Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 10/24/08

DE RUEHKO #2969/01 2980409
P 240409Z OCT 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



Defense and security affairs:
1) Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura cautious about Japan dispatching
SDF to join ISAF in Afghanistan (Nikkei)
2) Defense Ministry announces that 20 ships from seven countries
received fuel during Feb-Sept from MSDF in Indian Ocean (Tokyo
3) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) clashes with ruling camp in the
Upper House on MSDF refueling bill, stopping deliberations three
times (Asahi)
4) DPJ Secretary General Hatoyama, now playing hardball in the Upper
House, warns ruling parties that bill for refueling mission in the
Indian Ocean could slip (Mainichi)
5) "Secret agreement" in 1953 between U.S, Japan on not prosecuting
off-duty crimes of servicemen found in declassified documents; Chief
Cabinet Secretary Kawamura denies existence of secret agreement
between U.S., Japan not to prosecute crimes committed by G.I.s off
duty (Asahi)

6) Foreign Minister Nakasone slammed in Diet for poor responses to
Upper House Foreign Affairs Committee (Mainichi)

7) Prime Minister Aso travels to Beijing for ASEM, hoping to shore
up diplomatic credentials (Sankei)

Political agenda:
8) Prime Minister Aso says that Diet dissolution is not that far off
9) LDP is split in two over early or late Diet dissolution (Nikkei)

10) Financial crisis influencing Diet schedule, with growing mood
now among lawmakers to avoid a Nov. 30 election (Asahi)
11) LDP creates project team to look into political donations from
companies with pyramid schemes (Asahi)
12) Prime Minister Aso again defends his posh nightlife: Everybody
goes to hotel bars (Asahi)

13) DPJ President Ozawa's health situation again comes up when he
skips meeting with Indian Premier Singh (Asahi)


1) Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura expresses caution about dispatch
of SDF to assist Afghanistan

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
Eve., October 23, 2008

Substantive debate began on the morning of Oct. 23 in the Upper
House Foreign and Defense Affairs Committee on the bill extending
Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) refueling activities in the
Indian Ocean. However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Tateo Kawamura
expressed a cautious view about the Self-Defense Forces (SDF)
joining the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is
deployed to the mainland of Afghanistan. He said: "Under the severe
conditions there now, we need to be cautious in discussing this, for
example, on ensuring he safety of personnel. At this point, we
cannot say whether we can send anyone or not."

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) lawmaker Naoshi Otsuka asked: "Do
ISAF and similar activities come under the use of force?" Foreign

TOKYO 00002969 002 OF 009

Minister Hirofumi Nakasone replied that under international law,
there was no use of force, but he expressed his perception that
there needed to cautious consideration given apart from
constitutional interpretation. Otsuka was not convinced by this
explanation, and the deliberations were halted from time to time.
Chairman Shunmi Kitazawa, when time allotted for DPJ questioning had
ended, cut off the remaining questions.

2) Defense Ministry reveals MSDF-refueled ships

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
October 24, 2008

The Defense Ministry yesterday announced the names of 20 vessels
from seven countries that received fuel from the Maritime
Self-Defense Force in the Indian Ocean between February and
September this year under the new Antiterrorism Special Measures

Among the 20 MSDF-refueled vessels, there are the three U.S.
destroyers Carney, Shoup, and Gridley. From Britain, there are the
destroyers Edinburgh and Manchester and the frigate Lancaster. In
addition, there are six ships from France, three each from Canada
and Pakistan, and one each from Germany and New Zealand.

3) DPJ stand off in upper chamber over refueling bill

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged)
October 24, 2008

The House of Councillors Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense
entered into substantial deliberations yesterday on a bill amending
the Refueling Assistance Special Measures Law to extend the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean for
another year. However, the leading opposition Democratic Party of
Japan (Minshuto) repeatedly interrupted the committee's
deliberations, claiming that Foreign Minister Nakasone's reply was
inadequate. The DPJ is now becoming irritated since there is still
no knowing when the House of Representatives will be dissolved for a
general election, and the ruling and opposition parties will likely
square off in the House of Councillors.

Asked about U.S. military operations and multinational forces'
antiterror mop-up operations in Afghanistan, Nakasone stated that
these operations are policing activities and do not fall under the
use of armed force under international law. Concerning this reply,
the DPJ's Tadashi Inuzuka pursued: "If it's not the use of armed
force, it's possible to send the Self-Defense Forces there, isn't
it?" Nakasone replied, "We need considerably prudent studies,
including its relevance to constitutional interpretation." Inuzuka,
however, was not satisfied with this reply. The committee's
deliberations stopped time and time again.

In the committee's deliberations yesterday, the DPJ's Shinkun Haku
asked when the U.S. government notified the Japanese government of
delisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Nakasone
reiterated, "I'd like to abstain from commenting partly because we
have something to do with the U.S. government." Consequently, the
committee discontinued its deliberations from time to time.

4) DPJ's Hatoyama warns that enactment of refueling extension bill
might be delayed

TOKYO 00002969 003 OF 009

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
October 24, 2008

Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama in a
press conference on Oct. 23 touched on a bill amending the New
Antiterrorism Special Measures Law to extend the refueling mission
in the Indian Ocean. Referring to the government's and ruling
coalition's aim to enact the legislation on Oct. 30, Hatoyama said:
"It could slip (to Oct. 31 or later) depending on how the
deliberations turn out." Appearing on TV on the night of Oct. 23, he
also emphatically said: "If this caretaker government cannot carry
out an election, we have to change our response."

The Upper House Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has carried
its conclusion over to the next week, as it failed on Oct. 23 to
decide on an Oct. 28 vote, the prerequisite for the law's enactment
on Oct. 30. In view of such a situation, Hatoyama's comments were
intended to apply pressure to those in the ruling coalition calling
for the postponement of the election.

5) Japan made secret deal to waive jurisdiction over GI off-duty

ASAHI (Page 34) (Abridged)
October 24, 2008

Although Japan and the United States have concurred on Japan's
jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. military personnel and
others stationed in Japan, there exists a document implying that the
two countries actually had concluded a secret pact under which Japan
waives its jurisdiction over crimes with the exception of major
incidents, Shoji Niihara, a researcher of international affairs,
announced yesterday. The government has denied that there has been
such a deal.

According to Niihara, the document was found at the U.S. National
Archives. On Oct. 28, 1953, when the Japanese and U.S. governments
negotiated to revise an administrative agreement preceding the
Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which stipulates the
status of U.S. forces stationed in Japan, the document was left in
the form of keeping private records from the proceedings of an
intergovernmental joint committee meeting, Niihara said.

The records of discussions from the joint committee meeting are
written in English, quoting a Japanese government representative as
stating that Japan will not exercise its jurisdiction over incidents
other than those considered "extremely important."

According to the Foreign Ministry and other sources, the former
administrative agreement, which was concluded in 1952, allowed U.S.
jurisdiction over all crimes committed by U.S. soldiers stationed in
Japan. In 1953, however, Japan and the United States negotiated to
revise the administrative agreement and concurred on transferring
jurisdiction to Japan over off-duty crimes.

In addition, Niihara has also obtained documentation of records
filed by the American Embassy in Japan under the date of Aug. 25,
1953. The records, according to Niihara, specify that the United
States proposed leaving the bilateral concurrence on Japan's waiver
of jurisdiction in such forms as exchanging notes but Japan sought
to take the form of secret records. A U.S. Army report, entitled

TOKYO 00002969 004 OF 009

"Statistics on the Exercise of Criminal Jurisdiction on U.S.
Military Personnel," describes that Japan waived its jurisdiction
over an annual total of 2,300-4,600 cases or 89 PERCENT to 97
PERCENT among crimes committed by U.S. military personnel between
1954 and 1963.

No secret deal: Kawamura

Concerning the revelation of a document that shows the existence of
a secret deal between the Japanese and U.S. governments, Chief
Cabinet Secretary Kawamura told the press yesterday: "There's no
difference between judgments over whether or not to indict
(suspects) among incidents caused by Japanese nationals and those
caused by U.S. military personnel. The rate of indictments last year
also shows that the rate for U.S. military personnel is higher.
There's no secret deal-this is evident from the outcome, I think."
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry commented: "It's not true that Japan
made a secret agreement with the United States to waive jurisdiction
in certain cases."

6) Foreign Minister Nakasone's clumsy answer embroils Upper House
Foreign and Defense Committee session

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Abridged slightly)
October 24, 2008

The Upper House Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee began
yesterday deliberating on a bill amending the New Antiterrorism
Special Measures Law. The session was disrupted by a reply on the
government's constitutional interpretation by Foreign Minister
Hirofumi Nakasone, who is an education policy expert and is
unfamiliar with security affairs.

It all started with a question about operations in Afghanistan by
the U.S. military and other forces. The deliberations stalled when
the foreign minister explicitly said: "They do not constitute the
use of force." The operations now underway by the U.S.-led coalition
forces at the request of the Afghan government do not constitute the
use of force under international law. But there are many
restrictions on the use of force under the Constriction. For this
reason, the government has avoided a definitive answer, with the
Foreign Ministry indicating that the matter required careful

In response to the answer that omitted this distinction, Tadashi
Inuzuka of the Democratic Party of Japan asked: "If the operation
does not constitute the use of force (under the Constitution), is
Japan allowed to send the SDF to Afghanistan?" In a panic, the
government offered another explanation, with Chief Cabinet Secretary
Takeo Kawamura saying, "It can constitute the use of force under the

7) Aso in Beijing to attend ASEM, with aim of redressing diplomatic

SANKEI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
October 24, 2008

(Imahori, Beijing)

Prime Minister Taro Aso left Haneda Airport by government plane and
arrived in Beijing last night for an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

TOKYO 00002969 005 OF 009

summit. Over the past month since he assumed office on Sept. 24, the
prime minister has suffered major setbacks on the diplomatic front,
including Washington's delisting of North Korea as a state sponsor
of terrorism and Japan's inability to host an emergency summit on
the global financial crisis despite it being the current chair of
the Group of Eight (G-8) summit. Will Aso be able to place "Aso
diplomacy" on the right track in Beijing, which he did not visit
even when he was serving as foreign minister?

The visit to Beijing is the first overseas trip since Prime Minister
Aso visited New York to attend the UN General Assembly on Sept.
25-27, just after he came into office. While in Beijing, he will
meet South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Chinese Premier Wen
Jiabao, and Chinese President Hu Jintao on Oct. 24. He will endeavor
to build relations of confidence with the leaders of China and South
Korea on a priority basis. They are expected to exchange views on
the North Korean nuclear issue. Aso also intends to take up the
issue of North Korea's past abductions of Japanese nationals.

On the 24th, Aso will attend a reception in commemoration of the
30th anniversary of the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace and
Friendship between Japan and China. After the reception, Aso will
attend the ASEM summit through the 25th, at which he will explain
Japan's measures to contain the global financial crisis. In
addition, he intends to underscore Japan's position on the Korean

He is also scheduled to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and
French President Nicolas Sarkozy prior to the summit.

8) Aso: "Dissolution is not in distant future"

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
October 24, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso held a meeting at his official residence
yesterday with LDP Tax System Research Commission Chairman Yuji
Tsushima. Tsushima later quoted Aso as saying about a Lower House
dissolution for a snap general election: "The time will come for us
to receive the people's verdict. That is not in the distant future."
After the meeting, Tsushima also said to reporters: "I was able to
feel that (the prime minister) has considerable resolve."

9) LDP divided over timing for Lower House dissolution

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 24, 2008

Members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are now divided over
when the House of Representatives will be dissolved for a snap
election. Close aides to Prime Minister Aso are calling on Aso to
delay the election to early next year or after, while the leadership
is insisting on an early dissolution, echoing the New Komeito.
Meanwhile, junior party members, who have already started
preparations for the election, are voicing complaints, irritating at
being unable to read the prime minister's real intention.

LDP Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda said in a meeting of his
support group yesterday: "I promise to do my best in the run-up to
the election." Former Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, president
of the largest Machimura faction, said in its meeting: "(The prime
minister) should not show that he is clinging to political power,"

TOKYO 00002969 006 OF 009

urging Aso to quickly dissolve the Diet.

Hosoda, who is the chief advocate of an early dissolution, said that
the prime minister intends to come up with new policies after the
party wins a victory in the election. The leadership takes the view
that even if the election is delayed into next year, the
administration might be driven into a corner because there are no
prospects for implementing such pending matters as swift enactment
of next fiscal year's budget.

But the atmosphere has changed since three senior officials who
enjoy the prime minister's confidence advised him on the night of
Oct. 16 that he should delay the timing of the election and
suggested that he should demonstrate his own policy imprint. The
three who so advised him were Finance Minister and State Minister in
Charge of Financial services Shoichi Nakagawa, Election Strategy
Council Vice Chairman Yoshihide Suga, and State Minister in Charge
of Administrative Reform Akira Amari. A poll conducted by the LDP in
late September showed that the ruling coalition could lose its
majority. But the result of the latest survey in mid-October was
even worse than the previous one. Additionally, the stock market has
been wildly fluctuating. Given this, an increasing number of LDP
members have begun to favor the idea of postponing the election.

In an attempt to turn around the situation, one LDP executive flat
out said: "It would be better to dissolve the Diet after the bill to
continue the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the
Indian Ocean is enacted. The Lower House should be dissolved in
October." Another senior member appealed directly to Aso: "Unless
you decide to dissolve the Diet now, we will face trouble in the
next ordinary Diet session."

With the date of Lower House dissolution still undecided, some
members have begun to voice complaints, one grumbling: "My monthly
preparation cost for the election is several million yen. I am fed
up with the current situation." In a press conference yesterday, New
Komeito Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa stressed that the prime
minister should decide to dissolve the Lower House regardless of the
economic situation, saying: "We should expect the current situation
to last not just briefly but for a long time."

10) Financial crisis casting pall over Lower House dissolution: Call
for avoiding November 30 vote deep-rooted

ASAHI (Page 2) (Full)
October 24, 2008

Prime Minister Aso is considering officially announcing a Lower
House election on November 18 and holding a vote on November 30. The
ruling camp is characterizing a new economic stimulus package as the
showcase of its Lower House election campaign pledges. The package
is expected to be finalized on October 30. A bill amending the new
Antiterrorism Law to extend the Maritime Self-Defense Force's
refueling mission is also expected to be passed into law the same
day. However, there is a growing view that the prime minister should
not dissolve the Lower House when the financial crisis is

Aso on the 23rd gave an order to look into adopting additional
economic pump-priming measures. Many ruling party members took that
to mean that the prime minister probably thought that it would be
impossible to go into the election with insufficient specifics.

TOKYO 00002969 007 OF 009

However, the prime minister's real intent concerning a Lower House
dissolution is not clear. Asked about the timing of dissolving the
Lower House by LDP Tax System Research Commission Chairman Yuji
Tsushima, he replied, "When the time to seek the people's judgment
comes, I will do so. It will come before too long." He also
indicated a cautious stance to participants at an Imperial garden
party held at the Akasaka Imperial Gardens, "Is it all right to
dissolve the Diet when stock prices are fluctuating?"

It would be difficult to hold a Lower House election on November 30,
unless it is dissolved in early November. If it is to be held on a
later date, there would be a strong possibility of the compilation
of the fiscal 2009 budget being put off until next year.

Provided that the Lower House election is put off, the DPJ, which is
seeking an early dissolution, would change its current cooperative
stance toward the steering of the Diet. Should that occur, the
management of the administration would become stormy. For this
reason, LDP Secretary General Hosoda and former chairman of the LDP
caucus in the Upper House Mikio Aoki are insisting on an early
November dissolution.

The prime minister revealed his concern to his aides, "There is fear
that if Japan goes to the polls, it could be left behind in the
international community, which is busy dealing with the financial
crisis." For this reason, many take the view that the prime minister
is determined to put off the dissolution of the Lower House until
after the year-end compilation of the fiscal 2009 budget."

The DPJ is increasingly becoming impatient about the unclear Lower
House dissolution schedule. Deputy President Kan in a street-corner
campaign speech in Yamaguchi City on the 23rd provoked the prime
minister, saying, "If the prime minister cannot dissolve the Lower
House this year, I would tell him to change his name to Wimpy

11) LDP launches project team to investigate donations by multilevel
marketing companies

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
October 24, 2008

The LDP on October 23 set up a project team to pursue the multilevel
marketing business (chairman: Katsuei Hirasawa, deputy chairman of
the Diet Affairs Committee; deputy chairman: Masashi Waki, deputy
chairman of the Upper House Diet Affairs Committee). The aim is to
investigate DPJ lawmakers regarding political donations and speech
fees. The panel will hold its first meeting on the 24th.

The LDP is looking into conducting witness interviews with DPJ
lawmakers during Diet deliberations, based on investigation results.
Yoshitaka Murata, first deputy chairman of the Diet Affairs
Committee, told a news conference on the 23rd, "There is a
possibility of money of victims of such a business method having
fallen into the hands of the DPJ as political funds."

Concerning the issue of State Minister for Consumer Affairs having
her fund-raising political party tickets worth 160,000 yen purchased
by Amway Japan, Murata said, "That is another issue."

12) Prime minister again rebuts criticism of late night carousing

TOKYO 00002969 008 OF 009

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
October 24, 2008

Commenting on his frequenting of hotel bars and posh restaurants in
the evening, Prime Minister Aso on October 23 again stressed his
view that that is not a problem, saying, "The image that hotel bars
are expensive is not correct, because anybody can go there." He made
this comment in response to a question asked by a reporter at the

The prime minister on the 22nd told reporters, "Hotel bars are safe
and inexpensive. I have no intention of stopping going there."

In the meantime, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jun Matsumoto, the
prime minister's aide who is said to be most frequently with him on
such occasions, defended the prime minister in a news conference on
the 23rd, saying, "Basically, such a habit is the prime minister's
lifestyle." Asked whether other persons were present on such
occasions, which reportedly took place between the prime minister
and himself alone, Matsumoto replied, "I have no recollection on
that." One of the persons Asahi Shimbun interviewed admitted that he
was meeting with the prime minister on the evening of the 10th, the
day when the prime minister was allegedly with Matsumoto alone.

13) Condition of DPJ head Ozawa continues to be a problem, with
rumor of ill health rekindling

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
October 24, 2008

The health condition of Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro
Ozawa, 66, continues to be a problem. Although he went out stumping
on Oct. 22 for the first time since being released from hospital, he
was absent from a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
the next day, Oct. 23. Despite his efforts to recuperate from a cold
since mid-September, he does not seem to be his normal self.

DPJ executives were busy explaining Ozawa's health situation
yesterday morning. Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama told Prime
Minister Singh that Ozawa has had a hard schedule. Deputy President
Naoto Kan explained to the press corps that it showed Ozawa's
efforts to maintain his health. Upper House Caucus Chairman Azuma
Koshiishi said in a press conference: "There is no need to worry. He
will be on his (regional political tour) tomorrow, as planned."

According to a party source, Ozawa attended a meeting in Tokyo after
returning from Fukuoka on the night of Oct. 22. The source also said
that on the morning of Oct. 23 Ozawa had conveyed to a party
executive his intention to cancel his attendance at all party and
political events, including a party executive meeting.

Ozawa was hospitalized for treatment of a heart problem in June
1991. His health is drawing much attention because there has been a
rumor since then that he is in poor health. Appearing on an Internet
program on Oct. 19, Ozawa said: "I used to drink a lot, but since I
had an illness and experienced a heart problem, I haven't drunk

A lawmaker close to Prime Minister Taro Aso indicated that Ozawa's
health has been a factor to determine when to dissolve the Lower
House, saying, "The Kantei (Prime Minister's Official Residence) has

TOKYO 00002969 009 OF 009

also received information on Mr. Ozawa's health condition." Asked by
a reporter if Ozawa can serve as prime minister in a press
conference yesterday, New Komeito Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa
said: "The position requires sound health and vigor."


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