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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 08/27/08

DE RUEHKO #2342/01 2400123
P 270123Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


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North Korea problem:
1) North Korea halts nuclear disablement in reaction to not being
removed from U.S. terror list (Yomiuri)
2) Japanese abduction issue thrown into confusion by North Korea's
halting nuclear disablement (Tokyo Shimbun)

Afghan assistance:
3) Taliban suspected of kidnapping Japanese NGO aid worker in
Afghanistan (Mainichi)
4) Foreign Ministry receiving muddled information about abduction of
NGO worker in Afghanistan (Nikkei)
5) Government at a loss on providing anti-terrorist cooperation to
Afghanistan, now that a Japanese aid worker has been kidnapped
6) Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Matsunami departs for local
scene in Afghanistan upon news of kidnapped aid worker (Nikkei)

Political agenda:
7) Another scandal over political office expenses: Calls for
Agricultural Ota to resign his post coming even from the ruling
coalition partner New Komeito (Nikkei)
8) Money scandal involving Agricultural Minister Ota's office
expenses traced back to year 2000 (Tokyo Shimbun)

9) Ota scandal another example of poor screening of cabinet
appointees (Mainichi)
10) Ota money scandal a serious blow to administration of Prime
Minister Fukuda (Mainichi)
11) Extraordinary Diet, set for 70 days, to be tumultuous; "October
crisis" feared (Nikkei)
12) Upcoming Diet session could lead to Diet dissolution and even
the resignation of the prime minister (Asahi)

13) Defense Ministry reform plan to be implemented in fiscal 2010

14) Yomiuri national poll: 55 PERCENT think women can be happy if
unmarried (Yomiuri)


1) Pyongyang halts nuclear disablement in reaction to U.S. decision
to postpone delisting; Restoring Yongbyon facilities also suggested

YOMIURI (Top play) (Excerpts)
August 27, 2008

Yasuhiro Maeda, Seoul

A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced on Aug. 26
that the country has stopped disabling its nuclear facilities in
defiance of a six-party agreement, the Korean Central News Agency
(KCNA) has reported. The KCNA also indicated that the step was taken
in response to the United States' failure to delist the North as a
state sponsor of terrorism, adding the country will consider
returning the half-disabled facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear
complex to their original state.

Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama indicated in a press
conference last evening that the ministry had obtained information

TOKYO 00002342 002 OF 010

on the suspension ahead of the announcement by the North, saying:
"We have known all along that the North stopped disablement work on
Aug. 14." There has been no direct information from the North,
according to a senior ministry official.

Revival of intimidation strategy

The North's abrupt Aug. 26 announcement of a halt to its disablement
work means the revival of its usual strategy of brinkmanship. The
U.S.-DPRK talks on a nuclear declaration verification regime are
reaching their most crucial phase. If the talks reach an agreement,
the North will be removed from the U.S. list of nations supporting
terrorism. Faced with the United States' strong demand for strict
verification procedures toward the total abandonment of its nuclear
programs, the North is trying to avoid rigid verification steps by
keeping its "nuclear card" in reserve. Chances are high that the
Pyongyang's renewed hard-line stance is part of its efforts to be
delisted as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Meanwhile, Japan's relations with the North have significantly been
affected by U.S.-DPRK ties. With the North reinforcing its
confrontational stand toward the United States, there is a
possibility that the reinvestigation in Japanese abductees by the
North, as was agreed upon in bilateral talks last month, will stall.
For Japan, there is nothing to do but watch the moves of the United
States and North Korea.

2) North Korea halts denuclearization: Fear that abduction issue
could be derailed again; "Cannot look ahead," says premier

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
August 27, 2008

Following North Korea's announcement on August 26 that it has
stopped disabling its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, concern is
mounting in the Japanese government over the future of the North
Korea problem. The future course of the reinvestigation into
abduction cases involving Japanese nationals, which North Korea
agreed on at the bilateral working-level talks in mid-August, is now

Prime Minister Fukuda yesterday admitted in front of reporters at
the Kantei that he could not see what might happen next, noting, "To
be honest, I cannot tell what impact this will have on the abduction
issue." He hinted at his intention to deal with the abduction issue
separately from the nuclear issue, saying, "I will leave the
abduction issue aside and continue to deal steadily with it."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kodama during a press conference
simply said, "We will continue to do our utmost, including
negotiations with that nation, so that the abduction issue will make

North Korea had conveyed to the Japanese side its plan to launch an
investigation of the abduction issue possibly this month, raising
hopes in the Japanese government that progress would be made this
time. Since North Korea's aim has been to have its name removed from
the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, it was necessary for
it to show a stance of making a serious effort to improve its ties
with Japan, as well.

All the more for that reason, North Korea's statement that contained

TOKYO 00002342 003 OF 010

open hostility to the U.S. is being taken with serious concern by
Japan, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official. The reason
is because if North Korea has decided to confront the U.S., its
desire to improve ties with Japan could also weaken.

However, some take a cool-headed view of the situation with another
senior Foreign Ministry official noting, "North Korea, which is a
good tactician, may be throwing various pitches to see what response
the other side will make." The government expects that North Korea
will start investigation into abduction cases as promised to Japan
in order to avoid becoming isolated from the international

In any case, the statement this time has clearly implanted the
impression that the nation has toughened its stance. This raises the
possibility of domestic views cautious about the idea of easing
sanctions gaining ground, seeing North Korea as untrustworthy.

3) Taliban's involvement suspected; NGO worker kidnapped in
Afghanistan by 4 armed men

MAINICHI (Top play) (Abridged slightly)
August 27, 2008

A worker of the nongovernmental organization Peshawar-kai was
abducted on Aug. 26 in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. A spokesman
for the Taliban has told the Mainichi Shimbun that they were
involved in the abduction. Although the authenticity of the claim is
unclear, local militant groups have been working in close
cooperation with the Taliban. Some observers think the abduction was
carried out by a group linked to the Taliban.

According to the Peshawar-kai, the Foreign Ministry antiterrorism
office, and other sources, the person kidnapped is Kazuya Ito, 31,
of Kakegawa City, Shizuoka Prefecture. Ito was abducted, along with
his Afghan driver, by four armed men at 6:00 a.m. Aug. 26 (10:30
a.m. Aug. 26, Japan time). There were no escort members. There has
been no demand for ransom.

According to the Peshawar-kai, Ito, along with four other Japanese
workers, has been providing support for improving agriculture based
at a clinic some 30 kilometers north of Jalalabad. Ito is believed
to have been abducted near a village one to two kilometers southeast
of the clinic near an experimental farm.

Peshawar-kai head Manji Fukumoto indicated in a press conference in
Fukuoka City that the four men are not local antigovernment rebels
and that there is a possibility that Ito was involved in a conflict
of local residents.

According to information the Peshawar-kai has obtained from its
local workers, Ito's driver was able to escape when the four armed
men were driven by a local vigilante group.

The search, which was temporally called off last night, is expected
to resume at dawn Aug. 27. According to Fukumoto, there is
unconfirmed information that Ito will be handed over on the morning
of Aug. 27 and that the vigilante group will head for a designated

Meanwhile, some Taliban sources said upon admitting the group's
involvement in the kidnapping that a gunfight with security

TOKYO 00002342 004 OF 010

authorities had caused casualties and deaths. They explained that
the abduction was committed to demand the release of their

4) Foreign Ministry receives conflicting information due to lack of
independent confirmation channels

MAINICHI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
August 27, 2008

The Foreign Ministry's response to the abduction of Kazuya Ito was
chaotic, temporarily releasing information on Aug. 26 that Ito had
been released. It reflects the fact that the ministry, without its
own confirmation channels, has to rely on Afghan authorities in
obtaining information amid the deteriorating security situation in
the country.

The Foreign Ministry set up a taskforce on the evening of Aug. 26
and began collecting information from Afghanistan for the early
release of Ito. According to Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichita
Yamamoto, who heads the taskforce, the ambassador at the Japanese
embassy in Afghanistan received information at around 8:15 p.m. Aug.
26 from Afghan authorities that Ito had been released. The ministry
conveyed the information to the Peshawar-kai to which Ito belongs,
adding that the ministry had yet to come in contact with Ito. The
ministry was informed by the Afghan side at around 9:15 p.m. that
the earlier information on Ito's release was incorrect.

According to a senior ministry official, the notice came from a
senior Afghan Interior Ministry official. Japanese embassy officials
had not arrived at the abduction site when the information on Ito's
release came. The ministry simply believed the information from the
Afghan side that was supposed to be in talks with the group that
kidnapped Ito.

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Yamamoto said in a press conference:
"There have been conflicting reports from Afghanistan. I think this
situation has resulted from the Afghan government's intention to
provide Japan with as much information as possible." Ichita also
indicated that embassy officials are expected to arrive at the
abduction site on Aug. 27.

5) Gov't faced with difficulties in antiterror cooperation

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 27, 2008

Japan is now facing difficulties in its international antiterror
cooperation due to such factors as the recent abduction of a
Japanese man in the eastern part of Afghanistan. In the government,
there are moves exploring the feasibility of sending the
Self-Defense Forces to Afghanistan to assist with its reconstruction
instead of continuing the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling
activities in the Indian Ocean. In Afghanistan, however, the
security situation is going from bad to worse. Meanwhile, Japan has
few options.

The MSDF's current refueling activities in the Indian Ocean are set
to terminate in January. The opposition parties are opposed to
continuing the MSDF's refueling mission, and the government cannot
expect to extend the refueling mission. "In time we will have to
consider another option instead of refueling," a government official

TOKYO 00002342 005 OF 010


One of the possible options is to send SDF troops to Afghanistan to
assist with its reconstruction. The Foreign Ministry and the Defense
Ministry sent a fact-finding survey team to Afghanistan in June to
explore the feasibility of tasking Air Self-Defense Force C-130
transport planes and Ground Self-Defense Force helicopters with
airlift services. In the end, the government decided to forgo an SDF
dispatch for the time being. However, one official indicated that an
SDF dispatch to Afghanistan could be one of the possible options if
the MSDF's refueling mission is called off.

The abduction this time also gives the impression that the local
security situation is deteriorating. As it stands, the government
may become even more reluctant to task the SDF with reconstruction
assistance in Afghanistan.

6) LDP's Matsunami leaves for Afghanistan

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 27, 2008

Kenshiro Matsunami, a House of Representatives member of the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party, departed Kansai Airport yesterday evening
for Kabul in the wake of the abduction of a Japanese man in
Afghanistan. Matsunami has been tackling Afghan issues for years and
has a number of local contacts. "I will collect information first,
and then I want to negotiate with them to help him out," Matsunami
told a Nikkei reporter before his departure. "I also want to meet
with President Karzai and ask the Afghan government for
cooperation," he added.

7) Allegation of shady accounting evoking calls even from New
Komeito for Ota's resignation

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
August 27, 2008

A new source of trouble is emerging for the Fukuda administration.
It was found yesterday that a political organization linked to
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi Ota registered
the home of his secretary as its office and declared a huge amount
of office expenses in its political fund report. Ota intends to
examine the details and make an announcement this week. The focus of
attention is on whether he will be able to give a persuasive
explanation. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is now in a great quandary
as the opposition camp has seized the chance to take advantage of
the government's weakness prior to the start of debate in an
extraordinary Diet session on such controversial bills as one to
extend Japan's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

Ota said in a press conference: "The secretary registered his home
as the organization's office as the second-best measure. We have
disclosed the registration, so transparency has been ensured,"
adding: "There is no problem." But when he was asked for what
purpose the reported office expenses were used, Ota replied: "I
don't know," although Ota had said that rent had not been paid.

As it stands, Ota's explanation was not clear-cut. Hidehisa Otsuji,
chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's caucus in the House of
Councillors, said in reference to Ota's willingness to reveal the
receipts: "If there is a problem somewhere, he will have to examine

TOKYO 00002342 006 OF 010

it. He should make the receipts public." Chief Cabinet Secretary
Nobutaka Machimura listened to detailed circumstances through a
secretary. A government source commented: "If political expenses
have been properly reported and if activities have been
appropriately carried out, we see no problem."

LDP Secretary General Taro Aso expressed hope that Ota will fulfill
his responsibility to clarify the matter, but his aide flatly said:
"The government should try to put an end to this scandal before it
is pursued in the upcoming Diet session. This is a problem linked to
the crisis management of the Prime Minister's Office." New Komeito
President Akihiro Ota told a press briefing: "We have not talked
about whether he should resign," but he added: "He must explain the
circumstances in detail." Another senior New Komeito member
categorically said: "The agriculture minister should quit with good
grace before being pressed into a corner."

8) Agriculture Minister Ota's political organization found to have
logged 24.8 million yen as operating expenses from 2000 through

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
August 27, 2008

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi Ota's political
organization, Ota Seiichi daigishi o sodateru kai, has reported
operating expenses using his secretary's home as its main office.
Regarding this issue, it was also found from political fund reports
carried in the Tokyo metropolitan government's gazette issued on
August 26 that the organization registered the same address as the
address of its office from 2000 through 2002 and logged a total of
24.8 million yen in operating expenses, including abut 9.5 million
yen as expenses for operating the office.

Operating expenses of the office at the current address total 48.2
million yen, including expenses for 2005 and 2006.

It has also become clear that the organization in 2005 donated 25
million yen to Ota's supporters' association in his constituency
using funds raised at various meetings, such as the "Morning
Seminar," and 1.8 million yen in 2006 to the Liberal Democratic
Party faction to which he belongs. It was found that the
organization did not use his fund management organization or the
LDP's local chapter, which he heads, but via another route.

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Electoral Management Committee,
the organization was established under its jurisdiction in Shibuya
Ward in 1995 under the name Ota Seiichi kun o sodateru kai. It was
relocated to the present address in 2000. The name of the
organization was changed to the present name in 2003. When Ota lost
his parliamentary seat in the 2003 Lower House election, the
organization again changed its name to Ota Siichi zen daigishi o
sodateru kai. The office was then relocated to Roppongi, Minato
Ward. However, when Ota regained his position as a parliamentary
representative in 2005, the organization again adopted the present
name. It also registered the address of his secretary's home as its

9) Fukuda on hot seat over appointment of Ota as agriculture

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Lead paragraph)

TOKYO 00002342 007 OF 010

August 27, 2008

The issue of "politics and money" has emerged again. When asked
about his political organization's murky office fees included in its
political funding reports, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Minister Seiichi Ota stressed yesterday: "I don't think there is a
problem." However, it will inflict major damage on the Fukuda
administration, which was set to go on the offensive. Why do the
same kinds of unclear expenditures continue to happen? Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda's responsibility for appointing Ota will be
called into question. Prior to maneuvering between the ruling and
opposition camps in the upcoming extraordinary Diet session, the
political situation has already been thrown into turmoil.

10) Fukuda to be forced further into corner

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Slightly abridged)
August 27, 2008

The issue of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi
Ota's political organization's nuclear office expenditures is
expected to force the Fukuda administration, which has yet to
overcome its slump in the polls, further into a corner. There is a
view among government officials and senior ruling coalition members
that there is no legal problem. However, with the government
politically weak, the laxity of its administration has been

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told reporters last evening: "Since this
is Minister Ota's political activities, what I can say is that he
should give a thorough explanation as a politician."

However, Ota is not just one politician, he is a cabinet minister
appointed by Prime Minister Fukuda. This is a political problem.
Fukuda appears to have felt responsibility for having appointed him.

In the former Abe government, three agriculture ministers were
replaced due to money-related scandals, which was a cause for a
major defeat of the ruling camp in last summer's Upper House
election. However, Fukuda and senior ruling coalition members have
not learned from the defeat in the election.

Ota, referring to food safety measures, made a slip of the tongue,
saying: "Consumers are noisy." The outspoken Ota is certain to come
under fire in the upcoming extra Diet session. A junior Liberal
Democratic Party lawmaker said: "Calls for replacing the Prime
Minister may grow."

11) Extra Diet session expected to have some rough going, given
discord in ruling camp

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
August 27, 2008

The government has finally decided through thorny negotiations on
the opening date for the next extraordinary Diet session and its
duration. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has indicated eagerness to
enact key bills to prop up the economy and to extend the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean. But
cooperation from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is unlikely. In
the ruling camp, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New

TOKYO 00002342 008 OF 010

Komeito, the latter of which wants an early dissolution of the House
of Representatives for a snap election, have been out of step. In
addition, the alleged shady accounting of office expenses involving
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi Ota came to
light yesterday. Developments of the session fraught with potential
trouble are unpredictable.

On the opening day of the session on Sept. 12, the prime minister
will deliver a policy speech, followed by representative
interpellations by each political party on Sept. 16-18 and
deliberations on a supplementary budget bill in late September. The
ruling camp envisions this scenario for the early stage of the
70-day session, but uncertainty is looming over the session.

In the ruling camp, discord has been emerging. Chief Cabinet
Secretary Nobutaka Machimura yesterday indicated his consideration
for the New Komeito, the LDP's junior coalition partner, with a plan
to give priority to a supplementary budget bill in the extraordinary
Diet session. But the LDP remains unable to mend the rift with the
New Komeito, which insists on the need for large-scale fiscal
disbursements with an eye on a Lower House election late this year
or early next year.

The estrangement in the ruling camp will inevitably affect the fate
of the bill to extend Japan's refueling mission. The government and
ruling camp hope to expedite deliberations on the bill in the Lower
House Special Committee. However, since the extra budget bill will
be enacted in mid-October at the earliest, even if deliberations on
the bill to continue the refueling operation start afterward, it
will be impossible to see it passed in the Lower House before late
October. In such a case, only about one month will be left.

The DPJ has opposed an extension of the refueling mission. If the
bill is sent to the opposition-controlled House of Councillors,
there is no possibility that the bill will be voted down during the
session, according to many party members. In order for the
government to take a revote in the Lower House based on the rule
under which the bill is regarded as rejected 60 days after it is
sent to the Upper House, extending the session will be necessary.

The New Komeito, however, remains cautious about resorting to a
revote, because the party, which wants an early election, fears that
the tactic might be criticized as authoritarian management of the
Diet. If public support for the Fukuda administration remains low,
the New Komeito might not agree to extend the session.

If the government fails to implement its priority policies due to
circumstances in the ruling camp, Prime Minister Fukuda will be
immediately driven into a corner. This is an October-crisis scenario
that may lead to Fukuda's resignation.

12) 70-day extra Diet session likely to fall into confusion

ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
August 27, 2008

The government and ruling parties have decided to convene the
upcoming extraordinary Diet session on Sept. 12 and have it run for
70 days until Nov. 20. Prime Minister Fukuda will not only have to
face an opposition camp that has stepped up its confrontational
stance toward the government, he also must deal with the ruling
coalition, particularly the New Komeito, that is calling on him to

TOKYO 00002342 009 OF 010

dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap election before the
end of the year or early next year. He may be forced to make a
decision that could put his prime minister's post on the line.

In the upcoming extra session, the Prime Minister has given priority
to enacting three pieces of legislature: 1) a supplementary budget
containing a package of economic stimulus measures; 2) a bill
extending the Antiterrorism Special Measures Law enabling Japan to
continue its refueling mission in the Indian Ocean; and 3) a bill
establishing a consumer affairs agency.

The government and ruling coalition plan to start first
deliberations on the supplementary budget bill and then on the
refueling bill, followed by the consumer affairs agency bill. Since
the opposition, which controls the Upper House, has opposed these
bills, the ruling LDP and the New Komeito have no choice but to take
a two-thirds overriding vote in the Lower House, applying the
constitutional 60-day rule. It will be difficult to enact the bills
during the 70-day session. Therefore, Fukuda won't be able to
accomplish his objective unless he succeeds in convincing the New
Komeito to go with an extension of the extra session in order to
carry out an overriding vote in the Lower House.

However, the New Komeito began distancing itself from Fukuda after
the July Group of Eight (G-8) Hokkaido Summit. There is a growing
view in the New Komeito that the party won't be able to fight in the
next Lower House election with the current set up. The reason is
because Fukuda has shown no sign of being willing to dissolve the
Lower House at an early time. There is a rumor that the New Komeito
may urge Fukuda to resign in exchange for its cooperation to enact
the refueling and consumer agency bills.

Meanwhile, the prevailing view in the government is that Fukuda has
no intention to dissolve the Lower House until next spring, when the
national budget for fiscal 2009 clears the Diet; and that he has no
intention to give up his position. The reason is because Fukuda
instructed to Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Tatsuya Ito to
compile an economic vision by next spring.

The question is whether Fukuda can convince the New Komeito without
using such political cards as the dissolution of the Lower House or
his resignation. Tension will likely emerge over the timing of Lower
House dissolution and a general election, as well as Fukuda's course
of action around November when he is forced to make decisions on
whether to extend the Diet session and whether to take a second vote
in the Lower House.

13) Defense Ministry to be restructured in FY2010

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged)
August 27, 2008

The Defense Ministry yesterday reported its reform plan to Prime
Minister Fukuda. According to the plan, the Defense Ministry will
establish special advisory posts in fiscal 2009 to assist the
defense minister as part of its reform measures. In fiscal 2010, the
Defense Ministry will restructure its organization involving the
Self-Defense Forces' staff offices. Specifically, the ministry will
unify its defense buildup planning sections.

The reform plan is based on a report of recommendations worked out
in July by a government advisory panel. The Defense Ministry will

TOKYO 00002342 010 OF 010

abolish its defense counselor system, under which its internal
bureaus' senior officials have assisted the defense minister.
Instead, the ministry will have special advisors as political
appointees to the defense minister. In addition, the ministry will
also raise its defense council-a body made up of politicians,
civilian officials, and SDF officers-to the highest organ. It will
present the reform plan as a budget-related bill to the Diet at its
ordinary session next year.

14) Poll: 55 PERCENT think women can be happy even without

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
August 27, 2008

A total of 55 PERCENT of the public think women can live a happy
life even without getting married, with only 39 PERCENT saying they
do not think so, the Yomiuri Shimbun found from its recent annual
public opinion survey. In a 1978 survey, the proportion of those who
thought women could be happy without getting married was only 26
PERCENT , while those who did not think so accounted for 50 PERCENT
. However, the public's awareness of marriage has now changed.

The survey this time was conducted Aug. 9-10 on a face-to-face basis
to probe the public view of marriage.

"Do you think it is desirable for a man to devote himself to work
and for a woman to homemaking?" In response to this question, 30
PERCENT answered "yes," with 68 PERCENT saying "no." In the 1978
survey, respondents were asked if they thought a married couple
would be happy if a man pursued his work and women kept house and
took care of family. To this question, "yes" accounted for 71
PERCENT , with "no" at 22 PERCENT . According to the recent survey,
however, 65 PERCENT thought it would be better for people to get
married, with 33 PERCENT saying that people do not necessarily have
to marry. As seen from these figures, the general public remains
affirmative of marriage. The proportion of those thinking it better
to marry increased 11 percentage points from 54 PERCENT in a survey
taken in 2003 five years ago. The survey this time showed a sharp
increase in the proportion of those thinking it desirable to marry.


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