Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 09/19/08

DE RUEHKO #2594/01 2630817
P 190817Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Agricultural Minister Ota quits, taking responsibility for the
tainted rice issue, with only five days left for the Fukuda Cabinet

(2) Vice MAFF minister to be replaced: Prime Minister makes issue
over his response to incident involving contaminated rice (Nikkei)

(3) Aso negative about holding Lower House election on Oct. 26,
saying, Lower House will not be dissolved until supplementary budget
bill secures Diet approval (Tokyo Shimbun)

(4) Aso certain to become next LDP president; Party's attention
already shifted to personnel appointments (Nikkei)

(5) LDP presidential election losing substance: Yosano cancels
campaign speech due to U.S. financial crisis (Mainichi)

(6) Former LDP member Koichi Hamada: Five presidential candidates
cannot talk about future of Japan 10 years from now (Mainichi)

(7) Interview with Deputy DPJ President Naoto Kan: Form of country
must be changed first (Asahi)

(8) Gulf nations counting on Japan to continue refueling mission in
Indian Ocean (Yomiuri)

(9) G-8 foreign ministerial may be postponed (Nikkei)

(10) Foreign, justice ministries differ on U.S. military status
(Okinawa Times)


(1) Agricultural Minister Ota quits, taking responsibility for the
tainted rice issue, with only five days left for the Fukuda Cabinet

MAINICHI (Top play) (Excerpt)
Eve., September 19, 2008

Minister of Agriculture Seiichi Ota has firmed up his intention to
resign his post, taking responsibility for the ministry's
ill-equipped inspection system in connection with the improper sales
of tainted rice, as well as for his own statements. Treating it as a
de facto replacement, the prime minister has accepted his
resignation. Since the cabinet today just accepted the resignation
of Vice Minister Toshiaki Shirasu, the unusual situation exists of
the top two officials of a ministry resigning at one time.

(2) Vice MAFF minister to be replaced: Prime Minister makes issue
over his response to incident involving contaminated rice

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Full)
September 19, 2008

Prime Minister Fukuda, taking seriously the spread of the illegal
resale of tainted rice, such as moldy rice and residual
pesticide-contaminated rice, decided on September 18 to replace Vice
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Minister Toshiaki
Shirasu. The decision will be formally adopted at a cabinet meeting
on the 19th. Forestry Agency Director General Michio Ide will

TOKYO 00002594 002 OF 009

succeed his post. The tainted rice incident has created an unusual
situation, in which the top administrative official in the ministry
will take responsibility by resigning.

Referring to the tainted rice incident, Shirasu denied MAFF's
responsibility, saying, "At the present stage, I do not think that
the ministry is responsible for what happened." Receiving criticism
both from the ruling and opposition parties, he withdrew this
comment. However, he has repeatedly insisted that he had no
intention of stepping down, because it was necessary for him to find
out what really happened and ready measures to prevent a

The prime minister, who from the start of his cabinet has called for
a shift to a government that attaches importance to consumers, has
made the response of MAFF, including Shirasu, into an issue. In the
end, he reached a decision to press the ministry to make a fresh
start by replacing the vice minister.

(3) Aso negative about holding Lower House election on Oct. 26,
saying, Lower House will not be dissolved until supplementary budget
bill secures Diet approval

Tokyo Shimbun Online (Abridged)
13:13, September 19, 2008

Secretary General Taro Aso, who has a commanding lead in the Liberal
Democratic Party's (LDP) presidential race, announced today his
stance of giving priority to holding Diet deliberations on the
fiscal 2008 supplementary budget bill in the next extraordinary Diet
session. He took a negative view about the rumor circulating in the
party that the Lower House might be dissolved on October 26.

During a debate hosted by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan,
Aso underscored, "The government has adopted a set of emergency
economic stimulus measures. Since the word "emergency" is attached
to the package, we must have it deliberated by the Diet
immediately." Touching on reports by some news organizations that
the LDP and the New Komeito had agreed to set the election for
October 26, Aso said, "Even though Japanese dailies reported so,
there is a strong possibility you made a mistake if you had sent a
cable to your head office saying just as they reported." He added,
"I would never speak too soon about the timing of dissolving the
Lower House."

He also categorically said during a TBS talk show on the morning of
the 19th: "I want to secure Diet passage of the emergency economic
stimulus package by all means. Top priority should be given to the
supplementary budget. Dissolving the Lower House comes after that."
He continued, "Whether the other side will agree to deliberate on
that is another story. We have been deceived by them many times." He
hinted at the possibility of dissolving the Lower House before
passage of the supplementary budget bill only in the event the DPJ
adopted tactics delaying Diet deliberations.

(4) Aso certain to become next LDP president; Party's attention
already shifted to personnel appointments

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
September 19, 2008

With Secretary General Taro Aso running way ahead of the other four

TOKYO 00002594 003 OF 009

candidates in the ongoing LDP presidential race, LDP members'
attention has already shifted to who will join the next cabinet and
assume the party's key posts after the Sept. 22 election. Aso has
revealed a plan to give posts to even his political rivals in order
to enhance party unity. Chances are high that Aso will offer cabinet
posts to Economy and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano and former
Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba. The lineup of an Aso cabinet may
vary depending on who comes in second after Aso.

There is strong speculation in the Aso camp that he will replace a
large part of the Fukuda cabinet in a bid to place a clear Aso
imprint on his administration.

The posts of secretary general and chief cabinet secretary are now
being considered. In fact, Aso has already been asked for major
posts, such as secretary general and chief cabinet secretary, by
former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, the supreme adviser of the
Machimura faction, which is the largest in the LDP. Aso has secured
70 PERCENT of the Machimura faction votes. With Aso likely to give
some consideration to the Machimura faction, such persons as Chief
Cabinet Secretary Machimura and former Chief Cabinet Secretary
Hiroyuki Hosoda are being mentioned.

Further, Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Tadamori Oshima and
Election Strategy Council Vice Chairman Yoshihide Suga, who are
close to Aso, are being bandied as the possible next chief cabinet
secretary, the cabinet's spokesman. Some are also pointing to former
Policy Research Council Chairman Shoichi Nakagawa and former Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe as candidates for the foreign minister's
portfolio. There is a possibility that Nakagawa, a close friend of
Aso, will obtain one of the four LDP top executive posts, if not a
major portfolio.

Aso is also expected to consider keeping Environment Minister Tetsuo
Saito of the New Komeito, Defense Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and
others who were appointed only two months ago by Prime Minister

The ability to answer questions at the Diet and stability are
usually critical factors in selecting cabinet ministers and party
executives. Given the likelihood that the next Lower House election
will take place in October, individual images can be an important
criterion in making decisions this time around.

Who will come in second after Aso is also drawing much attention.

Many in the Aso camp are dismissive of giving a cabinet post to
former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, whose economic policy differs
from Aso's. But some think that if Koike or former Policy Research
Council Chairman Nobuteru Ishihara becomes the runner-up, Aso will
offer a portfolio or an executive party post to one of them.
Ishihara might become the next secretary general.

(5) LDP presidential election losing substance: Yosano cancels
campaign speech due to U.S. financial crisis

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
September 19, 2008

With Secretary General Taro Aso (67) securing prospects for sweeping
to victory in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential
election, the interest of Lower House members of the party have now

TOKYO 00002594 004 OF 009

completely shifted to their own elections. State Minister for
Economic and Fiscal Policy Kaoru Yosano (70), one of the five
presidential candidates, canceled a stumping speech scheduled to be
given in Akita City and Ichinoseki City in Iwate Prefecture on
September 18 in order to deal with the financial crisis originated
in the U.S., including the collapse of Lehman Brother, a leading
U.S. security firm. The presidential election is showing signs of
losing substance just when it has entered the final phase.

Lawmakers now eye on Lower House election

Aso said in a speech given in Ichinoseki City on the 18th: "Japan
must take measures to handle the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Mr.
Yosano is not here today, because he is a minister in charge of
that." Four other candidates made a public appeal there on their
policy of providing assistance to that area, which was hit by the
Iwate-Miyagi Quake. Aso stressed his determination to challenge the
Lower House, saying, "I have renewed my resolve to contend
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) President Ichiro Ozawa,
whose home constituency is Iwate and who is extremely strong here."

Former Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara (51) was also supposed to
abstain from the joint campaign speech meeting. He was scheduled to
go to Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture to make a campaign speech
for an assembly member, with whom he has an association. However, he
all of a sudden appeared in Ichinoseki City, saying, "I was able to
leave part way."

A Lower House member, who backs former Defense Minister Shigeru
Ishiba (51), candidly said, "The Lower House election is more
important." He accompanied Ishiba on his canvassing tour just once.
This lawmaker is actively visiting his supporters in his home
constituency. One party executive complained, "We should get off the
presidential election. The government and the ruling parties should
come up with countermeasures against the financial crisis. This way,
we can better appeal to voters."

(6) Former LDP member Koichi Hamada: Five presidential candidates
cannot talk about future of Japan 10 years from now

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
September 19, 2008

Question: Five candidates are running in the Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) presidential election.

Koichi Hamada: The candidacy of five LDP lawmakers gave the public a
sense of community. The candidates are now debating whether the
consumption tax should be raised or not. This is unprecedented.
However, Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Sadakazu
Tanigaki and Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura, who had previously
run in the presidential leadership race, did not run this time. They
should have come forward again. If they had come out, debates on the
tax system and foreign policy would have deepened. I wanted them to
stand in the election this time around, as well.

Question: Are you satisfied with the policies of the five

Hamada: I haven't heard their visions on the future of Japan ten
years from now. They should talk about policies for our country's
future, not just immediate issues.

TOKYO 00002594 005 OF 009

Question: What is your impression of the five candidates?

Hamada: It is good that former Policy Research Council Chairman
Nobuteru Ishihara has a pleasant way of presenting himself, and that
former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba talks about what kind of
foreign policy Japan should take. It is significant that Economic
and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano stated that he would
increase the consumption tax. I don't need to praise Secretary
General Aso because he is the most likely candidate to become the
next president. I think he is way ahead of the other candidates as a
prime ministerial candidate.

Question: You didn't mention the name of former Defense Minister
Yuriko Koike.

Hamada: Since former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is supporting
her, I don't need to refer to her. I don't know her at all.

Question: Compared to the past elections, what do you think of the
ongoing leadership race?

Hamada: I think the factional influence has weakened. The election
campaigns give an impression of cleanliness since lawmakers are
required to submit all receipts for every item costing one yen and
over. But in the election campaign, I don't sense the kind of pluck
and tenacity for the nation and people I had expected.

Question: What is your biggest request of the new LDP president?

Hamada: The new president must pass the supplementary budget for
fiscal 2008 through the Diet. Small and medium-sized enterprises,
transportation companies, and fishermen desperately want measures
that would help them.

Question: The Lower House will likely be dissolved at the outset of
the upcoming extraordinary Diet session.

Hamada: A person who thinks about such is not qualified to become
our country's prime minister. Since the economy has slowed down, the
public needs specific economic measures, including a supplementary
budget. Japan also should continue its refueling mission in the
Indian Ocean.

Question: Yet, the opposition camp controls the House of

Hamada: What the LDP should do is to make efforts to increase the
number of its supporters in the Upper House. Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa shook hands with Peoples' New
Party (PNP) leader Tamisuke Watanuki. Someone in the LDP should meet
with Mr. Watanuki and get down on his hands and knees and apologize.
At least such an effort should be made.

Question: Have you cast a vote in the Chiba prefectural chapter's
primary election?

Hamada: I cast a vote on Sept. 16.

Question: For whom did you vote?

Hamada: Well, I voted for a candidate who will win. Ha ha ha. That

TOKYO 00002594 006 OF 009

person has fighting spirit because the new president will have to
fight with the opposition.

Question: Do you think the LDP can win the Lower House election
under the leadership of Mr. Aso?

Hamada: Since many want the DPJ to take over the reins of government
at least once, I can say now that the DPJ would win. For that
reason, the Lower House should be dissolved after the supplementary
budget is adopted and the refueling operation is extended. I think
the consumption tax should have been hiked while the popular Prime
Minister Koizumi was in office.

(7) Interview with Deputy DPJ President Naoto Kan: Form of country
must be changed first

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
September 19, 2008

-- How do you view the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) presidential

"Following former Prime Minister Abe, Prime Minister Fukuda has now
abandoned his government. The LDP should first apologize to the
people that two prime ministers they chose have successively
abandoned their administration. I must say strongly that what
happened manifests the irresponsible predisposition innate in the
LDP as a whole."

-- Some of policies advocated by presidential elections are similar
to those of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto),
including the reallocation of special-purpose road-construction
revenues and the use of a so-called hidden slush fund.

"I don't have such an impression at all. The DPJ's policy proposals
are based on the notion that the country's way of leaving matters to
the bureaucracy to work out should be changed. The LDP's proposal
does not include its basis. What the DPJ is trying to do is changing
the current feudalistic Tokugawa-like system to Meiji
Restoration-like government, so to speak. The LDP is talking like a
feudal lord about paying rice as land tax. Although it is necessary
to change the system from central government to decentralized
government, and move from reliance on the bureaucracy to a system
where everything is open to the people, the candidates for the LDP
presidency are not talking about decentralization at all."

-- Do you think that depending on the results of the LDP
presidential election and the general election that will follow,
there is a possibility of political realignment?

"If the result of the general election brings in an administration
centered on the DPJ, there is a good possibility of the LDP
collapsing. It was that way in 1993."

-- Is the DPJ asserting that it as the number one opposition party
be entrusted with managing the election?

"The question is what responsibility does the LDP and the New
Komeito - particularly the LDP - feel. Since the LDP like before has
a majority in the Lower House, the prime minister has been changed a
number of times without there being an election. Is that acceptable?
From the point of view of the public, the LDP does not notice that

TOKYO 00002594 007 OF 009

it is not a party of responsibility."

-- What will the DPJ be doing during the LDP presidential election?

"The party head elections of the two major parties are like the
semi-finals. We are now drafting a manifesto that hears the wishes
of the people and plan to use it in the general election that will
be the main election."

(8) Gulf nations counting on Japan to continue refueling mission in
Indian Ocean

YOMIURI (Page 11) (Full)
September 19, 2008

By Akira Mizuguchi, head of Keiai University International Exchange

Following a tour of Dubai this January, I visited Qatar and Bahrain
in August. These countries are enjoying unprecedentedly marked
economic growth. During my travel, I felt that in Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) states undergoing significant changes, Japan might
lose its political presence, focusing particularly on its
involvement in projects to help urban development in those countries
and in the war against terror.

Japanese companies have been slow to take part in the urban
development projects because they have given priority to making
profit and have little understanding of the purpose of these
projects. Even so, Japanese firms are gradually becoming aware of
their importance through serious analysis of the present situation.
I hope many more firms will participate in the projects.

The nation's commitment to the war on terror will be affected by
whether the new Antiterrorism Special Measures Law can be extended
beyond its expiration on Jan. 15. The said law was previously
rejected in the House of Councillors but was then reinstated by a
two-thirds lower chamber overriding vote, the first time in 57 years
for such a vote to be taken. The Maritime Self-Defense Force's
(MSDF) refueling mission in the Indian Ocean is to support Maritime
Interception Operation (MIO) incorporated in Operation Enduring
Freedom (OEF), which is aimed at rooting out terrorism. There were
allegations that MSDF-supplied fuel had been illegally diverted for
the U.S. mission in Iraq. Remembering this, some Japanese people are
opposed to a plan to extend the refueling mission.

Overseas, however, there are different views from such negative
views in Japan. British Ambassador to Japan Warren has asked the
Japanese government to continue its refueling operation. Afghan
President Hamid Karzai reportedly expressed hopes for Japan's
continued refueling service, given intensifying activities by the
Taliban in his country.

The GCC countries, which are deeply involved in Japan's energy
security, also know that Japan has been participating in the war on
terror. Many of them expect Japan to continue the mission. For
instance, when I was in Qatar, one-fourth of the space in a local
newspaper was devoted to the news that aid worker Kazuya Ito
belonging to NGO Peshawar-kai had been slain in Afghanistan The
newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Koumura as saying that there will
be no change in Japan's commitment to reconstruction assistance in
Afghanistan and to the war on terror.

TOKYO 00002594 008 OF 009

The GCC countries have improved their media environment, so we can
obtain information on global affairs at the international level
here. My acquaintance in this region emphasized the importance of
international cooperation in resolving global issues. Pointing out
that Japan has begun to pay more attention to domestic affairs than
foreign affairs, the acquaintance expressed apprehension about a
possible suspension of Japan's refueling mission.

In the region, we heard these views if Japan discontinues the
refueling operation: (1) Japan should instead participate in
peacekeeping operations that carry risk in Afghanistan; (2) if Japan
suspends the service for the reason of domestic political problems,
as was the previous case, Japan will lose credibility in the
international community; and (3) Japan will come under fire as a
free rider in the global effort to prevent piracy.

Japan's international evaluation will be affected by whether Japan
can extend the Antiterrorism Special Measures Law. But we hear talk
in Japan about this issue as if it were a domestic issue or an issue
between Japan and the U.S. The substance of the issue might be

It is urgently necessary for us Japanese to be aware of the actual
situation of the changing international community and review how
Japan should be involved in the war on terror. In the nation, the
political situation is in a critical state as Prime Minister Abe and
his successor Fukuda stepped down after a short period of time. That
is why I think it is important for Japan to appeal to the world its
eagerness to continue its international cooperation.

(9) G-8 foreign ministerial may be postponed

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
September 19, 2008

The annual Group of Eight foreign ministerial is usually held in New
York in late September timed with the UN General Assembly. The
possibility has become strong that such a ministerial will be put
off this year, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official
yesterday. At the same time, the next foreign minister under a new
administration is scheduled to attend UNGA. Coordination is underway
for the next foreign minister to depart for the United States on
Sept. 25.

(10) Foreign, justice ministries differ on U.S. military status

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 1) (Full)
September 18, 2008

The full contents of a secret Justice Ministry document on how to
handle incidents involving U.S. military personnel, civilian
employees, and their families were revealed yesterday. The Okinawa
Times has obtained the full text, which describes specific
instructions to handle incidents, such as a notification that was
issued in 1953 by the then director general of the Justice
Ministry's Criminal Affairs Bureau and requested jurisdiction not be
exercised, except for serious cases. In addition, the disclosed
document also details a secret agreement reached between Japan and
the United States that formed the basis for the notification. It
realistically depicts the Japanese government's subservience to the

TOKYO 00002594 009 OF 009

United States and also shows contradictions to the government's
conventional view.

The document was created by the Justice Ministry's Criminal Affairs
Bureau as reference material regarding criminal jurisdiction over
U.S. military personnel, et al. It is 491 pages long, with a stamp
of "Secret" on its cover, giving instructions in concrete terms for
specific cases.

In 1953, Japan and the United States reached an intergovernmental
agreement concerning U.S. military aircraft crashes. The agreement
says U.S. military authorities are allowed to enter private
properties "without prior authorization."

However, the Foreign Ministry's description posted on its website
says U.S. military authorities are allowed to do so "if and when
there is no time to obtain prior authority." This wording in the
Foreign Ministry's website-posted description differs substantively
from that in the 1953 agreement. This difference from the wording of
the document written in English was noted in the Diet.

The Foreign Ministry has explained that the Japan-U.S. agreement
requires prior authority in principle. However, the Justice
Ministry's interpretation is based on the English text's wording.
The Foreign Ministry's stance will likely be called into question

However, in 1958, the National Police Agency also issued a
notification to the chiefs of prefectural police headquarters
regarding the security of aircraft crash sites, instructing them to
consider how to secure evidence and prevent secrets from leaking. In
1959, the NPA instructed local police chiefs to tell the press that
the U.S. military requested there be no photographing of the site of
an aircraft crash. In this case, the NPA notification told local
police chiefs to inform the press of that request. As seen from this
notification, the NPA set forth its stance of cooperating in a
positive manner with the U.S. military to secure secrets.

The secret document file containing these instructions is archived
at the National Diet Library. Since June, however, the file has been
embargoed to the public-except for Diet members-at the Justice
Ministry's request. On Sept. 10, Kantoku Teruya, a House of
Representatives member of the Social Democratic Party, perused the
document at the National Diet Library. Teruya, meeting the press on
Sept. 17, noted the difference between the two kinds of
documentations. "The Foreign Ministry is intentionally trying to
cover up the facts," he said.


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