Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More



Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 09/26/08

DE RUEHKO #2678/01 2700822
P 260822Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.


(1) Poll on Aso cabinet, political parties (Asahi)

(2) Poll on Aso cabinet, political parties (Nikkei)

(3) Okinawa experts leave office, prefectural government feeling
uneasy; Futenma relocation may be retarded (Okinawa Times)

(4) George Washington deployed at Yokosuka; Port may become base for
nuclear-powered warships (Tokyo Shimbun)

(5) Editorial: Deployment of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at
Yokosuka port: Japanese, U.S. governments should take every possible
measure to ensure safety (Mainichi)

(6) Editorial: Deployment of U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier at
Yokosuka dogged by anxiety (Tokyo Shimbun)

(7) Editorial: Can U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier become
fortress for peace? (Asahi)

(8) Japan, U.S., European countries likely to resubmit resolution
criticizing North Korea to UN (Asahi)


(1) Poll on Aso cabinet, political parties

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
September 26, 2008

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage, rounded off. Bracketed figures denote
proportions to all respondents.)

Q: We ask about the now-inaugurated cabinet of Prime Minister Taro
Aso. Do you support the Aso cabinet?

Yes 48
No 36

Q: Why? (One reason only. Left column for those marking "yes" on
previous question, and right for those saying "no.")

The prime minister is Mr. Aso 37(18) 9(3)
It's an LDP-led cabinet 21(10) 54(20)
From the aspect of policies 23(11) 22(8)
Cabinet lineup 13(6) 12(4)

Q: Which political party do you support now? (Figures in parentheses
denote findings from the last survey conducted Sept. 10-11.)

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 34 (29)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 23 (19)
New Komeito (NK) 3 (2)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 2 (2)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 1 (1)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0 (0)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0 (0)
Other political parties 0 (0)
None 32 (40)

TOKYO 00002678 002 OF 010

No answer (N/A) + don't know (D/K) 5 (7)

Q: Do you think Mr. Aso is a person of action?

Yes 54
No 28

Q: Do you think Mr. Aso is a politician in touch with the popular

Yes 32
No 54

Q: Mr. Aso has now become prime minister. What's your impression of
the LDP?

Improved 15
Worsened 7
Unchanged 74

Q: Prime Minister Aso has clarified that he will fast-track economic
stimulus measures even by putting off the goal of fiscal
reconstruction. Do you support this policy?

Yes 64
No 18

Q: If you were to vote now in a general election for the House of
Representatives, which political party would you like to vote for in
your proportional representation bloc? (Figures in parentheses
denote findings from a survey taken Sept. 2-3 before the last

LDP 36 (28)
DPJ 32 (32)
NK 4 (4)
JCP 4 (3)
SDP 1 (2)
PNP 0 (1)
NPN 0 (0)
Other political parties 1 (0)
N/A+D/K 22 (30)

Q: Would you like the current LDP-led coalition government to
continue, or would you otherwise like it to be replaced with a
DPJ-led coalition government?

LDP-led coalition 39 (32)
DPJ-led coalition 40 (41)

Q: Which one between Prime Minister Aso and DPJ President Ichiro
Ozawa do you think is more appropriate for prime minister?

Mr. Aso 54
Mr. Ozawa 26

Q: Do you think it would be better for Japan to have the ruling and
opposition parties change places at times?

Yes 73
No 21

TOKYO 00002678 003 OF 010

Polling methodology: The survey was conducted from the evening of
Sept. 24 through the evening of Sept. 25, after the cabinet lineup
was announced, over the telephone on a computer-aided random digit
dialing (RDD) basis. Respondents were chosen from among the nation's
voting population on a three-stage random-sampling basis. Valid
answers were obtained from 1,014 persons (56 PERCENT ).

(08092603im) Back to Top

(2) Poll on Aso cabinet, political parties

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Full)
September 26, 2008

Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage. Parentheses denote findings for the
Fukuda cabinet from the last survey conducted in late August.)

Q: Do you support the new Aso cabinet?

Yes 53 (29)
No 40 (63)
Can't say (C/S) + don't know (D/K) 7 (8)

Q: Which political party do you support or like now?

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 41 (37)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 31 (30)
New Komeito (NK) 4 (3)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 4 (4)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 2 (2)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 1 (0)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0 (0)
Other political parties 0 (1)
None 13 (16)
C/S+D/K 4 (6)

(Note) The total percentage does not become 100 PERCENT in some
cases due to rounding

Polling methodology: The survey was taken Sept. 24-25 by Nikkei
Research Inc. by telephone on a random digit dialing (RDD) basis.
For the survey, samples were chosen from among men and women aged 20
and over across the nation. A total of 1,341 households with one or
more eligible voters were sampled, and answers were obtained from
780 persons (59.2 PERCENT ).

(3) Okinawa experts leave office, prefectural government feeling
uneasy; Futenma relocation may be retarded

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 2) (Full)
September 25, 2008

The Aso cabinet made its debut yesterday, installing a lineup of
former Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister
Takeo Kawamura as chief cabinet secretary, former Education Minister
Hirofumi Nakasone as foreign minister, and former Senior Vice
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada as defense minister. The new
cabinet has replaced its ministers involved in the issue of
relocating Futenma airfield. A group of working-level officials is
now consulting on the issue. However, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary

TOKYO 00002678 004 OF 010

Masahiro Futahashi, who is the government's top bureaucrat and has
responded flexibly to Okinawa's propositions, has also been replaced
with former National Police Agency Commissioner General Iwao Uruma.
Those concerned are worried about the replacement of officials
familiar with Okinawa issues, fearing that Futenma relocation may be

"It's beyond my expectations. I don't know at all what this is all

With this, a senior official of the Defense Ministry shook his head,
wondering why Kawamura has been appointed to the post of chief
cabinet secretary.

On the issue of relocating Futenma airfield, the government plans to
lay down a V-shaped pair of airstrips (in a coastal area of Camp
Schwab in Okinawa Prefecture's northern coastal city of Nago).
Concerning this plan, Okinawa Prefecture has proposed moving out the
newly planned airfield's construction site into the sea. Chief
Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura has displayed powerful
leadership over this offshore relocation and other Futenma-related
issues, so the focus was on who will take over his role. Machimura
has now been replaced with Kawamura, who has had little to do with
Okinawa and is not well posted on security affairs.

Futahashi, who has shored up Machimura at the prime minister's
office (Kantei), has also been replaced. "The Kantei will lose its
momentum," the senior official said.

Meanwhile, Japan and the United States have reached an
intergovernmental agreement on the V-shaped airfield plan. The
government used to take coercive measures under the Defense
Ministry's initiative until last year-such as promoting pump-priming
projects for the prefecture's northern districts and freezing its
subsidization of base-hosting municipalities-in order to have them
accept the plan. Okinawa's distrust of the government peaked, and
the issue of Futenma relocation was at a deadlock.

However, Machimura, after becoming chief cabinet secretary for the
Fukuda cabinet that came into office in September last year,
concentrated his efforts with Futahashi on recovering Okinawa's
trust. Machimura was flexible about the Okinawa prefectural
government's proposal to move the V-shaped facility's site offshore,
and he went so far as to have the Defense Ministry change its
officials in charge of the Futenma issue.

One government official, who knows such circumstances, recalled that
government officials like Machimura and Futahashi were "exceptional"
for Okinawa Prefecture.

That government official, however, stressed the existence of two
working teams launched in August this year. One of the two teams
studies ways to remove the danger of Futenma airfield, and the other
team discusses issues relating to the government's plan to build a
Futenma alternative and its environmental impact assessment.
"Whoever may become minister," the official said, "we will push for
the work in a steady manner." Another senior official of the Defense
Ministry also said, "It's good we've set up the working teams."

However, the House of Representatives is now expected to be
dissolved in early October for a general election. There are
conjectures going around in government. "If the DPJ (Democratic

TOKYO 00002678 005 OF 010

Party of Japan) is elected to office," one government official said,
"the (Futenma) agreement between Japan and the United States will be
blown off." Another official said, "Even if the DPJ takes office,
they cannot change the course of action over Futenma." The
government is in turmoil over the Futenma issue.

(4) George Washington deployed at Yokosuka; Port may become base for
nuclear-powered warships

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Abridged slightly)
September 26, 2008

By nuclear-powered carrier news coverage team

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (GW)
arrived yesterday at U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa
Prefecture. She is the first U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier deployed
outside the United States. The deployment renewed the impression
that Yokosuka is one of the most important military bases in Asia.
At the same time, with the deployment, nuclear hazards are now
looming over Yokosuka.

? Homeport functions

In April, 2006, a delegation composed of Yokosuka City assembly
members and business leaders visited a naval base in San Diego to
take a firsthand look at safety measures for the GW ahead of its
(Yokosuka) deployment. Before the group, a senior U.S. Navy officer
emphasized the strategic importance of Yokosuka, saying: "It takes
about two weeks to cross the Pacific Ocean from a base on the U.S.
West Coast. The Yokosuka base that enables rapid deployments in the
western Pacific is extremely important."

The Yokosuka base is now even more important with additional
functions for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to homeport there.
The USS Kitty Hawk, a conventional aircraft carrier, has now been
mothballed and replaced with the GW. The U.S. Navy currently has a
total of 11 flattops, which are all nuclear-powered. For the forward
deployment of an aircraft carrier, Yokosuka must have the ability to
berth nuclear-powered vessels.

A homeport for a nuclear-powered flattop must meet strict
requirements. To take in cooling water for the nuclear reactors of a
nuclear carrier from its bottom, the berth must have a depth of at
least 15 meters for safety control. The homeport also needs
facilities to provide pure water and power. There are no bases in
Japan that meet these requirements.

Repair functions are also indispensable. The Yokosuka base has a
salvage-barge-turned-repair factory, in addition to a ship repair
facility (SRF) with 1,800 workers. When the aircraft carrier is in
the port, about 500 engineers from the United States carry out
maintenance work in restricted areas near the reactors and other

"In the western Pacific, Hawaii and Guam have bases that can berth
nuclear-powered carriers, but all in all, Yokosuka is above them (as
a homeport). To the U.S. military, it is a drawback that it has to
give consideration to Japanese public opinion. Once that is
resolved, Yokosuka would become a naval base that does not present
any difficulties for use by nuclear-powered vessels other than the

TOKYO 00002678 006 OF 010

? A new agreement

Hiromichi Umebayashi, who is well-versed in U.S. military strategies
and activities as a special adviser to Peace Depot, a nonprofit
organization, has pointed out the possibility of (Yokosuka) becoming
a base for nuclear-powered vessels.

Owing to the dredging work conducted by the government, not only the
dedicated dock but also the quay on the other side of the port can
now moor aircraft carriers. With the completion of the dock for use
by nuclear-powered submarines, the stage is being set to handle a
growing number of visits by nuclear-powered vessels.

Although chances for accidents grow as visits increase, Japan is not
allowed to tamper with the nuclear-reactor safety regulations and
other matters due to international law and military secrecy.

Concerned about nuclear hazards, the city of Yokosuka has concluded
a disaster prevention agreement with the U.S. Navy. Umebayashi
noted: "The deployment of a nuclear-powered vessel is a diplomatic
issue. It is absurd that there is no new intergovernmental accord on
matters, including the right to board nuclear-powered vessels."
Umebayashi also expressed concern over the Japanese government's
weak sense of crisis, saying: "Should an accident occur, who will
take responsibility and pay compensation? Japan is not allowed to
make efforts to determine the cause. Under such circumstances, can
Tokyo hold talks with Washington to defend Japan's national
interests and its people on an equal footing?"

With the deployment, nuclear hazards could now hang over the
metropolitan area. Liberal Democratic Party National Defense
Division Chairman Katsuhito Asano emphatically said: "Should
accidents, such as radiation leakage, occur, that would rock the
foundation of the Japan-U.S. alliance. We will urge the government
to ensure safety 200 PERCENT in talks with the United States."
Anxiety is still multiplying.

(5) Editorial: Deployment of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at
Yokosuka port: Japanese, U.S. governments should take every possible
measure to ensure safety

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
September 26, 2008

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington arrived
yesterday at the Yokosuka U.S. Navy Base in Kanagawa Prefecture for
deployment. The George Washington is the first U.S. nuclear flattop
homeported outside the U.S.

US Naval Forces Japan publicized a 200-page comic book introducing
the George Washington and distributed copies in the city. It was
issued in April this year. A Japanese-American fresh recruit is the
main character of its story. The book depicts the inside of the
carrier, drills and crew members' daily lives. The aim appears to be
to reduce local anxieties.

The comic book also includes a scene of a fire on the George
Washington at sea, with the rookie sailor trying to extinguish it.

The fire actually broke out in May on the George Washington as it
was underway off South America for Japan, injuring 37 crewmembers.

TOKYO 00002678 007 OF 010

Her navigation was not affected in the book. However, in reality,
the vessel arrived at Yokosuka more than a month later than
scheduled. In the book, the cause of the fire was an overheated
washing machine. But the actual fire was caused by a cigarette

Minor trouble or accidents could happen to nuclear-powered warships,
with the possibility of exploding into a serious incident involving
base-neighboring residents. We take it for granted that the Japanese
and U.S. governments take measures to prevent such accidents and
prepare for a possible occurrence of such eventualities.

The U.S. provided a fact sheet on the safety of nuclear-powered
aircraft carriers to the Japanese government in 2006 in preparation
for the George Washington's Yokosuka deployment. That document is
written from the standpoint that accidents will not occur, by
repeatedly noting that a scenario depicting an occurrence of an
accident is very unrealistic. It also emphasizes that port calls by
nuclear-powered U.S. vessels in Japan did not increase radioactivity
there at all.

However, many are skeptical of this claim. When the nuclear
submarine Swordfish entered Sasebo port in Nagasaki Prefecture in
May 1968, Japan's radioactivity monitoring ship detected radiation.
Its readout was 10 to 20 times higher than normal levels. In
September 2006, cobalt 58 and cobalt 60 were detected, when the
nuclear submarine Honolulu left Yokosuka port. In both cases, the
U.S. ruled out the possibility of any links to the nuclear
submarines. The truth of the incident was left undetermined. It was
also brought to light last month that cooling water had leaked from
the nuclear submarine Houston, which was anchored off White Beach in
Okinawa Prefecture, and called at Sasebo, from June 2006 through
July this year.

The U.S. Navy's military secrecy is hampering Japan's efforts to
respond to such accidents. When a U.S. nuclear submarine first
entered a Japanese port, the U.S. government declared in a statement
that it would not provide technical information. The document also
noted that the U.S. would not allow Japanese authorities to board
U.S. nuclear ships with the aim of obtaining technical information.
Regarding information on the radiation leaks from the Houston, the
Japanese Foreign Ministry had no choice but to release what was
provided by the U.S. side.

In the event of an accident or when there is a possibility of an
accident occurring, it is not enough to just depend on notification
sent by the U.S. military. The Japanese government should make
arrangements with the U.S. government for sufficient measures,
including boarding inspections. Otherwise, it cannot address
anxieties felt by the local residents.

(6) Editorial: Deployment of U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier at
Yokosuka dogged by anxiety

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 5) (Full)
September 26, 2008

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington arrived
yesterday at its new home port of Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka,
Kanagawa Prefecture. It is the first time for a U.S. nuclear
aircraft carrier to be deployed in Japan. Although the U.S.
guarantees its safety, local residents are worried about safe

TOKYO 00002678 008 OF 010

management of the carrier by the U.S alone. It is indispensable for
the Japanese government to proactively take part in safety
management of the vessel in order to prevent an accident.

The USS George Washington, carrying dozens of aircraft, arrived at
the U.S. base yesterday. The carrier measures 332 meters in length
and accommodates about 6,000 crew members. It is powered by two
reactors, equivalent to a small-sized nuclear power plant. The
vessel is just like a small town transferred from the U.S. to

In the base, a welcome ceremony was held, while civic groups staged
rallies against the deployment outside the base. One group held up a
banner reading: "We need no nuclear-powered aircraft carrier,"
showing strong concern among citizens about the floating nuclear
power plant. The governments of Japan and the U.S. should take their
reaction seriously.

The carrier replaces the conventional aircraft carrier USS Kitty
Hawk, which is to be decommissioned due to its age. The replacement
is based on the U.S. global strategy to cover a wide-ranging area
encompassing the western Pacific to the Middle East with a versatile
aircraft carrier, eyeing the security situations in Afghanistan and

Prime Minister Taro Aso welcomed the deployment, remarking: "The
Korean Peninsula and other areas around Japan are in a difficult
situation. The deployment is very desirable in view also of the
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty." The Japanese and U.S. governments,
which are proud of the U.S.-Japan global alliance, must be seeing
the deployment of the USS George Washington in Japan as a symbol of
the alliance.

A major problem is that the local government hosting the base may be
pressed with a heavier burden as a result of accepting the nuclear
aircraft carrier. Satisfactory safety measures must be taken to
prevent a radiation leak.

The U.S. Navy underscores that there has been no nuclear accident
involving one of its vessels that negatively impacted human health
over the past some 50 years. The U.S. says that it will never repair
the reactors in Japan. Yokosuka approved the deployment on such
conditions as strengthening the safety-management system.

Even so, the U.S. has not disclosed detailed data on the reactors,
defining such data as classified military information. Japanese
authorities are not allowed even to conduct an on-the-spot
inspection. Many restrictions have been imposed on activities by the
government, which should be responsible for protecting the safety of
local residents with responsibility.

In May, a fire broke out while crew members were smoking on the USS
George Washington. It was also learned that radioactive water had
been leaking from a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine. Under such
circumstances, even if the U.S. says it is taking the utmost care in
safety management of the aircraft carrier, we cannot be easily

It will be the reverse of our intention if the people have anxiety
due to the strengthened U.S.-Japan alliance. The government's
involvement in safety management of the nuclear aircraft carrier is
totally insufficient. Japan should present more requests to the U.S.

TOKYO 00002678 009 OF 010

so that Japan will be able to publicize information and verify the
level of safety of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

(7) Editorial: Can U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier become
fortress for peace?

ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
September 26, 2008

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington showed
its huge bulk in Tokyo Bay. It is a floating fortress that can carry
more than 70 aircraft.

This is the fourth aircraft carrier to be homeported at Yokosuka
since the USS Midway in 1973. The George Washington is the first
nuclear-powered vessel.

The U.S. has thus far deployed conventional aircraft carriers in
Japan, giving consideration to its A-bomb experience. However, it
decided to deploy the nuclear-powered USS George Washington,
following the decommissioning of the aging Kitty Hawk -- the U.S.
Navy's last conventional aircraft carrier.

The deployment of the George Washington means more than the simple
replacement of an aircraft carrier.

The U.S. Navy is operating throughout the world. However, Yokosuka
is the only overseas homeport for one of its aircraft carriers. This
is because Yokosuka is useful for keeping an eye on areas stretching
from the Pacific to the Arabian Sea as well as because of the
Japanese government's generous assistance. The presence of Yokosuka
is symbolic for the Japan-U.S. alliance.

The operational areas covered by U.S. warships based in Yokosuka go
far beyond Japan and its nearby areas, as can be seen in the fact
that they played a leading role in missile attacks in the 1991 Gulf
War and the Iraq war. The George Washington with its higher
deployment capacity has come to Japan amid the U.S. Navy pressing
ahead with realignment due to the war on terror.

Ambassador Schieffer during the welcome ceremony said, "The U.S. has
no alliance that is more important than the Japan-U.S. alliance." He
must have made that statement in such a context.

Another aim of the deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft
carrier in Yokosuka is to check China, which plans to build a
blue-water navy.

The idea of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is for Japan to provide
military bases to the U.S. and the U.S. to protect Japan with its
deterrent capability. Heightened deterrent capability thanks to the
deployment of a new aircraft carrier will contribute to Japan's

On the other hand, the deployment of military power could heighten
tension. It is fresh in our memory that in 1996, when China-Taiwan
relations were strained, two U.S. aircraft carriers put on a show of
military power in the sea near Taiwan. It is not until foreign
relations and deterrent power are in harmony that both U.S.-China
relations and the Korean Peninsula will see peace.

The Japanese government should receive more information from the

TOKYO 00002678 010 OF 010

U.S. on its activities based in Japan, starting with Yokosuka.
Taxpayers need to discuss the management of the alliance, based on
the information provided.

What is more important is the safety of a nuclear-powered aircraft
carrier. The thermal power of the reactor on this carrier is
equivalent to a commercial nuclear reactor. The U.S. Navy explained
that there has been no major accident involving a nuclear-powered
ship. However, it was just recently found that there was a minor
radiation leak from a nuclear-powered submarine. There is fear that
even if an accident occurs, information may not be disclosed, using
security protection as a justification. It is only natural for
people in Yokosuka and Sasebo to feel strong anxiety.

If such a situation becomes reality, the stable provision of
military bases would become impossible. It is mandatory for the
Japanese government to secure maximum cooperation from the U.S. Navy
regarding an inspection system, the creation of a system for the
provision of information, and the implementation of drills in
readiness for an emergency.

(8) Japan, U.S., European countries likely to resubmit resolution
criticizing North Korea to UN

ASAHI (Page ?) (Full)
September 12, 2008

By Tsutomu Ishiai

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (for International Organization
Affairs) James B. Warlick, in an interview with an Asahi Shimbun
reporter on Sept. 12 in Tokyo, indicated that a resolution critical
of North Korea's human rights situation, including the abduction
issue, will be submitted again this fall, following one last year,
to the UN Third Committee, which handles human rights issues. The
expectation is that Japan, the United States, and major European
countries will jointly submit the resolution.

Warlick underscored the necessity of discussion at the Third
Committee in November regardless of whether there is any improvement
on the nuclear issue. He stated: "The abductions are a serious issue
for the United States, as well." He indicated that the U.S.
government will talk with the Japanese government on such matters as
whether the planned resolution should be stricter than last year's,
which referred to "an immediate handover of Japanese abductees to

Regarding the Russia-Georgia conflict, Warlick said: "I hope" that
Japan, which aims to secure a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security
Council next year, "will become a partner." He then urged Japan to
act in concert with the United States, which has taken a position of
favoring Georgia. He revealed that the U.S. government will invite
Japanese officials probably before the end of the year to Washington
to discuss concrete measures.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.