Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 11/05/08

DE RUEHKO #3083/01 3100810
P 050810Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Japanese government hurriedly preparing position toward the
Obama administration; May be gap in policy toward North Korea

(2) U.S. Embassy in Japan hosts Presidential Election Open House,
including mock election (Mainichi)

(3) Stormy developments expected at Diet; DPJ to press government
for presentation of second supplementary budget (Asahi)

(4) Defense plan to focus on warning satellites (Sankei)

(6) SOFA again blocks accident investigation (Mainichi)

(7) Local assemblies file protests against U.S. military aircraft
crash (Okinawa Times)

(8) Prices of imported energy drop sharply: Crude oil prices fall 50
PERCENT from high; Natural gas, coal prices down 40 PERCENT

(9) Eyes of reporter: Japan should make its presence felt in UN
(Tokyo Shimbun)


(1) Japanese government hurriedly preparing position toward the
Obama administration; May be gap in policy toward North Korea

SANKEI (Internet edition)
November 5, 2008

With the approaching declaration of victory of Democratic Party
candidate Obama in the U.S. presidential election, the Japanese
government now plans to quickly prepare its position toward
President-elect Obama and his administration.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura at a press conference this
morning said: "Even with a change (in the U.S. administration) to
the Democratic Party, Japan-U.S. relations will not waver at all.
There is nothing to worry about since the bilateral relationship has
been built up over many changes of administrations."

The Japanese government has calmly taken the trend toward victory of
Senator Obama, having factored into its thinking the prospects of
"President-elect Obama" from the final stages of the presidential

Prime Minister Taro Aso last evening stressed to the press corps,
"Strengthening the foundation of the Japan-U.S. relationship is
basic, no matter what party it may be (Republican or Democratic)."
Regarding the challenges for bilateral ties following the Bush
administration, he said: "There are many, including economic and
financial affairs, and security of the Pacific. Basically, the
Japan-U.S. relationship will operate properly as it has until now."

According to a government source, the Prime Minister is planning to
coordinate a telephone call to Senator Obama as soon as the results
of the election are final. In addition, he is asking the Obama camp
to bring about a direct meeting at the time of the emergency summit

TOKYO 00003083 002 OF 010

on the financial crisis that will be held in Washington on the 15th.
According to an aide, the Prime Minister "has set a policy course of
strengthening the bilateral alliance early on. He wants the
relationship to get back on track even before the formal launching
of the Obama presidency in January."

Although the Japanese government does not have as many channels to
the Democratic Party as it does to the Republican Party, according
to a diplomatic source connected with U.S.-Japan relations, "Obama
is fortunate to have influential advisors on Japan policy." Former
ambassadors to Japan Mondale and Foley are honorary chairs of a
group of Japan policy advisors to Obama set up in September. Since
this summer, Japan's Foreign Ministry, too, has put in extra efforts
to set up contacts with the Obama camp.

However, Senator Obama himself during the campaign hardly mentioned
specifics about his policy toward Japan, and it is a fact that in
his Asia policy, there is more of an emphasis on China than there is
in the Bush administration. On North Korea issues, as well, Obama
has evaluated the decision by President Bush to remove that country
from the list of states sponsoring terrorism as "a step forward." He
has never spelled it out how he would deal with Japan's abduction

For that reason, inside the government, there are those who advocate
strengthening links with Europe and China, for example, on the North
Korea problem.

(2) U.S. Embassy in Japan hosts Presidential Election Open House,
including mock election

12:44, November 5, 2008

By Takeshi Yamashina

The U.S. Embassy in Japan (Akasaka, Minato Ward, Tokyo) hosted what
it has called the "2008 Presidential Election Open House" this
morning timed with vote-counting in the continental United States,
including such events as a mock election to allow guests to enjoy
voting American-style . Some 900 guests concerned with Japan-U.S.
relations, including college students, took part in the open house.

Deputy Chief of Mission James Zumwalt said in a speech: "For
Americans, the presidential election is a day to celebrate
democracy, and many families throw parties, as well. Please enjoy
the atmosphere." The embassy especially wanted students, who will
bear responsibility for Japan-U.S. relations in the future, to

Ballots and a ballot box were set up in the Embassy auditorium,
which was decorated with blue and red balloons like an election
campaign office. Takafumi Niimura, 22, a junior at Nihon University,
said: "It is more festive than Japanese elections, and it's like a
popularity poll for entertainers. I like it because it's less

(3) Stormy developments expected at Diet; DPJ to press government
for presentation of second supplementary budget

ASAHI (Page 4) (Abridged)
November 5, 2008

TOKYO 00003083 003 OF 010

Now that Prime Minister Taro Aso has pushed back the dissolution of
the Lower House, the course of the second half of the current Diet
session has become murky. With the major opposition Democratic Party
of Japan taking an aggressive stance, there are no prospects for
bills amending the Financial Function Strengthening Law and the
refueling support law to clear the Diet. When the government will be
able to submit a second supplementary budget also remains unknown.
The focus is now on whether the government will extend the Diet
session beyond the end of November in order to get important bills
enacted (by Lower House override votes).

DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa yesterday ordered an executive meeting to
shift back to a confrontational mode in dealing the ruling bloc in
the Diet while preparing for the next Lower House election, which he
thinks will come in the not too distant future.

The DPJ is first expected to urge the government to introduce a
second supplementary budget bill to the Diet in the current session.
The DPJ thinks the government will not be able to present a second
budget because revenue sources are uncertain. If the government
fails to present a budget bill, the DPJ plans to thoroughly discuss
bills amending the Financial Function Strengthening Law and the
refueling support law in the Upper House until the current Diet
session ends in late November. The largest opposition party also
thinks that would force the government and the ruling coalition to
consider extending the Diet session and submitting a second budget.

The DPJ has plenty of ammunition. The DPJ had insisted on revising
six items in the Financial Function Strengthening Law revision bill,
but LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Tadamori Oshima informed his
DPJ counterpart Kenji Yamaoka of a plan to take a committee vote on
Nov. 5 without setting the stage for revision talks. As a result,
deliberations would be carried out thoroughly in the Upper House for
revising the bill.

The DPJ does not hold a majority in the Upper House. Given the
situation, the Diet affairs chiefs of four opposition parties met
yesterday and confirmed a policy course to take coordinated actions.
There is a possibility that persons connected with the Norinchukin
Bank or the Shinginko Tokyo will be summoned to the Diet to give
testimony in line with the DPJ's strong call.

When it comes to the refueling support legislation, there are no
prospects even for a vote. DPJ Upper House Caucus Secretary General
Kenji Hirata in a press conference yesterday indicated that his
party would pursue the government's responsibility for appointing
Toshio Tamogami to the Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff knowing
that he had written a similar essay before.

On Nov. 5, an additional report is slated to follow the government
Afghanistan fact-finding team's report that simply listed some
items. If the DPJ decides that is still insufficient, the party
plans to decide to invoke the right of Diet members to investigate
state affairs. The protraction of deliberations is unavoidable.

The current Diet session closed on Nov. 30. Diet affairs officers of
the two ruling parties truly want to enact the bills amending the
Financial Function Strengthening Law and the refueling law by the
end of November so that the prime minister will not be forced to
dissolve the Lower House at the end of the year.

TOKYO 00003083 004 OF 010

Following the prime minister's decision to push back the dissolution
of the Lower House, the ruling parties' principal directors of all
committees met yesterday to revamp the scenario of getting bills
enacted. As a result, they decided to focus only on bills that are
likely to win the opposition bloc's concurrence, such as the bill
amending the Swords and Firearms Control Law.

How to handle a bill establishing the consumer agency remains
undecided due to a lack of prospects for finding common grounds with
the DPJ. The ruling bloc also decided to forgo deliberations on a
bill making corporate health insurance societies take over the
government's contribution to the government-managed health insurance
programs due to the DPJ's strong opposition.

The focus is on the handling of a second supplementary budget
incorporating comprehensive economic stimulus measures. A draft
budget will be put together in late November, at the earliest. If
the Diet begins deliberations on the second supplementary budget
after extending the session, the compilation of a fiscal 2009 budget
might be delayed as it might overlap with the supplementary budget.

Prospects for major bills submitted to the current session to get

A bill amending the refueling law ?
A bill amending the Financial Function Strengthening Law ?
A bill amending the Swords and Firearms Control Law ?
A bill amending the Citizenship Law ?
A bill amending the Child Welfare Law ?
A bill establishing the consumer agency ?
A bill making corporate health insurance societies take over the
government's contribution to government-managed health insurance

Note: ? denotes the government's and the ruling coalition's
determination to enact at all costs; ? indicates their intention to
aim at enactment; ? signifies uncertainty; and W denoted that they
gave up enactment.

(4) Defense plan to focus on warning satellites

SANKEI (Page 2) (Abridged)
November 5, 2008

The government is planning to revise the National Defense Program
Guidelines, or NDPG for short, to determine a basic course of action
for Japan's defense buildup. Ahead of its revision, the government
decided yesterday to set up an advisory panel for the prime minister
in December, moving up the original date. In its new version, the
NDPG is expected to focus on establishing a general command to
control the Ground Self-Defense Force's five district armies and
introducing early warning satellites for Japan's homeland defense.
The NDPG, formulated in 2004, is to be reviewed every five years.
The advisory panel is expected to come up with a report before next
summer. Based on its report, the government will make a cabinet
decision in late 2009.

The GSDF is currently made up of five district armies across the
nation. Along with a review of the NDPG, the government wants to
establish a general command that is to control the five GSDF armies.
Meanwhile, another advisory panel, which was set up at the prime
minister's office to reform the Defense Ministry, has recommended

TOKYO 00003083 005 OF 010

the GSDF to streamline its intermediate headquarters. If the general
command is to be established, the new advisory panel will likely
have to discuss the advisability of abolishing or downsizing each
GSDF district army and slashing the GSDF's manpower.

This August, the Space Law-which has lifted Japan's self-imposed ban
on its use of outer space for defense purposes-came into effect. In
response, the new advisory panel will also focus on the advisability
of introducing early warning satellites for missile defense (MD) and
possessing reconnaissance satellites. Meanwhile, the Defense
Ministry and the SDF are reluctant about substantial reductions in
the SDF's manpower and hardware. Given this, there is also a plan
being floated for the prime minister's office to set numerical
targets for Japan's defense buildup in an annex to the NDGP's new
version, instead of the Defense Ministry and the SDF.

(5) SOFA again blocks accident investigation

MAINICHI (Page 3) (Full)
November 4, 2008

Teruhisa Mimori, Katsumi Kawakami

A leisure-purpose four-seater light aircraft (Cessna-172) of the
U.S. Air Force recently crashed into flames in a sugarcane field in
Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture. Local people in the island
prefecture, again angered and dissatisfied, calling for revising the
Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). That is because the
U.S. military rejected Okinawa prefectural police's request to seize
the crashed aircraft and has brought it back to its base. Whenever
there was an incident or accident involving U.S. military personnel,
Japan and the United States always made makeshift improvements in
their SOFA implementation. The Japanese government will likely face
even more difficulties since it would not try to revise the SOFA
while remaining within the framework of Japan-U.S. security
arrangements to blindly follow the United States.

"It's strange to constrain police investigations under the SOFA.
Also, I cannot understand why they have taken the aircraft away." So
saying, Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima voiced a strong feeling of
dissatisfaction when he met the press on Oct. 31. A leisure-purpose
aircraft should have no secrets. Even in the case of its accident,
police investigations are affected by what is on the U.S. military's
mind. The governor therefore expressed his displeasure. He has plans
to visit the United States next spring. He indicated that he would
call again for the United States on that occasion to revise SOFA

The accident took place on Oct. 24. Four Kadena-based U.S.
servicemen, who love to fly, were onboard the light aircraft. This
aircraft took off from Amami Airport on the island of Amami Oshima
in Kagoshima Prefecture and crashed into a sugarcane field. Two of
them were injured either seriously or slightly. Shortly after the
accident, a 28-year-old airman, one of the four, told local police
that their flight was for "leisure" purposes. The SOFA stipulates
that Japan has primary jurisdiction over off-duty and off-base
accidents. Experts also say Japan has the first right to

What became a barrier to local police investigations was a
SOFA-annexed record of agreements reached in consultations between
the Japanese and U.S. governments. It stipulates that Japan, as long

TOKYO 00003083 006 OF 010

as there is no consent from the United States, waives its right to
investigate, verify, and seize U.S. military property. Based on this
stipulation, the U.S. military claimed the crashed aircraft to be
its property and took it back with no account.

The SOFA annex also has a description of Japan's special law
concerning criminal investigations. This domestic law was
promulgated in 1952 when Japan was under the occupation of U.S.
forces. Japan's investigative authority, though not restricted under
the SOFA, is constrained under the special law. This law requires
Japan to ask for the U.S. military's consent when investigating U.S.
military property. This SOFA annex is a de facto barrier that blocks
Japan's right to investigate. "It's a leisure-purpose aircraft, so
we expected to investigate..." So saying, a senior official of the
prefectural police bit his lip.

Questioning the crashed aircraft's crew is also up to the U.S.
military. When the accident occurred, the four U.S. servicemen
onboard the crashed aircraft refused a local police interview,
maintaining that they need their officer's permission. Time and
again, the prefectural police asked for requestioning the crew.
However, it was not until the evening of Oct. 29, five days after
the accident, that the U.S. military allowed the local police to
question the pilot at a US. naval hospital.

Okinawa's prefectural and municipal assemblies were also upset. On
Oct. 27, the prefectural assembly's special committee on U.S.
military bases met. In the meeting, committee members from the
ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which is in a position to uphold
the bilateral security alliance, expressed their dissatisfaction,
claiming that the U.S. military expands its interpretation of the
SOFA. The Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau and the Foreign
Ministry's Okinawa Liaison Office also faced protests from the
ruling and opposition parties' local chapters and various local
organizations. The municipal assemblies of Nago City and Kadena Town
have passed protest resolutions.

Gov't hesitant to revise SOFA

The accident this time is another example of showing how awkward the
SOFA is. However, both the Japanese and U.S. governments are
reluctant about any revisions that may expressly stipulate Japan's
right to investigate. This time as well, the two governments will
try to soften the local backlash with improvements in the SOFA's
implementation and will wait for things to calm down. There is no
change in such a practice of using cheap tricks.

"In the past as well, there were problems. But we resolved and
handled them with improvements in the SOFA's implementation. Local
residents may think the SOFA should be revised. In point of fact,
however, we have done things well (with the SOFA's improved
implementation)." With this, Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone
stressed his view when he met the press on Oct. 31.

In the 1995 incident of three Okinawa-based U.S. servicemen's
schoolgirl rape in Okinawa, however, Okinawa's population cried out
for SOFA revisions. At that time, the Japanese and U.S. governments
settled the incident with ambiguous improvements in their SOFA
implementation, with the United States giving "sympathetic
consideration" for its pre-indictment handover of suspects in the
case of serious crimes only. In August 2004, a U.S. military
helicopter crashed into the campus of Okinawa International

TOKYO 00003083 007 OF 010

University. At that time, the U.S. military, based on the SOFA,
rejected a request from local police for an on-the-spot inspection
of the crashed chopper at the scene of the accident, and this became
a problem. In April 2005, the two governments reached a settlement
on creating guidelines for how far Japanese investigative
authorities will be allowed to take part in on-site security should
such accidents occur. The two governments agreed to continue
negotiations over expanding Japan's investigative authority in an
aim to hold down a public backlash. However, this matter is still up
in the air.

Expanding the scope of Japan's investigative authority, however,
could incur repulsion from U.S. military personnel who want U.S.
interrogations. In addition, the United States has a SOFA pact with
foreign countries where U.S. troops are stationed. Under this pact,
the United States turns over its military suspects to the
investigative authorities of host countries after they are indicted
by their prosecutors. Revising the SOFA with Japan could have
repercussions on its SOFA pacts with other countries. "Both the
Japanese and U.S. governments do not want to touch this matter,"
said a senior official of the Foreign Ministry.

(7) Local assemblies file protests against U.S. military aircraft

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 27) (Full)
November 5, 2008

In the wake of the recent crash of a U.S. military light aircraft in
Nago City, representatives from Kadena Town's assembly and Chatan
Town's assembly visited the U.S. Kadena Air Base yesterday, where
they filed a protest against the accident. They called for the U.S.
military to disclose the cause of the accident, move such light
aircraft from the Kadena base, and pay damages to victims.

They also visited the Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau.
Toshiaki Okahisa, director general of the Management Department
Director of the bureau, met the local assembly representatives,
including Chatan Town Assembly Speaker Tomotsune Miyazato. Okahisa
told them, "The (Kadena) Aero Club is a social welfare facility, and
the sympathy budget is used for that. There are various items, so
let us check."

According to Miyazato, Lt. Col. Barbara Carson (TN: phonetic), a
Kadena base public affairs officer, answered: "I can't tell anything
about financial support from Japan unless we check it. Users pay
flight charges."

According to Kadena Town Speaker Masayoshi Irei, the public affairs
officer said the U.S. military has been looking into the cause of
the accident and would disclose matters later. The officer only said
the request to move the club elsewhere would be reported to the base

Concerning the claim for compensation, the base officer indicated
that the U.S. government would pay damages in the end. However, the
officer did not specify when, according to Irei.

(8) Prices of imported energy drop sharply: Crude oil prices fall 50
PERCENT from high; Natural gas, coal prices down 40 PERCENT

NIKKEI (Top Play) (Full)

TOKYO 00003083 008 OF 010

November 5, 2008

Import prices of energy resources have significantly dropped across
the board. The price of crude oil imported via direct-deal (DD)
contracts from Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries hit
69.9 dollars per barrel in October, falling 49 PERCENT from the
high recorded in July. The prices of natural gas and coal have also
fallen 40 PERCENT -50 PERCENT , compared with the peak period.
Following the depressed demand for energy due to the slowdown in the
global economy in the wake of the financial crisis, the
international prices of energy resources have declined. This is
because the fall in demand has affected procurement prices. Gasoline
and electric power prices are also expected to fall, fuelled by the
strong yen and the weak dollar. The benefits of dropping prices will
likely be increasingly passed along to consumers.

It was learned on the 4th that the prices of DD crude oil shipped in
October fell 30 PERCENT , compared with shipments in September. DD
crude oil accounts for 80 PERCENT of crude oil Japan imports.
Nippon Oil Corporation, Idemitsu Kosan, etc., imports DD crude oil,
based on long-term contracts. A record decline in crude oil prices
has pushed prices below the level of summer 2007, prior to the time
when prices started soaring. This is because demand for crude oil
has begun slackening throughout the world. There is reportedly an
excess-supply of 2 million barrel a day.

Other energy resource prices have slumped in the wake of nose-diving
crude. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices for discretionary
contracts have markedly declined. LNG from the Middle East has
slumped to 12-14 dollars for 1 million BTUs (British thermal
unites), shedding 38 PERCENT from the record highs of February.
Australian coal price have dropped 43 PERCENT since July.

The fall in energy prices is beginning to be reflected in the price
of end products. Showa Shell Sekiyu KK has, for instance, lowered
the wholesale price of November retail gas shipments 16 yen per
liter from the previous month. Regular gas at the gas stations cost
151.3 yen per liter at the end of last month. There is now a strong
possibility of prices falling below 150 yen per liter for the first
time since last November.

The likelihood is strong that electricity rates will be lowered
after April next year. TEPCO will raise rates for the January-March
quarter by 409 yen per month to about 7,200 yen. Current crude
prices will be priced into electricity rates for the April-June
quarter of 2009. The present estimate for that quarter, based on 105
against the dollar and 100 dollars per barrel, stands at about 7,500
yen. However, there is a possibility of the rate could take a
downward turn, compared with the level of the January-March

There is also a likelihood that fuel surcharges added to airfares
will drop again in April, following January next year. JAL and ANA
fuel surcharges for a round trip to Europe are now 66,000 yen. It
will likely drop to less than 44,000 yen in January next year, when
fuel prices in the August-October period are reflected in market
prices. Chances are that such charges could drop even to 23,000 yen.

Declining energy prices will have a positive impact on the economy
as well. According to the NLI Research Institute, trading losses --
the amount of domestic income that has effectively flowed out of the

TOKYO 00003083 009 OF 010

country due to rising import prices -- came to 31.9 trillion yen for
the July-September quarter. The figure is likely to shrink in the
October-December quarter when current prices are reflected. The
decline in the outflow of income will likely shore up domestic
spending. A significant decline in energy prices, which have been
the major factor for price rises, could serve as a deflationary

(9) Eyes of reporter: Japan should make its presence felt in UN

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 6) (Full)
November 3, 2008

Japan will become a nonpermanent member of the United Nations
Security Council (UNSC) in January 2009, when a debate on reform of
the UNSC will move into full swing. The government is enthusiastic
about becoming a nonpermanent UNSC member as a chance for Japan's
bid for a permanent UNSC seat. However, a rocky path still lies
ahead for Japan's quest for a UNSC seat. Japan should make its
presence in the UNSC, not always following the U.S. policy lead.

If a situation that threatens world security comes up, the UNSC will
decide on diplomatic, economic and military measures to resolve the
situation. The UNSC is composed of five permanent members -- the
United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China -- and
ten nonpermanent members, which are elected by the General

The terms of ten nonpermanent members are two years. A half of the
ten members are reelected every year. The ten members are selected
by region. To become a nonpermanent member, approval of more than
two-thirds of the 192 UN members is required. In the Oct. 17
election, Japan and Iran contested for the Asia seat, with Japan
winning by a landslide. Japan garnered 158 votes, while Iran secured
32. Japan will be serving a 10th term, which is the largest number
among the UN members.

It is believed that the UNSC members have a number of advantages in
collecting information. When North Korea fired missiles in 2006, the
UNSC adopted a resolution criticizing the North under the initiative
of Japan, which was then a nonpermanent member.

It has been decided government-to-government talks on UNSC reform
will start by the end of February in 2009. Foreign Minister Hirofumi
Nakasone said enthusiastically: "Japan aims at an early
implementation of UNSC reform, including its bid for a permanent
UNSC seat, while fulfilling its role as a nonpermanent UNSC member.

However, a bid for a permanent UNSC seat is a hard work.

Although Japan, Germany, India and Brazil jointly aimed for
permanent UNSC membership in 2005, the four countries' efforts
unavoidably hit a roadblock because the African Union withdrew its
once-promised support.

It was said that China's opposition and discord in African countries
were reasons for Japan failing to secure a permanent UNSC seat. But
it is also said that African countries had a distrust of Japan that
Tokyo would not side with developing countries and that the United
States alone would gain benefits if Japan became a permanent UNSC

TOKYO 00003083 010 OF 010

In order to sweep away such distrust, Japan should accumulate
international contributions that can be done by Japan alone, not
trying to gauge the United States' feelings. Japan should actively
work in such areas as nuclear disarmament, peace and humanitarian

As the only atomic-bombed country, Japan should display its
leadership in eliminating nuclear weapons. A resolution calling for
nuclear disarmament that Japan presented was adopted on Oct. 29 in a
first committee session of the General Assembly. The resolution
called on all nuclear powers to reduce nuclear weapons in a
transparent manner. Japan should make efforts to realize the

The world is now shifting to multipolar from the age of U.S.
unipolarism. Japan's foreign policy is now required to change its
position during this turning point in time.


© Scoop Media

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