Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register



Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 11/25/08

DE RUEHKO #3222/01 3300125
P 250125Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.


Aso diplomacy:
1) President Bush in summit meeting in Lima with Prime Minister Aso
says he will pass the baton on the abduction issue to the Obama
administration (Yomiuri)
2) Gist of U.S.-Japan and U.S., Japan, ROK meeting at the sidelines
of APEC in Lima (Mainichi)
3) Russian President Medvedev tells Aso he will not let resolution
of the northern territories issue slip to the next generation
(Tokyo Shimbun)
4) Despite assurance by Medvedev in meeting with Aso, no signs of
Russia budging on the territorial issue (Yomiuri)
5) Little results from the Japan-China summit on the sidelines of
APEC (Yomiuri)
6) Prime Minister Aso's presence at the APEC conference, weak, even
in bilateral meeting (Tokyo Shimbun)

7) Japan accepts proposed start of next round of Six-Party Talks on
Dec. 8 (Yomiuri)

Defense and security affairs:
8) Rough draft of special measures bill for MSDF anti-piracy
operations in waters off Somalia allows escort of foreign ships
(Tokyo Shimbun)
9) Many problems to overcome, such as use of weapons, in order to
pass proposed bill to send the MSDF to waters off Somalia to protect
against pirates (Mainichi)

10) Japan to completely ban cluster munitions, even the new type
11) Basic action plan for use of outer space would allow use of
satellite-gathered information for diplomacy (Yomiuri)

12) Prime minister careful about responding to Ozawa's likening him
to a "cheap thug" (Tokyo Shimbun)


1) U.S. president pledges to hand over cooperation with Japan on
abduction issue to Obama administration

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
November 24, 2008

Masakazu Hamasuna, Lima

Prime Minister Aso and U.S. President Bush met for the first time at
a hotel in Lima on the morning of November 22 (early hours of the
23rd, Japan time). Referring to the abduction of Japanese nationals
by North Korean agents, Bush stated that the U.S. government would
continue to cooperate to reach a settlement of the problem after the
change of administration, as well. Aso conveyed Japan's intention to
continue the Maritime Self-Defense Force refueling mission in the
Indian Ocean. Bush expressed expectations for the operation to

Looking back on his own tenure, the President during his 30-minute
meeting with Aso noted, "The Japan-U.S. alliance has been
strengthened and deepened over the past eight years." Both leaders
agreed to further strengthen the bilateral relationship, with the
prime minister responding to the president's remark, saying,

TOKYO 00003222 002 OF 010

"Japan-U.S. relations form the base of Japan's diplomacy."

Concerning the issue of abductions of Japanese by North Korea, the
President gave his assurance, noting: "I fully understand that the
problem is a delicate issue for Japan. I will hand over cooperation
toward Japan on this issue to the Obama administration." The Prime
Minister said, "I appreciate your cooperation. I would like to have
your continued understanding of and support for the issue."

The Prime Minister said that he would do his utmost to continue
Japan's refueling mission. The president responded: "The
international community highly appreciates Japan's activity. I hope
Japan will continue the operation."

2) Remarks at Japan-U.S. summit, Japan-U.S.-South Korea summit

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
November 24, 2008

(Japan-U.S. summit)

Japan-U.S. relations

President Bush: Japan is our important ally. The Japan-U.S. alliance
is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity for the U.S. and the
region. The two countries established a solid alliance and then
deepened it during my eight-year term of office.

Prime Minister Aso: Japan-U.S. relations are the bedrock of Japan's

Bush: Since the realignment of U.S. forces is important, I ask for
your cooperation. Missile defense is also essential.

Aso: I am determined to push ahead with these issues based on the

North Korea

Bush: We must tackle the nuclear-verification issue with
determination. I fully understand the abduction issue is a delicate
problem. I will properly hand over the issue to the incoming Obama

Aso: It is imperative to have (North Korea) accept the verification

Global economy

Bush: I am worried about protectionism. It is necessary to move
forward the new round of World Trade Organization (WTO) global trade
talks (Doha Round) in order to protect the principle of free trade.

Aso: I have committed myself to promoting free trade and the Doha
Round, and I will do my best to advance them.

MSDF refueling mission in Indian Ocean

Aso: A bill to extend the New Antiterrorism Special Measures Law for
another year is now under deliberation in the Diet. I will do my
utmost to enable Japan to continue the mission.

TOKYO 00003222 003 OF 010

Bush: I hope the mission will be continued.

(Japan-U.S.-South Korea summit)

North Korea

Bush: It is necessary for Japan, the U.S., and South Korea to
closely cooperate in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.
Promoting nuclear verification is essential.

Aso: The abduction issue is also important. I ask the president to
continue to offer support and cooperation. Let us make efforts to
construct a mechanism to enable the effective verification of

President Lee: I agree. Close cooperation among the three countries
is vital.

3) Russian president in talks with Aso expresses eagerness for early
resolution of Northern Territories issue

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
November 24, 2008

Kei Sato, Lima

Prime Minister Taro Aso held a meeting with Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev for the first time on Nov. 22, local time. In reference to
the Northern Territories issue - the toughest issue pending between
the two countries, the president expressed eagerness for an early
resolution, saying: "I have no intention to leave the issue in the
hands of the next generation." The two leaders agreed to instruct
working-level officials in their respective governments to speed up

Aso and Medvedev also agreed to focus now on arranging summit-level
talks to ressolve territorial and other bilateral issues by taking
advantage of various occasions, including the planned visit to Japan
by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Japan and Russia had
initially planned a Japan visit by Putin this year but the two
governments decided to put it off due to Russia's domestic

Aso told his counterpart: "Your resolve to settle the territorial
issue has not been reflected in working-level negotiations." The
prime minister indicated his dissatisfaction at slow moves by
Russian government officials concerned despite the president's
remark in his meeting with then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda at the
July Hokkaido Toyako Summit expressing his resolve to "move
negotiations forward, aiming to settle the issue in the end."
Medvedev replied: "In any countries, there is resistance from
bureaucrats, but (any issue) will be resolved if the leaders are
helpful and are determined to do so."

4) Northern Territories issue: Russia shows no sign of making

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
November 25, 2008

Kenichi Ogata, Moscow

TOKYO 00003222 004 OF 010

Russian President Medvedev during his first meeting with Prime
Minister Aso on November 22 confirmed his stance that it is
necessary to settle the Northern Territories issue. However,
although Russia welcomes the rapid expansion of its economic
relations with Japan, it is showing no signs of making concessions
over the territorial issue.

According to ITAR-TASS, Presidential Assistant Prikhodko viewed the
summit this time as making no new development, noting that Prime
Minister Aso just repeated what his predecessors said to former
President Putin and President Medvedev. This source, however, did
not confirm whether Medvedev stated that he had no intention of
leaving the issue to the next generation to work out.

Prime Minister Putin, who has influence over Russia's domestic and
foreign policies, during his tenure as president came up with a
stance of settling the territorial issue by returning the Habomais
and Shikotan based on the Japan-USSR joint statement (1956).
Medvedev is indicating a desire to settle the territorial issue.
However, it is viewed that there is basically no difference in the
stances of Medvedev and Putin.

Following the summit, an executive of Gazprom, a Russian
government-affiliated company, announced a plan to start exports of
liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan in February. The economic
relationship between the two countries is continuing to expand, as
can be seen in Japanese companies' advance into Russia and Russia's
energy supply to Japan.

At present, the territorial issue is not standing in the way of
Russia's expanding economic relations with Japan. Russia is in no
way in a situation in which it has to rush to settle the territorial

5) Chinese government repeatedly changes schedule for Japan-China

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
November 25, 2008

Jun Kato, Lima

A summit between Prime Minister Aso and Chinese President Hu Jintao
was finally realized after backtracking in arranging a schedule on
the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Some have contended that Japan was jerked around by the Chinese
side. Some believe that China was taking advantage of Aso's weak
political standing.

Aso held a press conference on the evening of Nov. 23 in Lima, in
which he stressed the achievements in his meeting on Nov. 22 with
the Chinese president, saying: "We exchanged views on our response
to the economic and financial crisis. We agreed to make efforts."

However, there were no concrete results in the Aso-Hu meeting, which
ran about only 20 minutes. Although Aso urged Hu to contribute money
to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he failed to get a clear
answer from Hu. After Aso's press conference, the Foreign Ministry
distributed to the press corps only a piece of paper containing the
contents of his statement without giving any detailed explanation.

A source familiar with the Foreign Ministry said: "The Japanese side

TOKYO 00003222 005 OF 010

did not think to arrange a Japan-China summit in Peru," since a
Japan-China-South Korea summit is expected on Dec. 13 in Fukuoka

However, the Chinese government sounded out the Japanese government
on a summit immediately before Aso was to leave Haneda Airport on
Nov. 20. Aso received on the way to Peru a communication from the
Chinese side stating: "(President Hu) wants to hold a meeting (with
Prime Minister Aso) on the morning of Nov. 21, when the prime
minister arrives in Peru."

Despite that, the Chinese side cancelled the planned summit because
of "Hu's tight schedule." As a result, Aso and Hu met at a dinner
party on the night of the 22nd for the APEC forum, and the two
leaders agreed to hold a short meeting after the dinner party. They
then finally held a summit.

A government official emphasized the significance of the Japan-China
summit, saying: "It is important for the leaders to meet whenever
they can do so." However, there is a view in the government that the
Aso administration should firmly respond to China's dismissive

6) Scope column: Prime Minister Aso's presence weak in APEC, unable
to present new policy

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
November 25, 2008

Although Prime Minister Taro Aso tried to take the initiative in
discussing the global financial crisis at the annual Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, following the recent emergency
(financial) summit, he was unable to present any new policy
measures. Aso also failed to produce concrete results in a series of
bilateral meetings with leaders of other APEC member countries. His
political presence was undeniably weak, compared with the Chinese
and Russian presidents, who carried out a proactive diplomacy.

Aso proudly said in a press conference on Nov. 23 after the APEC

"It was tough for me to attend the conference because it was held
immediately after the emergency financial summit. I was able to
share with the rest of APEC member countries some measures to deal
with the financial crisis."

However, the measures that Aso proposed to overcome the financial
crisis, including the injecting of funds into the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), were the same ones he had presented at the
recent G-20 financial summit. His new proposals included a measure
to utilize trade insurance in the Asia-Pacific region. He failed to
produce any new agreements in his eight meetings with the leaders of
other countries, including the United States and South Korea.

For example, in his meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev,
the two leaders only confirmed the contents of the past summits
between the top leaders of the two countries on the Northern
Territories issue. In his meeting with Peruvian President Alan
Garcia, regarding Garcia's call for concluding an economic
partnership agreement (EPA), Aso only went so far as to say: "We
will consider it in a forward-looking manner."

TOKYO 00003222 006 OF 010

In contrast, Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Latin
American countries ahead of the APEC conference. China reached a
final agreement with Peru on the launching of talks to sign an EPA.

Moreover, since the APEC summit statement stipulated that the new
round of global trade talks (Doha Round) will reach a general
agreement before the end of the year; chances are high that Japan
will be forced to compromise in the agricultural area.

Aso appears to have created fresh sources of contention, instead of
boosting his administration's popularity through his diplomacy.

7) Japan to agree to start six-party talks on Dec. 8

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
November 25, 2008

U.S. Secretary of State Rice revealed a plan to hold the next round
of the six-party talks to discuss North Korea's nuclear program on
December 8. The Japanese government intends to basically agree to
the proposal. However, some officials are alarmed about the U.S.
releasing the schedule in an unprecedented move, because host nation
China used to play that role.

Commenting on the announcement of the timetable for the next round
of the six-party talks by Rice, one Japanese government on November
24 said, "I wonder to what extent coordination with North Korea has
been undertaken. I hope the U.S. is not acting in a unilateral way,
based on a fixed notion."

Japan welcomes the resumption of the talks itself. In particular,
some expect a new development in the matter, because the leaders of
Japan and the U.S. have just agreed to document nuclear verification
procedures at their summit meeting in Peru.

However, whether the resumed six-party talks will bring about
progress on Japan-North Korea talks to discuss the abduction issue
is unclear. Rather, there is deep-seated concern that if the U.S.
makes concessions to North Korea over the nuclear issue more than
ever, it would affect the abduction issue. All the more for that
reason, some government sources are dismayed at the U.S. indicating
a slight change in its stance of giving consideration to China's
position, by releasing the timetable for the six-party talks ahead
of China.

8) MSDF to escort Japanese, foreign ships against pirates off

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
November 25, 2008

The government yesterday unveiled a draft bill for special measures
to send Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers for the purpose of
defending tankers and other merchant ships against pirates in waters
off the coast of Somalia in Africa. Prime Minister Aso has told the
government and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party to use MSDF
vessels. The government plans to present a bill to the Diet at its
ordinary session to be convened in January next year.

According to the draft bill, the MSDF will be tasked with escorting
Japanese and foreign ships. Specifically, its antipiracy activities
are to include halting and inspecting pirate ships. In addition, the

TOKYO 00003222 007 OF 010

MSDF is to use armed force in legitimate self-defense if and when
attacked by pirate ships. The government also mulls dispatching P3-C
patrol aircraft for over-the-sea surveillance.

In June this year, the United Nations Security Council adopted a
resolution endorsing the use of armed force and other
countermeasures against pirates off the Somalia coast. The planned
special measures law is based on this resolution.

The government is also considering establishing new regulations to
punish pirates in Japan under the United Nations Convention on the
Law of the Sea.

9) Many difficulties in store for MSDF antipiracy dispatch

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Abridged)
November 25, 2008

There has been a sharp increase in the number of ships coming under
attack from pirates in waters near Somalia in Africa. In response,
the government and the ruling parties are planning to send the
Maritime Self-Defense Force. Meanwhile, there are also calls from
among the opposition parties for sending MSDF vessels. This is aimed
at making an appeal on Japan's international contributions following
the MSDF's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean. However, there
are many difficulties to get over, such as what to do about legal
problems and weapons use guidelines.

In the government, the Foreign Ministry is pushing for the idea of
sending MSDF vessels for antipiracy activities. More than 10
countries, including the United States and Britain, have sent their
naval vessels to watch out for pirates. Given this fact, a senior
official of the Foreign Ministry stressed: "The lives and assets of
Japanese people are being threatened. Can we depend on foreign

The government first looked into the possibility of invoking
maritime security operations under the Self-Defense Forces Law's
Article 82, which allows the SDF to use force as in the case of
mobilizing the SDF for defense or public order. However, the
government has so far invoked maritime security operations for only
two incidents in which foreign crafts violated Japan's territorial
waters. The Defense Ministry therefore deems it difficult to engage
the MSDF in ocean activities for a long period of time under that

As it stands, a nonpartisan parliamentary group of
lawmakers-including former Defense Agency Director General Gen
Nakatani from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Akihisa
Nagashima, a House of Representatives member of the leading
opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto)-is now studying the
feasibility of creating a special measures law intended to task the
MSDF with antipiracy activities limited to offshore areas near

However, even in the case of creating a special measures law to
engage the MSDF in antipiracy activities, that is delicate in
connection with constitutional prohibitions against the use of armed
force overseas. Pirates are armed with rockets and other weapons, so
the Diet will inevitably have to discuss whether the MSDF should be
allowed to use weapons in legitimate self-defense or beyond the
bounds of emergency evacuation. In addition, it is difficult to

TOKYO 00003222 008 OF 010

instantly tell pirates from terrorists in waters off the coast of
Somalia that is currently in a state of anarchy. The use of weapons
could fall into a state of unconstitutionality at once.

There is also a political hurdle to clear. The Diet is now in a mood
for confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties. There
is no knowing if the LDP and the DPJ can hit it off in such a
situation. Another factor is that some in the New Komeito, the LDP's
coalition partner, is strongly cautious about sending MSDF vessels
for antipiracy operations.

10) Japan to abolish all cluster bombs, including latest types

MAINICHI (Top Play) (Excerpts)
November 21, 2008

The government has decided to completely eradicate its stockpile of
cluster bombs and not to introduce even the latest types, which
European countries have decided to maintain. Japan will not possess
any types of cluster munitions. Unexploded cluster bombs have
resulted in death and injuries to civilians, and Japan's decision is
based on humanitarian considerations. The government will earmark
approximately 7.3 billion yen in the fiscal 2009 budget to prepare
single warheads that do not scatter bomblets, in the place of
cluster bombs.

Japan possesses four types of cluster munitions, including an old
type that scatters hundreds of bomblets and has an extremely high
rate of unexploded shells. The government is scheduled to sign the
Convention on Cluster Munitions on Dec. 3. It will start examining
ways to abolish its cluster bombs in fiscal 2009. After ratifying
the treaty, which bans the use and stockpiling of cluster bombs, the
government will be required to eliminate the weapons within eight

Even so, the draft of the Convention on Cluster Munitions allows the
possession of the latest types that have an extremely low rate of
unexploded bomblets as an exception. Germany and France have
produced such bombs, and countries in Europe are expected to
introduce them.

The government gives priority to the need to avoid secondary damage
from unexploded shells from humanitarian considerations. There is no
guarantee that even the latest types are totally safe. In addition,
introducing such weapons costs much, so the government decided not
to introduce them, with the aim of totally eliminating damage caused
by bomblets.

The government is also working out measures to minimize the effects
of the treaty on national defense. It intends to introduce such
weapons as smart bombs that are guided to targets using the global
positioning system and are capable of attacking more defined areas
from a greater distance.

Japan has deployed a large number of bombs for defense against
landing by enemy troops. After the draft treaty was adopted,
however, some members of the Defense Ministry and the Liberal
Democratic Party began to call for replacing the old weapons by the
latest types. But a land invasion is now hard to imagine, and
questions have also been raised over the effectiveness of cluster
bombs in defending large areas. Given these, the government judged
that stockpiling cluster bombs is less necessary.

TOKYO 00003222 009 OF 010

11) Japan's satellite data to be used for diplomacy

YOMIUIRI (Page 2) (Full)
November 25, 2008

The government yesterday unveiled an outline of its masterplan for
Japan's space activities, which is to determine a basic course of
action for Japan's space strategy. The government will study the
plan in its space development and strategy taskforce and will work
it out in May next year to come up with new specific measures for
Japan's space activities, including the use of space for defense.

According to the outline, the government will implement the space
plan based on five basic strategies. In particular, the outline
stresses a course of action to push for Japan's international
cooperation focusing on space development. Japan will contribute to
the international community by using its data and technology as
diplomatic tools, including official development assistance.

Specifically, the outline touches on a plan to provide some 30
countries in the Asia-Pacific region with meteorological information
and satellite imagery during major disasters. Meanwhile, it suggests
the need for the government to cooperate with the industrial and
academic sectors at home and enhance Japan's technological
infrastructure by utilizing the technical know-how of small
businesses, universities, and other entities.

Japan has now enacted the Space Law, under which Japan is going to
expand its use of outer space for defense purposes through such
measures as launching new intelligence-gathering satellites. In this
respect, the outline says Japan's expanded use of space for defense
is within the bounds of its exclusively defense-oriented policy,
adding that the government will consider new space activities in the
security area.

12) Aso does not respond to Ozawa's provocative remark

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
November 25, 2008

Yoso Furumoto, Lima

In a press conference on Nov. 23, Prime Minister Taro Aso took a
stance of not responding to Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)
President Ichiro Ozawa's provocative remarks. He appears to have
carefully chosen words in consideration to criticism of his careless
remarks from within the ruling coalition.

After his meeting with Ozawa on Nov. 17, Aso criticized Ozawa,
saying: "Dangerous. I no longer trust him." Appearing on an NHK
program on the 23rd, Ozawa retorted: "He talks like a street punk,
something that is wholly inappropriate for a nation's prime

In the press conference, although one reporter said that the Liberal
Democratic Party and the DPJ were criticizing each other, Aso
refrained from responding, just saying: "Since I don't know what
(Mr. Ozawa) said, I should not say anything." Aso then said: "If I
respond to a question, that will be taken as a further challenge.
That might be good for you (the media), but not for me."

TOKYO 00003222 010 OF 010


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines

UN News: Aid Access Is Key Priority

Among the key issues facing diplomats is securing the release of a reported 199 Israeli hostages, seized during the Hamas raid. “History is watching,” says Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. “This war was started by taking those hostages. Of course, there's a history between Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I'm not denying any of that. But that act alone lit a fire, which can only be put out with the release of those hostages.” More

Save The Children: Four Earthquakes In a Week Leave Thousands Homeless

Families in western Afghanistan are reeling after a fourth earthquake hit Herat Province, crumbling buildings and forcing people to flee once again, with thousands now living in tents exposed to fierce winds and dust storms. The latest 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 30 km outside of Herat on Sunday, shattering communities still reeling from strong and shallow aftershocks. More

UN News: Nowhere To Go In Gaza

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said some 1.1M people would be expected to leave northern Gaza and that such a movement would be “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences and appeals for the order to be rescinded. The WHO joined the call for Israel to rescind the relocation order, which amounted to a “death sentence” for many. More

Access Now: Telecom Blackout In Gaza An Attack On Human Rights

By October 10, reports indicated that fixed-line internet, mobile data, SMS, telephone, and TV networks are all seriously compromised. With significant and increasing damage to the electrical grid, orders by the Israeli Ministry of Energy to stop supplying electricity and the last remaining power station now out of fuel, many are no longer able to charge devices that are essential to communicate and access information. More


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.