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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 10/30/08

DE RUEHKO #3023/01 3040559
P 300559Z OCT 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


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1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)

Economic agenda:
4) Five trillion yen shortfall in tax revenues expected this fiscal
year; Government may have to break the 30 trillion yen ceiling in
issuance of deficit bonds (Asahi)
5) Aso administration's additional economic package to be on the
scale of 5 trillion yen in fiscal outlays and will involve large
stock purchases (Mainichi)
6) Second supplementary budget could pass the current Diet session
due to urgency of the economic situation (Yomiuri)
7) Prime Minister Aso's second supplementary budget aimed at
containing the Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition
parties (Yomiuri)

Political agenda:
8) Aso still meeting secretly at hotels at night: Latest was an
alleged dinner with his secretary that actually was with New Komeito
leaders (Mainichi)
9) New Komeito accepts Aso's rationale for delaying Diet dissolution
but a rift between that party and the Prime Minister is growing
10) Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in latest private election survey
shocked to find out that the ruling camp would lose badly, and DPJ
would win a sole majority (Nikkei)

11) LDP's Hidenao Nakagawa expects Lower House dissolution will not
come until after the Tokyo assembly election next July (Nikkei)
12) In tactical shift, Japanese Communist Party approaching
corporate managers and promoting job security (Asahi)

North Korea problem:
13) Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Uruma says the government is
considering adding more sanctions against North Korea (Sankei)
14) Six-Party Talks: U.S., Japanese delegates seek to repair the
strains that have developed and then move on with the talks (Asahi)

Defense and security affairs:
15) New anti-terrorist bill to allow refueling operations in the
Indian Ocean unlikely to pass the Diet until November or later
16) Outline of Defense Ministry's reform plan revealed (Sankei)
17) Nikkei editorial calls on government to hurriedly respond to
piracy problem in waters off Somalia (Nikkei)



Tax revenue to fall more than 5 trillion yen

Additional economic measures to include expansion of stock purchases
by public institutions


TOKYO 00003023 002 OF 012

Government eyeing 5 trillion yen boost for economy

Second economic package aims to help economy via tax cuts for three

Second supplementary budget to be submitted to current Diet session

Tokyo Shimbun:
Government announces today second economic package features cash
benefits worth 2 trillion yen


(1) Concern about possible expansion of special defense secrets
(2) Great expectations and concern about linear bullet train

(1) Shortage of obstetrics and gynecology specialists urgent issue
to be resolved

(1) Restoring public trust by teaching the teachers
(2) Can Japan, China carry out reliable and speedy mutual assistance
based on bilateral criminal treaty?

(1) Economic slowdown testing solidarity of EU and euro
(2) Anti-pirates measures off Somalia urgently needed

(1) Shinginko Tokyo Bank's illegal loan tip of the iceberg
(2) Shortage of doctors should be resolved

Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Lower House election postponement: Are there any prospects
without gaining the confidence?
(2) Shinginko Tokyo Bank must put end to relying on tax money

3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, October 29

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 30, 2008

Took a walk around his private residence in Kamiyama-cho.

Met with Japan Finance Corporation President Yasui and Vice
President Hosokawa at the Kantei.

Met with Finance Minister Nakagawa, followed by Land, Infrastructure
and Transport Minister Kaneko.

Met with Vice Finance Minister for International Financial Affairs

TOKYO 00003023 003 OF 012

Shinohara and Foreign Ministry Economic Affairs Bureau Director
General Otabe. Then met with the chairman of the Diet Members Caucus
for Friendship between Indonesia and Japan.

Former LDP Tax System Research Commission Chairman Aizawa.

Met with State Minister for Economic and Financial Policy Yosano.

Met with Special Advisor Yamaguchi, followed by Secretary General
Hosoda and Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Omori. Hosoda remained.

Met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Kawamura.

Met with Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, at
Imperial Hotel together with his wife Chikako.

Dined with his family at Asada, a traditional Japanese restaurant in

Arrived at the private residence.

4) Tax revenue for this fiscal year estimated to fall over 5
trillion yen: Issuance of government bonds likely to top 30 trillion

ASAHI (Top Play) (Full)
October 30, 2008

The likelihood is now tax revenue for the government's special
account for fiscal 2008 will drop more than 5 trillion yen from the
originally estimated 53.5 trillion yen. The reason is that corporate
tax revenue will significantly drop with companies' business
performance deteriorating in the wake of the financial crisis that
started in the U.S. and the strong yen. The government finds it
imperative to issue additional deficit-covering government bonds in
order to make up for the fall in tax revenue. The amount of the
issuance of government bonds will likely exceed 30 trillion yen for
the first time in three years.

The government has a goal of moving the primary balance into the
black by fiscal 2011 to be achieved by holding down the issuance of
new government bonds issued by that year at a level below the
payment of interest on bonds issued in the past. If it issues
additional deficit-covering government bonds in fiscal 2008, it
would become very difficult to achieve the goal unless tax revenue

The government had projected tax revenue for the general account in
fiscal 2008, based on economic outlook and corporate performances as
of December last year. It had estimated corporate tax revenue at
16.7 trillion yen, approximately 30 PERCENT of the total tax
revenue. However, corporate tax revenue has markedly dropped this
year due to the sharp rise in raw material prices and the slowdown
in the U.S. economy. Corporate performance has further declined,
compounded by the financial crisis and the strong yen. Valuation

TOKYO 00003023 004 OF 012

losses on companies' shareholdings due to a decline in stock prices
are expanding. The cumulative total of corporate tax revenue for a
period from April through August stood at 58 PERCENT of the level
of the same term in the previous year. The situation is so harsh
that a significant drop in tax revenues would be inevitable even on
a full-year basis.

Sales tax revenue, which accounts for approximately 20 PERCENT of
tax revenue, is likely to fall with consumer spending remaining
stagnant due to price rises. Plummeting stock prices are taking a
toll on individual investors, causing concern over a negative effect
on income tax revenue.

As such, the Finance Ministry reviewed the estimate for fiscal 2008
tax revenue. It now projects a shortfall of over 5 trillion yen.
There is fear that if the economy continues to slow, tax revenue
would further drop. It plans to submit a supplementary budget bill
that incorporates revised-down tax revenue to the current
extraordinary Diet session or the regular session to be convened
next year. The plan is to make up for tax and other revenue
shortfalls worth 25.3 trillion yen with the issuance of government
bonds. In addition, it has already been set that additional
construction bonds worth 400 billion yen would be issued to finance
the first supplementary budget, which was approved in the
extraordinary Diet session. One means of covering a tax revenue
shortfall is to use reserves in the special account. However, since
no major sum can be expected from the reserves, the government would
find it unavoidable to issue additional government bonds.

5) Additional economic pump-priming measures to feature stock
purchase by Banks' Shareholdings Purchase Corporation: Unemployment
insurance rate to be cut to 0.8 PERCENT

MAINICHI (Top Play) (Excerpts)
October 30, 2008

The government and the ruling parties on October 29 finalized a
package of additional economic pump-priming measures to deal with
the deteriorating economy and the financial crisis. According to the
plan, a total of 2 trillion yen will be paid out to individual
households. The package will also incorporate a policy of
considering large-scale stock purchases by public institutions as a
fresh approach to undergird stock prices. The unemployment insurance
rate will also be reduced 0.4 points from the current 1.2 PERCENT
of employees' annual income, shouldered by employers and employees
on a 50-50 basis, to 0.8 PERCENT in fiscal 2009. Expressway tolls
will also be cut. The government's fiscal disbursements will total
about 5 trillion yen, significantly exceeding the size of the
economic stimulus package (approximately 2 trillion yen), which the
government adopted in late August. The project size will likely
reach 20 billion yen. The package will mention that no
deficit-covering government bonds will be issued to finance the

Gist of government's additional economic pump-priming measures
? A total of 2 trillion yen to be paid out to individual households
without income restriction
? Set up various funds as nursing-care, employment and low-birthrate
? Reduce the burden of both employers and employees by cutting
employment insurance rate
? Help irregular employees become regular employees

TOKYO 00003023 005 OF 012

? Largest-ever housing loan tax cut

Financial and economic measures
? Consider large-scale purchase of shares by public institutions,
such as the Banks' Shareholdings Purchase Corporation
? Revive the Financial Functions Early Strengthening Law, which
enables the injection of public money into financial institutions
for a preventive purpose
? Far-reaching assistance to small- and medium-size businesses
procuring funds to manage operating funds, by extensively expanding
the credit guarantee system
? Lowering the reduced tax rates applied to small- and medium-size
businesses on a time-limited basis
? Tax cut for the promotion of energy-saving investment.

Revitalizing local areas
? Allocating 1 trillion yen to local governments from special
road-construction funds
? Substantial cut in expressway tolls
? Allocating special subsidies to local governments as a measure to
promote regional economies

Funding resources, etc.
? Use reserves in the special account. Deficit-covering government
bonds will not be issued.
? Compile a mid-term tax system reform program, including the sales
tax, with the aim of securing stable revenue sources for social

6) Second supplementary budget may be submitted to current Diet

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
October 30, 2008

A second economic stimulus package will be adopted this evening in a
meeting of the government and ruling parties. Following this, Prime
Minister Taro Aso will hold a meeting with New Komeito leader
Akihiro Ota, who has called for an early dissolution of the House of
Representatives, to seek again the New Komeito's understanding for
his plan to push back a general election for the Lower House. After
that, Aso will hold a press conference.

The outlook is that the government will submit a second
supplementary budget for fiscal 2008 in mid-November or later at the
earliest to the current Diet session. In an effort to enact the
second budget, the government and ruling coalition are looking into
the possibility of extending the ongoing session, which will run
until Nov. 30.

7) Prime Minister Aso considering a second supplementary budget with
aim of containing DPJ

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
October 30, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso has begun looking into compiling a second
supplementary budget for fiscal 2008. This is because there is a
strong demand for additional economic measures from the public and
because Aso has predicted that the main opposition Democratic Party
(DPJ) will not be able to oppose emergency economic and financial
measures. He appears to be trying to contain the DPJ's hard-line

TOKYO 00003023 006 OF 012

approach (demanding immediate Diet dissolution and a snap election)
by putting forward the second extra budget to the current Diet

Referring to fixed cash benefit payments worth 2 trillion yen, the
key feature of the proposed second economic stimulus package, Aso
told reporters last night: "There is a big difference in
implementing the measures between before the end of the year and
next year." He thus hinted at the possibility of submitting the
second extra budget, including the cash benefit payment scheme, to
the current Diet session.

In a House of Councillors Budget Committee session on Oct. 15, Aso
at the time expressed his intention to forgo the submission of a
second supplementary budget to the ongoing session. He seemed to
have judged that there would not then be enough time to pass a
second budget during the current session because he had planned to
dissolve the House of Representatives in October. The outlook is
that if the government starts the work of compiling a second extra
budget soon, the budget will be submitted to the Diet in mid to late
November. There are only 2 weeks left until Nov. 30, when the
session ends, for the Diet to deliberate on the new budget. If the
DPJ cooperates on the passage of the budget as it did when the first
supplementary budget was enacted, passage within two weeks would be
possible. However, many lawmakers contend that a lengthy extension
of the Diet would be needed in order to adopt the budget for

As a result, some government officials and ruling coalition members
are cautious about the submission of a second extra budget, with one
saying: "A lengthy extension of the current session would hinder the
compilation in December of the national budget for fiscal 2009."

A person close to Aso pointed out: "There are various options such
as submitting it by extending the current session or submitting to
the next regular session."

Aso is trying to make the DPJ be actively involved in the economic
and financial policy making of his government. He appears to be
asking the DPJ for cooperation in case he submits a second extra
budget. He seems to have assumed that it would be difficult for the
DPJ, which is opposed to delaying Lower House dissolution, to now
take a hard-line stance toward his Diet management for fear of
public criticism.

8) Aso secretly met with New Komeito leaders at hotel, contrary to
official announcement that he had dined with secretary

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
October 30, 2008

Prime Minister Taro Aso has been visiting hotels night after night.
In many cases, those occasions have been used to hold secret
meetings with government and ruling party members.

The Prime Minister's Office had announced that the prime minister
visited a hotel on the night of Oct. 28 to dine with his secretary.
But it became clear later that he had a meeting with New Komeito
Representative Akihiro Ota and others. Announcements different from
the facts have resulted in a sense of distrust among the press

TOKYO 00003023 007 OF 012

The prime minister's nighttime activities are conveyed to the press
corps via the public relations secretary. According to the
announcement, the prime minister dined with his secretary at the ANA
Intercontinental Hotel, Akasaka, Tokyo, on the night of Oct. 28.

The prime minister entered the hotel with his secretary at 8:04 p.m.
Upon obtaining information that the prime minister would have talks
with New Komeito leaders, the press corps searched all floors.
Usually, police officers stand on guard at the elevator hall of the
floor the prime minister is staying. They could not find even such
police officers.

The prime minister came out of the hotel about four hours later with
his secretary. Ahead of that, a New Komeito source admitted a
meeting with the prime minister.

It has also become clear that the prime minister met with Finance
Minister Shoichi Nakagawa and others on the night of Oct. 16 and
with New Komeito Leader Ota and others on the 26th. About those two
nights, the prime minister's secretary informed the press corps that
the prime minister had dined with his secretaries.

9) Even though New Komeito agrees to delay in Diet dissolution, rift
remains with Prime Minister Aso

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
October 30, 2008

Prime Minister Aso has made efforts to persuade the New Komeito to
go along with the delay in dissolution of the Lower House. Although
party executives are still insisting on an early dissolution, taking
a hard look at the prime minister's decision, a mood has spread
across the rest of the party accepting the delay.

Representative Ota, Secretary General Kitagawa and other Komeito
executives had been assuming that at some point in the early part of
Nov., Prime Minister Aso would announce that the election would be
announced on Nov. 18 and held on Nov. 30. They were moving ahead
with election preparations. The prime minister's tilt toward
delaying the dissolution, citing the financial crisis, was

In the meeting on Oct. 26 of Aso, Ota, and Kitagawa, Ota reminded
the prime minister that he had said he would hold an election on
Nov. 30, and he urged that it be carried out as planned. But the
prime minister repeatedly stated his thinking about giving priority
to the economic stimulus package. At a second meeting of Aso, Ota,
and Kitagawa in a hotel on the evening of the 28th, Ota and the
others again pointed out the necessity of dissolving the Diet early,
but the gulf between them and Aso remained wide.

10) DPJ would win majority single-handedly, according to latest LDP
internal polling

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 30, 2008

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) would win a majority
single-handedly, while the ruling camp would lose about 130 of the
seats it now holds and wind up with just over 200 in the next
general election, according to the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP)
latest internal survey. The survey results revealed yesterday are

TOKYO 00003023 008 OF 012

worse than those in its previous surveys, showing that the ruling
coalition's crushing defeat will be unavoidable. These results have
been conveyed to Prime Minister Taro Aso, apparently discouraging
him from calling a Lower House at an early date.

The LDP conducted four surveys by direct interview of 1,000 voters
in each of 300 constituencies, asking which party they will vote for
in the election. The first survey was conducted in late September,
just after the Aso administration was launched, followed by a second
and third carried by mid-October. This time, Secretary General
Hiroyuki Hosoda picked about 120 priority constituencies. The
results of the survey conducted on Oct. 24-26 were reported to only
a few senior members, including the prime minister.

The latest survey showed that candidates of the LDP and the New
Komeito were in the lead in fewer than 120 of the 300
constituencies, while the constituencies in which the DPJ candidates
led totaled slightly less than 170. The number of seats expected in
both single-seat constituencies and the proportional representation
segment is about 180 for the LDP, around 25 for the New Komeito, and
over 240 for the DPJ.

In the first survey in late September, the expected number of seats
for the ruling coalition was over 230. The prime minister has
delayed a Lower House election, taking the survey results and the
fallout from the global financial crisis into consideration, but the
survey results showed that the situation surrounding the ruling camp
became worse over the past month.

11) Former Secretary General Nakagawa: Lower House dissolution is
unlikely before Tokyo assembly election

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 30, 2008

Delivering a speech in Tokyo yesterday, Liberal Democratic Party's
former Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa indicated his view that
the timing for the next House of Representatives election would be
closer to the time when the incumbent Lower House members' terms
expire next September. Nakagawa said:

"We must have the bills related to next fiscal year's budget pass
the Diet. The opposition camp is expected to demand thorough
deliberations in the Diet, so we might have to resort to the 60-day
rule. When considering this possibility, we might find it difficult
to dissolve the Lower House before the Tokyo assembly election next

12) JCP approaching corporate managers to form new job rules

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
October 30, 2008

The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) has put forth the rectification
of differences in employment conditions as one of its main campaign
issues for the next House of Representatives election. The party has
been approaching corporate managers since they had responded
favorably to its call for new employment rules in order to enhance
the competitiveness of Japanese industry. The JCP is aiming at
spreading sympathy from low-wage earners to employers.

"The Japanese Communist Party aims for a harmonious relationship

TOKYO 00003023 009 OF 012

with large companies under a new democratic economic system," said
Chairman Shii in a meeting sponsored by the economic information
magazine BOSS in late September. Speaking before nearly 100
corporate managers, Shii emphasized the need for rule-based
capitalism and sought their understanding for the JCP's policy

Detailing the plight facing dispatched workers, Shii said: "If
companies continue to take the 'throwaway' formula, there will be no
future for Japanese society. ... Capitalism will develop for the
first time if rules are set to contain desires to excessively pursue
profits." Later, Shii commented: "The participants were earnestly
listening to me throughout my speech, nodding their heads."

Shii reiterated the need for regulations on companies to be
tightened, focusing on the so-called working poor, in meetings in
February and in October of the House of Representatives Budget
Committee, evoking favorable responses from young people. A member
of the public relations office said: "The site on questions and
answers in the committee meetings has received more than 100,000

The next challenge for Shii is to spread such sympathy among
corporate managers. Shii said: "I hear many considerate
entrepreneurs saying that the current way of using and then
discarding young workers must not be left unattended." A senior
party member said: "Companies have lost a sense of direction with
the end of new liberalism." The JCP intends to urge companies to
change within themselves.

13) Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Uruma calls for additional
sanctions on North Korea

SANKEI (Page 4) (Full)
October 30, 2008

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Iwao Uruma in an abduction issue
taskforce meeting yesterday revealed a view that the government
should consider slapping additional sanctions on North Korea as one
approach to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the
North. He said: "The question is whether or not we can put pressure
on North Korea to drive it into a tight corner. We have to come up
with an innovative idea."

Uruma also underlined the importance of collecting information on
the situation in North Korean, saying: "We won't be able to have a
dialogue that can prompt the North to take action unless we develop
a channel to a special body directly connected with (the Korean
Workers Party) and the military in order to get the Japanese
government's message across."

14) Japan-U.S. relations repaired for time being through meeting of
two countries' delegates to six-party talks

ASAHI (Page 10) (Full)
October 30, 2008

Toru Tamagawa, Kei Ukai, Washington

Dissolving hard feelings between Japan and the United States was one
of the major goals for the meeting of the two countries' chief
delegates to the six party talks, held for the first time since the

TOKYO 00003023 010 OF 012

United States removed North Korea from its list of
terrorism-sponsoring countries. Foreign Affairs Asian and Oceanian
Affairs Bureau Director-General Akitaka Saiki and U.S. Assistance
Secretary of State Christopher Hill managed to restore the two
countries' cooperative relationship for the time being through an
effort to look for countries to assume Japan's share of energy aid
to North Korea. But the two countries remain far apart on the
verification process for North Korean nuclear programs.

Receiving Saiki at the entrance to the State Department, Hill shook
hands with him before the press corps. The two officials held talks
for about an hour, followed by a dinner. Witnessing the unusually
cordial reception, a Japanese negotiations source said, "I sensed
acutely the United States was giving him consideration." State
Department spokesman Sean McCormack, too, showed consideration to
Japanese public opinion, saying in a press briefing ahead of the
talks: "At the top of the agenda is to re-announce our support for
Japan regarding the abduction issue."

In the meeting, Hill briefed Saiki on the ongoing talks with
Australia and other countries to let them take over Japan's share in
energy aid to the North equivalent to 200,000 tons of heavy fuel.

Although the planned end-of-October completion of the energy aid in
return for the disablement of North Korean nuclear facilities is
bound to be delayed Hill said, "The disablement has outpaced the
aid." A failure to implement Japan's share might end up giving the
North an excuse to suspend the disablement.

With discontent toward Japan simmering among the other members of
the six party talks, America's coordination effort was helpful for
Japan. Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura in a press briefing
yesterday indicated that Japan would welcome other countries taking
over Japan's share, saying: "On the abduction issue as well,
Australia will ask for progress."

But the future warrants no optimism. In the next six-party talks,
the focus would be whether or not what was agreed upon between the
United States and North Korea can be put down in writing. Japan
remains anxious, with the negotiations source saying, "The United
States has delisted the North without any assurances."

The U.S. government is set to finalize the specifics on the
verification agreement at the working-level talks to be held in New
York next week. But with a change of government slated to occur in
January, the focus is already shifting to handing the matter to the
next administration without jeopardizing the North Korean situation.
To what extent Japan's assertion can be accepted remains unclear.

15) Amended antiterror law will not be enacted until next month or

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
October 30, 2008

The House of Councillors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
decided in a meeting of its directors yesterday to continue
deliberations on a bill amending the new Antiterrorism Special
Measures Law extending the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling
activities in the Indian Ocean. Committee directors from the
opposition parties claimed that the legislation has yet to be fully
discussed, so the ruling parties gave up on taking a vote on the

TOKYO 00003023 011 OF 012

bill today. Accordingly, the new antiterror legislation's enactment
will slip into November.

The opposition parties also demanded the committee summon witnesses
to testify on the situation in Afghanistan. The ruling Liberal
Democratic Party and the leading opposition Democratic Party of
Japan (Minshuto) coordinated between their senior committee
directors and then agreed to hold a hearing of witnesses on Nov. 5.
The LDP and the DPJ will continue their consultations on when to
take a vote on the legislation. However, the vote is expected to be
on Nov. 6 or later.

16) Defense Ministry reform: New bureau eyed for SDF manpower,
hardware procurement planning

SANKEI (Page 3) (Abridged)
October 30, 2008

The Defense Ministry has now drawn up a basic plan for its
organizational reform. According to the draft plan unveiled
yesterday, the Defense Ministry will create a new bureau for defense
buildup planning, which is currently done by an existing bureau in
the Defense Ministry and also by the Ground, Maritime, and Air
Self-Defense Forces' respective staff offices. Based on this plan,
the Defense Ministry will study restructuring its organization. The
newly planned bureau will be tasked with working out blueprints for
the SDF's manning level and mainstay equipment. SDF operational
planning will be totally excluded from the scope of the Defense
Ministry's internal bureau functions and will be entirely undertaken
by the SDF Joint Staff Office.

The Defense Ministry is expected to hold a meeting of its in-house
restructuring taskforce today to make a decision on the reform plan.
Meanwhile, the prime minister's office will enhance its functions
and formulate Japan's security strategies. Given this, the basic
plan also says the Defense Policy Bureau, one of the Defense
Ministry's internal bureaus, will work out medium- and long-term
defense strategies.

The newly planned bureau, which will integrate the defense buildup
planning functions of the Defense Ministry's internal bureaus and
the GSDF, MSDF, and ASDF staff offices, will be vested with
huge-scale budgetary authorization, as it will be endowed with such
functions as: 1) compiling and executing each new fiscal year's
budget; and 2) working out blueprints for SDF manpower and
equipment, research and development, manning levels for the three
SDF branches. The three SDF staff offices' remaining functions will
be limited to those closely related to the SDF like clothing and
food purchases.

17) Editorial: Japan must hurry up on Somalia offing antipiracy

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 30, 2008

The Red Sea is strategically important for the sea lanes connecting
Asia and Europe, and ocean liners enter there through the waters off
Somalia. This offing-particularly the Gulf of Aden-is where pirates
are rampant, hijacking ships and taking hostages. The United Nations
and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have now set about
taking counteractions. Japan also should consider proactive

TOKYO 00003023 012 OF 012


The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which works for sea
security and environmental protection, says there were 63 acts of
piracy in the waters off Somalia between January and September this
year, several times more than in the preceding year. Those incidents
include 26 hijackings with a total of 537 hostages. At present, 12
ships and 250 persons are still under the control of pirates. This
year, two Japanese ships were also attacked there.

In September, a Ukrainian freighter loaded with 33 tanks was
hijacked. The ship and hostages have yet to be released.

Those pirates are based in Somalia, and they reportedly number 1,000
or 1,200. The pirates there have large weapons, and their hijacking
activities are organized. They have been making big money, including

Somalia has been in a state of anarchy since 1991 due to a civil
war. Its authorities therefore cannot be expected to crack down on
the pirates.

The Gulf of Aden leads to the Suez Canal and is a sea corridor for
an annual total of more than 20,000 ships. According to the Japanese
Shipowners' Association (JSA), about 10 PERCENT or a little over
2,000 ships among Japanese shipping companies' ships pass through
the Gulf of Aden.

Many countries and international organizations are concerned about
the problem in this sea area. In early October, the U.N. Security
Council passed a resolution calling on all interested countries to
send naval ships and military aircrafts there.

On Oct. 27, NATO vessels were sent to the offing of Somalia for the
first time against pirates. They are said to escort ships carrying
international relief goods.

Japan also cannot be indifferent to this problem. JSA Chairman
Hiroyuki Maekawa has asked Land and Transport Minister Kazuyoshi
Kaneko to take countermeasures immediately, and Prime Minister Taro
Aso has ordered government officials to look into the possibility of
sending the Maritime Self-Defense Force. The security of sea lanes
is indispensable for Japan's economic security, so the government
should positively consider taking countermeasures.

Several years ago, pirates in the Straits of Malacca became a
problem. Nowadays, in this sea area, coastal countries' cooperation
is well under way, with the number of acts of piracy having
decreased sharply. International cooperation is needed for
escorting, warning, and information sharing in the offing of Somalia
as well.


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