Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 09/25/08
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SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 09/25/08
1) Top headlines
3) President Bush congratulates Taro Aso by phone on his being
elected prime minister (Asahi)
4) "Election cabinet" of Prime Minister Aso launched (Asahi)
5) Lower House election could be on either Nov. 2nd or 9th (Nikkei)
6) Aso Cabinet seen as a "one-man show" production, leaving his
former chief cabinet secretary, Machimura, miffed (Nikkei)
7) Cabinet profile: Average age is four years younger than previous
one; four members have no factional affiliation; and many hold
"hereditary" Diet seats (Tokyo Shimbun)
8) Foreign Minister Nakasone, son of famous prime minister, known
more for making dogged efforts than for having pluck (Sankei)
9) Defense Minister Hamada, son of notorious LDP lawmaker "Hamako",
is a new breed of defense policy specialists (Sankei)
10) Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, son of rightwing lawmaker,
has reputation of being one of the LDP's toughest "hawks"
11) State Minister for Declining Birthrate Obuchi, daughter of the
late Prime Minister Obuchi, is a mom and at 34, the youngest cabinet
12) Head of abduction family association "shocked" that Kyoko
Nakayama, abduction issue advocate, was not in the Aso Cabinet
13) Views of voters interviewed on the street include feeling that
"they don't know the lives of us average people" (Mainichi)
14) Main points of Prime Minister Aso's press conference include
pledge to continue oil refueling mission in the Indian Ocean
15) Aso to make his immediate foreign policy debut at the UN General
Assembly, leaving for New York today (Sankei)
16) Aso must find way to prevent sparks between Japan and U.S. over
the MSDF refueling mission, whose future is now in doubt (Nikkei)
17) Secretary of Defense Gates' remarks about "those not sending
troops to Afghanistan should provide funding" may refer to Japan
18) Democratic Party of Japan finishes drafting its political
manifesto for the upcoming general election (Asahi)
1) TOP HEADLINES
Aso's "election-destined" cabinet launched: Announces cabinet lineup
himself; Calls for deliberations on supplementary budget
Aso cabinet launched: Stop-gap lineup with general election just
Aso's "war-readiness" cabinet launched: Policy shift to give
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priority to economic pump-priming measures
Aso cabinet set sails: Strong impression of being caretaker
government with Lower House election close at hand
Aso cabinet launched: Will dissolve Lower House, taking
supplementary budget into account
Aso cabinet launched: General election to be set with focus on with
Extraordinary Diet session starts: War of words to correct
root-cause of people's burden from the perspective of benefit of
(1) Aso's cabinet launched: What should be done before dissolution
of Lower House
(2) Realignment of financial institutions throughout world: Japanese
banks should make best use of opportunity
(1) Aso cabinet: Ripe time for voters to choose either LDP or DPJ;
Clear information for making decision should be offered
(1) How to build a bright and strong country?
(1) Can Aso cabinet convey its resolve to fight with its back to the
(2) Shockwave from suicide bombing in Pakistan
(1) Aso cabinet: Win confidence, overcoming present crisis: Contest
general election with policies
(1) Aso "election-destined" cabinet launched: Lineup for decisive
(1) Aso cabinet launched: Thorough discussion of state affairs
3) Bush congratulates Aso
ASAHI (Page 9) (Full)
September 25, 2008
NEW YORK-U.S. President Bush called Prime Minister Aso on the
morning of Sept. 24 (on the evening of Sept. 24 Japan time) and
congratulated him on his inauguration as prime minister. At the same
time, Bush and Aso reaffirmed that the alliance between Japan and
the United States remains rocksolid, according to National Security
Council (NSC) Spokesman Johndroe from the White House. Bush was
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quoted as saying he was looking forward to seeing Aso when the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum meets in November.
4) Launch of Aso "election-management cabinet"; Aso announces
cabinet lineup himself
ASAHI (Top Play) (Excerpts)
September 25, 2008
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Taro Aso was elected the
nation's 92nd prime minister and launched his coalition government
with the New Komeito yesterday. He appointed people who supported
him in the presidential race to key posts, naming Shoichi Nakagawa
as finance minister and state minister in charge of financial
services, Kunio Hatoyama as internal affairs and communications
minister, and Akira Amari as state minister in charge of
administrative reform. He thus has demonstrated his own policy
identity. The ruling coalition is making preparations to dissolve
the House of Representatives in early October, making the new
cabinet "an election management cabinet" in effect.
In a press conference last night, Aso emphasized: "I will fight the
election with these members. We will fight openly and squarely."
While saying: "The supplementary budget bill should be deliberated
on" in the extraordinary Diet session, Aso expressed his distrust in
the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), remarking: "We were often
betrayed over the past year." He indicated a willingness to decide
on the dates of Lower House dissolution and general election upon
ascertaining how the DPJ would respond to a call for deliberations
on the extra budget bill.
Aso instructed Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda, Policy Research
Council Chairman Kosuke Hori, and other key members yesterday to
speed up the formation of a policy manifesto for the Lower House
election. They are expected to draw up the manifesto, based on Aso's
campaign pledges in the party presidential election, including
Aso announced his cabinet lineup himself in a press conference,
although the announcement is traditionally made by the chief cabinet
secretary. Aso told his aides: "I would like to send a message that
the prime minister who was indirectly elected by the people under
the parliamentary cabinet system picked the cabinet members."
While appointing lawmakers close to him as members of the cabinet,
Aso also retained Kaoru Yosano as state minister in charge of
economic and fiscal policy and former Defense Minister Shigeru
Ishiba as agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, both of whom
ran against Aso.
When former Prime Minister Fukuda launched his cabinet, he kept 15
out of the 17 members of the reshuffled Abe cabinet in their posts.
But Aso has kept only five members of the previous cabinet in his
cabinet, including Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito of the New
Komeito and State Minister in Charge of Consumer Affairs Seiko Noda.
The new cabinet has five first-time appointees, including State
Minister in Charge of Declining Birthrate Yuko Obuchi, who became
the nation's youngest postwar cabinet member at 34.
5) Wrangling over general election day to go into full swing between
ruling, opposition camps; Nov. 2 or 9 likely in ruling parties
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NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
September 25, 2008
Following the inauguration of the new cabinet of Prime Minister Taro
Aso, haggling over when the next House of Representatives election
should be officially announced and be held will go into full gear
between the ruling and opposition camps. In the ruling coalition,
two ideas are now likely: "official announcement on Oct. 21 and
voting on Nov. 2" and "announcement on Oct. 28 and voting on Nov.
9." Some have suggested setting the voting date at Nov. 3. In making
a decision, the government will carefully observe what response the
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) makes to a fiscal 2008 supplementary
budget bill that includes financial resources for the government's
comprehensive economic package.
In a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Aso emphasized that
he will carefully watch what response the opposition bloc takes to
the extra budget bill.
The government might be criticized as irresponsible if it dissolves
the Lower House without deliberations on a bill that earmarks
expenses to fund assistance for small businesses and other economic
stimulus measures when concerns about a global financial crisis are
growing in the aftermath of the recent tumble of the U.S. monetary
market. A senior Liberal Democratic Party member said last night:
"Deliberations on the bill will start in the Lower House, but
whether the bill is enacted or not will depend on the response by
the opposition camp."
Keeping early November in mind, the New Komeito is making
preparations for the election. A senior party member told LDP
lawmakers: "Voting on Nov. 9 is more desirable than voting on Nov.
2." New Komeito President Akihiro Ota told reporters yesterday
regarding the date of Lower House dissolution: "I would like to hold
discussions after (Prime Minister Aso) returns home (from the United
Nations' annual assembly)."
6) Aso's one-man show in cabinet selection sets off waves; Strong
reaction from factions for his giving special preference to friends
in selection process; Machimura faction miffed
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpt)
September 25, 2008
The Aso Cabinet launched yesterday has little in the way of showcase
appointments, but stood out instead as having been personally picked
by Prime Minister Taro Aso. It was virtually a one-man show with
appointments that gave special preference to Aso's friends. There
have been sharp reactions from the factions, including the largest
one, Machimura's, which had lined up in the camp of those favoring
Aso. There has been no chance to make any revisions in the cabinet
list from the start. Although there had been great expectations of
the prime minister as the face of the party going into the election,
the unity of his administration, depending on its ratings in the
polls, is likely to unravel.
7)Average age of Abe cabinet ministers is four years younger than
Fukuda cabinet; Ministers belonging to no LDP faction form largest
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Full)
September 25, 2008
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Prime Minister Taro Aso has picked many of his friends to serve as
cabinet ministers. More than 60 PERCENT of the cabinet members are
LDP lawmakers who succeeded to Diet seats held by their parents or
grandparents. The average age of the Aso cabinet members is four
years younger than the previous Fukuda cabinet. This newspaper has
analyzed the profiles of all 18 cabinet ministers, including the
Four of the ministers, including Health, Labor and Welfare Minister
Yoichi Masuzoe and State Minister Economic and Fiscal Policy Kaoru
Yosano, do not belong to any LDP factions, forming the largest
group. Three cabinet posts were given to the Tsushima and Ibuki
factions respectively. The Koga faction, the third-largest in the
LDP, and the Yamasaki faction, the fourth-largest in the party, got
one cabinet post respectively. However, the Yamasaki faction already
received the party's deputy secretary general post. The Koga faction
appears to have been treated unkindly. The Koumura faction did not
get any post. Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai
is the only faction head to enter the Aso cabinet.
Age, number of times elected to Diet
The average age of the Aso cabinet ministers is 58.2, four years
younger than the 62.0 of the previous Fukuda cabinet. The Cabinet
Secretariat keeps the records of the cabinets since the second Sato
cabinet in 1976. Accordingly, the average age of 58.2 makes Aso's
the second-youngest cabinet on record, following the average age of
57.6 of the second Koizumi cabinet.
Of the Aso cabinet members, 11, including Aso, hold "hereditary"
seats, being lawmakers who succeeded to Diet seats held by their
fathers or other relatives. Four members had a grandfather or father
who served as prime minister.
Background and graduating school
The only minister who is a former bureaucrat is Land, Infrastructure
and Transport Minister Nariaki Nakayama, who once served in the
Finance Ministry. Four ministers, including National Public Safety
Commission Chairman Tsutomu Sato, are former prefectural assembly
members. Five ministers each graduated from the University of Tokyo
and Keio University.
8) Foreign Minister Nakasone persistent rather than courageous
SANKEI (Page 4) (Full)
September 25, 2008
The father of new Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone is former Prime
Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. After graduating from Keio University,
Nakasone worked at Asahi Kasei Co. When his father assumed the prime
minister's post in 1983, he became his father's secretary. He was
first elected to the Diet in the 1986 House of Councillors election.
He has communication channels to South Korean prominent figures,
including former President Chon Du Hwan, thanks to his father. He
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visited South Korea as the first Japanese education minister in the
postwar period. The question is whether he can take advantage of the
"Nakasone brand" in the international stage.
He served as advisor on the education issue to then Prime Minister
Yoshiro Mori. In the Mori cabinet, he pulled the strings in revising
the Basic Education Law, as the responsible person for the national
council on education reform.
Although some have contended that he lacks gutsiness compared with
his father and that his political presence is thin, he is said to
have persistence as a politician. While supporting former Labor
Minister Masakuni Murakami, who had influence over the Upper House,
Nakasone often confronted Mikio Aoki, former chairman of the LDP
caucus in the Upper House, who was Murakami's political rival. He
gave up running in the 2004 LDP Upper House chairmanship election
because Aoki strongly supported then Land, Infrastructure, and
Transport Minister Chikage Ogi.
Set off by his opposition to the postal privatization bill, many LDP
members in the Upper House voted against the bill in August 2005. As
a result, the bill was voted down in the Upper House. This led to
dissolution of the Lower House and a general election. After that,
he was unable to serve in any key post.
It was the practice for an LDP Upper House member to serve in a
cabinet post for only once. However, due to the decline of Aoki's
influence, Nakasone is now serving his second term.
He lives with his wife, son and daughter in the same house his
father Yasuhiro Nakasone lives. He was raised under a strict
discipline. He was a hockey player when he was a Keio University
student and attended an Olympic training camp.
9) Defense Minister Hamada, who loves music, is a member of the new
national defense policy clique
SANKEI (Page 4) (Full)
September 25, 2008
New appointed Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada is the oldest son of
former House of Representatives member Koichi Hamada, who was dubbed
"a rough neck in the political world." Koichi never received any
cabinet post. His son, Yasukazu, has served as deputy director
general of the former Defense Agency, and director of the Liberal
Democratic Party's National Defense Division. Along with Shigeru
Ishiba and other LDP members, he is a member of a new breed of
national defense advocates. Hamada as Defense Agency deputy director
general gave a speech to Ground Self-Defense Force personnel
deployed to Iraq, saying: "I want you as Self-Defense Force officers
to show your samurai spirit." His remark caused a stir.
Regarding reform of the Defense Ministry after a scandal involving a
former administrative vice defense minister over the procurement of
equipment, Hamada, as chairman of the LDP's Subcommittee on Reform
of the Defense Ministry, put forth a set of recommendations,
including the creation of ministerial assistant posts, demonstrating
his capability for implementing policy.
Contrary to his image of being a hardliner, he leads a band called
"Gi ! nz." He is the vocal in the group. His predecessor Yoshimasa
Hayashi is a member of the band. He and his wife have a son and a
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daughter. He enjoys playing golf and reading books.
10) New Finance Minister and State Minister in Charge of Financial
Services Shoichi Nakagawa (55): Known as a hawk in the party
MAINICHI (Page 11) (Full)
September 25, 2008
Although he had held such posts as minister of the economy, trade
and industry, agriculture minister, and party policy research
chairman over a four year-period transcending the Koizumi and Abe
administrations, since the Abe cabinet reshuffle last year, he has
had no post. For the last year or so, he has headed a group he
launched called the "True Conservative Policy Study Group," which is
dedicated to continuing the policies of the former Abe Cabinet.
Having also spent his time writing a book, he has had ample time to
recharge his battery.
Following the death of his father Ichiro Nakagawa, he ran for the
Lower House of the Diet in 1983 and won his first seat at the age of
30. He is known as the quintessential "hawk" in the party. As such,
he has very close ties with Taro Aso and Shinzo Abe.
11) Obuchi, 34, becomes state minister in charge of declining
YOMIURI (Page 39) (Abridged)
September 25, 2008
Prime Minister Taro Aso announced the cabinet lineup himself in a
press conference held yesterday afternoon at the Prime Minister's
Official Residence (Kantei). Aso appointed Yuko Obuchi, 34, a mother
of one child, to be state minister in charge of declining birthrate,
making her the youngest cabinet minister in postwar history. Aso has
also sent Shigeru Ishiba, 51, a tough debater who vied for the LDP
presidency with Aso, to the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
Ministry, which is being rocked by the tainted rice resale issue.
With the establishment of the new cabinet, an election mode has
Obuchi's son turns one today. He was born the day before former
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda first formed his cabinet. Around 3
o'clock yesterday afternoon, Obuchi received a telephone call
notifying her that she was being appointed declining-birthrate
minister. She was in her office in the Diet members' Office
"I just received a phone call from Prime Minister Aso himself,"
Obuchi said to reporters waiting outside her office. "I feel truly
honored. I will work hard so that no one can tell me that I'm too
young and have no experience." She also indicated that raising a
child is no easy task and can be distressing. "I'd like to help
create an environment where people with children can feel safe."
Shortly after 6 o'clock in the afternoon, she was still watching the
prime minister announce the cabinet lineup on television in her
office. But when she received a call to report to the Kantei, she
immediately left her office.
She seemed somewhat tense at a press conference at the Kantei. Asked
how she handles both being a lawmaker and a mother, she said: "It's
not only me, other people are having a hard time, too. It's not
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something I can boast about. As minister in charge of declining
birth rate, I want to integrate my own experiences into policy."
Following the sudden death of her father, then Prime Minister Keizo
Obuchi, Yuko Obuchi, who had never run for office, ran for his seat
in June 2006 and won. She is now in her third term. In December
2004, she married a producer at a commercial TV broadcaster. In the
press conference, she expressed her aspirations while keeping her
eyes on the script. At one point, she said about striking a balance
between her job and childrearing, "I've been walking a tightrope."
About the telephone call on her appointment, she said: "I was really
surprised to receive the call from the prime minister himself."
12) Abduction Minister Nakayama not reappointed; Abduction family
group in shock
MAINICHI (Page 28) (Abridged slightly)
September 25, 2008
By Kyoko Hirota
Shigeo Iizuka, 70, chairman of the Association of the Families of
Victims of Kidnapped by North Korea, met the press last night in
front of his residence in Ageo City, Saitama Prefecture. Touching on
the fact that Kyoko Nakayama was not reappointed as abduction issue
minister, Iizuka said perplexedly: "We are shocked. Our group has
put a lot of trust in her. We wonder who we should consult with in
Regarding the fact that the chief cabinet secretary is now
concurrently responsible for the abduction issue, Iizuka said: "He
is in a position to deal with a variety of issues. We are worried
about whether he can advance the abduction issue as a top priority
and if he can address the issue based on the government's position
toward a settlement."
Iizuka added: "The government has concluded that it will not forget
the abduction issue, but that might be derailed by a Lower House
dissolution for a snap general election. The situation has been
changing so fast that we really don't know what to do. We just want
the administration to deal with the matter appropriately."
13) Voters think lawmakers don't understand how they live, skeptical
about second-generation Diet members
MAIHICHI (Page 28) (Abridged slightly)
September 25, 2008
What impression does the public have about the lineup of the Aso
cabinet and what do they expect of the new cabinet ministers? The
newspaper interviewed some voters in Shinbashi and Shinjuku.
Shoichi Yamamoto, the 51-year-old manager of a Japanese-style pub
near JR Shinbashi Station, said: "Everything was decided behind the
The dwindling economy has directly hit the pub. Visits to the pub by
the average customer have declined from three times a week to twice,
and the average sales-per-customer have dropped to the 1,000-yen
level. "Serving dishes at low prices is our sales point, so we
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cannot raise prices," Yamamoto said. He also spoke on behalf of some
salaried workers who were discussing politics there: "Their
conversations usually center on their companies. They are all
concerned about their livelihoods." Yamamoto quipped about the
appointment of Yuko Obuchi as declining birthrate minister: "She was
appointed to court public favor for the sake of the next election."
Hideyuki Arai, 58, the owner of a trucking company in Minato Ward,
who was shopping at a supermarket, took this view as he looked at
such names as Hirofumi Nakasone, the new foreign minister, and
Obuchi: "The lineup includes so many second-generation lawmakers. I
wonder if the second- and third-generation Diet members, including
Mr. Aso, understand how the general public lives. First of all, they
have to do something about the economy."
Eiko Asakawa, a 63-year old housewife in Shiki, Saitama Prefecture,
on her way back from the hospital, noted about Obuchi: "She looks
like the girl next door. The post should be given to a person with
A 33-year-old company employee from Mitaka, who was waiting for a
friend in front of Shinjuku Station, said: "Because so many strings
are attached to the LDP, the party cannot change politics no matter
who becomes the prime minister. If an election was held now, I would
vote for the DPJ. I want to see an Ozawa cabinet."
Iyoko Kobayashi, 52, a shopper from Sano, Tochigi Prefecture, and
the owner of a soba restaurant, said disapprovingly: "When using a
car on business, I opt for self-serve gas stations in order to
reduce costs. Politicians do not know the efforts of the general
public." Recent cabinets were all short-lived. Kobayashi added: "You
cannot remember the names of past prime ministers, can you? One
cannot produce results unless he serves in the post as long as Mr.
"The Aso cabinet is a transitory government that will be in place
until the next general election," a 40-year-old employee of a liquor
maker from Saitama City noted. He also indicated that he cannot
expect anything from the new cabinet.
14) Main points from Prime Minister Aso's press remarks
ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
September 25, 2008
The following is a gist of Prime Minister Aso's remarks from
yesterday's inaugural press conference.
People are concerned about the nation's economy and their daily
lives, and they are also distrustful of politics. As it stands, I'm
taking a severe view of the fact that we are in a crisis. I will
make Japan bright and strong. This is my task. I want to tell all
cabinet ministers about the following points. We will push ahead
with policy measures for the people. We will control the
bureaucrats. We will devote ourselves to bettering our national
interests. This is the best of all, I think
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I will implement at least emergency economic stimulus measures for
the current economic slump. Accordingly, I want the supplementary
budget discussed. I will think about when to dissolve the Diet for a
general election, after taking into consideration whether they (the
opposition bench) will respond to deliberations on it.
Maritime Self-Defense Force refueling in the Indian Ocean
Nearly 90 PERCENT of Japan's oil imports comes through the Indian
Ocean. The world is fighting terrorism, and of course, as a member
of the international community, we must resolutely fight terrorism.
We'll have to carry out the refueling mission. The question is
whether to use a second overriding vote with two-thirds in the House
of Representatives, but I will make a decision after seeing how the
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) responds.
End to fiscal, monetary segregation
In the meeting of finance ministers from foreign countries, none of
them would say they have nothing to do with monetary affairs. The
finance minister should concurrently be in charge of monetary
Raising state liability for basic pension fund and turning primary
We've promised (to raise state liability for the basic pension
fund), so we will do that. Achieving the primary balance by 2011 was
premised on an economic growth of 3 PERCENT . But now, our economic
growth may be minus 3 PERCENT . The preconditions are now
substantially upset, and we cannot ignore this.
15) Aso cabinet sets sails: Diplomatic debut at UN General Assembly
SANKEI (Page 5) (Abridged slightly)
September 25, 2008
The new Aso administration has gotten under way, but it is saddled
with many challenges. Prime Minister Taro Aso will visit New York on
September 25 to deliver a speech at the UN General Assembly. He
leaves behind a mountain of pending issues including ones in the
social security area that are closely related to the people's lives.
How he will address those issues will likely have a major impact on
the next Lower House election.
This is the first time in three years for a Japanese prime minister
to attend the fall session of the UN General Assembly, the last
being Junichiro Koizumi. Prime Minister Aso will stress in his
speech Japan's resolve to continue its participation in the war on
terror, as well as to seek a permanent seat on the UN Security
Council (UNSC). His schedule is very tight. He will leave New York
in early hours of the 27th without staying there overnight. He wants
to demonstrate a showy summit diplomacy, having in mind the effect
on the snap election that will follow his dissolution of the Lower
House just ahead.
The UN General Assembly was also the venue for then Prime Minister
Keizo Obuchi's first overseas trip in 1998. Aso will separately meet
with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and the prime ministers of
Iraq and Australia during his 10-hour stay in New York. There will
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be no meeting with President Bush, because of a scheduling
In a speech to be delivered at the UN General Assembly, Aso will
stress Japan's resolve to continue to contribute to war on terror in
such countries as Afghanistan, as well as seek support for Japan's
entry into the UNSC. He is also expected to indicate his
determination for Japan to take the lead in combating global
warming, based on the achievements at the Hokkaido Lake Toya Summit
(G-8) in July.
The government sees the prime minister's first foreign trip as a
chance for him to showcase his diplomatic plan, according to a
Foreign Ministry source. Many Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members
pin high hopes on Aso's foreign trip, with one saying, "This will be
an opportunity for us to sell the new prime minister to the
international community and make our appeal to the public prior to
the general election."
However, whether the international community will seriously take the
prime minister's resolve is premised on whether his administration's
political base is solid or not. Aso is the fourth Japanese prime
minister since the terrorist attack on the U.S. seven years ago.
Whether Japan will continue refueling operations by the Maritime
Self-Defense Force in the Indian Ocean, which expire in January 15,
2009, remains unclear.
In addition, it is conceivable that the LDP may fall into the
opposition camp in the upcoming general election. One diplomatic
source said, "The international community will not seriously listen
to the Japanese prime minister's statement under the present
conditions. Japan cannot loudly call for reforming the UNSC,
16) Refueling issue likely to set off sparks between Japan, U.S.
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
September 25, 2008
One of the pressing diplomatic challenges for new Prime Minister
Taro Aso will be steering Japan's strained relations with the United
States over cooperation on antiterrorist operations in Afghanistan.
The Maritime Self-Defense Force has been tasked with refueling
activities in the Indian Ocean under a time-limited law that is set
to expire in January. There is no prospect yet in sight, however,
for the law to be extended. The United States also has urged Japan
to make still greater contributions in such a form as sending
Self-Defense Forces troops to Afghanistan. These bilateral issues
continue to smolder. Prime Minister Aso, who has experience as
foreign minister, will now be tested on whether he can find a way
out of this predicament.
Aso will depart this afternoon for New York to attend the United
Nations General Assembly, where he will deliver a speech and clarify
Japan's contributions to the war on terror.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to withdraw Air Self-Defense
Force troops from Iraq. As it stands, refueling will be the only
form of contribution left in the SDF's antiterror cooperation. Aso
will try to pass a bill amending the law to extend the MSDF's
refueling mission. However, it will be difficult to do with a snap
election for the House of Representatives close at hand.
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17) Gates may have aimed remark at Japan: Those allies not
dispatching troops to Afghanistan should provide funding
YOMIURI (Page 7) (Full)
September 25, 2008
WASHINGTON-U.S. Secretary of Defense Gates testified yesterday
before the Senate Committee on Armed Services about the situation in
Afghanistan. "This is a good chance for those allies that have not
sent combat troops to Afghanistan to provide the Afghan forces with
financial assistance," Gates stated before the committee. He also
clarified that the United States hopes for contributions from U.S.
allies in Asia, so he is believed to be calling on Japan for
The United States is growing frustrated with the possibility that
Japan may discontinue the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling
activities in the Indian Ocean. On the other hand, Japan will likely
find it difficult to respond if the United States is asking it to
provide military assistance in the financial area.
In his testimony, Gates referred to a plan for Afghanistan to double
its 65,000-strong armed forces to 122,000 as a pillar of public
security in that country. "To that end, they will need 2-2.5 billion
dollars a year," Gates said. "But," he added, "the Afghan
government's budget is only 700 million dollars."
18) DPJ outlines roadmap for manifesto, calling for promptly
abolishing provisional gasoline tax
ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
September 25, 2008
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has outlined a roadmap for its
policy manifesto for the next House of Representatives election. The
party classifies the four years from the year when it seizes
political power until the expiration of its term into three stages:
the initial year (fiscal 2009); the second term (fiscal 2010-2011);
and the third term (fiscal 2012). It proposes abolishing the
provisional gasoline tax in the initial year and implementing a plan
to unify the current pension systems in the third term.
The roadmap explains that 22 trillion yen needed to finance the
priority policies proposed in the manifesto will be raised in the
third term by revising the budget. The main opposition party plans
to finalize by the end of this month its manifesto that specifies
the scale of financial resources in each term in accordance with the
According to the roadmap, the DPJ would begin addressing the
challenge of scrapping the provisional tax right after it grabs
power. Emphasizing that this measure will immediately reduce
gasoline prices by about 25 yen per liter and contribute to lower
gas prices, the party is going to present the measure as "the fruit
of the change of government."
Regarding the pension-unification plan, it will take time for
designing a system, so the DPJ has decided to start work in fiscal
In reforming the medical system, the party will aim at abolishing
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the health insurance system for people aged 75 or older in the
initial year and unifying the medical insurance systems in the
second term or later. To create a subsidy system for individual
farmers and a child-rearing support system, enacting related bills
will become necessary, so the party intends to carry them out in the
second term. The roadmap notes that the plan to waive expressway
tolls should be partially started in the initial year.