Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register



Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 07/30/08

DE RUEHKO #2085/01 2120804
P 300804Z JUL 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.


(1) USPACOM stiffs mayor of Ginowan, though he was met in 2004:
"Futenma is handled by bilateral negotiations" (Ryukyu Shimpo)

(2) Rebuilding the Ministry of Defense (Part 1): Focus on middle
headquarters (Nikkei)

(3) Rebuilding the Ministry of Defense (Part 2): A wall to SDF
overseas dispatch; Discussion stalled under divided Diet (Nikkei)

(4) DPJ accelerating offensive; "Lower House dissolution has come
closer," says Ozawa (Sankei)

(5) Six-party talks and Japan-North Korea talks: Japan finding
itself isolated; Key may lie in what to do about sanctions against
North Korea (Yomiuri)

(6) Local governments continuing BSE testing for fear of backlash
from consumers: Also motivated by desire to maintain brand names


(1) USPACOM stiffs mayor of Ginowan, though he was met in 2004:
"Futenma is handled by bilateral negotiations"

RYUKYU SHIMPO (Page 1) (Excerpts)
Eve., July 29, 2008

Yoko Hishima in Honolulu, Hawaii

A delegation led by Ginowan City Mayor Yoichi Iha is now in Hawaii
in order to make an appeal to the United States Pacific Command
(PACOM) to halt operations at Futenma Air Station. The group visited
PACOM headquarters on the morning of the 28th, but their letter
requesting a meeting was rejected. A public affairs spokesperson at
PACOM told the group: "We cannot accept this unless it comes through
an official route, such as the U.S. Embassy." According to a
communication from the office of a U.S. senator who has been
coordinating a meeting for the delegation with PACOM, at Iha's
request, the meeting was refused for such reasons as, "The issue of
Futenma Air Station is being handled through bilateral diplomatic

Regarding the danger of that U.S. base, the local heads planned a
visit to the U.S. make a request, carrying documents stating that
the base was in violation of the safety standards of the U.S.
military itself, as indicated in the master plan for Futenma Air

USPACOM met with Mayor Iha in 2004, so this was the first time for a
meeting to be refused. Mayor Iha stated: "The U.S. military was
really on its guard. Perhaps this touches on a raw point that the
danger aspect has been neglected. We will continue to make our
request of the U.S. military, as well as work on our Diet and their
Congress so that the issue will be put on the table for discussion
by the Japanese and U.S. governments."

(2) Rebuilding the Ministry of Defense (Part 1): Focus on middle

TOKYO 00002085 002 OF 009

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
July 29, 2008

"There are too many people between the SDF and the defense minister.
There is no information directly from those on the frontline, and
they are not well aware of decisions from the top."

In late June, when a government advisory panel to reform the Defense
Ministry was finalizing a report on its recommendations, Defense
Minister Shigeru Ishiba attended an informal study meeting of those
from the private sector and emphasized the necessity of
restructuring the Self-Defense Forces. Ishiba was so upset that
everybody kept mum.

The SDF-broken down into the three services of the Ground, Maritime,
and Air Self-Defense Forces-is a multistratified entity of
front-deployed troops, middle headquarters, and their respective
staff offices. The "too many people" in Ishiba's words denoted the
middle headquarters. On July 15, the advisory panel presented Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda with its report recommending the government to
review the middle headquarters and their modality.

A senior official of the Defense Ministry read the report and then
recalled Ishiba's initiative to abolish the GSDF's five regional
army headquarters across the country and unify their chains of
command. The Ishiba initiative went up in smoke. For one thing, it
is difficult to unify their commands of 150,000 troops. For another,
there was a backlash from the GSDF against reducing its posts.
"We're being targeted again," said one GSDF officer.

Ishiba has declared that he would envision abolishing the GSDF,
MSDF, and ASDF staff offices. Fukuda was worried about repulsion
from within and outside the Defense Ministry, so he consulted with
National Defense Academy President Makoto Iokibe, who is one of
Fukuda's brain trust and a member of the advisory panel. Fukuda
planned to reform the Defense Ministry while retaining the Defense
Ministry's internal bureaus and the SDF's staff offices. With this
plan, Fukuda explored a soft landing. On May 4, Fukuda called in
Ishiba to a Tokyo hotel, where Fukuda persuaded Ishiba with Iokibe

"This is not enough." With this, Ishiba challenged Iokibe. Fukuda
then told Ishiba, "Idealism alone is no good." Ishiba, driven by a
strong sense of crisis, tried to roll back. Ishiba stuck to his
argument in the study meeting. Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka
Machimura couldn't stand seeing Ishiba in a fix. "It's an advisory
panel's report, not a policy paper of the government." So saying,
Machimura soothed Ishiba. In the end, Fukuda and his aides tried to
reach a settlement with a compromise plan that incorporated the
standpoints of both sides.

In its report, the advisory panel also suggests the need for the
Defense Ministry's internal bureaus and the SDF's staff offices to
integrate their respective defense buildup planning sections. "This
would be the key point in the Defense Ministry's future discussion,"
said a lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's defense
policy clique. The GSDF, MSDF, and ASDF staff offices formulate
their own weaponry procurement blueprints and timetables for their
respective services on the front. Their 'wish lists' are given much
consideration and clearly reflected in the Defense Ministry's budget
request, so the Defense Ministry's bureaucracy is strongly reluctant
about that integration. Over the past decade or so, there has been

TOKYO 00002085 003 OF 009

no change in the way of budget allocations to the GSDF, MSDF, and
ASDF. Ishiba called this a "stiffened" formula. "This is basically
the same as scandals-in the sense of negative effects from
bureaucratic sectionalism," he said.

(3) Rebuilding the Ministry of Defense (Part 2): A wall to SDF
overseas dispatch; Discussion stalled under divided Diet

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
July 30, 2008

"The ultimate question would be whether or not the legislation
necessary for the overseas dispatch of SDF troops can clear the
Diet." A meeting was held on the morning of July 1 at the Prime
Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) among Chief Cabinet Secretary
Notubaka Machimura, Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura, and Defense
Minister Shigeru Ishiba. At the top of the agenda was the propriety
of sending Self-Defense Force troops to Afghanistan.

Objections from ruling bloc

With the aim of coming up with a direction before the G-8 summit,
scheduled to open at Lake Toya on July 7, the attendants also
considered specific steps, but when the topic turned to new
legislation, silence enveloped the room. The meeting ended as a mere
brainstorming exercise. Eventually Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, in a
bilateral summit meeting, told President George W. Bush that the
matter had bogged down. The government dropped a plan to send the
SDF to Afghanistan for the time being.

The government and Kantei have repeatedly pointed out the need to
send troops to Afghanistan, but centering on the Defense Ministry,
concern exists over ensuring safety. There has been a clash between
the need for international contributions and concern over safety.
The dispatch to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has been the only
SDF overseas mission that has been decided on since Fukuda took

Further, the future remains unclear for the Maritime Self-Defense
Force's refueling operations in the Indian Ocean, which have been
extended to January 15, 2009, with a two-third Lower House override
vote. Concerned about the timing of the next Lower House election,
the New Komeito has called for shelving the legislation in defiance
of the government and Liberal Democratic Party's desire for another
extension. New Komeito Upper House Caucus Secretary General Kentaro
Koba said: "Some are wondering if the refueling operations must
truly be extended in the extraordinary Diet session." Democratic
Party of Japan Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama, too, applied
pressure to the government, saying: "There is always room for
discussion on matters other than refueling at sea." The wall of the
divided Diet blocks the path to SDF overseas missions.

"I want to see Japan make efforts to realize peace in Iraq and
Afghanistan," U.S. Ambassador to Japan J. Thomas Schieffer
categorically told the press corps after his meeting with the prime
minister yesterday. The Ambassador called for Japan's continued
commitment to Iraq in addition to Afghanistan because there is a
high hurdler for the Air Self-Defense Force's airlift operations in

The UN resolution, the basis for the stationing of the multinational
forces, including the ASDF, expires at the end of this year. The

TOKYO 00002085 004 OF 009

continuation of the airlift operations requires the conclusion of a
status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government. The opposition
bloc is certain to oppose it. The Nagoya High Court ruled in April
that the ASDF activities are unconstitutional.

Searching for ways to pull out of Iraq

LDP Secretary General Bunmei Ibuki, meeting the press yesterday,
reiterated the policy course of withdrawing from Iraq by the end of
the year, pointing to the difficulty of offering an explanation
after the UN resolution expires. Foreign Affairs Research Commission
Chairman Taku Yamasaki and others also share Ibuki's view. The
government is considering a response with a pullout before year's
end in mind.

The Defense Ministry and Self-Defense Forces fear that the venues of
activities might be narrowed down even though international
peacekeeping cooperation activities have been upgraded to a primary
duty. Although Ishiba is obsessed with the enactment of a permanent
law (general law), the matter remains in limbo. A senior ministry
official hesitantly said: "There is the matter of the Japan-U.S.
alliance. We shouldn't say 'no' to everything, but ..."

An LDP national defense joint meeting was held yesterday morning. In
the session, Yasukazu Hamada, who has put together the party's
Defense Ministry reform plan, complained to Ishiba and other senior
Defense Ministry officials, saying: "Final decisions must be made at
the end of the year about Iraq and the Indian Ocean, yet the Defense
Ministry seems to lack any sense of crisis." A long road to recovery
lies ahead of the Defense Ministry, which is still tied up with the
issue of misconduct by its members.

(4) DPJ accelerating offensive; "Lower House dissolution has come
closer," says Ozawa

SANKEI (Page 5) (Slightly abridged)
July 29, 2008

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is determined to
step up its political offensive, while the government of Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda is wavering over shuffling the cabinet and
when to convene an extraordinary Diet session. Meanwhile, DPJ
President Ichiro Ozawa began a tour of five Rengo (Japan Trade Union
Confederation) prefectural chapters, which have a large membership.
He met yesterday in Yokohama with senior officials of the Kanagawa
chapter. The five Rengo chapters could determine whether the DPJ
will be able to win the next House of Representatives election.
After the meeting on the 28th, Ozawa stated: "My perception has
become stronger that Lower House dissolution and general elections
would be held earlier than expected." The DPJ intends to grill the
government and ruling coalition over the pension-record fiasco, the
controversial health insurance system for people aged 75 or older,
and high prices at the next extraordinary Diet session. It also
plans to force Fukuda to dissolve the Lower House and carry out a
snap election.

"The reason why I had said that the Lower House would be dissolved
six months later, including Lower House dissolution at the beginning
of the next regular Diet session in early next year, was because I
though that there would be a way to dissolve the Lower House after
the government compiled a lavish budget. However, the government
won't be able to take even this method. Since there will be no

TOKYO 00002085 005 OF 009

benefit to further delaying, we should be ready for an early Lower
House dissolution."

Ozawa indicated in his remark that there would be Lower House
dissolution before the end of this year, or at the beginning of the
next regular Diet session.

He then continued: "My term of the presidency will run until
September. So I want to do whatever I can during my tenure in
office." Senior DPJ officials share Ozawa's view. Prior to going to
Yokohama, Ozawa held a meeting with Deputy President Naoto Kan,
Upper House Chairman Azuma Koshiishi, Secretary General Yukio
Hatoyama, and Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka.

In the meeting, the five DPJ leaders shared the view that Lower
House dissolution would occur earlier than expected and that the
party should be ready for the election. They also agreed to make new
flyers for the Lower House election.

Ozawa will conduct his stumping tour of Kanagawa, Hokkaido, Tokyo,
Saitama, and Osaka until early August. Of the 300 electoral
districts, the five prefectures have a total of 89 districts. "His
stumping is aimed at winning the election."

Ozawa told senior officials of the Rengo Kanagawa chapter: "In order
to hold a majority, I would like you to help us secure seats in
large cities where we lost many seats in the previous election."

Kan started on July 23 his nationwide political tour to teach new
candidates election campaigning. Hatoyama and other senior officials
are accelerating their stumping tours.

The DPJ, meanwhile, decided in a meeting on July 28 to put off a
decision on the issue of whether to attend the extra session, with a
senior member saying: "Since the government and ruling camp haven't
decided on when the extra session will be convened, we don't need to
show our cards." The party intends attend the session to challenge
with debate, with Hatoyama saying: "The public strongly hopes that
we will pursue the government."

(5) Six-party talks and Japan-North Korea talks: Japan finding
itself isolated; Key may lie in what to do about sanctions against
North Korea

YOMIURI (Page 13) (Slightly abridged)
July 29, 2008

Now that Six-Party Talks are about to start discussions on the third
stage of North Korea's denuclearization process, will Japan be able
to find a way to break the impasse in its own bilateral talks with
that country?

Japan at first aimed at linking the issue of abducted Japanese
nationals to the timing of the decision by the United States to
remove North Korea from its lists of states sponsoring terrorism.
But this diplomatic strategy has failed. The U.S. is now pushing
ahead with the delisting process despite the lack of progress on the
abduction issue. The North is determined to wait for the U.S. to
implement its delisting decision on Aug. 11. If the U.S. takes the
North off the list, Pyongyang will likely to accelerate moves to
improve relations with Washington. North Korea intends to open a
liaison office or a trade representative office in Washington and

TOKYO 00002085 006 OF 009

have the U.S. set up a similar office in Pyongyang, though it is not
clear whether this would be done under the Bush administration or
the next one.

The premise for this dreamlike plan envisioned by the North in order
to ensure its regime's survival is of course denuclearization. But
it is still uncertain whether North Korea is serious about tackling
the challenge of denuclearization. In discussing ways to verify the
contents of the nuclear report, too, North Korea has not expressed
its clear intention.

In a meeting of the six-party chief envoys held in Beijing on July
10-12, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea's chief
negotiator, said:

"Instead of denuclearization that leads just to our nation's
unilateral disarmament, it should be moving toward a goal of
resolving the hostile relationship between North Korea and the U.S.
and removing the threat of an all out nuclear war on the Korean
Peninsula and the region."

Even if inspectors start verifying past operations at three key
nuclear facilities, including the 5,000 kilowatt nuclear reactor in
Yongbyon, Kim's statement will make it difficult to promote the
verification process. Even if the process reaches the final stage of
confirming the location of nuclear weapons and extracted plutonium
and then removing them from the country, North Korea would delay the
scrapping of its nuclear weapons, by insisting on the need to verify
if there are tactical nuclear weapons at U.S. military facilities in
South Korea.

In the latest round of Six-Party Talks, the members agreed to set up
a system to monitor the state of implementation of obligations.
Under this agreement, the six participants are obliged to implement
their promises, including economic and energy assistance to the
North. North Korea might use this agreement to drive Japan into a

In the second phase, energy assistance equivalent to 950,000 tons of
heavy oil is to be provided to Pyongyang in exchange for North
Korea's completion of disablement of all its nuclear facilities.
Japan has refused to offer energy assistance, citing there has been
no progress on the abduction issue.

In the latest talks, all participants, excluding Japan, agreed to
complete the second stage - the North's completion of disablement of
its nuclear facilities and delivery of economic and energy
assistance by the end of October. Japan's failure to fulfill its
obligations might be taken up as a problem.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. envoy
to the talks, once said: "I don't think North Korea is concerned
about from where the energy would come from," indicating the
possibility that a third nation could shoulder Japan's obligation,
on the assumption of South Korea assuming Japan's share. The
emergence of a diplomatic dispute between Japan and South Korea over
Japan's reference to the Takeshima issue in a teaching manual for
middle schools has made it impossible for the South Korean
government to take over Japan's obligation. Japan now finds itself

In order for Japan to extricate itself from a diplomatic dead end,

TOKYO 00002085 007 OF 009

it has no other choice but to continue to urge North Korea to move
ahead with the reinvestigation of the abduction cases as it promised
in official bilateral talks in June. To do so, North Korea might
strongly insist that Japan partially lift its sanctions against it.

If Japan judges it impossible to lift sanctions out of concern about
the public's reactions, it may have to take a wait-and-see attitude
for the time being. At any rate, the government should first explain
to the people that national interests are involved, and then make
the decision.

(6) Local governments continuing BSE testing for fear of backlash
from consumers: Also motivated by desire to maintain brand names

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Full)
July 29, 2008

Local governments have decided to continue BSE testing on cattle
twenty months of age or younger on their own account, revealing that
the divergence of views with the central government, which insists
that such a test is unnecessary, remains unchanged. Although they
are aware that the scientific grounds for such a test are weak,
local governments made the decision in order to give priority to
upholding local brand names of beef. Although some experts object to
the method of handling beef after inspection, from the standpoint of
ensuring safety, the debate continues to focus solely on whether
blanket inspections should be carried out or not. Experts have
pointed out that measures to dispel consumer anxieties over food
safety have yet to be taken.

Queried about the meaning of local governments continuing the own
inspection of cattle twenty months of age or younger, a BSE
inspector in Miyagi Prefecture said, "Unlike private companies,
there are things that local governments have to carry out even if it
runs us into debt." This official said that slaughterhouses in the
prefecture take thoroughgoing measures to prevent infection,
including the removal of spinal cords, a specified risk material
(SRM). He proudly said that he was confident of the safety of meat
processed in the prefecture. However, if the prefecture were to ask
people about their views after explaining this situation, a majority
would still be bound to say that they still wanted blanket cattle
inspection. In the end, the prefecture decided to continue the
inspections to make sure that consumers "felt at ease."

Local governments are also motivated by a desire to protect local
brand names. A livestock farmer (59) in Konan City, Shiga
Prefecture, who raises Omi-brand cattle, said, "I want to ship
products that have passed the strictest inspection in the world in
order to offer quality beef to consumers." An official in charge of
BSE inspection in another prefecture revealed, "If we do not carry
out full inspections, consumers would criticize us, asking us why
our prefecture is different from other prefectures." Hokkaido, where
more than 10 PERCENT of Japan's beef is produced, earmarked 35
million yen for inspections as a special budget item. One official
categorically said, "It is important to obtain the public's
understanding. We do not mind how much tests cost."

The Fair Trade Commission's stance is that it is a violation of the
Law Preventing Unjustifiable Extra and Misleading Representation for
beef producers to advertise the safety of their meat because it came
from cattle that underwent inspection, when beef from cattle that
had not undergone testing was also on the market since their age was

TOKYO 00002085 008 OF 009

twenty months or younger. However, there is no guarantee consumers
would look at both types of beef free from prejudice.

An official from Tokushima Prefecture said that if there is no
cattle inspection, the risk of BSE would increase. This official
pointed out, "Since there are some unknown elements about BSE in
scientific terms, it is not possible to categorically state that
beef from cattle twenty months or younger is safe."

Possible impact on negotiations with U.S.

Local governments continuing blanket cattle inspection after August
may affect the easing of conditions for U.S. beef imports, of which
the age restriction is the single most contentious issue.

The U.S. is seeking a total abolition of age restrictions. Japan is
asking the U.S. to submit scientific data, insisting that the U.S.
has yet to provide evidence that proves the safety of beef from
cattle (21 months of age or older)."

Some government officials have, however, floated a proposal to ease
the age restriction from the cattle twenty months of age or younger
to under 30 months. The idea is based on the stance of other U.S.
beef importing countries.

South Korea in April agreed to abolish the age restriction on beef
imported from the U.S. However, meeting fierce opposition from the
public, the government held talks once again and reached an
agreement to approve imports of beef from cattle under 30 months of

However, if local governments continue blanket cattle inspections,
while the central government eases U.S. beef import conditions,
consumers are bound to differentiate domestic beef from U.S. beef
more strictly.

Government stand not understood: No BSE infection cases reported
among cattle 20 months of age or younger

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) in August 2005
eased inspection standards and explained to local governments and
consumers that there would be no change in beef safety, even if
inspections of cattle 20 month of age or younger were discontinued.

Thirty-five cows have tested BSE positive in Japan since the first
discovery of a BSE-infected cow in September 2001. The birth dates
of those 35 cows can be divided into two timeframes -- (1) from
December 1995 to August 1996 and (2) from July 1999 to January 2002.
The government speculates that prions, which are thought to cause
BSE, mixed into feed grains eaten by cows in the group 1 and then
cows in the group 2 were infected with BSE, as they ate meat and
bone meal made from cows in the group 1. The oldest cows that were
made exempt from inspection following eased guidelines were born in
July 2003. Since the use of meat and bone meal was already banned in
October 2001, it is unlikely that the infection was caused through
the conventional route.

Motohiro Horiuchi, a professor of veterinary science at Hokkaido
University Graduate School and a member of the Prion Expert Research
Council of the Food Safety Commission, pointed out, "There have been
no infection cases reported among cows twenty months old or younger.
We have sufficient data on calves. As such, there is no scientific

TOKYO 00002085 009 OF 009

meaning in continuing blanket cattle inspection." One official in
the MHLW even said, "Any way, tax money is used for such an
inspection. It is nothing but a waste or tax payers' money."

To begin with, does blanket cattle inspection ensure beef safety?
According to World Organization for Animal Health (OIE),
BSE-infection risk in Japan is much higher than in the U.S. The
reason is because Japan does not totally ban pithing, even though
the OIE has urged all countries to do so as a necessary measure to
prevent BSE.

If the pithing method is used on infected cows, there is the danger
of parts other than SRM being infected. The MHLW in October 2001
gave the instruction to local governments that it is desirable that
they stop pithing. However, a majority of slaughter houses continue
the practice.

Concerning the removal of SRM as sought by the OIE, Japan, where
there is a custom of eating ox tongues, has yet to set a method of
removing the tonsils located at the back of a tongue. Experts are
calling for establishing clear guidelines for such.

Tadashi Kobayashi, a professor of science and technology at Osaka
University, urged the government, noting, "It cannot be helped that
consumers are harboring anxieties. The government by just
reiterating that (U.S. beef) is safe in scientific terms will not
narrow the gap with consumers. It is necessary for it to make
efforts to obtain consumers' understanding by telling them who is
responsible and how."


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines

UN News: Aid Access Is Key Priority

Among the key issues facing diplomats is securing the release of a reported 199 Israeli hostages, seized during the Hamas raid. “History is watching,” says Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. “This war was started by taking those hostages. Of course, there's a history between Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I'm not denying any of that. But that act alone lit a fire, which can only be put out with the release of those hostages.” More

Save The Children: Four Earthquakes In a Week Leave Thousands Homeless

Families in western Afghanistan are reeling after a fourth earthquake hit Herat Province, crumbling buildings and forcing people to flee once again, with thousands now living in tents exposed to fierce winds and dust storms. The latest 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 30 km outside of Herat on Sunday, shattering communities still reeling from strong and shallow aftershocks. More

UN News: Nowhere To Go In Gaza

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said some 1.1M people would be expected to leave northern Gaza and that such a movement would be “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences and appeals for the order to be rescinded. The WHO joined the call for Israel to rescind the relocation order, which amounted to a “death sentence” for many. More

Access Now: Telecom Blackout In Gaza An Attack On Human Rights

By October 10, reports indicated that fixed-line internet, mobile data, SMS, telephone, and TV networks are all seriously compromised. With significant and increasing damage to the electrical grid, orders by the Israeli Ministry of Energy to stop supplying electricity and the last remaining power station now out of fuel, many are no longer able to charge devices that are essential to communicate and access information. More


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.