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Cablegate: Mixed Press Reactions to Latest Six-Party Agreement

VZCZCXYZ0009
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKO #4703 2790237
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 060237Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8327
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 9377
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 1921
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 5430

UNCLAS TOKYO 004703

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

EAP/J, EAP/PD, EAP/K, EAP FOR DAS - ARVIZU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PTER OIIP KPAO KMDR KN KS JA
SUBJECT: MIXED PRESS REACTIONS TO LATEST SIX-PARTY AGREEMENT


1. SUMMARY: Official comments on the six-party accord and
the accompanying abduction issue have been generally
favorable, with Japan being satisfied that its views were
reflected in the final document, namely, that delisting would
be considerably difficult unless the nuclear and humanitarian
issues are resolved. However, the print media has been
lukewarm at best and sharply skeptical at worst, with some
dailies seeing the fate of the abduction issue in the
Six-Party Talks as a test of trust between Washington and
Tokyo. END SUMMARY.

2. According to a Mainichi report (10/5), Prime Minister
Fukuda believes that the USG's delisting of North Korea as a
terrorist-supporting state is premised on a resolution of the
abduction issue. In commenting on the six-party agreement,
Fukuda is quoted as saying: "There is no mention of a date
for the U.S. to delist North Korea. It says (the U.S.) will
make a decision upon taking everything into consideration.
The nuclear and humanitarian issues, for instance, must be
considered. (Delisting) would be considerably difficult
unless such issues are resolved."

3. Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura (Asahi, 10/4) hailed
the six-party accord for requiring North Korea to declare all
its nuclear programs by year's end, but a senior unnamed MOFA
official, commenting on the document's portion on "beginning
the process" of delisting, confided: "We have the impression
that the delisting process has moved a half-step forward."

4. Most press reports on Japanese reactions to the latest
six-party accord show a sense of caution or skepticism about
the DPRK's nuclear commitments and deep concern about the
fate of the abduction issue. A Mainichi article (10/4)
reported that the GOJ has favorably accepted the agreement,
with CCS Machimura quoted as saying, "An accord satisfactory
to Japan was worked out in the final stage." But on the
delisting issue, though no clear-cut date for delisting was
mentioned, the Mainichi, echoing unnamed official sources,
was worried: "Concern persists that if the second phase of
the denuclearization process moved forward, the U.S. might
delist the North, putting the abduction issue on the
backburner." Editorials and commentaries in the major
dailies, conservative and liberal alike, all had similar
reservations about the U.S.' intention to consider seriously
the abduction issue when deciding to delist the DPRK.

5. An editorial writer's article in the conservative Yomiuri
(10/4), titled "Six-nation accord a bitter pill for Japan,"
noted that the absence of a deadline for removal of Pyongyang
from its pariah list reflected Japanese insistence, but then
continued: "Japan remained dissatisfied on many points, but
only approved the document out of consideration for the U.S.,
South Korea, and the other participants in the talks." A
MOFA source was quoted as saying, "We fear the U.S. and North
Korea might have made a tacit agreement that the pariah
designation will be lifted by the end of the year." The
commentary was sour on the nuclear deal as well, concluding,
"The impression cannot be denied that Hill lowered the
hurdles for North Korea's abandonment of nuclear weapons and
put off awkward tasks because he was in too much of a hurry
to get results."

6. In its October 4 editorial, Tokyo Shimbun warned that the
DPRK might back away from the ultimate goal of
denuclearization if the U.S. decided to delist North Korea as
a sponsor of terrorism. "The delisting must be based on
nuclear abandonment and the elimination of charges of
supporting terrorism, such as by repatriating Japanese
abductees." In a Beijing dispatch (10/1), a Nikkei
correspondent, in reporting on the six-party agreement, was
mildly optimistic about a perceived change in the DPRK's
hostile stance toward Japan, predicting that persistent U.S.
efforts may have paved the way for an actual improvement in
Japan-DPRK ties. But this all could be lost, the reporter
stated, if the U.S., in the rush for achievements,
prematurely removed North Korea from the list of states
sponsoring terrorism later this year. Such a move, he
warned, "could create strains in Japan-U.S. relations."
DONOVAN

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