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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 12/21/07

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PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #5648/01 3550554
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
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FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
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INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/USDOT WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
RHMFIUU/HQ PACAF HICKAM AFB HI//CC/PA//
RHMFIUU/USFJ //J5/JO21//
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
RUAYJAA/CTF 72
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 7522
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 5126
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 8791
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 3830
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 5756
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0777
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 6838
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7534

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 TOKYO 005648

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR E, P, EB, EAP/J, EAP/P, EAP/PD, PA;
WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION;
TREASURY/OASIA/IMI/JAPAN; DEPT PASS USTR/PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
SECDEF FOR JCS-J-5/JAPAN,
DASD/ISA/EAPR/JAPAN; DEPT PASS ELECTRONICALLY TO USDA
FAS/ITP FOR SCHROETER; PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR;
CINCPAC FLT/PA/ COMNAVFORJAPAN/PA.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA

SUBJECT: DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS 12/21/07


INDEX:
(1) Poll on Fukuda cabinet, political parties, MSDF Indian Ocean
refueling mission (Tokyo Shimbun)

(2) Government expects resumption of summit diplomacy under South
Korean president-elect Lee (Nikkei)

(3) Discord in three opposition parties; People's New Party rejects
meeting of secretaries general (Yomiuri)

(4) U.S. military ignores primary school in Futenma masterplan
(Okinawa Times)

(5) Goal set under Kyoto Protocol to be achieved, according to
implementation program: More than 35 million tons of greenhouse gas
emissions to be cut through corporate efforts and "cool-biz"
campaign (Nikkei)

(6) Interviews with Defense Minister Ishiba and military analyst
Ogawa on defense equipment procurement (Mainichi)

(7) Editorial: Fukuda budget falls short on fiscal reform (Nikkei)

ARTICLES:

(1)Poll on Fukuda cabinet, political parties, MSDF Indian Ocean
refueling mission

TOKYO (Page 2) (Abridged)
December 17, 2007

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage. Parentheses denote the results of the
last survey conducted Nov. 5-6.)

Q: Do you support the Fukuda cabinet?

Yes 35.3 (47.0)
No 47.6 (36.6)
Don't know (D/K) + no answer (N/A) 17.1 (16.4)

Q: (Only for those who answered "yes" to the previous question)
What's the primary reason for your approval of the Fukuda cabinet?
Pick only one from among those listed below.

The prime minister is trustworthy 22.9 (23.7)
Because it's a coalition cabinet of the Liberal Democratic Party and
the New Komeito 7.5 (5.9)
The prime minister has leadership ability 4.4 (5.3)
Something can be expected of its economic policies 3.2 (1.8)
Something can be expected of its foreign policies 5.9 (5.0)
Something can be expected of its political reforms 2.3 (3.7)
Something can be expected of its tax reforms 1.9 (3.6)
Something can be expected of its administrative reforms 2.4 (2.9)
There's no other appropriate person (for prime minister) 46.6
(42.3)
Other answers (O/A) 0.9 (2.4)
D/K+N/A 2.0 (3.4)

Q: (Only for those who answered "no" to the first question) What's
the primary reason for your disapproval of the Fukuda cabinet? Pick
only one from among those listed below.

TOKYO 00005648 002 OF 010

The prime minister is untrustworthy 12.5 (9.6)
Because it's a coalition cabinet of the Liberal Democratic Party and
the New Komeito 8.4 (13.0)
The prime minister lacks leadership ability 16.5 (8.4)
Nothing can be expected of its economic policies 21.6 (19.5)
Nothing can be expected of its foreign policies 2.7 (2.4)
Nothing can be expected of its political reforms 13.5 (11.1)
Nothing can be expected of its tax reforms 8.4 (10.6)
Nothing can be expected of its administrative reforms 8.7 (12.0)
Don't like the prime minister's personal character 5.2 (6.7)
O/A 1.7 (4.6)
D/K+N/A 0.8 (2.1)

Q: The government has introduced a new antiterror bill to the Diet
to replace the Antiterrorism Special Measures Law that expired in
November, and the Diet is now deliberating on the bill. This
legislation is for the Maritime Self-Defense Force to back up U.S.
and other foreign naval vessels in the Indian Ocean with fuel and
water supply for a period of one year. The bill this time does not
require the government to ask the Diet for its approval of MSDF
activities there. Do you support this legislation?

Yes 38.8
No 46.7
D/K+N/A 14.5


Q: The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New
Komeito intends to revote on the new antiterror bill in the House of
Representatives to enact it into law with a majority of two-thirds
or more if the bill is voted down in the House of Councillors. Do
you think the House of Representatives should revote on this
legislation to enact it into law?

Yes 41.2
No 43.6
D/K+N/A 15.2

Q: (Only for those who answered "no" to the foregoing question) Why?
(One choice only)

Because there's no need for refueling activities 36.8
Because it would be better to respect the House of Councillors'
decision 35.1
Because it would be better to avoid overriding the House of
Councillors' decision 19.6
O/A 3.0
D/K+N/A 5.5

Q: Would you like the current LDP-led coalition to remain in office,
or would you otherwise like it to be replaced with a coalition
centering on the Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto)?

LDP-led government 28.5 (40.7)
DPJ-led government 44.7 (35.5)
D/K+N/A 26.8 (23.8)

Q: The current House of Representatives membership is up until
September 2009. When would you like the next election to take place
for the House of Representatives?


TOKYO 00005648 003 OF 010


Within the year 3.1 (11.0)
During the first half of next year 47.0 (45.5)
During the latter half of next year 26.0 (20.6)
The year after next 12.8 (12.1)
D/K+N/A 11.1 (10.8)

Q: Which political party do you support?

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 25.2 (38.2)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 28.5 (27.5)
New Komeito (NK) 3.1 (3.6)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 3.6 (3.3)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 1.5 (1.9)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0.3 (0.4)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0.2 (0.1)
Other political parties, groups --- (---)
None 36.0 (23.5)
D/K+N/A 1.6 (1.5)

Polling methodology: The survey was conducted across the nation on
Dec. 15-16 by Kyodo News Service on a computer-aided random digit
dialing (RDD) basis. Among randomly generated telephone numbers,
those actually for household use with one or more eligible voters
totaled 1,477. Answers were obtained from 1,033 persons.

(2) Government expects resumption of summit diplomacy under South
Korean president-elect Lee

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 20, 2007

The Japanese government welcomes the victory of Lee Myung Bak in the
presidential election in South Korea. The government anticipates
that the inauguration of the Lee administration will give a good
chance for Japan and South Korea to resume "shuttle diplomacy"
through reciprocal visits between the two leaders and to strengthen
bilateral ties in wide areas, including negotiations on a free trade
agreement (FTA). The FTA negotiations have been suspended under the
incumbent administration of Roh Moo-hyun. The government will
carefully watch what approaches the new South Korean government will
make to issues with North Korea and Japan's wartime past.

In a press conference yesterday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka
Machimura said: "I expect Mr. Lee will exert leadership so that
relations between Japan and South Korea will be improved further."

The Grand National Party, to which Lee belongs, is a conservative
party that led the South Korean political world until 10 years ago.
In the party, there are more persons knowledgeable about Japan than
in the governing Uri Party, which its members call an open party.
The party has adopted an economic policy that gives priority to
growth, as well as a diplomatic approach based on the framework of
cooperation between Japan, the U.S., and South Korea, similar to
Japan's policy stance.

The political method taken by Lee, who comes from the business
world, is viewed as pragmatic. The Japanese government expects the
new government will draw a line with the foreign policy by President
Roh based on "a concept" or "sentiment."

When Lee visited Japan in November last year, the Japanese
government cordially treated him in his meeting with then Prime

TOKYO 00005648 004 OF 010


Minister Abe in anticipation of his cooperation after the
presidential election. A senior government official said: "Japan and
South Korea will be able to bring their bilateral ties back to
normal."

President Roh, who regarded "the settlement of past accounts" as the
"top priority issue" pending between the two countries, severely
criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni
Shrine and Japan's stance on the issue of title over the
Takeshima/Dokdo islets. During the administration of Prime Minister
Abe, Roh expressed a sense of alarm toward Japan's views of history
and its hard-line policy toward North Korea. Under such a situation,
reciprocal visits to each other's countries by the two leaders have
been suspended since June 2005.

Prime Minister Fukuda's policy of prioritizing Asia has been hailed
in South Korea, with a government source saying, "Both conservatives
and liberals have taken it favorably." Diplomats of the two
countries aim to revive shuttle diplomacy with Prime Minister
Fukuda's attendance to the presidential inaugural ceremony in Seoul
next February and an early visit to Japan by the new president.

Even so, Lee is not fully on board regarding Japan's views of
history and its stance on the Takeshima/Dokdo islands. Keeping the
general election in South Korea slated for next April in mind, Lee
wants to avoid giving an image that he is weak-kneed toward Japan. A
senior Foreign Ministry official points out that the fact that he
was born in Japan might prompt him to take a tough stance toward
Japan for the domestic audience.

Lee is positive about economic cooperation with North Korea to urge
the nation for reform and market opening but attaches the
precondition that the North gets rid of its nuclear programs and
weapons. Lee told Liberal Democratic Party member Koichi Kato and
others when they visited South Korea in April: "Japan's extremely
strong attitude on the abduction issue might undermine our efforts
to resolve the North's nuclear issue." It remains to be seen to what
extent Lee will be able to take joint steps with Japan.

(3) Discord in three opposition parties; People's New Party rejects
meeting of secretaries general

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 21, 2007

Cooperation among opposition parties for the next House of
Representatives has not gone well. Although the Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ or Minshuto), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the
People's New Party (PNP) had planned to hold a meeting on Dec. 20 of
their secretaries general, the meeting was cancelled at the request
of the PNP. The three parties had also planned to announce that they
would cooperation in about 10 single-seat constituencies. DPJ
Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama and his SDP counterpart Seiji

SIPDIS
Mataichi confirmed that they would cooperate in the next Lower House
election more strongly than that they did in the 2005 election. The
SDP and PNP seem to have rebuffed the DPJ, which has filed its
candidates in a proactive manner.

The DPJ started at the end of September cooperation with the SDP and
PNP. It has pushed ahead with the work in order to determine by the
end of the year electoral districts where they would cooperate. The
three parties had generally decided that the DPJ would field no

TOKYO 00005648 005 OF 010


candidates in ten single-seat constituencies since the PNP would
file seven candidates and the SDP would slate one to two candidates.


However, with the DPJ's announcement on Dec. 18 of the names of
candidates the party has informally decided to field in eight
single-seat constituencies, including the Tokyo No. 10 district, the
three opposition parties failed to move closely together. Shizuka
Kamei of the PNP said: "If a party decides on candidates in a
unilateral way, we won't be able to maintain cooperative relations."
So, the PNP proposed an extension of the meeting.

Koki Kobayashi, a postal rebel who ran for the 2005 Lower House
election as a PNP candidate in the Tokyo No. 10 district, was
defeated by former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike of the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP). The PNP was considering fielding Kobayashi
in the Tokyo No. 10 district, but the DPJ has decided to run Takako
Ebata as its candidate.

Although the PNP had asked the DPJ to cooperate for Akihiko
Kumashiro to run in the Okayama No. 1 district, the DPJ has
informally decided to file new-face candidate Takashi Takai.

The DPJ recommended SDP candidates for seven single-seat
constituencies in the 2005 election and 16 electoral districts in
the 2003 race. However, coordination between the two parties is
running into difficulties.

In the Tokyo No. 6 and Kanagawa No. 12 districts, incumbent
lawmakers of the DPJ and SDP will likely run as the two parties have
informally endorsed them.

The DPJ is also trying to field new candidates in single-seat
constituencies in which incumbent SDP Lower House members are
expected to run. Some DPJ members are wary of how election
cooperation will turn out, with a senior Election Committee member
saying: "Although we have been making efforts to cooperate in the
election, we have often faced against each other."

(4) U.S. military ignores primary school in Futenma masterplan

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 2) (Full)
December 21, 2007

GINOWAN-The U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station is in the U.S.
military's air installation compatible use zone (AICUZ), which
restricts the use of land in the periphery of U.S. military bases.
Ginowan City's municipal government discovered this fact yesterday
from a 1992 Futenma airfield masterplan obtained from the United
States. The masterplan prohibits U.S. military bases to use land in
contiguous areas up to 900 meters from both ends of their runways.
In these clear zones, architecture like housing and schools are not
to be located. Actually, however, Futenma Daini Elementary School is
located in Futenma airfield's clear zone. "It's a false plan that
ignored the elementary school's existence and covered up the facts
about the danger of Futenma airfield," Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha said
in a press conference. The mayor will continue to call for the
Japanese and U.S. governments to remove the airfield.

AICUZ is a land use guideline intended to protect the safety of base
neighbors and facilitate aircraft flights. However, the masterplan
has no description of Futenma Dai-ni Elementary School, which is

TOKYO 00005648 006 OF 010


included in the prohibited zone. In fact, aircraft fly over 'no-fly'
zones.

A group of local residents has instituted a class action lawsuit
against the government over the danger of Futenma airfield due to
buzzing aircraft. The focus is on the airfield's danger closing in
on local communities. "They built a runway at Futenma in the 1970s
and consolidated its functions as an airfield," Iha said. "But," he
added, "the elementary school was opened in the 1960s." He also
said, "The Japanese and U.S. governments knew that there was an
elementary school there, but they have left the danger as it is." He
asserted, "Futenma airfield is defective, so it should be removed
immediately."

Hiromichi Umebayashi, representative of Peace Depot, a nonprofit
organization, who is familiar with base issues, said: "The
masterplan does not describe anything about the definition of a
no-land-use area (to protect local residents), and it only describes
something like height limits for the safety of aircraft. I guess
they intentionally did not refer to danger zones. They probably
created the masterplan the U.S. military wants, and they probably
want to use the base as they like."

(5) Goal set under Kyoto Protocol to be achieved, according to
implementation program: More than 35 million tons of greenhouse gas
emissions to be cut through corporate efforts and "cool-biz"
campaign

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Almost full)
December 21, 2007

A draft for a final report that the Ministry of Environment (MOE)
and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) have been
preparing in an effort to achieve the goal of cutting greenhouse gas
emissions the Kyoto Protocol sets on Japan was revealed on Dec. 20.
Japan has further reduced emissions of greenhouse gasses thanks to
the reinforced voluntary action program of business circles and
national campaigns, such as the "cool-biz" campaign. Their plan is
to meet the reduction goal by cutting 35 million tons of greenhouse
gasses (in terms of carbon dioxide = CO2) in total.

MOE and METI will release the draft at their joint deliberation
meeting to be held on Dec. 21.

The Kyoto Protocol mandates Japan cut the average emissions of
greenhouse gasses during the fiscal 2008-fiscal 2012 period by 6
PERCENT compared with the fiscal 1990 level. According to the
government estimate, however, even if the present reduction measures
work well, results would still fall short of between 20 million tons
and 34 million tons. For this reason, the government has considered
adopting additional measures at the joint deliberation meeting.

Additional measures include 18-million-ton cuts through a reinforced
voluntary action program for companies to address greenhouse gas
emissions cuts, approximately 10 million-ton cuts through revisions
of such laws as the Energy-Conserving Law and cuts between 67.8
million tons and 10.50 million tons through national campaigns, such
as the cool-biz or eco-drive campaigns. More than 35 million tons
after subtracting overlapped portions of those measures would be
secured to cover the shortage.

With those specific measures taken into account, the final draft

TOKYO 00005648 007 OF 010


notes that the 6 PERCENT cut goal is achievable. The report,
however, simply incorporates arguments both for and against the
introduction of a domestic emissions trading system, based on a cap
and trade formula setting the upper limit of emissions to be
observed by companies and allowing them to trade emissions shortage
or overage according to the cap imposed on them.

Following this final report, the government will adopt at a cabinet
meeting a revised version of the goal achievement program. However,
estimated cuts in greenhouse gas emissions based on additional
measures have the aspect of a tally of numbers. There is a problem
of whether it is possible to implement those measures themselves. In
addition, it is not known whether emissions will decrease even if
all measures are carried out.

In order to realize the emissions reduction program through the
national campaigns, it is necessary for one person to cut up to 90
kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions a year. The next barrier to
clear is high regarding to what extent effects can be produced in
the household sector.

(6) Interviews with Defense Minister Ishiba and military analyst
Ogawa on defense equipment procurement

MAINICHI (Page 4) (Abridged slightly)
December 16, 2007

In the wake of a bribery and corruption case involving a former
administrative vice-defense minister over the procurement of defense
equipment, the government held a Ministry of Defense (MOD) reform
council meeting to discuss ways to secure transparency in defense
equipment procurement and other matters. Mainichi Shimbun's Ryuko
Tadokoro asked Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and military analyst
Ogawa about how the procurement system should be reformed.

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba -- MOD needs a system through which
it can directly procure equipment

Japan relies on foreign countries for a considerable portion of
defense equipment. If all equipment was to be produced domestically,
given the three principles banning weapons exports, there are limits
to reducing the cost by means of mass production and the cost
therefore would swell several times. In terms of price and
efficiency, importing equipment is necessary. At the same time,
Western business customs and laws on contracts are really complex.
This can explain why trading houses with knowledge and experience
have been involved in the process.

Nevertheless, the uncovered (bill-padding practice) by Yamada Corp.
is an unpardonable act of fraud. MOD is a victim. The ministry needs
to have the ability to determine when prices are too high. Prices
vary according to the difference in wealth between the exporting and
importing countries, as well as to the importance of security of the
country. Judging prices requires high ability.

Because the matter also concerns defense policy, there is a need to
consider a system that will allow MOD to directly procure equipment
in a manner that does not go against administrative reform. We would
like to come up with a direction after discussing the matter for a
year or two instead of a month or two while keeping national
interests in mind.


TOKYO 00005648 008 OF 010


In 1998, a breach-of-trust case involving the former Central
Procurement Office occurred, in which domestic manufacturers played
a central role. In the latest case of equipment imports, trading
houses were involved. Lessons learned in the previous case were not
that helpful.

It is acceptable for retired Self-Defense Force officers to find
employment at manufacturers or trading firms by utilizing their
expertise. It is not good, however, for the ministry to award
(trading houses) contracts in return for hiring so many retired SDF
officers. In other countries, conventional forces are small because
retired soldiers join the reserves and enter active service in times
of contingencies. Such is not the case in Japan. In discussing
equipment procurement, we should ask if the current system should be
upheld.

Cozy ties between lawmakers lobbying for defense interests and
defense contractors have often been pointed out. A lawmaker can say
such and such a fighter jet is necessary either because he received
payoffs from a certain company or because he has national security
in mind. The question is whether such a statement was made in a
discussion at a public arena.

I do not know any case in which lawmakers conducted such a
discussion on procurement either at political parties or at the
Diet. If legislators do not discuss Japan's security environment
because they cannot understand it, that is abnormal.

Military analyst Kazuhisa Ogawa -- Organization that can spot
irregularities needed

I would like to propose procedures that are viable. It is not
possible for MOD and the SDF to have the necessary groups of
professionals specializing in procurement and R&D overnight. So it
is rational to let trading houses intervene in procurement for the
time being while expecting them to play a role in
information-gathering at the same time.

The ministry needs to quickly form a group of people to check
irregularities; it does not have to be big. At the same time, let a
private-sector or semi-governmental group of exerts verify if the
ministry's checking system is functioning properly. That will be the
first step.

Saying that because duties are special, a special procurement system
resulted in malfeasance is an excuse. Although naturally military
secrets are involved, I believe all offices are basically the same.

SIPDIS

At the root of this problem lies Japan's democracy, which is not
functioning properly. Japan is void of a high-level organization,
like the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that combines
the functions of account audit and administrative inspection.
Japan's Board of Audit and the Internal Affairs and Communications
Ministry Administrative Evaluation Bureau do not have the ability to
see military strategy. The three principles banning weapons exports
are partially affecting procurement, but the ministry should not
complain about it.

There exist collusive ties between MOD/SDF and the defense industry
with the former, from young retirees to higher-ups, anticipating
taking cushy jobs at defense firms and the latter expecting
receiving orders in return. Years ago, a breach-of-trust scandal

TOKYO 00005648 009 OF 010


involving the former Central Procurement Office occurred. But the
case was closed by just tampering with the organization and
replacing some officials. A sense of intensity is lacking.

It is also serious that domestically produced weapons have flaws.
Because there is no strategy for the development and procurement of
weaponry, the operational side is ill-prepared, and the size of the
Technical Research and Development Institute is too small and the
level is hardly high. Even if other countries are said to be
developing specific weapons by looking at 15 years ahead, funds are
not available unless there are actual weapons. That is because MOD
does not have the ability to judge invisible information. There is
no other option but to aim at prototypes developed by other
countries. The Diet and the media are also inattentive and cannot
understand the situation properly, and the system has not been
improved.

The Japan-U.S. alliance has also cast a pall. Japan's R&D and
procurement of defense equipment has been sacrificed at times by
trade disputes between Japan and the United States. What was
necessary has not always been the viewpoint.

(7) Editorial: Fukuda budget falls short on fiscal reform

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
December 21, 2007

The Finance Ministry yesterday announced a draft budget for fiscal
2008 - the first compiled under Prime Minister Fukuda. The ministry
has curbed the issuance of new government bonds by 84 billion yen
from the current fiscal year's level to approximately 25.3 trillion
yen for the fourth straight annual decline. The draft budget is full
of stopgap measures that will be effective only in fiscal 2008, out
of consideration to the ruling camp's call for expanding government
spending. The supplementary budget for this fiscal year also shows
slack discipline, falling short on fiscal reconstruction efforts.'

The draft budget totals slightly more than 83 trillion yen and
allocates approximately 47.28 trillion yen in general expenditures -
core policy-related outlays, up 0.2 PERCENT and 0.7 PERCENT ,
respectively. Meanwhile, the ministry plans to slash public works
spending by 3.1 PERCENT and outlays for official development
assistance by 4 PERCENT , in accordance with the five-year
spending-cut plan set by the Koizumi administration in 2006.

Under the draft budget, annual tax revenues are expected to increase
only slightly to 53.5 trillion, and the deficit in Japan's primary
balance is projected to expand 750 billion yen. It will become more
difficult to meet the government's goal of turning the balance into
the plus column by fiscal 2011.

A close look at the draft budget reveals that it is full of
unreasonable tricks, as represented by outlays for social insurance
programs, which account for 46 PERCENT of the total general
expenditure. To meet the target to curb spending by 220 billion yen,
the ministry plans to slash part of the national burden of
contribution to the government's health insurance program and levy
the decreased portion on private-sector health insurance unions. But
outlays for medical service fees will be raised by 0.38 PERCENT in
response to calls by the Japan Medical Association, which has
enormous political clout.


TOKYO 00005648 010 OF 010


In the education budget, as well, in response to a call by the
education-policy clique in the Diet for a significant increase in
the number of elementary and junior high school teachers under the
banner of education rebuilding, the Finance Ministry has decided to
increase the number of part-time teachers. In the medical service
and education sectors, discussion on "quality" has been left
behind.

Tax grants to local governments will be increased by 4.6 PERCENT ,
affected by the 400 billion yen set aside to finance measures to
narrow the revenue disparity between urban and rural areas. This
policy is apparently aimed to woo support in the next House of
Representatives election.

The draft budget proposes reducing outlays for the agriculture,
forestry and fisheries sectors by 70 billion yen, but 80 billion yen
has been earmarked as outlays for promptly revitalizing agriculture
in the supplementary budget for this fiscal year. It has been
decided to freeze a plan to raise the burden of medical service
payment by elderly patients, but the financial source to cover that
portion also will depend on the supplementary budget.

The Finance Ministry racked its brains over how to curb the issuance
of new government bonds in an effort to underscore a
"reform-oriented budget." But the small reduction in government bond
issuance will be promptly offset according to changes in the
economic situation and interest rates.

The ministry proposes disbursing nearly 10 trillion yen from the
reserves in the special account for public investment and loans to
reduce public debts, the outstanding government bonds will increase
to 553 trillion yen.

DONOVAN

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António Guterres will be seeking a second five-year term as UN Secretary-General, which would begin in January 2022.... More>>


UN Rights Office: Iran Execution Of Child Offender Breaks International Law

The execution of an Iranian man for a crime allegedly committed when he was 16 years old has been condemned by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and raised concerns over violations of his right to a fair trial. In a statement released on Thursday, ... More>>