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Cablegate: Tokyo Media Reaction - Health of Dprk Leader

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FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7170
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UNCLAS TOKYO 002500

SIPDIS

STATE FOR I/RF, PA/PR/FPC/W, IIP/G/EA, EAP/PD, R/MR,
EAP/J, EAP/P, PM;
USTR FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
TREASURY FOR OASIA/IMI;
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA;
CP BUTLER OKINAWA FOR AREA FIELD OFFICE;
PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO JA
SUBJECT: TOKYO MEDIA REACTION - HEALTH OF DPRK LEADER
KIM JONG IL AND 9/11 ANNIVERSARY

1. LEAD STORIES: All Thursday morning papers gave
prominent front-page coverage to the official kickoff
yesterday of the LDP presidential election, with most
saying that party Secretary General Aso appears to have
support from almost half of the party's Diet members.

2. "What Is Going on in North Korea?" On growing
speculation about the health of DPRK leader Kim Jong
Il, the business-oriented Nikkei editorialized (9/11):
"Factors other than health problems, such as the
stalemate on the nuclear front, could explain his
absence from the national foundation ceremonies.... As
serious food shortages have been reported, Kim Jong Il
may have concluded that his participation in the events
would be inappropriate. The prevailing view is that no
successor to Kim has been chosen yet, and prejudging
the situation would not be advisable. However, if
something serious is taking place inside North Korea,
it will eventually directly affect Japan's security. It
is necessary to closely monitor the situation in North
Korea."

3. "Serious Concern Marks 60th National Foundation Day"
The liberal Asahi wrote in an editorial (9/11): "What
would be most desirable would be for North Korea to
move toward full-fledged reform and opening. This would
carry risks, however.... The most realistic approach
would be to use the six-party talks to have North Korea
surrender its nuclear program and sincerely deal with
the abduction issue, while the U.S. and Japan would in
return normalize diplomatic ties. Though it will be
difficult, engineering a 'soft landing' for North Korea
is the only option. A change of power will occur sooner
or later regardless of the current health of Kim Jong
Il. Policy toward the DPRK needs to be crafted with
this in mind."

4. "Toward a New Cold War - U.S. Crusade to Spread
Democracy Backfires with Russia" A Washington
correspondent for the liberal Mainichi wrote (9/11):
"Concern is mounting within the international community
about the lack of means to restrain Russia. However,
the Bush administration appears not to share that
concern. It instead appears to be driven to spread
liberty and democracy throughout the world.... The
world is currently shifting from U.S. dominance to a
more multipolar situation. The U.S. understands that
working together with Russia on such common interests
as the war on terrorism, Iran's nuclear program, and
Middle East peace is critically important.
Nevertheless, Washington has chosen to take a hard line
against Russia and hold firm to what it considers its
own values. This decision reflects U.S. frustration
with the loss of its influence and prestige, which are
necessary to achieve a breakthrough."

ZUMWALT

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