Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 10/21/08

DE RUEHKO #2924/01 2950119
P 210119Z OCT 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



Defense and security affairs:
1) Aso government sighs in relief as bill extending MSDF refueling
mission in Indian Ocean heads steadily toward passage (Tokyo
2) Government considering whether to bear share of expenses of North
Korea's scrapping its nuclear programs (Nikkei)
3) Defense Ministry confirms that a Chinese warship has crossed
Tsugaru Strait (Nikkei)

4) Prime Minister Aso reiterates desire to pass anti-piracy measures
law (Mainichi)
5) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Policy Council preparing
legislation to use when in power that would link overseas dispatches
of SDF to UN resolutions (Mainichi)

6) Aso states that he will attend the Financial Summit even if the
Diet is dissolved at that time (Nikkei)

7) Japan objects to Russia requiring an entry card to visit the
Northern Territories despite visa-free agreement (Mainichi)

Political agenda:
8) Mainichi poll shows 48 PERCENT of public opposed to lawmakers
holding "hereditary seats" in the Diet (Mainichi)
9) Government and ruling camp with election in mind are planning a 2
trillion yen tax cut (Asahi)
10) War of nerves in Diet centered on whether DPJ President Ozawa
will agree to party heads debate with Prime Minister Aso (Tokyo
11) Senior Vice Minister Kurata's private secretary to be arrested
soon for scheme involving illegal entry of Filipino women into Japan
to work in bars (Asahi)

12) Government setting up committee to consider specifics of
mid-term target for reduction greenhouse gases (Asahi)


1) Aso administration relieved to see passage of refueling bill now

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Excerpts)
October 21, 2008

The outlook is that a bill amending the new Antiterrorism Special
Measures Law designed to extend the Maritime Self-Defense Force's
refueling mission in the Indian Ocean will clear the Diet as early
as Oct. 30. Under the current divided Diet, the extension of the
MSDF's refueling operation has been a difficult issue that prevented
the Abe and Fukuda governments from smoothly managing the Diet. With
the prospect for the passage of the legislation in sight, many in
the Aso administration are now feeling greatly relieved.

"Japan's withdrawal will affect all activities (in connection with
the war on terror). There is no option for Japan to pull out (the
MSDF from its refueling mission)," Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo
Kawamura categorically said in a meeting yesterday of the House of
Representatives Antiterrorism Special Committee.

The government has already decided to withdraw by the end of the

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year the Air Self-Defense troops engaged in an airlifting mission in
Iraq. Therefore, the MSDF's refueling mission would then be Japan's
only contribution to the war on terror.

Prime Minister Taro Aso declared in a policy speech he delivered
immediately after taking office in September that Japan would
proactively take part in the war on terror in the future, as well.
Therefore, the continuation of the refueling mission was seen as an
international pledge.

2) Government to consider bearing North Korea denuclearization cost

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
October 21, 2008

It has become clear that the government will consider providing
funds and technology necessary for North Korea to abolish its
nuclear facilities. The step follows expectations that the North is
likely to finish disabling its nuclear facilities before the end of
the year, and the focus of the six-party talks is now likely to
shift to how to proceed with abolishment. Japan conditions its
participation in energy aid to North Korea in return for the
dismantlement of its facilities on progress on the issue of Japanese
nationals abducted by the North. The government aims to extend
assistance for nuclear abolishment by separating the nuclear issue
from progress on the abduction issue.

The six-party talks are in the second phase requiring the North to
declare its nuclear programs and disable those facilities. With
disablement work 70 PERCENT complete, the talks are likely to enter
before the end of the year the third phase of dismantling nuclear
facilities and discarding nuclear weapons and materials.

Based on such developments, the North is certain to seek in the next
six-party talks that are likely to take place before long the
completion of the 950,000-ton heavy fuel energy aid in return for
the end of the second phase. Japan does not intend to join the aid
program unless there is progress on the abduction issue. But other
members, such as South Korea, have expressed dissatisfaction. There
is concern in the government, with one official saying: "Japan might
be criticized for slighting the nuclear issue by fixating on the
abduction issue."

The government's decision to consider extending financial and
technological assistance for the North's nuclear abolition at this
point in time comes from its intent to prevent from Japan becoming
isolated in the six-party talks. The step is also intended to apply
pressure to the North by bearing part of the expenses necessary for
dismantling and scrapping its nuclear facilities.

The amount to be borne by Japan will be finalized in the future.
There is a view, however, that Tokyo will for the time being aim at
16 billion yen, which corresponds to Japan's share of the
950,000-ton energy aid. The government thinks that bearing part of
the nuclear abolition costs, which is distinct from direct
assistance to the North, is easy to obtain public understanding from
a security perspective.

3) Chinese warships spotted in Tsugaru Strait, according to Defense

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)

TOKYO 00002924 003 OF 008

October 21, 2008

The Defense Ministry announced yesterday that four Chinese warships,
including a destroyer and a top-of-the-line frigate, had been
navigating in the Sea of Japan about 37 kilometers from the headland
of Tappizaki in northern Aomori Prefecture. The Maritime
Self-Defense Force's (MSDF) patrol plane P3C spotted the ships
around 17:00 on Oct. 19. The four vessels passed through the Tsugaru
Strait into the Pacific Ocean. The ministry says that Chinese
warships were spotted in the Tsugaru Strait for the first time.

The four vessels were on the high seas, so the navigation does not
come under the violation of territorial waters. The Joint Staff
Office is carefully watching the moves of the Chinese Navy, as its
member said: "The Chinese Navy has been active recently. The Navy
has expanded operations by its vessels, including submarines, in
waters around the continent to the Pacific Ocean."

The MSDF plane spotted the frigate ship and a supply ship off
Tsushima on the 17th. The destroyer and another frigate are believed
to have made a goodwill visit to Russia.

4) Aso willing to create new law against piracy

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
October 21, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso attended a meeting of his ruling Liberal
Democratic Party's executives yesterday, in which he voiced his
willingness to consider creating a new law allowing Maritime
Self-Defense Force vessels to escort merchant ships as a measure to
deal with pirates off Somalia in the eastern part of Africa.

However, the LDP deems it difficult to draw up a bill. Aso is
apparently aiming to rock the leading opposition Democratic Party,
which has been out of step within itself over its security policy.
DPJ Policy Research Committee Chairman Masayuki Naoshima indicated
in a meeting yesterday of the House of Representatives Special
Committee on Antiterrorism and Iraq Assistance that the DPJ would
not agree for the time being to hold talks with the ruling parties.

5) DPJ eyes legislation after taking office to allow Japan to use
force overseas if there is U.N. resolution

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
October 21, 2008

In connection with sending the Self-Defense Forces overseas,
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) President Ichiro Ozawa has been
asserting that the Self-Defense Forces may use force overseas if
there is a resolution from the United Nations. In this regard, DPJ
Policy Research Committee Chairman Masayuki Naoshima stated before
the House of Representatives Special Committee on Antiterrorism and
Iraq Assistance in its meeting yesterday that the DPJ would set
about working in that way if it takes office. With this, Naoshima
indicated that the DPJ would substantially change the government's
current constitutional interpretation by going through necessary
legislative measures after a change of government.

According to the government's conventional interpretation of
Constitution Article 9, the SDF is not allowed to use force
overseas. There are deep-seated cautious arguments even within the

TOKYO 00002924 004 OF 008

DPJ about allowing the SDF to use force overseas even if there is a
U.N. resolution. Naoshima also stated, "This necessitates public
support and neighboring countries' understanding, and we will make
an overall judgment (as to whether to dispatch SDF troops

6) Aso: "I will definitely attend global summit on financial crisis
even if Lower House is dissolved before it"

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 21, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso expressed his determination yesterday to
attend an emergency summit on the global financial crisis to be held
in the U.S. in November. Based on his stance of placing emphasis on
the economy, Aso as the prime minister of the current chair of the
G-8 summit has judged it necessary to be positively involved in the
international efforts to contain the crisis although his
participation in the summit will make the schedule for his planned
election of the House of Representatives in November tighter. But it
is uncertain whether Japan will be able to take the leadership in
producing positive results.

Asked by a reporter yesterday whether his participation in the
summit would have some effect on his judgment on Lower House
dissolution, Aso replied:

"There will be no effect at all. I will attend without fail
regardless of whether the Lower House is dissolved before the summit
or not. ... The U.S. will be in a political vacuum after the
presidential election. Japan as the second major economic power must
resolutely address the crisis."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told a press conference

"It is necessary for Japan, which successfully contained its
economic crisis, to tell other countries about what it had
experienced, both successful and failed experiences. Japan will play
a central role in helping all the participant countries cooperate
and overcome the ongoing crisis."

It is hard to say, however, that Japan is taking a central role as
of now. Aso had previously expressed his eagerness to host a
financial summit, with the idea once floating of holding one at
Narita Airport, which is easily accessible for state leaders, but
the plan fizzled out.

Kawamura explained in the press conference: "We do not care about
the condition of being easy of access for state leaders," adding:
"Japan is still determined to play a key role as the G-8 chair. That
direction remains unchanged."

An aide to the prime minister said: "Even if Japan is unable to
assume leadership, it will be fine if the summit on the financial
crisis produces achievements. That will work to our advantage in the
November Lower House election." But market players will evaluate
achievements with stern eyes. The summit might end up just
disappointing the markets. It is unpredictable whether the outcome
of the summit would work to the ruling camp's advantage in the

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The summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is
scheduled for Nov. 22-23. This event will also make the schedule for
the election on Nov. 30 tighter. A government source said: "Prime
Minister Aso will have left Japan for more than one week, including
the days needed for traveling."

A junior Liberal Democratic Party member grumbled: "I want the prime
minister to visit as many electoral districts as possible during the
campaign period, rather than attending international conferences."
But Aso, who is set to opt for international conferences, will be
pressed to produce achievements on both economic and political

7) Japan reacts to Russia's possible proposal for visitors to
Northern Territories to submit immigration cards

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
October 21, 2008

In a press conference in Nemuro city, Hokkaido, yesterday, Vladimir
Nosov, the diplomatic representative of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in the
Russian Foreign Ministry, said that Japanese visitors to the
Northern Territories are highly likely to be asked to submit
immigration cards starting next year. Now, visa-free visits are
allowed for Japanese visitors under bilateral agreements.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura fiercely reacted to Nosov's
remark, saying: "The Russian government has not made such a
proposal. Even if the proposal is made, we cannot accept it."

8) Poll: 48 PERCENT opposed to hereditary seats in the Diet, 44
PERCENT see "no problem"

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Abridged)
October 21, 2008

Public opinion is split over the "hereditary seats" (second and
third generation Diet members) held by Diet members in a recent
telephone-based nationwide public opinion survey conducted by the
Mainichi Shimbun on Oct. 18-19, with 48 PERCENT saying Diet members
holding hereditary seats should be avoided and 44 PERCENT saying
there is no problem because voters elected them. No answer accounted
for 9 PERCENT .

Among those who support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party,
negative answers accounted for 36 PERCENT , with affirmative ones
reaching 54 PERCENT . Among those who support the leading opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto), negative answers totaled 59
PERCENT , with affirmative ones at 36 PERCENT . As seen from the
figures, the results were almost opposite. Among those who support
the New Komeito, the LDP's coalition partner, 37 PERCENT were
negative, with 50 PERCENT affirmative. Voters with no particular
party affiliation coincided with the general trend.

Among those opposed to the hereditary of Diet membership, the Aso
cabinet's support rate was 25 PERCENT , with its nonsupport rate at
55 PERCENT . The results can be taken to reflect bitter attitudes
toward the Aso cabinet since 12 of its 18 ministers are hereditary
Diet members. Among those in favor of hereditary, the Aso cabinet's
support rate was 48 PERCENT , with its nonsupport rate at 30 PERCENT

TOKYO 00002924 006 OF 008

Prime Minister Taro Aso and DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa are both
hereditary Diet members. In the survey, respondents were asked which
one between Aso and Ozawa would be more appropriate for prime
minister. Among anti-hereditary respondents, Aso marked 28 PERCENT ,
with Ozawa at 22 PERCENT . "Neither" accounted for 48 PERCENT .
Among pro-hereditary respondents, Aso (52 PERCENT ) overwhelmed
Ozawa (15 PERCENT ).

9) Generous treatment with upcoming general election in mind:
Government, ruling parties accept New Komeito's request for 2
trillion yen worth of fixed-sum tax cut

ASAHI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
October 21, 2008

The government and the ruling parties have decided to adopt a 2
trillion yen fixed-sum tax cut, a policy tool that will serve as the
showcase of a new economic stimulus package. Portions of reserves
for interest rate fluctuations earmarked in the special account will
be used to finance the tax break. Attaching importance to
cooperation with the New Komeito with the next Lower House election
just ahead, the LDP has thus accepted its request that the size of
the tax break should be more than 2 trillion yen. It intends to put
up this policy as one of its election pledges.

The fixed-sum tax break deducts the same amount from income and
local taxes regardless of taxpayers' annual income. The outlook is
that if the ruling parties continue to have reins of government
after the general election as well, they would compile a second
supplementary budget that incorporates the fixed-sum tax cut and a
fiscal 2009 budget within December and submit them to the regular
session of the Diet next year.

The New Komeito's President Ota has called for a tax cut of 65,000
yen for a four-member family, with the total tax cut for the nation
amounting to 2 trillion yen. However, some LDP members had been
skeptical of the economic effects of such a policy, comparing it to
pork-barrel spending, and prefer to curtail the scale by setting an
income limit.

The prime minister wants to call the new economic stimulus package
living-cost countermeasures. He gave top priority to measures for
average citizens when he ordered to compile the new package on the
16th. His aim is to impress the government's stance of attaching
importance to average citizens, by adopting a fixed-sum tax cut that
is generous enough for tax payers to actually feel the benefits of
the tax break. At the same time, he aims at smoothening relations
with New Komeito in the upcoming election, by fully complying with
its request.

10) Psychological war between LDP, DPJ: Will Ozawa attend party-head

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
October 21, 2008

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) have been engaging in a war of nerves over whether to hold a
one-on-one debate between Prime Minister Taro Aso and DPJ President
Ichiro Ozawa. The LDP, which hopes to take advantage of such a
party-head debate to bolster the party's strength ahead of the next
House of Representatives election, has proposed holding a debate on

TOKYO 00002924 007 OF 008

Oct. 29, but the DPJ, which has sought a commitment for an early
Lower House dissolution from Aso, has placed its decision on hold.

In a meeting yesterday with his DPJ counterpart Kenji Yamaoka, LDP
Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Tadamori Oshima referred to the
largest opposition party's refusal of the LDP's proposal for holding
a party-head debate on Oct. 22. Oshima said: "There was a media
report showing that Mr. Ozawa appeared on a program along with a
female entertainer. I would like him (to hold a debate with Aso) on
the 29th."

Behind the LDP's attempts to force the DPJ to agree to a debate, the
party hopes to get an advantage in the next Lower House election by
demonstrating Aso's political ability.

A senior DPJ official said: "Mr. Ozawa has said that he will hold it
anytime." The largest opposition party has yet to accept the LDP's
proposal, however. Yamaoka said: "We prefer the dissolution of the
Lower House to a ceremonial party-head debate." This is the DPJ's
position. Ozawa has told his aides: "When the election starts, there
will be debates that are similar to a party-head debate every day."
The acceptance of a one-on-one debate between Aso and Ozawa is a
just tool for the DPJ to urge Aso to dissolve the Lower House

A party-head debate was held only twice this year between then Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Ozawa. A debate between Aso and Ozawa has
not been realized. If Ozawa continues to refuse, it might give the
impression that he is reluctant to hold a debate with Aso.

11) Kurata's former secretary to be arrested today on suspicion of
assisting illegal work

ASAHI (Page 35) (Full)
October 21, 2008

The Shizuoka Prefectural Police have decided to arrest possibly
today a 59-year-old former government-paid secretary to Senior Vice
Internal and Communications Minister Masatoshi Kurata, 69, a Liberal
Democratic Party member representing the Lower House proportional
representation Tokai bloc. The secretary will be charged with
suspicion of violating the Immigration Control Law in connection
with Filipino women working in bars without entertainment visas
under the pretext of appearing in charity concerts.

The case avoided scrutiny because the work was allegedly for charity
purposes. The regulations have been tightened in line with the
international trend of protecting human rights. The case is now
escalated into a criminal investigation into the former secretary to
the lawmaker.

The prefectural police believe that the former secretary has
effectively run the Future Charity Executive Committee that
guaranteed the status of Filipino women when they entered Japan on
short-stay visas. They also suspect he had received remunerations by
devising a set of system to dispatch those women to connected
entertainment establishments.

In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun, the former secretary said
that he had received 200,000 yen per bar, while admitting that he
devised the whole system. The prefectural police have recognized
similar facts through interviews with persons concerned. Filipino

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women who have been indicted on charges of violating the Immigration
Control Law have told investigators that they were promised to be
paid after returning to their country. Based on this statement, the
police have concluded that the former secretary has helped them work
illegally in Japan.

The United States placed Japan on the Tier 2 Watch List in its
(2004) Trafficking in Persons Report. With the country coming under
fire as a breeding ground for human trafficking, the Justice
Ministry has tightened the requirements for issuing entertainment
visas. The Foreign Ministry responsible for short-stay visas has
also tightened the immigration checks on young Filipino women.

Under such circumstances, the Future Charity has since spring 2007
brought Filipino women into Japan on 90-day short-stay visas, which
are the same as the tourist visas, instead of entertainment visas,
on the pretext of appearing in charity concerts in the wake of the
(2006) landslide disaster on Leyte, the Philippines. The group has
dispatched such women to a concert held by the Philippine Embassy,
as well as to five bars, including those in Shinjuku's Kabukicho

12) Greenhouse gas emissions cut: Mid-term goal study committee to
be set up

ASAHI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
October 21, 2008

The first meeting of the Council on Global Warming during the Aso
administration was held on October 20 at the Kantei. Participants
decided to set up a study committee consisting of researchers and
others with the aim of setting a mid-term goal of cutting greenhouse
gas emissions to be achieved by 2020 or 2030. They also confirmed a
policy of implementing an emissions trading system on a trial basis
before the end of October, starting recruiting participating
companies as early as the 21st.

At the outset of the meeting, the prime minister noted, "It is
important for Japan to lead the world in creating a low-carbon
society. Measures to combat global warming could become an
investment in the future." He indicated his desire to continue
former Prime Minister Fukuda's package of proposals for measures to
combat global warming (Fukuda Vision) and facilitate measures that
uses Japan's strengths, such as energy-saving technology.

The government decision to set up the mid-term goal study committee
as the panel's subcommittee is apparently a reflection of Aso's
decision to continue the Fukuda policy line. Former Bank of Japan
Governor Toshihiko Fukui, who is versed in the management of the
economy, has been picked for the chairmanship.

The government plans to reveal the mid-term goal, the major focus of
attention in talks on an international framework for 2013 and beyond
(post-Kyoto Protocol). At the meeting, it presented several targets
using a sector-specific approach for reducing greenhouse gases, a
method Japan has proposed. The cost needed to achieve the goal was
also worked out. A similar method will be adopted for cost
calculations for the U.S., European countries and emerging
countries, such as China.


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