection using a mockup.

Japan, in principle, buys fighter jets from the United States in
consideration of performance and cost. The last fighter jet model of
Japan's own is the F-1, a fighter support plane developed in the
1970s. Japan aimed to develop the F-2 as its follow-on model.
However, there was pressure from the United States for joint
development. Eventually, the F-2 was co-developed with the United
States. "Whenever we say Japan will develop its own fighter plane,
the United States will always come out to say something against
that," a senior official of the Defense Ministry said. "Our aim is
to acquire technological capability," the official added.

17) Government planning to liberalize farmland lease system FY2008

YOMIURI (Top Play) (Excerpts)
August 23, 2007

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries yesterday
started discussion on the possibility of abolishing in principle
current restrictions on farmland lease to corporations as a measure
to encourage private firms to go into the agricultural business.
Seeing the nation's food self-sufficiency ratio (calorie basis) in
FY2006 dropped below 40 PERCENT for the first time in 13 years, the
ministry aims to expand the scale of the farm industry and bolster
its competitiveness by making use of private firms' strength. The
ministry intends to include the measure as a centerpiece in a report
on farmland reform due out this fall. It also plans to submit a bill
amending such related laws as the law to promote the reinforcement
of the basis for agriculture management to the ordinary Diet session
next year, with an eye to implementing the measure in FY2008.

Sense of crisis growing on lowering food self-sufficiency ratio


The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' policy of
encouraging private firms to enter the agriculture sector reflects
its sense of crisis on the declining food self-sufficiency rate. In
order to revitalize the agricultural industry, the ministry now
judges it indispensable to increase the number of core farmers.

The ministry reckons that if an increasing number of companies with
enormous wealth join the farming business, its plan to expand the
scale of agriculture management may be expedited. It also expects
large-scale agricultural machinery to be introduced, as well as
routes to food service and other industries to be expanded or newly

The ratio of food self-sufficiency in FY2006 was 39 PERCENT . The
government has set the goal of raising the ratio to 45 PERCENT in
FY2015, but the possibility remains dim. Of all farmers in the
nation, those aged 65 or older accounted for 57.4 PERCENT in 2005.
The area of farmland that has been left idle is about 380,000
hectares, which is equivalent to the area of Saitama Prefecture.
Farm groups may raise objections to the government's new policy. To
prevent farmland from being further devastated, however, the
government must carry out reform, envisioning the condition of
agriculture 10 to 20 years from now.

18) Birth rate drops again in first half of this year

TOKYO 00003884 012 OF 012

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
August 23, 2007

According to the spot report of dynamic statistics of population
released yesterday by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare
(MHLW), the number of babies born in the first half of 2007 (January
- June) was 546,541, 2,714 fewer than in the first half of 2006. In
the first half of 2006, the number increased from the same period a
year ago for the first time in six years, but it marked negative
growth again.

The number of childbirths was fewer than the same period a year ago
from February to May. A MHLW official said: "The job market has
improved owing to economic recovery, so we cannot understand why the
birthrate dropped." Meanwhile, 359,925 couples got married, marking
a decrease of 8,040 from the first half of 2006.

The number of divorces in June was 20,901, marking 1,073 fewer than
the same month a year ago - the first drop in three months. In April
and May, though, since a split system for pension payments was
introduced in April, the number of divorces increased over the
previous year.


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Ukraine: Hundreds More Reach Safety After Fleeing Besieged Mariupol
In Ukraine, humanitarians said on Wednesday that hundreds of people have managed to reach safety after fleeing Mariupol, where there’s also been condemnation for the killing of Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius... More>>