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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 12/18/07

DE RUEHKO #5591/01 3520114
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E.O. 12958: N/A


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1) Fukuda Cabinet support plummets 13 points to 33 PERCENT ,
non-support jumps 14 points to 44 PERCENT in Mainichi poll; 50
PERCENT of public want MSDF refuel mission ended (Mainichi)

Defense and security issues:
2) Ambassador Schieffer hopes to see early restart of MSDF refueling
in Indian Ocean, indicates understanding for importance of DPRK
abduction issue (Yomiuri)
3) Abu Dhabi Crown Prince expects Japan to restart Indian Ocean
refueling mission soon (Tokyo Shimbun)
4) MSDF warship readies for first real MD test, intercepting a
ballistic missile over the ocean (Nikkei)
5) 2ND LD: Japan intercepts ballistic missile in test KAUAI ISLAND,
Hawaii, Dec. 17 (Kyodo)
6) 6,130 local residents file lawsuit against aircraft noise at
Atsugi Air Station, seeking 4.6 billion yen in compensation (Tokyo
7) Former Vice Defense Minister Moriya to be rearrested today on
even more corruption charges (Yomiuri)

8) Tokyo backs away from PKO dispatch to dangerous Darfur, offers
air transport support instead (Tokyo Shimbun)

9) Prime Minister Fukuda to visit China starting on Dec. 27, meeting
with President Hu on the 28th (Mainichi)

Political agenda:
10) Under barrage of criticism, Fukuda retracts flippant remark on
pensions, apologizes (Asahi)
11) LDP action plan for 2008 calls the current political situation
"the worst crisis for our party since its founding" (Yomiuri)
12) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), sensing ruling camp's
vulnerability, plans to focus attack Fukuda in Diet now on the
pension issue (Nikkei)



Poll: Support for Fukuda cabinet falls to 33 PERCENT ; Nonsupport
rises to 44 PERCENT

MAINICHI (Top play) (Abridged)
December 18, 2007

The Mainichi Shimbun conducted a telephone-based nationwide public
opinion survey on Dec. 15-16. The rate of public support for Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda and his cabinet was 33 PERCENT , down 13
percentage points from the last survey taken in October. The
nonsupport rate for the Fukuda cabinet was 44 PERCENT , up 14
points. The Fukuda cabinet's disapproval rating topped its approval
rating for the first time since it came into office in September.
The government has now given up on resolving the issue of pension
records for unidentified persons, and Fukuda recently made a
controversial remark over this issue. The drop in the support rate
can be taken as reflecting these events. In public support for
political parties, the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan
(Minshuto) outpaced the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The Fukuda
administration will inevitably face difficulties.

TOKYO 00005591 002 OF 009

The Mainichi Shimbun has so far conducted three surveys on the
Fukuda cabinet. In the first survey, which was taken Sept. 25-26
right after its inauguration, the Fukuda cabinet's support rate was
57 PERCENT . In the Oct. 20-21 survey, however, its support rate
went down to 46 PERCENT . In the latest one, it showed a substantial
drop for the second time in a row. Among men, the Fukuda cabinet's
support rate was 31 PERCENT , with its nonsupport rate at 49 PERCENT
. Among women, the support rate was 35 PERCENT , with nonsupport at

In the survey this time, respondents were also asked about the
desirable form of government. In response to this question, 23
PERCENT chose a grand coalition of the LDP and the DPJ, with 21
PERCENT preferring a DPJ-led coalition government and 17 PERCENT
opting for the current coalition government of the LDP and New
Komeito. In terms of noncoalition governments, 10 PERCENT of
respondents chose LDP single-party rule, with 11 PERCENT opting for
DPJ single-party rule. The figures show that there are many people
seeking a change and pinning their hopes on the DPJ.

In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the DPJ
stood at 27 PERCENT , with the LDP at 26 PERCENT . In the last
survey, the two parties were even at 27 PERCENT . This time,
however, the DPJ is above the LDP as in previous surveys taken
around this July's election for the House of Councillors.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Self-Defense Force has now withdrawn from
its Indian Ocean refueling mission due to its governing law's Nov. 1
expiry. In the survey this time, respondents were asked if they
thought the MSDF refueling mission should be resumed. To this
question, 41 PERCENT answered "yes," with 50 PERCENT saying "no."
In the last survey, respondents were asked if they thought the
MSDF's refueling activities should be continued. To that question,
48 PERCENT answered "yes," with 43 PERCENT saying "no." In the
survey this time, negative answers outnumbered affirmative ones.

If a government-introduced bill seeking to resume the MSDF's
refueling activities is voted down in the House of Councillors or is
not put to a vote within 90 days after it is sent from the House of
Representatives, the ruling coalition will revote on the bill in the
House of Representatives to enact it into law. Respondents were
asked if they supported this stance. To this question, 57 PERCENT
answered "no," with 32 PERCENT saying "yes." As seen from these
figures, negative answers substantially outnumbered affirmative

Such figures can be taken as being affected by a series of scandals
involving the Defense Ministry.

2) U.S. Ambassador expresses hope for early resumption of refueling
operation, also saying that (President Bush) understands importance
of abduction issue

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 18, 2007

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer held a meeting with the
Japanese press in Tokyo yesterday, in which the Ambassador expressed
hope for an early resumption of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's
refueling operation in the Indian Ocean. The Ambassador said: "It
was regrettable that the operation was suspended, but Prime Minister
Fukuda has decided to resume the operation. I hope the Japanese

TOKYO 00005591 003 OF 009

people will understand the significance of Japan contributing to the
international order."

Also, in connection with the question of delisting North Korea as a
state sponsor of terrorism, the Ambassador said: "I have advised
President Bush that how the abduction issue is handled is a matter
that could significantly affect U.S.-Japan relations. As the
President clearly stated during the U.S.-Japan summit in November
that he will not forget the abduction issue, I think he understands
its importance." He also expressed concern over a series of
irregularities involving the Defense Ministry, saying, "They could
adversely affect the operational capability of the U.S.-Japan

3) Abu Dhabi expresses hopes for Japan's early resumption of
refueling mission

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
December 18, 2007

Prime Minister Fukuda met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed at
the Prime Minister's Official Residence last night. The prime
minister said: "The government is making utmost efforts to enact the
new antiterrorism bill to resume the Maritime Self-Defense Force's
refueling mission in the Indian Ocean." The prince expressed his
hopes for Japan's early resumption of the mission, saying: "The
presence of Japan in the Indian Ocean is essential." The two leaders
also confirmed the need to strengthen bilateral ties in not only
energy but also many other areas.

4) MSDF to test SM-3 missile for 1st time

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 18, 2007

The Defense Ministry announced that the Maritime Self-Defense Force
would test-fire a missile interceptor for the first time early on
Dec. 18 Japan time in waters off the U.S. Hawaiian island of Kauai
to shoot down a dummy ballistic missile. The Kongo, an MSDF
Aegis-equipped destroyer, will use the sea-based Standard Missile 3
(SM-3) interceptor for the test. Japan is the first country other
than the United States to test-fire the SM-3 interceptor. The SM-3
will be deployed in early next year.

In the test, a U.S. missile site, which is located on the western
tip of Kauai Island, will launch a dummy ballistic missile. The
Kongo is in waters several hundred kilometers away from the missile
site to detect and track the target, and will launch an SM-3 missile
to intercept the target at an altitude of more than 100 kilometers
outside the earth's atmosphere.

The seaborne SM-3 test this time is intended to check to see if the
Aegis ship's missile defense (MD) system will work normally. In the
initial phase, the Kongo's radar will detect and track the target.
In the second phase, the Kongo will fire an SM-3 interceptor and
guide it to the target. In the third phase, the fired SM-3
interceptor's warhead will be separated and redirected to destroy
the target.

The United States first test-fired an SM-3 interceptor in January
2002 and conducted a total of 12 SM-3 intercept tests until last
month. The United States was successful in 10 of those 12 tests.

TOKYO 00005591 004 OF 009

However, the Defense Ministry is precautious as all eyes are only on
whether the SM-3 can make it, with an official saying, "The test is
not necessarily intended to intercept the target."

The Kongo, Japan's first destroyer equipped with the SM-3
interceptor system, will be deployed in the current fiscal year. The
Defense Ministry plans to renovate an Aegis destroyer every year for
MD and to deploy a total lineup of four SM-3-equipped Aegis
destroyers by the end of fiscal 2010.

If the SM-3 fails to intercept ballistic missiles at sea, the
Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3), a ground-to-air guided
missile system, is to intercept them. The PAC-3 was first deployed
in March this year to the Air Self-Defense Force's Iruma base in
Saitama Prefecture. Japan's MD system will now go operational in
full gear.

5) 2ND LD: Japan intercepts ballistic missile in test KAUAI ISLAND,
Hawaii, Dec. 17 KYODO (EDS: UPDATING)

December 18, 2007 07:56:34

Japan successfully carried out a test to intercept a target in space
using a U.S.-made ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean near
Hawaii on Monday, Defense Ministry officials said.
It was the first test of the high-tech Standard Missile 3 by a
country other than the United States, according to the officials.
The interceptor hit the target at around 0:11 p.m. local time
Tuesday, or 7:11 a.m. Japan time Monday.

Experts said the missile test is a key step in the completion of
Japan's missile shield against North Korea, while also voicing
concern that the development of the system could affect the balance
of defense capabilities in the East Asian region that includes China
and Russia.
On Monday morning, the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Aegis-equipped
destroyer Kongou launched an SM-3 missile from waters far off Kauai
Island to intercept a target in space that was launched from the
island by the United States, they said.

The system using the sea-based SM-3 interceptor covers the upper
range of Japan's two-layer missile defense shield.
The SM-3 is designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles
outside of the earth's atmosphere, while the ground-based Patriot
Advanced Capability 3 is designed to intercept missiles missed by
the SM-3, they said.

The project to enable the Kongou to deal with a possible ballistic
missile attack was initially planned for the end of fiscal 2007 in
March 2008, top MSDF commander Adm. Eiji Yoshikawa said recently.

But the plan was moved forward by three months following North
Korea's test launching of ballistic missiles in July 2006 over the
Sea of Japan, the MSDF chief of staff said.

Yoshikawa also said the MSDF plans to make the SM-3 system
operational on the MSDF's three other Aegis destroyers by the end of
fiscal 2010.
The first PAC-3 missile launcher was introduced at the Iruma base of
the Air Self-Defense Force in Saitama Prefecture in March this year.
The ASDF has also equipped the Narashino base in Chiba Prefecture,
east of Tokyo, with PAC-3 missiles.

TOKYO 00005591 005 OF 009

The Defense Ministry plans to deploy PAC-3 missile launchers at nine
other ASDF bases around Japan by fiscal 2010.

6) Record 6,130 residents file Atsugi base pollution lawsuit seeking
4.6 billion yen in compensation

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Top play) (Almost full)
December 18, 2007

A record number 6,130 people living near the Atsugi base (straddling
Yamato and Ayase cities in Nakagawa Prefecture), which is now being
jointly used by the U.S. Navy and the Maritime Self-Defense Force,
have filed a fourth lawsuit with the Yokohama District Court against
the government seeking a total of 4.656 billion yen in compensation
for noise pollution from aircraft using the base that caused mental
and physical distress for them. Of them, 500 have also filed an
administrative lawsuit seeking the suspension of flights of military

The number of plaintiffs is the largest ever in noise lawsuits in
Japan. It is also the first time that an administrative lawsuit has
been filed seeing the suspension of flights of military aircraft.

The lawsuit was filed by residents of eight cities near the base,
such as Yamato and Ayase, that recorded over 75 on the Weighted
Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level (WECPNL). The government
for the first time in 20 years in January 2006 reviewed the areas
eligible to receive subsidies for soundproofing work. The plaintiffs
include residents of Chigasaki and Tokyo's Machida City that joined
the government's list of subsidies after January 2006.

According to the written complaint, U.S. military and SDF aircrafts
are causing severe noise pollution at the base. It maintains that
although courts have ruled three times in the past that the noise
level at the base was illegal, the problem has not been resolved,
and therefore, the government that manages the airport is
responsible to make reparation for the damage.

Under the national redress law, the group is seeking 20,000 yen a
month per person in compensation for damage in the last three years
before the lawsuit as well as for the future until the noise
pollution is settled. Some plaintiffs have filed both criminal and
administrative lawsuits seeing the suspension of flights.

In the first and second Atsugi base lawsuits, courts rejected the
plaintiffs' calls for the suspension of lights but ruled in favor of
them regarding compensation for damage in the past. In the third
lawsuit, the court ordered the government to pay a total of 4
billion yen in compensation to the plaintiffs living in areas over
75 WECPNL. The decision became final in July last year.

7) Moriya to be rearrested today; GE voiced appreciation at party
after receiving CX order

YOMIURI (Top play) (Excerpts)
December 18, 2007

"It was good that your company was able to win the order." "Yes,
thanks to you, Mr. Vice Minister." This conversation allegedly took
place between former Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya, 63, and
an engine maker executive shortly after a decision was made on the

TOKYO 00005591 006 OF 009

engine for the Air Self-Defense Force's next-generation cargo
aircraft (CX) in connection with a bribery and corruption case over
the procurement of defense equipment. The special investigation
squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office will indict
and rearrest Moriya today, the deadline for custody, for taking
approximately 4 million yen in bribes from former Yamada Corp.
managing director Motonobu Miyazaki, 69, concluding that Moriya gave
favors to Yamada in the form of awarding the CX engine order in
return for being treated to free golf and trips.

Moriya allegedly told investigators that he received 4 million yen
in the knowledge that it was a bribe. The special investigation
squad will also rearrest Miyazaki and Osamu Akiyama, 70, the former
president of Yamada's U.S. subsidiary, on suspicion of giving bribes
to Moriya.

At the same time, prosecutors have decided not to rearrest Moriya's
wife Sachiko, 56, concluding that she had played only a supporting
role and not to prosecute her after releasing her by keeping the
punishment for taking bribes and free rounds of golf on hold.

According to relevant sources, Miyazaki around 2002 lobbied Moriya,
who was Defense Policy Bureau director general at the time, to
select a General Electric product as the CX engine. Through
Miyazaki, Moriya allegedly met with a GE executive who visited Japan
at the end of that year, when the executive directly urged Moriya to
select (the GE engine).

8) Japan declines request by Burundi for airlift support for PKO
troops to Darfur

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
December 18, 2007

It was learned yesterday that the Japanese government declined a
request by the Republic of Burundi this October for cooperation in
transporting its troops to participate in a joint African Union (AU)
/ United Nations hybrid operation (UNAMID), which will start in the
Darfur region of western Sudan next year. In this region, a serious
humanitarian crisis is going on, and Burundi is planning to
participate in UNAMID. As the reason for its refusal, the government
cited the lack of a ceasefire agreement between the parties
concerned, one of the five principles set for Japan to participate
in peacekeeping operations, according to government sources.

The humanitarian crisis in Darfur has drawn much attention
internationally. This issue is expected to be on the agenda at a
meeting of the Tokyo International Conference on Africa's
Development (TICAD) next May and the Lake Toya Summit in Hokkaido
next July. Japan, which will host the Toya Summit, is likely to
receive more requests for international contributions.

According to informed sources, the Burundi government, which lacks
enough transport equipment, such as helicopters, unofficially asked
the Japanese government to airlift troops to Darfur when they join
UNAMID. But Tokyo gave a negative reply, with a senior Foreign
Ministry official saying: "No comprehensive peace accord has been
reached between the Sudan government and the antigovernment force."
The AU unit has been deployed in the Darfur region since August
2004. This July, the UN Security Council decided to dispatch UNAMID
there. Most of the participating countries are from Africa, and
materials and funds for UNAMID are significantly lacking. Some

TOKYO 00005591 007 OF 009

observers anticipate that the start of UNAMID activities planned for
next January may be greatly delayed.

9) Premier to visit China on Dec. 27: Talks with President Hu on the

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
December 18, 2007

The outline of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's schedule to visit China
was set yesterday. He will leave for Beijing on Dec. 27 and meet
with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. He will also visit
Wen's hometown of Tianjin, as well as Taian in Shandong Province,
where the sacred Mt. Taian, which has recently established a "sister
mountain relationship" with Mt. Fuji, is located. He thus wants to
create a friendly mood between the two countries. He is scheduled to
return home on the 30th.

Fukuda wants to demonstrate his determination to strengthen
bilateral ties by visiting the nation right after completing the
compilation of the fiscal 2008 budget.

In talks with Hu, the two leaders are expected to confirm their
determination to further promote strategic and reciprocal relations
by characterizing 2008, which will mark the 30th anniversary of the
signing of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty, as a "year
of progress in Japan-China relations." However, it appears difficult
for them to reach an agreement on the pending issue of jointly
developing gas fields in the East China Sea, because a gap in the
views of the two countries remains.

10) "Campaign flyers caused misunderstanding," says premier,
apologizing for LDP pension pledge

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
December 18, 2007

Regarding the criticism of the government's and the ruling parties'
approach to the pension record error issue as a breach of a public
pledge, Prime Minister Fukuda yesterday offered an apology, noting,
"It is true that the party's flyers included words that caused
misunderstanding." Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Masuzoe noted
that it would be difficult to identify the holders of nearly 40
PERCENT of 50 million unidentified public pension premium payment
records. There is no chance that the government can deliver on its
pledge to identify the very last pension account holder and pay
benefits. However, the prime minister stressed the government stance
of continuing to tackle the work of matching records.

He made that comment in response to questions asked by reporters at
the Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei). He admitted that
flyers the LDP prepared for the Upper House election campaign in
July went too far. The flyers said that the government and the LDP
would complete the identification of all public pension account
holders and that all public pension holders can receive the full
amount they are entitled to.

The prime minister also stressed that there will be no change in the
government policy of implementing the matching procedure by March
2008, as the government and the ruling camp decided on July 5. He
noted: "We don't know whether we can complete the procedure until we
go through all unidentified pension accounts. We are now in the

TOKYO 00005591 008 OF 009

middle of that process. We will continue to tenaciously check every
single account."

He also defended former Prime Minister Abe, who pledged during the
Upper House election campaign, "The government will check to the
very last person and pay benefits," saying, "I think he made a
comparatively proper comment." However, Chief Cabinet Secretary
Machimura during a press conference yesterday said, "Some holders
are deceased. It is not possible to identify records to the very
last person. The 50 million cases include those who are
unidentifiable from the start."

11) Biggest crisis since the foundation of the party says LDP in
2008 action program: Calls for beefing up support, placing priority
on regional areas

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
December 18, 2007

The 2008 draft action program of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
was revealed yesterday. The draft characterizes the present state of
the LDP as facing its greatest crisis since the foundation of the
party in the wake of the crushing defeat in the July Upper House
election. It also notes that the party will speed up efforts to
prepare for the next Lower House election, as well as to correct
disparities, by giving consideration to regional areas and extending
more assistance to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.
Regarding measures to deal with the current Diet situation, where
the opposition camp has dominance in the Upper House, the program
mentions that the party will establish a new Diet management
mechanism, calling on opposition parties to come to the table for
policy talks.

The action program will be adopted at a party convention to be held
on January 17 next year. It underscored the LDP's determination to
set up a solid structure, by abandoning its overconfidence that it
is strong in regional areas or it could do better if it only
receives a boost from the public. It also included the party's
determination to make efforts to field more candidates in the next
election as well as to strengthen exchanges with friendly
organizations to revitalize its support base and recruit more party

On the policy front, the draft stressed that peace of mind must be
felt by people in their daily lives. As key policy measures, it
listed correction of income disparities, promotion of agriculture,
forestry and fisheries policy, measures for small- and medium-size
businesses, establishment of a reliable public pension system, and
revamping the medical services system.

The draft also notes that the party will continue to address its
basic policies, including enactment of a new constitution,
continuation of Yasukuni Shrine visits by key government officials,
and a settlement of the territorial issue with Russia.

12) DPJ gearing up for attacking government over pension mess, to
seek timing for submitting censure motion against prime minister

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 18, 2007

Taking advantage of growing public criticism of the government over

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the issue of unidentified pension records, the Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ) is poised to relentlessly pursue in the re-extended Diet
session the response measures taken by the government and the ruling
coalition. The government pledged in the July House of Councillors
election that it would identify all the holders of the 50 million
unidentified pension accounts by next March. The DPJ takes the
"withdrawal" of this pledge as a perfect tailwind for the party. The
main opposition party intends to seek the best timing for submitting
censure motions against Prime Minister Yasuo and relevant cabinet
ministers over the pension issue, as well as on the series of
scandals involving the Defense Ministry.

In reference to the sharp drops in public support for the Fukuda
cabinet shown in latest public polls, DPJ Secretary General Hatoyama
told reporters yesterday: "The polls found that the people, as
expected, have a growing interest in the pension mess. A series of
very irresponsible remarks by cabinet ministers drove down the
support rates."

The reignition of the pension fiasco is a favorable factor for the
DPJ, which has grilled the government over its sloppy responses.
Many DPJ members have made bullish remarks, as Akira Nagatsuma,
state minister in charge of pension issues in the "next cabinet,"
said: "If the government remains unable to settle the pension
problem, it should hand over the political reins to us."

The opposition party, though, has yet to elaborate a strategy on how
to make the most use of the tailwind caused by the misstep by its
opponent. The key lies in when the party, while watching the Diet
schedule for deliberations on the government's new antiterrorism
bill that would enable the Maritime Self-Defense Force to resume its
refueling operation in the Indian Ocean, would play such important
cards as a censure motion against the prime minister.

Hatoyama said: "We need to consider the possibility of also
censuring the government for its way of handling the pension
problem, besides the new antiterror bill. We may submit such in the
ongoing extraordinary Diet session or in the next regular Diet
session." But Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka just
said in a BS program: "I wonder if the antiterror bill deserves to
be called to account."

In the DPJ, carious views about submitting censure motions have been
heard, such as: "We should carefully watch how the series of
scandals involving the Defense Ministry will affect the political
world;" and "We should not use the censure card until debate on a
provisional road tax rate that will affect gasoline prices heat


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