Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 11/10/08

DE RUEHKO #3124/01 3160009
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E.O. 12958: N/A



(15) President-elect Obama: Round table of experts on his expected
presidential agenda (Asahi)

(16) Obama's America: Japan-U.S. alliance might weaken (Yomiuri)

(17) U.S. under Obama and the world: How to strengthen alliance with
U.S. is test for Japan under new administration's "cobweb diplomacy"

(18) Change in America: Koizumi's North Korea diplomacy a model?

(19) Interview with Daiwa Institute of Research Executive Director
Muto: "Shared perception is needed" (Mainichi)

(20) Coordination underway for holding 2nd round of financial summit
in Japan: Prime Minister eager to host meeting since Japan's tenure
as G8 host nation expires soon (Sankei)

(21) PACOM chief indicates delay in transfer of Marines to Guam by a
year for cost reason (Okinawa Times)


(15) President-elect Obama: Round table of experts on his expected
presidential agenda

ASAHI (Page 9) (Excerpts)
November 7, 2008

Participants: Tokyo University Professor Fumiaki Kubo; Former Prime
Ministerial Assistant Yukio Okamoto, and Fuji-Xerox consultant and
supreme advisor Yotaro Kobayashi

Foreign policy

-- The Bush administration was noted for its unilateralism. What
kind of role do you think the Obama administration will play in the

Kobayashi: Compared to the Bush administration, Obama will likely
give higher consideration to dialogue and conciliation. My
expectation is that Mr. Obama, given his intellect, will create a
new American leadership, giving equal attention to Europe and Asia,
and taking a cooperative line that does not hurt U.S. national
interests. He will humbly turn an ear to listen to America's allies;
and from that, search for a fresh approach for the U.S. I think
Europeans, too, harbor a sense of alarm about Putin's Russia and
want the U.S. to stay the course.

Okamoto: The Bush administration started the Iraq war (in spite of
the opposition of European countries). In opposition to Russia, as
well, it decided to provide missile defense bases to Poland
(installing such bases there). The neo-cons (neo-conservatives) took
the lead in key diplomatic areas, and the world fell into an
unnecessarily confrontational mode. In that sense, we will probably
return to a more moderate, high-road diplomacy, as it originally
should have been.

-- Mr. Obama said he was prepared to have dialogues with even Iran

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and North Korea.

Okamoto: The Bush administration set up the stage for creating an
adversary. For Iran, as well, He cut off any contacts with the
moderate (President Mohammad) Khatami's regime by calling Iran a
part of the "axis of evil." It may be an exaggeration to say, but he
may have brought about the arrival of the (anti-U.S. hard-liner)
President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad.

During the second term, interest in Asian policy waned, and the
North Korea issue was left to only two officials to handle:
Secretary of State Rice and Assistant Secretary of State Hill. Asia
policy was unpredictable. Looking at the lineup of foreign-policy
advisors to Mr. Obama, I see many who will take a balanced view.
There are also some Japan experts. There will not likely be a
partiality toward China. I think that Obama's administration will
take a more balanced approach in setting the order of global

-- What will happen to anti-terrorist strategy?

Kubo: One foreign policy priority on the Obama administration's
agenda will be the anti-terrorist war in Afghanistan. He plans to
increase troops there. In contrast to Iraq, he also will provide
assistance to the domestic government there. However, from a
long-range perspective, Afghanistan may prove to be more difficult
than Iraq. Things will not turn suddenly better even if Bin Laden is

The best case scenario would be for public security to be
stabilized, terrorists eliminated, and U.S. troops starting to
withdraw four years from now. But there is also a possibility of
security not being stabilized, and many more deaths to occur. In
that case, an anti-war movement might develop against "Obama's

Japan-U.S. relations

-- From the trauma of past trade disputes between Japan and the
U.S., there is a tendency to be wary of Democratic administration
being protectionist.

Okamoto: There's not much to be worried about. Although there is
such a belief in Japan, the severest period occurred during the
Republican Bush administration (the current president's father) with
requests under the bilateral framework talks for Japan to set
numerical targets that would eliminate the trade imbalance. As a
general trend, there is likely to be stronger tinge of managed
trade, but the impact will be felt on China and South America more
than on Japan.

Kobayashi: Although from long ago there has been talk of the U.S.
ignoring Japan, basically, whether there is a Republican or
Democratic administration, I don't think there will be any change in
the U.S. stance of placing importance on Japan. However, there is
need for us to debate among ourselves and for our political leaders
to lay out a position about what Japan can do. The U.S. hopes to see
Japan take such a proactive stance.

-- How can Japan and the Obama administration best face each other?

Okamoto: The Obama administration is not likely to do something like

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the second-term Bush administration that suddenly removed North
Korea from the list of states sponsoring terrorism. But no matter
who is in charge, Japan-U.S. relations are likely to become more
difficult to manage. Japan-U.S relations have been feasting on the
legacy of the personal ties of Bush and Koizumi. We need to be
resolved that a new relationship will have to be rebuilt from

Kobayashi: Speaking from the standpoint of an Asian or global
perspective, we should welcome that Mr. Obama is thinking of placing
the Japan-U.S. relationship a larger framework. China and Europe, as
well, will likely be in that same framework. The importance of
Japan-U.S. relationship, based on consideration given to relations
with other countries, will clearly become different. The special
characteristics of living in a multi-polar or non-polar world, I
think, will require Japan itself to write its own scenario and
promote it by dialogue with the United States.

-- What about on the security front?

Okamoto: Everything was fine for former Prime Minister Koizumi
because he came up with the idea of dispatching the Self-Defense
Forces to the Indian Ocean and to Iraq. However, SDF troops have
been withdrawn from Iraq, and there is a political battle over the
dispatch to the Indian Ocean. In such a situation, Japan must
readjust its sights as to what it can or cannot do. (The U.S.)
Democratic Party in the national security area is naive about Japan,
in contrast to the Republican Party, which knows what Japan can
handle. There is a strong possibility of the Japan-U.S. framework
being redesigned. Since there will be a grace period of six months
to a year, Japan must hammer out the specifics of what it can do.

Kubo: The top priority item on the Obama agenda is the war on terror
in Afghanistan. When it comes to the U.S., to what extent Japan can
help that cause will be the criterion to assess it. The NATO members
are doing their best to fight terrorism there, but ally Japan cannot
fight alongside them due to constitutional restrictions. If the
refueling operation were to suddenly come to an end, Japan's
importance would inevitably diminish.

Okamoto: Convergence with the Republicans focused on a narrowly
defined security agenda, but for the Obama administration,
Japan-U.S. cooperation will focus on what can be done in a broad
range of areas, such as economic security that includes natural
resources and energy, as well as the environment, economic
cooperation, and even Africa assistance. Since the Obama
administration with its futuristic vision has been formed, making a
breakthrough in the Japan-U.S. relationship that has now reached an
impasse will be easier said than done.

(16) Obama's America: Japan-U.S. alliance might weaken

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
November 8, 2008

By Satoshi Ogawa, Washington

In a public-opinion survey released on October 28 by the Chicago
Council on Foreign Affairs, a U.S. foreign policy research
institute, Japan ranked fourth on a scale of relative importance of
countries in the world. China came in third. The survey also found
that 52 PERCENT of Americans regarded China as "very important" to

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the United States, compared to the 45 PERCENT who said this about
Japan. The results reflect the present situation in the United
States, which is now more interested in China than in Japan.

Jeffery Bader, who heads President-elect Barack Obama's Asia team,
was a former director for Asian affairs on the National Security
Council (NSC) under the Clinton administration. He is a China

According to a member of Obama's policy advisory group on Japan, the
Obama administration plans to strengthen the U.S. dialogue with
China in dealing with both global issues, such as global warming,
and regional issues like the North Korean nuclear issue. This can be
seen in the President-elect's statement that China should not be
ignored in settling such issues. The member also explained that the
Obama administration would strengthen the alliance with Japan in
order for the United States to be able to carry out an effectively
diplomacy for resolving issues.

President-elect Obama opened on Nov. 6 his transitional team's
webpage expressing his eagerness to "forge a more effective
framework in Asia that goes beyond bilateral agreements, occasional
summits, and ad hoc arrangements, such as the six-party talks on
North Korea."

Saying that such would be conducive to U.S. national interests,
Japan experts are calling for strengthening the alliance with Japan
that has underpinned the U.S. military's forward deployment in the
region. However, a source in the U.S. Embassy in Japan said: "We can
sense (the Obama administration's) stance that it will not give
special treatment to its allies."

Former NSC Asian Affairs Director Michael Green, a backer of the
Japan-U.S. honeymoon during the first term of the Bush
administration, noted: "As a general principle, Mr. Obama says the
U.S.-Japan alliance is important. The question is whether he will
make efforts for Japan regarding specific issues, such as the

In fact, in his telephone conversation with President elect-Obama on
the morning of Nov. 7, Prime Minister Aso broached the abduction
issue but Obama reportedly did not refer to it. There is a
possibility that Obama's policy line of dialogue with North Korea
will result in friction between Japan and the United States.

South Korea, which was labeled an unreliable ally during the
administration of President Roh Moo Hyun, is now striving to
reinvigorate the alliance under President Lee Myung Bak. There is
speculation among experts that South Korea, which does not have
constraints like Japan has with its Constitution and the historical
issue, has the potential to become a dependable ally, replacing

The question is whether Japan can uphold its strong alliance with
the United States during the tenure of the Obama administration.
Japan's response to Obama's top foreign policy priority of
maintaining security in Afghanistan and providing that country with
more reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan will be the first and
foremost test for its commitment to the alliance. The Ground
Self-Defense Force possesses large transport helicopters that are in
short supply in Afghanistan and the United States needs such

TOKYO 00003124 005 OF 010

If Japan continues to reject extending cooperation by citing
domestic political considerations, it as a U.S. ally is certain to
diminish in importance.

(17) U.S. under Obama and the world: How to strengthen alliance with
U.S. is test for Japan under new administration's "cobweb

NIKKEI (Page 1) (Full)
November 9, 2008

Frank Jannuzi, a staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on
Foreign Relations and a member of the Asia policy team under
President-elect Barack Obama, called the next administration's Asia
policy "a web of partnerships."

Policy of dialogue unshakable

The next administration will expand cooperation with its traditional
allies such as Japan and South Korea, while being eager to
strengthen relations with such emerging countries as India and
Vietnam. The new administration will also be willing to boost
cooperation with the emerging powerhouse China in dealing with
environment issues and in promoting nuclear nonproliferation. Obama
in the presidential election campaign set forth a policy of dialogue
with many countries, stressing: "I am keen to meet the leaders of
all countries no matter whether they are friends or enemies." This
image projected by this policy can be represented by the words
"cobweb-building diplomacy."

Whenever Republican candidate McCain expressed doubts about Obama's
advocacy in the campaign of a policy of dialogue, the candidate
refuted: "Our hardlined diplomatic approach prompted Iran and North
Korea to develop nuclear weapons." The Iraq war resulted in
intensifying anti-U.S. sentiment among terrorists. Iran and North
Korea, which President Bush called "rogue states," promoted the
development of nuclear weapons for self-defense purposes. According
to Obama's logic, the U.S. is no longer safe.

A senior Republican Party member said: "Once the Obama
administration is launched, terrorists will begin to take
provocative actions." The terrorist attacks on the U.S. in 2001 took
place eight months after President Bush came into office. A senior
member of the Obama camp emphasized: "The policy of dialogue does
not necessarily mean taking a soft approach. If necessary, we will
impose sanctions or resort to strong measures." Even so, the policy
of dialogue itself will remain unshakable.

Obama evaluates the Bush administration's delisting of North Korea
as a state sponsor of terrorism as an appropriate step. He has also
expressed his eagerness to set up a multinational security mechanism
based on the framework of six-party talks on the North Korean
nuclear issue. Obama has decided to take over in principle and
expand the policy toward North Korea pursued by Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice in the latter half of the Bush administration. This
makes Japanese officials feel uneasy.

Prime Minister Taro Aso left his private residence in Kamiyama-cho,
Tokyo, after 6:00 on Nov. 7 to wait at his official residence for a
telephone call from Obama, who has started preparations in Chicago
for the transfer of power.

TOKYO 00003124 006 OF 010

The Japanese government contacted senior members of the Obama camp
in preparation for the inauguration of the Obama administration
through the Japanese Embassy in the U.S. and the Foreign Ministry
even from before the presidential election. In the teleconference
two days after the election, Aso was able to elicit Obama's
commitment to strengthen the alliance with Japan. With this, persons
concerned felt relieved, but their optimism may not be warranted.

Attention paid to China's moves

However, his advocacy "a web of partnerships" means that the Obama
administration will not treat U.S.-Japan relations as special but on
an equal plane to ties with other countries. Above all, Japan is
nervous about moves by China.

Meeting with a staff member of the Obama camp during a visit to
Washington in late October, a ranking Japanese government official
had in mind the perception gap between the two countries over the
North Korean nuclear issue when he said: "I hope Japan and the U.S.
will actively exchange views." He then added: "I would like you to
examine closely how China should be treated in the future."

Among those individuals viewed as certain to join the Obama
administration are a number of experts on China. Rising China
remains a potential destination for U.S. investment, although trade
friction is expected. China has boosted its presence as a buyer of
U.S. government bonds. To contain the ongoing financial crisis and
to accrue the money to finance measures to buoy up the economy, the
U.S. will have to issue a large volume of government bonds. In this
respect, as well, President-elect Obama is placing high expectations
on China.

With the aim of increasing Japan's influence in the Obama
administration, Aso suggested (in the teleconference) that Japan
would offer cooperation in a variety of areas. He stressed a
willingness to cooperate in dealing with tasks facing the
international community, such as the global economy, Afghanistan,
climate change, and North Korean issues. The thorniest issue for
Japan is cooperation on Afghanistan. Obama defines Afghanistan as
the frontline of the war on terror. The possibility cannot be ruled
out that he will come up with a request for Japan to provide
specific contributions.

In security affairs, the stalled realignment of U.S. forces in Japan
remains a major issue. In order for Japan to be proactively involved
in the Obama administration's multilateral foreign policy of
dialogue, it will inevitably be pressed to provide cooperation in
the security area, the core of the traditional alliance

(18) Change in America: Koizumi's North Korea diplomacy a model?

SANKEI (Page 1) (Full)
November 8, 2008

Takashi Arimoto, Washington

A group in charge of planning foreign policy for U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama is now studying the case of then Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to North Korea in September 2002.
A source connected to the Democratic Party says that there are many

TOKYO 00003124 007 OF 010

aspects of Koizumi's trip to Pyongyang that would be useful for the
Obama administration in carrying out negotiations with Pyongyang
after its inauguration. Koizumi was able to get North Korean leader
Kim Jong Il to admit that his country had abducted Japanese
nationals and the prime minister even succeed in bringing back five
abductees to Japan.

During his presidential campaign, Obama stressed the need for direct
dialogue with enemy countries, including North Korea. He even
praised the Bush administration's decision to hold talks with the
North, saying: "It is one of the few areas in which a certain level
of progress has been seen." The Obama administration appears to be
responding to a dialogue with North Korea, with an eye on a first
meeting between President Obama and Kim, while closely watching
Kim's health problem.

In a desperate attempt to produce achievements in its North Korea
policy, the Bush administration in its final months delisted the
North as a state-sponsoring terrorism, creating a rift with Japan,
an ally of the United States. Harvard University Prof. Joseph Nye,
who served as assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton
administration, predicts that Obama, having seen the Bush
administration at work, will probably promote talks with North
Korea, while carrying out thorough consultations with Japan.

Nye, who has advocated the importance of not only the use of
military and economic power but also culture and even values, said:

"In addition to his personality, the fact that Mr. Obama, a Black
American, was elected president, defeating two strong rival
candidates -- Hilary Clinton and John McCain -- will be very
effective for the U.S. in using its soft power in the world."

The Bush administration, having set a new security strategy that
became the so-called Bush Doctrine, launched the Iraq war, without
hesitating to take unilateral action. However, Obama, who opposed
the Iraq war, has emphasized that he will work together closely with
America's allies. With the inauguration of President Obama, who has
hinted at the possibility of multilateral cooperation, there is a
possibility that U.S. foreign and security policy will drastically
change. How the young leader will actually steer the country and the
extent of his capabilities are still unknown, however.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea ..... James Steinberg,
professor at the University of Texas, one of those rumored to be
appointed as next national security adviser, pointed out in The
Washington Quarterly -- a journal of international affairs -- that
Obama will come into office at a unique and dangerous time in the
history of the United States.

Obama has indicated he will place priority on eliminating terrorist
forces in Afghanistan, as well as on withdrawing combat troops from
Iraq. However, it is not clear how much cooperation the Obama
administration will be able to secure from the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) and Japan. The Wall Street Journal, in an
editorial, criticized Obama as overoptimistic for being eager to
hold a direct dialogue with Iran, which has pushed ahead with a
nuclear weapons program. The Journal warned that soon after the new
government is inaugurated, Iran may possibly declare it possesses
nuclear weapons.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden, recalling President John F. Kennedy

TOKYO 00003124 008 OF 010

when he was confronted with the Cuban Crisis, predicted that Obama
may be forced to respond to an international crisis. For Obama,
there are many difficult issues to face. Bill Clinton after he
became U.S. president, was hit with conflict in Somalia where many
U.S. soldiers were either killed or wounded. President Bush was hit
by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It would not be strange for the Obama
administration to face a crisis at anytime.

Obama says that he learned from his high school basketball coach how
important it is for individual team members to his or her best for
the sake of the team. He is going to lead team America. There is no
question his decisions will have a significant impact not only on
the United States but also on the international community.

(19) Interview with Daiwa Institute of Research Executive Director
Muto: "Shared perception is needed"

MAINICHI (Page 9) (Full)
November 8, 2008

In response to an interview request by the Mainichi Shimbun, Toshiro
Muto, executive director of the Daiwa Institute of Research, former
deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, expressed his expectations for
the upcoming emergency financial summit, noting, "It is important to
start discussions to share views of the financial crisis, based on
various analyses of the situations from the participants, and then
come up with an pragmatic approach." However, he warned, "We should
not excessively hold out hope that they can hit on a good idea for
dealing with the turmoil in just one meeting."

Regarding the financial summit, Muto said, "Overseeing methods
adopted by financial institutions that operate on the international
market and measures in the event of the financial crisis spreading
will be presumably discussed." Asked about the U.S. government's
response to the financial crisis, he noted, "I have the impression
that the U.S. measures came too late." He did give high marks to the
measures, saying, "All their measures are now out on the table. We
must watch to see what achievements will come now."

Concerning when the U.S. economy might recover, he projected, "In my
view, economic recovery will start in 2010 in the U.S. However, it
will take some more time for it fully recovery." Regarding when the
Japanese economy would recover, he estimated that it will not be
before 2010, as is the case of the U.S. economy, noting, "Domestic
measures have a limit in what they can do in making the economy
bounce back after a slowdown caused by such external factors as
troubles in the U.S. economy."

(20) Coordination underway for holding 2nd round of financial summit
in Japan: Prime Minister eager to host meeting since Japan's tenure
as G8 host nation expires soon

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
November 9, 2008

In connection with the upcoming emergency financial summit to deal
with the global financial crisis, the government on November 8
started coordination with 20 participating countries about the
possibility of holding a second round in Japan in mid-December.
Japan as the host nation of the G8, the countries of which form the
key portion of the financial summit, aims to take the initiative in
dealing with the financial crisis. It wants to secure approval for

TOKYO 00003124 009 OF 010

the holding of a second round of the financial summit following the
first one in Washington on Nov. 14-15.

According to a government source, the government is now sounding out
countries involved in the ASEAN plus 3 (Japan, South Korea and
China) to be held in Thailand on December 16-17 about Japan holding
a second round of the financial summit. One aim of hosting such a
summit is to allow the results achieved at the first summit to be
debated at a venue joined by various Asian leaders.

A place near Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture has been designated
as a candidate venue for the summit. However, in view of securing
space to accommodate government leaders and officials and offering
transportation service from the airport, the government is now
considering having it someplace in Tokyo.

Prime Minister Taro Aso wants Japan as the chair of the G8 to
display leadership in dealing with the international financial
crisis. The prime minister on October 10 announced that he is ready
to hold a financial summit in Japan. However, he gave in to
Washington's request to hold the first meeting in the U.S., because
the financial crisis was launched in the U.S.

For this reason, the prime minister's strong wishes are reflected in
Japan's bid to hold the second round of the summit as the follow-up,
according to a government source. At work behind the prime
minister's intent is his political motivation: He wants to show the
public that he is adept in economic and diplomatic areas by
organizing a summit. This will allow him to control his future
political agenda, including possibly the dissolution of the Lower
House for a snap election. The expiration of the tenure of the G8
chair is also indirectly fueling the prime minister's desire to host
a second round of the financial summit.

However, the countries involved reportedly are taking the stand that
a second round of the financial summit should be held after January
20 next year, when the U.S. Obama administration will formally be
launched. As such, whether Japan will be able to hold a second round
before year's end is uncertain.

(21) PACOM chief indicates delay in transfer of Marines to Guam by a
year for cost reason

OKINAWA TIMES (Page 1) (Excerpts)
November 7, 2008

(Kyodo, New York)

In a news conference with correspondents from Asia in New York on
Nov. 5, Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of the Pacific Command, said
that the plan to move Marines in Okinawa to Guam is likely to be
delayed to 2014 or 2015 because of an expected increase in the cost
agreed on between the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Okinawa government emphasizes necessity for his visit to U.S.

In response to the remark by Keating, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu
Nakaima commented: "I would like to fully consider what he meant.
Many changes are arising in the world." He then emphasized the need
for him to visit the U.S. prior to President-elect Barack Obama's
assumption of office on Jan. 20, saying: "I would like to exchange
views in advance."

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