Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 08/08/08

DE RUEHKO #2179/01 2210200
P 080200Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



Defense and security:
1) U.S. Navy nuclear sub leaked radiation in Yokosuka, Okinawa, as
well (Asahi)
2) Leaky sub made 11 port calls in Japan over two year timeframe
(Tokyo Shimbun)
3) Local communities upset that sub leaked radiation for two years
4) Locals charge "cover up" of sub radiation leakage (Tokyo
5) Yokosuka, Nagasaki citizens angry at sub leak incident charge
that they were "deceived" (Mainichi)
6) On sub leak incident, charges that Japanese government was
negligent in verifying, U.S. was sloppy in enforcing own regulations
7) U.S. forces Japan: Small amounts of radiation difficult to detect
8) Foreign and defense ministers both push for continuing MSDF's
Indian Ocean refueling mission (Nikkei)
9) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) cooperation is the target of LDP
Secretary General Aso's suggestion of MSDF escorting Japanese ships
in Indian Ocean (Yomiuri)

North Korea problem:
10) Abduction reinvestigation will head the agenda at talks between
Japan, North Korea that start on 11th (Nikkei)
11) Foreign Minister Koumura says that Japan will be involved in
determining results of DPRK's promised reinvestigation of abduction
incidents (Asahi)

China syndrome:
12) Koumura admits that China asked Japan to withhold information
about its own poisoned dumpling incidents (Asahi)
13) DPJ Secretary General Hatoyama blasts Foreign Ministry for being
"weak-kneed" toward China on poisoned dumpling issue (Mainichi)

14) DPJ drafts treaty on nuclear-weapon-free zones (Asahi)

15) Economic and Fiscal Minister Yosano acknowledges that Japan is
slipping into a recession (Nikkei)

16) Prime Minister Fukuda is unhappy at reports he made a secret
political deal with LDP Secretary General Aso (Asahi)


1) U.S. sub leaked radioactive water at 2 other ports in Yokosuka,

ASAHI (Page 35) (Full)
August 8, 2008

The U.S. government has provided the Japanese government with
additional information about findings from its probe into the
earlier reported leakage of cooling water containing a trace amount
of radiation from the U.S. Navy nuclear-powered Houston, the Foreign
Ministry said yesterday. The radiation leak occurred for a period of
two years and one month from June 2006, during which the Houston
called at Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture, Yokosuka in Kanagawa
Prefecture, and White Beach in Okinawa Prefecture's Uruma City,
according to the ministry.

TOKYO 00002179 002 OF 010

According to the Foreign Ministry's press release, the USS Houston
leaked a trace amount of radiation from June 2006 through July 2008
when the submarine was docked at Honolulu. During that period of
time, the Houston called at three ports in Japan. The Foreign
Ministry also released data, including the dates of the Houston's
port calls in Japan and its presumable leakage of radioactive
substances during its port calls in Japan.

According to findings from the U.S. Navy's investigation, the
Houston was in port at Sasebo for a total of 16 days, during which
the total amount of radiation leaks from the sub was less than 0.340
microcuries. The Houston stayed at Yokosuka for a total of 5 days,
and the total amount of radiation leaks there was less than 0.095
microcuries. In Okinawa, where the Houston stayed for a total of 9
days, the total amount of radiation leaks was less than 0.170

The U.S. government explains: "The total amount of radioactive
substances is extremely small and does not endanger human health,
sea life, or the environment. The total amount of radiation leaks
during all the port calls in Japan is smaller than the amount of
radioactive substances contained in a smoke detection sensor for
home use."

According to the Foreign Ministry's Japan-U.S. Security Division,
the fact-finding report from the U.S. government does not specify
anything about why the cooling water leaked, how often radiation
leakage occurred, how much cooling water leaked during the port
calls, and how the amount of radiation leakage was estimated. The
Foreign Ministry says it will ask the United States for further

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry inquired of the Education, Science
and Technology Ministry about the amount of radiation at each of the
three ports and during the port calls. According to findings from
Japan's monitoring, however, there were no abnormal readouts. "We
don't think the submarine leaked radiation to an extent that could
affect human health or the environment," said an official of the
Education, Science and Technology Ministry.

2) U.S. nuclear-powered submarine leaked radiation in Yokosuka and
Okinawa; Visited 11 Japanese ports since July 2006

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 29) (Full)
August 8, 2008

The Foreign Ministry announced yesterday that it was informed by the
U.S. Embassy in Japan that the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered submarine
Houston had leaked traces of radiation during its port calls at
Yokosuka Naval Base (Yokosuka City, Nakagawa Prefecture) and White
Beach (Uruma City, Okinawa Prefecture) between January 2007 and
March 2008, in addition to an earlier reported leak at Sasebo Naval
Base (Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture). From what was learned from
the U.S. side, there is a possibility that the radiation leak at
Sasebo began at the sub's port call there in July 2006.

The U.S. Embassy said that the amount leaked was very small and that
it posed no risk to public health or the environment. Abnormal
levels of radiation have not been detected in radioactivity tests
conducted at the sub's calling ports since June 2006 by the
Education, Science and Technology Ministry. According to the U.S.

TOKYO 00002179 003 OF 010

side, the Houston anchored at the Yokosuka base for five days in
late January 2007. The submarine is estimated to have leaked less
than 3.5 kilo Bq. of radioactivity during that period. It also
stayed at White Beach for a total of nine days on five occasions
between March 2007 and March 2008 and is estimated to have leaked
less than 6.3 kilo Bq. of radiation.

The U.S. side also informed the ministry regarding the radiation
leak at Sasebo that the Houston stayed there for a total of 16 days
on five occasions between July 2006 and April 2008 and that it
leaked a total of less than 13 kilo Bq. of radiation.

3) Local officials concerned about U.S. sub radiation leaks

ASAHI (Page 35) (Full)
August 8, 2008

Concerning the leak of radiation from the U.S. Navy nuclear-powered
submarine Houston at three ports in Japan, local officials are
wondering why such leaks continued for more than two years. There is
no knowing why this occurred, so they are feeling uneasy and

In late September, the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered
aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy, is slated to arrive at Yokosuka
in Kanagawa Prefecture for deployment. Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi
Matsuzawa said, "They say it does not endanger human health or the
environment, but such an accident must not take place." Matsuzawa
also voiced concern about repercussions on the flattop's deployment,
saying, "Minor accidents, if they continue to take place, will cause
the local residents to feel uneasy."

"In such a situation, we cannot accept the deployment of a
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier." This criticism came from Masahiko
Goto, a lawyer representing a group of local citizens.

In Okinawa Prefecture, Lt. Gov. Zenki Nakazato told a senior
official of the Foreign Ministry: "Even if it's a small amount, a
nuclear-powered submarine's leakage of cooling water containing
radiation causes local residents to feel extremely uneasy. We
learned that cooling water leaks had continued for two years. We're
very concerned about safety control, and it's truly regrettable."

Masahide Haraguchi, director general of the Base Policy Bureau at
the municipal government office of Sasebo City, said: "We wonder if
the accident resulted from the submarine's structural defects or if
it resulted from human error. Our action depends on that. We want
them to clear up the cause of the accident immediately." Masato
Shinozaki, chief of the secretariat for a local group opposing
nuclear-powered ship port calls, criticized the United States,
saying: "They have not revealed the cause of the accident, but their
submarines of the same type are still operating."

4) Yokosuka residents reacting strongly to U.S. military concealment
of information, some calling for halt to deployment of
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 29) (Full)
August 8, 2008

It has come to light that the U.S. nuclear-powered submarine Houston
leaked radiation at U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture,

TOKYO 00002179 004 OF 010

as well as Sasebo Naval Base in Nagasaki Prefecture. With the
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington (GW) scheduled to
be deployed at Yokosuka in late September, the U.S. military's
announcement of the radiation leak is drawing fire from local
residents as "concealing information."

Hiroshi Goto, 60, a company president living near the Yokosuka base,
expressed strong displeasure toward the U.S. military's response,
saying: "I don't feel good. It's not good to conceal a radiation
leak. I guess that because radiation leaked at Sasebo as well
following the GW's fire (in May), the U.S. military had no choice
but to announce it before the GW's arrival at Yokosuka."

Lawyer Masahiko Goto, a joint representative of the Yokosuka civic
group to consider the home-porting of a nuclear-powered aircraft
carrier, also said: "It is a serious problem that the U.S. military
did not inform Japan of the radiation leak for a year and a half.
The central government, Yokosuka municipal government, and its
citizens have been deceived during that period. The planned
deployment of the aircraft carrier must be suspended."

A small amount of radiation was also detected in September 2006 in
seawater at the Yokosuka base after the U.S. nuclear-powered
submarine Honolulu departed. At that time, Japan was not allowed to
conduct basic safety checks at the U.S. base and the military vessel
to find out the cause. This has raised questions about the fact that
safety measures are left to the U.S. military.

During the Houston's port call at Yokosuka on January 25-29, 2007,
during which the U.S. military admitted the sub's radiation leak,
the Education, Science and Technology Ministry conducted radiation
tests at four monitoring posts on the base and by collecting
seawater. But abnormal levels of radiation were not detected.

Since October 1985, the Houston visited the Yokosuka base 24 times,
with the time in January 2007 in which the leak became clear being
the latest.

Yokosuka Mayor Ryoichi Kabaya released a verbal statement: "Dealing
with a matter properly when it is still a small problem is the most
effective safety measure to prevent major accidents." He also
revealed a plan to ask the U.S. side for an appropriate response.

5) Yokosuka, Nagasaki angry at radiation leakage by U.S. submarine:
"We were deceived"

MAINICHI (Page 31) (Excerpt)
August 8, 2008

Radiation-contaminated coolant water leaked from the U.S. Navy
nuclear-powered submarine Houston from June 2006. In all of the
sub's port calls, data showed no anomalies, but the atomic bomb
survivors in Nagasaki are filled with distrust, charging that the
city was "deceived." From the ports where the sub made calls --
Sasebo, Okinawa, and Yokosuka, where similar leakage has just been
revealed - voices of anger and concern are rising.

The port of Yokosuka in Kanagawa Prefecture received a port call in
January 2007. In Yokosuka City, where the U.S. nuclear-powered
carrier George Washington (GW) will be deployed at the end of Sept.,
lawyer Masahiko Goto, who heads a citizens' movement opposed to the
deployment of the GW, made this comment, his face filled with

TOKYO 00002179 005 OF 010

distrust: "The incident was not reported for over a year and a half
(after the port call), deceiving the residents." In May, the GW was
damaged by a fire, and with the series of accidents involving
nuclear-powered vessels, "The anxieties of the residents are growing
even higher," he said.

In Nagasaki, Sumiteru Taniguchi (79), who is an atomic bomb survivor
and heads the council of Nagasaki atomic bomb victims, stressed:
"The U.S. and Japanese governments decided to deceive Nagasaki."

6) Leakage of radiation from U.S. Navy submarine: Japan has no means
of verifying; Sloppy controls by U.S. forces exposed

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
August 8, 2008

The issue of coolant water containing radioactive particles having
leaked from the U.S. Navy nuclear-powered submarine Houston for over
two years exposes the sloppiness of the safety-control system on
U.S. subs that repeatedly make port calls in Japan, while neglecting
leakage. Although there reportedly has been no impact on human
bodies or the environment, the radiation leaked at the three ports
having been minute in quantity, the incident raise questions about
the way that information is disclosed.

By Akashi Sudo and Hiroshi Nishikawa

According to the Foreign Ministry, it is not clear from the data
provided by the U.S. reason for the starting of the leakage of
coolant in June 2006 or the estimated total amount of radiation
leaked. The Japanese side has no way to verify such.

When a nuclear-powered vessel makes a port call in Japan, the
Ministry of Education and Science and local governments sample the
seawater and seabed in order to detect whether or not there are
radioactive particles. However, in the inspections when the Houston
made port calls, until now there never has been any anomaly found.
In ports all over Japan, for over two years, radioactive particles
have been leaking into the seawater. If there had been no
information from the U.S., the timeframe of the leaks and the
locations would have gone undetected.

On the other hand, the leakage of radioactive particles that could
have been signs of an impending major accident went on undetected
for a long period of time. Needless to say, this raises questions
about the control system aboard U.S. Navy nuclear-powered vessels.

However, the dispersion into the sea of 22.8 kilo-becquerels in
released radiation, according to the Ministry of Education and
Science, "has no impact on the human body or the environment."
According to the ministry's disaster environment countermeasures
office in the Nuclear Power Safety Division, in the case of cobalt
60, a representative radioactive particle found in coolant water in
nuclear power plants, the detectable limit is 4 mili-becquerrels per

The same office noted: "Sea water is take immediately next to the
moored nuclear vessel. The fact that nothing was detected probably
means that an extremely minute amount of radiation was being

7) U.S. Navy: Amount was too small to detect

TOKYO 00002179 006 OF 010

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Full)
August 8, 2008

Masaya Oikawa, Washington

The U.S. Navy made it clear on August 7 that it had not been able to
detect the leak of cooling water containing radiation from the
nuclear-powered submarine Houston for nearly two years. But the Navy
stopped short of explaining what let it to conclude that the leak
began in June 2006.

The Navy explained that it was not able to detect the leak because
the amount was too small. The Navy has designed criteria based on
the nuclear promotion program, but the ratio of water leaked was far
greater than the standard.

8) Continuation of refueling operation in Indian Ocean necessary,
say foreign and defense ministers; Difficult for MSDF to escort
private tankers

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 8, 2008

Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura and Defense Minister Yoshimasa
Hayashi in interviews with the Nikkei yesterday both said that it
was necessary for Japan to continue refueling operations in the
Indian Ocean, the top-priority issue in the upcoming extraordinary
Diet session. They took the view that it would be difficult (for the
Maritime Self-Defense Force) to escort Japan's private tankers, an
idea proposed by Secretary General Taro Aso of the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) as an alternative to the refueling operation.

Referring to the refueling operation, Koumura said, "There is no
option for Japan to stop refueling operations, just because we are
in a difficult situation." Hayashi echoed Koumura's remark, noting,
"No one is arguing that there is no need for a war on terror. When
viewed from the results, the refueling has contributed to securing
stability in the supplying of fuel oil."

9) Aso may ask DPJ for cooperation on MSDF role in Indian Ocean

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Abridged)
August 8, 2008

The Maritime Self-Defense Force is currently tasked with refueling
activities in the Indian Ocean to back up multinational antiterror
efforts in Afghanistan under the new Antiterrorism Special Measures
Law, which is set to run out in January next year. In this
connection, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Secretary General
Aso has indicated that he would consider such measures as having the
MSDF escort tankers instead of carrying out refueling activities.
This is creating a stir in the government and the ruling parties.
The government is planning to amend the law to extend the MSDF
mission there. However, Aso is believed to be exploring other
measures that can obtain cooperation from the leading opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto).

Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura, Foreign Minister Koumura, and
Defense Minister Hayashi met yesterday at the prime minister's
office to discuss how to handle the new antiterror law. On that

TOKYO 00002179 007 OF 010

occasion, they talked about Aso's proposal.

Aso indicated on Aug. 5 that the government should consider
dispatching the Self-Defense Forces to escort Japanese tankers in
the Indian Ocean if it is difficult to extend the MSDF's refueling
activities there due to opposition from the DPJ and other opposition

However, there is no law at present to dispatch the SDF for that
purpose. The government therefore deems it infeasible to task the
SDF with escorting tankers in the Indian Ocean. "It would be
difficult to do so," a senior official of the Defense Ministry said,
representing the government's view.

Meanwhile, the United States wants Japan to send SDF troops to
Afghanistan. This deployment will be accompanied by extraordinary
danger, so the government would like to fulfill its contributions to
the war on terror by continuing the MSDF's refueling activities in
the Indian Ocean.

However, the DPJ is unlikely to approve of the government's plan to
continue the MSDF's refueling mission. Moreover, New Komeito, the
LDP's coalition partner, is reluctant to take a second vote in the
House of Representatives to get the MSDF bill through the Diet after
its possible failure to clear the opposition-controlled House of
Councillors. As it stands, the MSDF bill is uncertain to get the
Diet's approval at its next extraordinary session.

10) Government to propose means of allowing Japan to check progress
in abduction reinvestigation point by point to ensure efficacy

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
August 8, 2008

The government on August 7 revealed the approach it would take at
the Japan-North Korea working level talks that start August 11.
Regarding the method of reinvestigation into the abductions of
Japanese nationals, the focus of highest attention at the talks,
Tokyo will propose a mechanism that would allow the Japanese side to
check progress in the investigation point by point, instead of
adopting a joint investigation arrangement. It intends to respond to
a partial lifting of the economic sanctions against North Korea once
it starts the reinvestigation and extradites hijackers of the JAL
airliner Yodo. It will convey this policy to Pyongyang at the
upcoming meeting.

Several government sources revealed these policy points. The meeting
will be held on August 11-12 in Shenyang, China. North Korea in the
previous talks pledged to conduct a reinvestigation into abduction
cases and cooperate for the handover of hijackers. Japan indicated
its stance of agreeing to lift three economic sanction items, making
it a condition that North Korea carries out the reinvestigation. The
focus of the upcoming meeting is on how far the method of
reinvestigation and when to start such can be boiled down.

The Japanese government gives top priority to ensuring that the
results of the reinvestigation are effective. It will use a
framework that allows it to check the progress point by point so
that it can prevent a situation in which North Korea tries to close
the case with an insufficient investigation. To be specific, Japan
intends to call on North Korea to approve visits by Japanese
officials to North Korea at every key juncture of the

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reinvestigation so that they can receive explanations from North

11) Koumura: Japan should be involved in work to confirm results of
North Korea's reinvestigation into abductions

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
August 8, 2008

In an interview with reporters of the Asahi Shimbun and other news
companies yesterday, Foreign Minister Koumura stressed the need for
Japan's involvement in confirming the results of North Korea's
reinvestigation of the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by its
agents. He said: "North Korea will conduct the investigation, but it
is naturally possible that Japanese representatives will go there
and confirm (the investigation results)." The issue of the
reinvestigation will be on the agenda at the Japan-North Korea
working-level talks to be held in Shenyang, China, on August 11-12.

Koumura stressed the need for a mechanism to confirm the results of
the investigation by North Korea so that Pyongyang will conduct an
investigation that can satisfy Japan. He added that it is necessary
to decide in the working-level talks how to undertake confirmation.

12) Koumura on poisoned dumplings: Ministry did not publicize it at
China's request

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
August 8, 2008

Foreign Minister Koumura said yesterday that the ministry had been
informed by the Chinese government in early July of a poisoning
outbreak from tainted dumplings in China in June. He then disclosed
in an interview with reporters from the Asahi Shimbun and other news
companies that China had asked Japan to keep the information

Speaking before reporters at his official residence last night,
Prime Minister Fukuda said: "Although my memory is a bit hazy, it
was probably around the Hokkaido Toyako Summit (on July 7-9)" when
the government received the information. Fukuda added that he would
discuss the issue when he meets Chinese leaders in Beijing on Aug. 8
in pursuit of an early settlement.

According to Koumura, the Chinese Foreign Ministry informed the
Japanese Embassy in Beijing of the poisoning cases in China in early
July. He quoted a Chinese official as saying at that time: "We want
you to withhold the information for now, because the ongoing
investigation might be hindered. We will keep you up-to-date as new
information comes in." Koumura said that the information was shared
by the Prime Minister's Office, the National Police Agency, and the
Foreign Ministry. Asked about the information being kept
undisclosed, Koumura said: "That stands to reason."

Koumura said that while keeping the information in mind, Prime
Minister Fukuda and President Hu Jintao held talks on the sidelines
of the Toyako Summit and that he and Foreign Minister Yan Jiechi met
in Singapore in late July. They confirmed that the two countries
would accelerate cooperative work by their investigative agencies,
according to Koumura.

Regarding the state of the ongoing investigation, Koumura indicated

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that China has begun to make a response while acknowledging that it
experienced poisoning cases, saying: "A higher-level Chinese
official delivered (the new information). I recognize that there has
been a change in China's response."

13) DPJ criticizes government as "overly weak-kneed" on dumpling
poisoning cases in China

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
August 8, 2008

In a press conference in Yokohama yesterday, Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama lashed out at Foreign
Minister Koumura for having kept a poisoning outbreak from tainted
dumplings in China unpublicized at the request of the Chinese
government. Hatoyama said:

"The information is too serious to be kept undisclosed at the
request of the Chinese government. The Japanese government should
have asserted in a stately way that it would make the information
public even if asked to hush it up. The government is overly
weak-kneed, and its response was far from one taken out of
consideration for the viewpoints of consumers and the people.

14) DPJ drafts treaty on nuclear-weapon-free zones

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
August 8, 2008

The Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ) parliamentary caucus on
nuclear disarmament, chaired by Katsuya Okada, compiled a draft
treaty on nuclear-weapon-free zones in Northeast Asia yesterday. The
draft calls for translating into action Japan's three nonnuclear
principles - that the nation will neither possess, nor produce, nor
allow the introduction of nuclear weapons - in Japan, South Korea,
and North Korea. The draft covers military facilities in other
countries, such as U.S. military bases in Japan. The DPJ plans to
hold a press conference in Nagasaki today to announce it.

15) State Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy effectively
acknowledges that economy has taken downward turn; Word "recovery"
dropped from August monthly report

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Almost full)
August 8, 2008

The government on August 7 adopted at a meeting of related ministers
a monthly economic report for August that uses the term "weakening"
in its overall assessment of the economy. Following a decline in
industrial output and exports, which have shored up the Japanese
economy, the latest report dropped the word "recovery," which had
been used for four years and eight months. Meeting the press, State
Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Kaoru Yosano effectively
acknowledged that the economy had entered a recessionary phase. He
said, "The monthly report dropped the word 'recession.' It indicated
with the word 'weakening' that the economy is beginning to enter a
phase that does not allow us to view the outlook of the economy

This is the first time since May 2001, when the economy was on the
way to a recession, that the government in its monthly report
assessed the current state of the economy as weakening. Following an

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economic slowdown throughout the world on the backdrop of the credit
uneasiness originating in the U.S., the Japanese economy, which has
continued to grow, depending on external demand, is now at a turning

Among key economic items used to determine the economic outlook, the
monthly report lowered assessments of exports, industrial output and
employment conditions. Exports to the U.S. and the EU are declining.
Corporate production is also dropping due to a slowdown in exports.
Employment, which had improved gradually, is now in a harsh

Concerning the future course of the economy, the monthly report
noted that slight movement would continue for the time being. Yosano
indicated that it would be possible for the Japanese economy to
avoid a deep adjustment, noting, "I am sure that as the global
economy recovers, the Japanese economy will turn around."

16) Fukuda expresses displeasure at rumored secret deal on power

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
August 8, 2008

Speculation has spread that Prime Minister Fukuda promised Taro Aso
that he would transfer the prime ministership to Aso prior to a
general election if Aso agreed to become secretary general. Asked by
reporters whether the speculation was true, Fukuda unpleasantly
replied: "Is this a report?" Without referring to whether there was
a secret deal, he cynically said: "Something that has been made
public is not 'a secret deal'."

Regarding whether he will decide to dissolve the House of
Representatives for a snap election, Fukuda said: "It is not the
proper time now to comment, since there is still time."


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