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Cablegate: Tokyo Media Reaction - Iraq and Airport

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PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #3265 3360146
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 010146Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9097
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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
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RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6592
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 2636
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2718
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS TOKYO 003265

SIPDIS

STATE FOR I/RF, PA/PR/FPC/W, IIP/G/EA, EAP/PD, R/MR,
EAP/J, EAP/P, PM;
USTR FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
TREASURY FOR OASIA/IMI;
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA;
CP BUTLER OKINAWA FOR AREA FIELD OFFICE;
PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO JA
SUBJECT: TOKYO MEDIA REACTION - IRAQ AND AIRPORT
CLOSURE IN THAILAND

1. LEAD STORIES: Top items on Monday morning included a
plunge in public support for Prime Minister Aso.

2. "Is Roadmap for Exit in Sight?" on the Iraqi
parliament's approval of a SOFA with the U.S., the
liberal Asahi editorialized (12/1): "A roadmap for the
U.S. to extricate itself from the quagmire in Iraq has
finally been set.... The SOFA can be regarded as
presenting an opportunity for the U.S. to ease the anti-
American sentiment prevalent in Iraq and the broader
Middle East. Much rides on whether the U.S. will be
able to withdraw its troops smoothly while continuing
to support reconstruction projects and national
reconciliation in Iraq. President-elect Obama is
expected to retain Secretary of Defense Gates due to
his accomplishment in turning around the security
situation in Iraq.... How will the next U.S.
administration move to restore the prestige America
lost over the Iraq war? The U.S. faces a tough road
(out of Iraq)."

3. "ASEAN Summit up in the Air" The business-oriented
Nikkei reported from Bangkok (12/1): "Following the
prolonged closure of two major airports in Thailand, it
is increasingly uncertain whether a series of
international meetings, including the ASEAN and East
Asia summits, can be held as scheduled in Chiang Mai in
mid-December. If these conferences are postponed, the
image of Thailand, which has been battered by the
airport shutdown, will further decline."

4. "National Image Damaged" The top-circulation,
moderate Yomiuri editorialized (11/29): "If the closure
of the airports is prolonged, an adverse economic
impact will be inevitable. Concern is mounting that
Thailand's economy, including hotels, transport, and
other tourism-related industries, will record negative
growth in the final quarter of this year due to the
worldwide economic slowdown. Political uncertainty is
likely to affect foreign investors' interest (in
Thailand)."

5. "Balance between Democracy and National Interest"
The business-oriented Nikkei argued in an editorial
(11/29): "If the shutdown of one of Asia's major hub
airports is prolonged, Thailand's economy will be hit
hard, with the tourism and transport industries being
affected. Chances are high that scheduled international
conferences, including the ASEAN summit, will be put
off. The Thai people should be very concerned that
their country's interests could be undermined at
various levels."

SCHIEFFER

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