Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 12/03/08

DE RUEHKO #3300/01 3380807
P 030807Z DEC 08




E.O. 12958: N/A



(1) Sankei-FNN poll on Aso cabinet, political parties (Sankei)

(2) Support ratings for Aso cabinet enter danger zone; Prime
Minister Aso should passionately talk about Japan (Sankei)

(3) Aso cabinet losing momentum two months after inauguration; LDP
members worried that LDP will lose election under Aso (Asahi)

(4) Close cooperation between MSDF, JCG vital in combating Somalia
piracy (Yomiuri)

(5) Editorial: Meaning of appointing Clinton to post of secretary of
state (Nikkei)


(1) Sankei-FNN poll on Aso cabinet, political parties

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
December 2, 2008

Questions & Answers

(Note) Figures shown in percentage. Figures in parentheses denote
findings from a previous Sankei-FNN survey conducted Sept. 25.

Q: Do you support the Aso cabinet?

Yes 27.5 (44.6)
No 58.3 (35.7)
Don't know (D/K) + can't say which (CSW) 14.2 (19.7)

Q: Which political party do you support?

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 26.7 (31.7)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 23.6 (25.9)
New Komeito (NK) 4.1 (4.1)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 2.6 (2.5)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 1.9 (1.3)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0.4 (0.1)
Reform Club (RC or Kaikaku Kurabu) --- ---
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0.1 (0.1)
Other political parties 0.4 (1.0)
None 38.4 (32.3)
D/K + can't say (C/S) 1.8 (1.0)

Q: Do you appreciate Prime Minister Aso and his cabinet on the
following points?

Prime Minister Aso's personal character
Yes 33.1
No 56.7
D/K+CSW 10.2

Prime Minister Aso's leadership
Yes 15.8
No 71.9
D/K+CSW 12.3

Foreign policy

TOKYO 00003300 002 OF 010

Yes 28.3
No 47.6
D/K+CSW 24.1

Economic policy
Yes 16.2
No 71.3
D/K+CSW 12.5

Actual results over past 2 months since coming into office
Yes 12.7
No 70.6
D/K+CSW 16.7

Reform policy
Yes 40.7
No 47.5
D/K+CSW 11.8

What Prime Minister Aso has said and done
Yes 12.6
No 78.4
D/K+CSW 9.0

Q: Do you think a government-introduced bill to extend the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean for
multinational forces should be passed during the current extended
extraordinary session of the Diet?

Yes 43.0
No 41.3
D/K+CSW 15.7

Q: Do you think a government-introduced bill to establish the
Consumer Affairs Agency should be passed during the current extended
extraordinary session of the Diet?

Yes 52.2
No 25.5
D/K+CSW 22.3

Q: Do you think the government should present a second supplementary
budget for economic stimulus measures to the Diet within the year?

Yes 78.1
No 15.4
D/K+CSW 6.5

Q: Do you think Prime Minister Aso and DPJ President Ozawa should
have more one-on-one debates?

Yes 67.1
No 27.1
D/K+CSW 5.8

Q: Do you think Prime Minister Aso should shuffle his cabinet as
early as possible after the Diet has wound up its current session?

Yes 64.3
No 27.1
D/K+CSW 8.6

TOKYO 00003300 003 OF 010

Q: The government has now decided to hand out cash benefits as an
economic stimulus measure. Do you think this cash handout should
reach all of the people with no restrictions?

Yes 47.8
No 48.5
D/K+CSW 3.7

Q: Do you think Prime Minister Aso's decision on this cash handout
was appropriate?

Yes 18.2
No 72.5
D/K+CSW 9.3

Q: Do you think it is too late if this cash handout is in the spring
of next year or afterward?

Yes 56.5
No 31.7
D/K+CSW 11.8

Q: Do you think you will receive the cash handout if you are

Yes 88.3
No 7.6
D/K+CSW 4.1

Q: Who do you think is most appropriate now for Japan's prime
minister among the following politicians?

Taro Aso 8.8 (22.6)
Shigeru Ishiba 3.3 (1.6)
Nobuteru Ishiba 5.4 (3.9)
Yuriko Koike 4.7 (4.7)
Kaoru Yosano 2.9 (2.2)
Junichiro Koizumi 11.5 (13.2)
Other ruling party lawmakers 4.1 (1.5)
Ichiro Ozawa 11.4 (16.1)
Naoto Kan 3.7 (3.0)
Yukio Hatoyama 3.4 (1.7)
Katsuya Okada 3.3 (2.1)
Seiji Maehara 2.3 (1.6)
Other opposition party lawmakers 2.4 (2.5)
None 29.2 (18.4)
D/K+C/S 3.6 (4.9)

Q: When comparing Prime Minister Aso and DPJ President Ozawa, which
one do you think is more convincing?
Prime Minister Aso 27.9
DPJ President Ozawa 51.5
D/K+CSW 20.6

Q: Which one do you think is stronger in one-on-one debates?

Prime Minister Aso 26.7
DPJ President Ozawa 53.7
D/K+CSW 19.6

TOKYO 00003300 004 OF 010

Q: Which one do you think is better when it comes to policies?

Prime Minister Aso 28.3
DPJ President Ozawa 36.4
D/K+CSW 35.3

Q: Which one do you think is trustworthier?

Prime Minister Aso 31.4
DPJ President Ozawa 29.7
D/K+CSW 38.9

Q: Which one do you think is more appealing in election

Prime Minister Aso 42.1
DPJ President Ozawa 30.0
D/K+CSW 27.9

Q: Which one do you think is more appropriate for prime minister?

Prime Minister Aso 31.5
DPJ President Ozawa 32.5
D/K+CSW 36.0

Q: The House of Representatives' current membership is up until the
fall of next year. When do you think the next election should be
held for the House of Representatives?

Within the year 14.8
Early in the new year 28.4
During the first half of next year 27.2
Upon expiry, or sometime before that and during the latter half of
next year 25.7
D/K+C/S 3.9

Q: Do you think an election should have been held for the House of
Representatives by November?

Yes 49.9
No 41.3
D/K+CSW 8.8

Q: Do you think an election should be held for the House of
Representatives after the government has carried out economic
stimulus measures?

Yes 73.8
No 19.9
D/K+CSW 6.4

Q: Do you think the U.S. presidential election's results will affect
the next election for the House of Representatives?

Yes 59.4
No 35.4
D/K+CSW 5.2

Q: What form of government would you like to see after the next
election for the House of Representatives?

TOKYO 00003300 005 OF 010

LDP-led coalition government 21.4 (24.1)
DPJ-led coalition government 29.4 (32.1)
Grand coalition involving both the LDP and the DPJ 42.4 (38.5)
D/K+C/S 6.8 (5.3)

Q: Prime Minister Aso's first term of office as LDP president is up
until the fall of next year. How long do you think his government
will continue?

Replaced before the next election for the House of Representatives
Replaced after the next election for the House of Representatives
Replaced upon his term's expiry in the fall of next year 17.8
Continue even after the fall of next year 6.1
D/K+C/S 3.8

Q: Do you think you are a floating voter with no particular party

Yes 60.5
No 35.7
D/K+CSW 3.8

Polling methodology: The survey was conducted Nov. 29-30 by the
Sankei Shimbun and Fuji News Network (FNN) over the telephone on a
computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis. For the survey, a
total of 1,000 persons were sampled from among men and women, aged
20 and over, across the nation.

(2) Support ratings for Aso cabinet enter danger zone; Prime
Minister Aso should passionately talk about Japan

SANKEI (Page 3) (Full)
December 2, 2008

The rate of public support for Prime Minister Taro Aso's cabinet was
27.5 PERCENT in a poll the Sankei Shimbun and FNN (Fuji News
Network) jointly conducted. The Aso cabinet's support rating has now
entered a danger zone, only two months after the Aso administration
was inaugurated. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the largest
opposition party led by Ichiro Ozawa, is certain to strengthen the
offensive in criticizing Aso. Discord has surfaced in the ruling

When his bar-hopping every night was criticized by reporters, Aso
snapped back at them. He has misread kanji characters. His
counterblast and misreading are charming mistakes. However, he said
many doctors lack common sense. Such a slip of the tongue is
extremely inappropriate. There is no room for him to excuse.

What is more serious is Aso's making of flip-flops on whether to set
an income cap on eligibility for a flat-sum cash payout plan, which
is a showcase policy of the Aso administration. The prime minister
also corrected later his statement that the government would
transfer 1 trillion yen from tax revenues for road projects to local
governments in the form of local tax grants. He once said the
government's interpretation of the Constitution should be changed.
But he later backpedaled.

It can't be helped that former Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)

TOKYO 00003300 006 OF 010

Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa ridiculed the prime minister,
saying, "The prime minister cannot take his remarks back."
Statements by the prime minister, the head of the administration,
carry incomparably more importance than those of other politicians.
If the prime minister wavers in what he says, such will affect many
people. As a result, the prime minister will lose the confidence of
the people.

Aso should remember why he, the head of a 20-member faction in the
LDP, was elected LDP president and prime minister.

Such elements as being a grandson of former Prime Minister Shigeru
Yoshida, his dandyish manners, sharp tongue, and jokes might be a
factor, but they do not matter much. Since many LDP lawmakers
acknowledged politician Taro Aso's "strong voice," Aso was
recommended as a candidate for prime minister.

Aso showed his strong voice during the 2007 LDP presidential
election. He was highlighted instead of another presidential
candidate Yasuo Fukuda by delivering a grisly speech, even though
his defeat was certain because eight factions, excluding the Aso
faction, in the LDP had announced their support for Fukuda.
Attracted by Aso, many junior and mid-level party members backed him
in the election in defiance of decisions of their factions. This led
him to the prime minister's post. Fukuda made a heartbreaking
decision to hand the reins of government to Aso because he had to
entrust Aso with his hope to revitalize the LDP.

Aso thinks of himself as an optimist, and others also regard him
that way. Amid the Japanese public's growing concern about their
country's economic situation rather than the global financial
crisis, Aso was adamant: "Japan is a great country. Japan's
potential is enormous." Therefore, the public might have had hopes
that he would remove the sense of impasse.

For this reason, Aso should passionately talk about his view of
Japan. Rather than talking about how he will to recover the economy,
he should talk about how he will build a state and how Japan will
take the initiative in the international community. He visited
Yasukuni Shrine with his grandfather on April 28, 1952, when the San
Francisco Peace Treaty became effective, to report the independence
of Japan. He should now recall a sense of mission he felt that day.

(3) Aso cabinet losing momentum two months after inauguration; LDP
members worried that LDP will lose election under Aso

ASAHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
December 2, 2008

Public support for Prime Minister Aso has sharply plunged in recent
public opinion polls due to a string of gaffes and his policy
measures going off track. Seeing such survey results, an increasing
number of ruling party members now say that they will lose the next
general election under Aso, although he became prime minister
because they hoped he could lead the party to an election win. The
Aso administration has lost momentum only two months after its

Aso secretly called Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General
Hiroyuki Hosokawa and Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Tadamori
Oshima into a room in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on the night of
Nov. 19. In the meeting, Aso indicated his lingering attachment to a

TOKYO 00003300 007 OF 010

plan to dissolve the Lower House later this year or early next year.

Aware of growing concerns in the LDP that the party would lose power
under Aso, Hosoda and Oshima flatly opposed Aso's suggestion. They
feared that if they raise the issue of dissolution, the possibility
of the LDP becoming an opposition party might take on a realistic
touch and the party might eventually begin to fall apart. They were
not able to accept the desire of Aso, who wants to keep his grip on
the party by hinting at Diet dissolution.

"I would like to make utmost efforts to have the budget law take
effect on April 1," Aso said on Nov. 29 in Iwate Prefecture, where
Democratic Party of Japan President Ozawa comes from. He thus had to
rule out the dissolution of the Lower House until the budget bill
for next fiscal year clear the Diet.

Even so, public support for the Aso administration has continued to
plunge. In a public opinion survey by Nikkei and another agent on
Dec. 1, public support sharply dropped to 31 PERCENT , underscoring
that the LDP will not be able to win the election under Aso.

In the LDP, where concerns are intensifying, moves aimed at breaking
up the party and reorganizing are expected to become active. Even
former Prime Minister Mori, who tried to dissuade junior LDP members
from criticizing Aso during a speech on Nov. 30, expressed his
apparent apprehension about the current situation, saying: "The LDP
might be pressed to destroy itself and to be drawn into a
realignment of the political world."

LDP desperately trying to head off Diet dissolution

Ahead of party head talks between Aso and Ozawa on Nov. 28, Oshima
told Aso: "You should not eagerly make personal attacks against

Oshima judged it was necessary to prevent a confrontational mood
from being built up in order for the LDP to be able to continue to
put off dissolution of the Lower House. Following Oshima's advice,
Aso kept a low profile in the party head talks.

The LDP leadership's judgment was that the party should remain on
the defensive until the budget bill for next fiscal year is enacted
next spring and should accumulate achievements while waiting for an
opportunity. Appearing on a TV program on Nov. 30, Hosoda
categorically said: "The Lower House will not be dissolved later
this year or early next year."

Why is the party leadership so eager to head off Diet dissolution?
Perforations that could develop into cracks and cause the party fall
apart have already appeared within the LDP. Members remain in the
LDP despite different views, because it is a ruling party.

If the prime minister decides to dissolve the Lower House, the
possibility of the LDP losing political power as a result of the
general election may become a reality. In an effort to survive in
the political party, some forces in the party might strengthen their
own policy lines and could even grope for ways to join hands with
the DPJ. If some members leave the party, the ruling coalition will
lose its two-thirds majority in the Lower House and no longer be
able to pass legislation through override votes. In such a case, the
Aso administration inevitably would immediately be at a standstill

TOKYO 00003300 008 OF 010

in the divided Diet.

But the strategy of forcing the prime minister to give up on an
early Diet dissolution and remain on the defensive has also produced
negative effects.

Aides to Aso were shocked at the opinion survey results released by
Nikkei yesterday. Public support for the Aso cabinet plunged 17
points to 31 PERCENT , while non-support soared 19 points to 62
PERCENT . What shocked them more was that 17 PERCENT each picked
Aso and Ozawa in reply to a question asking who should be prime
minister. In the previous survey, 36 PERCENT picked Aso, while 16
PERCENT chose Ozawa.

In a meeting of the government and LDP Consultative Council
yesterday, one aide to the prime minister complained: "Everybody
told the premier not to say anything. It was not good." Close aides
to Aso believed that his unrestrained remarks were behind his
popularity. So they have reacted to the party executive's policy,
with one claiming: "He was overly modest. It is undesirable for
those close to him to have restricted his deeds and remarks."

The development of the situation beyond the expectations of the
party executive and the Prime Minister's Office has caused cracks
within the government.

(4) Close cooperation between MSDF, JCG vital in combating Somalia

YOMIURI (Page 15) (Abridged slightly)
December 3, 2008

By Isami Takeda, professor, Dokkyo University

There has been a rash of incidents of piracy in waters off Somalia
and the Gulf of Aden northeast of Africa. Some 1,000 vessels were
attacked as of the end of November this year. A total of 17 vessels
are being held by pirates, and some 250 people are still held

Connecting Japan and Europe, this oceanic area is a major trade
route where some 20,000 commercial ships pass through annually.
Japanese firms manage the operation of over 2,000 commercial
vessels. Piracy has a grave impact on marine transport.

Pirates are armed with AK-47s, shoulder-mounted rockets, and other
weapons. Usually aboard a small boat from a mother ship disguised as
a fishing boat or a cargo ship, pirates attack a vessel, take the
crew hostage, and demand an exorbitant ransom. In April this year,
the large oil tanker Takayama of Nippon Yusen was attacked by
pirates with machine guns. Another tanker linked to a Japanese
company was attacked in September. In November, the Japanese captain
of a Chinese fishing boat was taken hostage.

At the root of Somalia piracy is the state of anarchy in that
nation. Police and military forces do not function in Somalia, which
has been in a state of anarchy due to the civil war. Criminal groups
in the country are left uncontrolled. Given the country's inability
to clamp down on piracy, the international community must deal with
the situation.

Adopting two resolutions this year to curb piracy in waters off

TOKYO 00003300 009 OF 010

Somalia, the UN Security Council urged various countries to take
necessary measures, including one using force. Based on the
resolutions, such countries as the United States, European nations,
India, and Malaysia have sent naval vessels and military aircraft to
the area in question.

In Japan, Prime Minister Taro Aso unveiled before the House of
Representatives Antiterrorism Special Committee in October a plan to
improve the law to utilize Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to
fight piracy. The step followed a set of proposals by Akihisa
Nagashima and other members of the Democratic Party of Japan. A
joint effort by the ruling and opposition camps to address the issue
of piracy must be welcomed.

The European Union (EU) is scheduled to launch full-fledged
anti-piracy operations in December. Japan, too, must take action

In doing so, the MSDF must work closely with the Japan Coast Guard

Piracy is an international crime. Police forces are responsible for
cracking down on piracy. Cracking down on piracy at sea falls under
the jurisdiction of the JCG. Tracking, investigating, and arresting
pirates and seizing evidence require the execution of a series of
laws. In order to help out Japanese crewmembers aboard a foreign
vessel in a remote place like Somalia, the JCG is allowed to
exercise its investigative authority and police powers as long as
the vessel is on the high seas. In the wake of the hijacking of the
Japanese-owned tanker Alondra Rainbow in 1999, the MSDF dispatched
its patrol boats to waters in Southeast Asia.

The MSDF has vessels, including the large patrol boat Shikishima,
capable of long-distance cruises. If Japan can dispatch to waters
off Somalia some MSDF vessels along with JCG patrol boats, that
would help the country display its strong presence and deterrence in
the area.

It is quite difficult to exercise police powers against pirates on
the high seas. The cases of UK, France, and Denmark testify that.

The MSDF has conducted many joint anti-piracy exercises with
relevant countries in the Straits of Malacca. Furthermore, there
have been incidents in which JCG patrol boats fired at North Korean
spy ships that intruded into Japanese waters. In combating piracy in
waters off Somalia, it is essential for the MSDF to collaborate
closely with the JCG, which has considerable experience in the field
of international crime.

(5) Editorial: Meaning of appointing Clinton to post of secretary of

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 3, 2008

President-elect Obama announced his cabinet appointees for foreign
relations and security affairs in the new administration.

Obama appointed Senator Hillary Clinton to serve as secretary of
state. Defense Secretary Gates of the present Bush administration
will remain in office. Former North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) Supreme Commander Jones will take office as national security

TOKYO 00003300 010 OF 010


How the appointment of Clinton, with whom he staged a fierce battle
over the Democratic Party nomination, as secretary of state, will
affect the management of the administration is drawing attention. In
the U.S., a new administration usually announces cabinet appointees
for foreign relations and security affairs first. However, Mr.
Obama, whose administration is to be launched amid an economic
crisis, gave priority to appointing economic ministers, such as the
appointment of Geithner to serve as Treasury secretary, breaking the
custom. This is the first such case since the Bill Clinton

The lineup of foreign relations and security-related ministers
indicates that Mr. Obama is not slighting that field. Explaining the
appointment of Clinton, Obama said, "I will show to my friends and
foes in the world my serious determination to reshape U.S. foreign
relations and repair alliances." If the appointment of Clinton as
secretary of state is proof of change, the selection of defense
secretary indicates continuation and stability.

He appears to have taken into account domestic affairs in appointing
his cabinet ministers. The appointment of Clinton is intended to
maintain the Democratic Party's all-party setup. Returning the
Republican Gates as defense secretary is presumably aimed to unite
the nation, thereby stabilizing the situations in Iraq and
Afghanistan at an early date.

Given U.S. political history, moves similar to power struggles have
often occurred in the U.S. with the White House, National Security
Council, State Department, and Defense Department aiming to realize
policies they think appropriate. It is believed that when the
relationship of trust between the president and the secretary of
state is strong, this does not occur very often.

It has been believed that former Secretary of State Kissinger during
the Nixon administration and Secretary of State Baker during the
administration of President George H. W. Bush exemplify such a case.
These two cases cannot be likened to the relationship between
President-elect Obama and Secretary-designate Clinton, who fiercely
confronted Obama during the primary.

There is a video image of Clinton during the primary shouting at
Obama, "Shame on you, Barack Obama!"

Vice President-elect Biden has also been picked for his expertise in
foreign affairs, which makes the issue more complicated. The future
course of relations between Obama and Clinton will be up to what
course the new Obama administration will take.


© Scoop Media

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