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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; August 31, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 SEOUL 001391

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TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; August 31, 2009

TOP HEADLINES
-------------

All, All TVs
Japan Elections Mark Historic Shift in Power;
Opposition Wins by Landslide


DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
---------------------

According to maritime police, North Korea on Saturday freed four ROK
fishermen it had held for almost a month. The fishing vessel
Yeonanho and its relieved crew arrived at the ROK's Sokcho port and
following a brief reunion with their families, the fishermen were
taken to a military base to be questioned by investigators about
their detention. (Chosun, Dong-a, Hankook, Segye, Seoul, All TVs)

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According to the "White Paper on Investigation into Candlelight
Protests" released by the Seoul-based Supreme Prosecutors' Office,
an estimated 932,000 people rallied on nearly 2,400 occasions in the
ROK last year to protest their government's decision to resume
imports of U.S. beef. The report said that the rallies cost 3.7
trillion won in social and economic damage. (Dong-a, Hankyoreh)

A senior (ROKG) source knowledgeable about the North Korean nuclear
issue said on August 30 that Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. Special
Representative for North Korea Policy, will visit the ROK, Japan and
China early next month along with Sung Kim, Special Envoy for the
Six-Party Talks. (Hankook, Voice of People, All TVs)


INTERNATIONAL NEWS
------------------

According to diplomatic sources, an Australian-owned ship was seized
in the United Arab Emirates carrying North Korean weapons, including
rocket-propelled grenades, headed for Iran. The seizure was the
first since the UN Security Council tightened sanctions against
North Korea in June in response to its second nuclear test and
missile launches. (All, All TVs)

Japan's opposition party won historic elections in an apparent
landslide Sunday, sending the conservatives to defeat after 54 years
of nearly unbroken rule amid widespread economic anxiety and desire
for change. This will open the way for Yukio Hatoyama who leads the
Democratic Party to replace Prime Minister Taro Aso. (All, All TVs)


MEDIA ANALYSIS
--------------

-N. Korea
---------
The release of ROK fishermen, who had been towed to North Korea
after crossing the border in the East Sea on July 30, received wide
press coverage. According to Conservative Chosun Ilbo, North
Korea's official Rodong Sinmun on Saturday indirectly called for
inter-Korean talks to implement the North-South Joint Declarations.
The newspaper also cited North Korean weekly Tongil Sinbo as saying
that normalizing North-South relations is a national request and an
urgent demand of the times, adding that a breakthrough for a new
turn in North-South relations has already been found. However,
Chosun Ilbo also quoted an ROK official as saying on Sunday, "It
seems that North Korea has recently launched a heavy charm
offensive. The first priority should be given to ascertaining North
Korea's sincerity."

All ROK newspapers reported that an Australian-owned ship was seized
in the United Arab Emirates carrying North Korean weapons, including
rocket-propelled grenades, headed for Iran. According to the media
reports, the seizure was the first since the UN Security Council
tightened sanctions against North Korea in June in response to its

SEOUL 00001391 002 OF 006


second nuclear test and missile launches.
Dong-a Ilbo editorialized: "It could be said that North Korea has
adopted conciliatory tactics in order to avoid difficulties caused
by international pressure but, as shown in its weapons shipment to
Iran, North Korea has not fundamentally changed. The way for the
North to survive will open up when it gives up the delusion that
Pyongyang, while not giving up its nuclear programs, can deceive the
international community with conciliatory gestures."

-Japan Elections
----------------
All ROK media gave top front-and inside-page play to Japan's
elections that mark an historic shift in power. According to media
reports, Japan's opposition party won elections in an apparent
landslide Sunday, sending the conservatives to defeat after 54 years
of nearly unbroken rule amid widespread economic anxiety and desire
for change. The media reported that this will open the way for
Yukio Hatoyama who leads the Democratic Party to replace Prime
Minister Taro Aso.

Dong-a Ilbo editorialized: "The Democratic Party favors the idea of
free trade agreements with the ROK and the U.S. On North Korea, the
Democratic Party of Japan rejects the North as a nuclear power in
the same manner as the ROK and the U.S. The cooperation of the
international community including the ROK, Japan and the U.S. is
crucial in maintaining this principle after Japan's transition of
power."

Chosun Ilbo editorialized: "Yukio Hatoyama, who will be Japan's next
prime minister, has stressed the importance of Asia-focused
diplomacy, steering away from U.S.-focused diplomacy. Hatoyama, who
leads the Democratic Party, said that, up until now,-Japan's
diplomacy has been tailored to U.S. circumstances but from now on
should be on an equal footing with the U.S. Since the cold war era,
the U.S.-Japan alliance has served as an axis of Northeast Asia
security alongside the ROK-U.S. alliance. There is a likelihood
that the U.S.-Japan alliance will change in concert with the
ROK-U.S. alliance."


OPINIONS/EDITORIALS
-------------------

THE MEANING OF THE SIX-PARTY TALKS SHOULD BE PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD
(Seoul Shinmun, August 31, 2009, Page 30)

By Kim Young-ho, Professor of International Relations at Sungshin
Women's University

With the Six-Party Talks at a stalemate and the international
community strengthening its sanctions against North Korea, North
Korea has adopted a conciliatory attitude. This change of tack is
revealed in its series of steps, such as the release of the two U.S.
female journalists following former U.S. President Clinton's visit
to the North, the release of a detained ROK employee, who worked at
the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the five-point agreement with
Hyundai Group, and the dispatch of a condolence delegation to the
funeral of former ROK President Kim Dae-jung. Inter-Korean dialogue
is also expected to resume soon. We have no reason to oppose
inter-Korean reconciliation, cooperation and dialogue. However, we
should not let the conciliatory gestures blindside us to the
ultimate goal of a complete nuclear dismantlement in North Korea.
In order to accomplish this goal, we must have a clear principle in
dealing with North Korea's moves.

A strategic principle in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue
should be based on accurate understanding of the true nature of the
Six-Party Talks. Although the Six-Party Talks involve six nations,
those nations are, in fact, divided into two groups: North Korea, a
nation that wants to break the status quo in Northeast Asia, and the
remaining five nations that want to maintain the status quo. If we
look back at the history of the last century, we can understand how
important maintaining the status quo is for peace and economic
prosperity in the region. Since the late 20th century after the end

SEOUL 00001391 003 OF 006


of the Korean War, Northeast Asia has been enjoying an "era of
peace" without serious conflicts. On the other hand, the early half
of the 20th century was an "era of war." The Northeast Asian region
was plunged into a string of wars, such as the Sino-Japanese War,
the Russo-Japanese War, the Manchurian Incident, the Pacific War,
and the Korean War. After the Korean War, as the ROK-U.S. alliance
was forged, U.S. troops were stationed in the ROK, and the U.S.
emerged as a power balancer in the region, thereby ushering in an
era of peace. Furthermore, after the Korean War, China made clear
its opposition to North Korea's war provocations, contributing to an
era of peace of over 50 years in Northeast Asia. Thanks to this
long-lasting peace, the Northeast Asian region is still enjoying the
most dynamic economic growth in the world. However, North Korea's
nuclear possession poses a direct threat to this long-lasting
peace.

The Six-Party nations are clearly divided between the five nations
that desire to maintain peace in Northeast Asia through North
Korea's complete dismantlement of nuclear programs and North Korea,
which rejects opening and reform and acts in an abnormal way.
Recently, there has been controversy in political circles over
remarks by some ROKG officials that, with the Six-Party Talks in a
stalemate, five-party talks or consultations should be considered.
Whether the five-party talks will be held or not, from the
perspective of peace and prosperity in the Northeast Asian region,
the remarks about the importance of the "five-party" talks touched
the core of the principle that the ROK will have to pursue in terms
of its national strategy. It is regrettable that strategists under
the Lee Myung-bak Administration failed to make this point to the
people and the neighboring countries persuasively.

Now, China and Russia, along with the U.S. and Japan, clearly
understand that a long-lasting peace in Northeast Asia is essential
to their prosperity. Strategists of the Lee Administration should
make all diplomatic efforts to closely cooperate with these four
nations on the five-party talks so as to maintain peace and
prosperity not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the
Northeast Asian region.


INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD CONTINUE TO PUT PRESSURE ON NORTH
KOREA
(Dong-a Ilbo, August 31, 2009, Page 31)

The United Arab Emirates has caught North Korea carrying illegal
weapons to Iran on a ship of a third nation. In the seized
containers were detonators, explosives, and rocket-propelled
grenades. The UAE's seizure is very meaningful in that it is the
first tangible result of UN Security Council Resolution 1874, which
was adopted on June 12 after North Korea's second nuclear crisis.

The U.S. Congressional Research Service once said that North Korea
was earning 2 billion dollars per year by exporting missiles,
missile parts, and design technologies to Iran. It has become
virtually impossible for the North to export weapons under the
supervision of the U.S. and the international community. This past
June, the Kang Nam I, a North Korean vessel suspected of carrying
illegal weapons, sailed allegedly to Myanmar but, after being
shadowed by a U.S. vessel, returned home.

Since international sanctions began in earnest after North Korea's
long-range rocket launches in April and its second nuclear test in
May, Pyongyang has been recently taking conciliatory steps toward
Washington and Seoul. It welcomed a visit by former U.S. President
Bill Clinton and freed the two U.S. female journalists on August 4
and released an ROK employee of Hyundai Asan, Yoo Seong-jin, after
136 days of detention on August 13. It also lifted tough border
restrictions on August 21, and sent a condolence delegation to the
state funeral of former ROK President Kim Dae-jung and permitted the
delegation to meet with ROK President Lee Myung-bak. North Korea is
also restraining itself from lashing out at President Lee.
Recently, The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Central
Committee of the Workers' Party of (North) Korea, indirectly urged
the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue.

SEOUL 00001391 004 OF 006

It could be said that North Korea has adopted conciliatory tactics
in order to avoid difficulties caused by international pressure but,
as shown in its weapons shipment to Iran, North Korea has not
fundamentally changed. The way for the North to survive will open
up when it gives up the delusion that Pyongyang, while not giving up
its nuclear programs, can deceive the international community with
conciliatory gestures.

It is fortunate that North Korea released the four crew members of
the ROK fishing vessel 800 Yeonan, but the communist state acted as
if it showed good faith by freeing them, although it detained the
innocent fishermen for a month. This is such a shameless act.


HOW WILL THE POWER CHANGE IN JAPAN AFFECT KOREA?
(Chosun Ilbo, August 31, 2009, Page 31; Excerpts)

Japan's Democratic Party won a landslide victory in general
elections on Sunday. It was a humiliating defeat for the Liberal
Democratic Party, which has governed Japan for all but 11 months
since 1955.

There is a strong likelihood of minor and major changes in Japan's
domestic and foreign policy now that the Japanese public's desire
for a new beginning has been demonstrated.

The Democratic Party has stressed the importance of Asia-focused
diplomacy, steering away from U.S.-focused diplomacy. Hatoyama, who
leads the Democratic Party, said that, up until now, Japan's
diplomacy has been tailored to U.S. circumstances but from now on
should be on an equal footing with the U.S. Since the cold war era,
the U.S.-Japan alliance has served as an axis of Northeast Asia
security alongside the ROK-U.S. alliance. There is a likelihood
that the U.S.-Japan alliance will change in concert with the
ROK-U.S. alliance.

Hatoyama chose to embrace an Asia-focused diplomacy instead of the
traditional focus on relations with Washington to keep in check the
ascendance of China, which has risen in status as the world's second
most powerful country after the United States. During the reign of
the LDP, relations between Seoul and Tokyo never transcended the
problems arising from the legacy of Japan's World War II atrocities.
Now the DP has vowed to take a different approach. In order for
the East Asia community and Asia-focused policies pitched by the DP
to be successful, Japan must resolve the distrust its regional
neighbors feel. It remains to be seen whether the DP will be able
to break the cycle of error committed by previous Japanese
administrations when it comes to dealing with the country's wartime
atrocities.

(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.)


ELECTION REVOLUTION ENDS LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY ERA IN JAPAN
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, August 31, 2009, Page 27)

The people of Japan gave the Democratic Party an overwhelming
victory in yesterday's election, marking the beginning of a new
chapter in the country's political history. The Liberal Democratic
Party, which in the 54 years since 1955 had never once failed to
place as the winning party, was dealt a decisive defeat as the
Democrats achieved Japan's first change in ruling parties through
election. It could well be called an election revolution.

Strictly speaking, however, this election is also the result of the
Liberal Democrats' self-destruction. The party, which united
conservative parties that had been shifting alignments following the
Second World War under the shared values of anti-Communism and
market liberalism, led Japan to the status of the world's
second-ranked economy on the strength of its large corporations and
bureaucracy. As the bubble burst in the 1990s though, divisions
between the Liberal Democratic Party and the people of Japan began

SEOUL 00001391 005 OF 006


to grow deeper. The lifetime employment system, once the pride of
Japan, crumbled apart and the gap between rich and poor grew larger.
The country has also undergone a rapid aging process, while a large
number of young people have been faced with the uneasy situation of
going from one temporary position to another.

Fundamental reforms have been needed, but the Liberal Democrats have
been powerless in the face of resistance from their support base
comprised of executives from large conglomerates and bureaucrats.
Of course, there was former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro, who
worked to reflect the people's demands for change, for example by
carrying out postal service reforms in spite of resistance by vested
interests within the party. However, his neoliberal reforms only
exacerbated income inequality. When the world was struck by
financial crisis soon afterwards, it revealed the weakness of the
Japanese economy for all to see. In the first quarter of 2009, the
nation's GDP fell at an annual rate of some 11.7 percent, and
unemployment reached its highest level in history. The Liberal
Democratic Party responded to this in the same way as the Lee
Myung-bak Administration, by expanding public projects. It is all
too natural that the people of Japan, who are demanding drastic
changes, would abandon the party.

Responsibility for reflecting this thirst for change now falls on
the Democratic Party of Japan. In a piece entitled "Japan's New
Way," Democratic Party head, Hatoyama Yukio, spoke of "fraternity"
as the crux of his political philosophy. To him, fraternity is both
a principle for controlling U.S.-style market fundamentalism and
creating a society with a more solid social safety net, and also a
philosophical foundation for creating an East Asian community. It
is hoped that Hatoyama's philosophy of fraternity will become a
foundation for making Japan's society a more secure and egalitarian
one.

If Japan intends to speak of an East Asian community, it needs to
act as a defender of peace and security in the region. That it has
failed to do so over the years is common knowledge. The country has
stirred up insecurity in the region with its historical views,
territorial conflicts and military buildup, and it has had a
deleterious effect on the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean
nuclear issue due to its insistence on bringing up citizen abduction
issues that are not directly related to the agenda. A solution to
the nuclear issue is urgently needed if the East Asian community
described by Hatoyama is to be created. In that regard, it is
noteworthy that he is opening up the possibility for dialogue with
North Korea.

The changes in the ruling parties of the U.S. and Japan are
demanding a complete change in our foreign policy. The South Korean
government should expand the approach of dialogue with North Korea
initiated by the death of former president Kim Dae-jung, and ensure
that the country is not left out by a shifting international
situation.

(This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.)


"JAPAN'S HISTORIC POWER TRANSITION; THE JAPANESE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
GOVERNMENT, CAN IT INCREASE NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES' CONFIDENCE?
(Dong-a Ilbo, August 31, 2009, Page 31)

The landslide victory of the Democratic Party of Japan in
yesterday's general elections has ended the 54-year reign of the
Liberal Democratic Party, which was formed in 1955. The August 30
general elections, which enabled the first major transition of power
in post-World War II Japan, hold great significance in Japanese
political history. Though a non-Liberal Democratic coalition took
power for 10 months after the 1993 general elections, the Liberal
Democratic Party still held control.

The Democratic Party's victory resulted from the Japanese people's
desire for change. The Japanese public had long been fed up with
the near total domination of the Liberal Democrats, who lost support

SEOUL 00001391 006 OF 006


due to bureaucratic politics, corruption, chronic factionalism and
frequent replacement of prime ministers. Another factor was that
the Japanese economy, which had been revived under Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi after the "lost decade," took another turn for the
worse due to the global economic crisis. Led by Yukio Hatoyama, the
Democratic Party lambasted collusion between the government and the
Liberal Democrats and achieved a revolutionary transition of power
by promising down-to-earth policies such as childcare support and
ending budget waste.

Hatoyama, who will be Japan's next prime minister, has stressed the
importance of Asia-focused diplomacy, especially Korea-Japan
relations. He publicly announced his opposition to visiting the
Yasukuni Shrine, where Class A war criminals are honored. Hatoyama
also says he will follow the Murayama Danwa, an official statement
made by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995 to apologize for
Japan's invasion and colonial rule of Asian countries. Hatoyama's
first foreign visit in May was to Korea after his election as party
leader.

Bilateral relations substantially improved after President Lee
Myung-bak took power early last year. Both public and private
cooperation are needed to achieve a more mature partnership after
the Democratic Party takes over the Japanese government.
Nevertheless, it is premature to hold hasty hopes since factors that
could worsen relations persist, such as the territorial dispute over
the Dokdo islets. The Hatoyama-led government must make great
efforts to prevent an action that could hurt Korean sentiment and
deteriorate bilateral relations.

The Democratic Party favors the idea of free trade agreements with
the ROK and the U.S. Both Korea and Japan have groups backing such
an agreement and those urging extreme caution. If Tokyo cooperates
with Seoul in reducing Korea's chronic trade imbalance with Japan,
it will help resume free trade talks between both sides.


On North Korea, the Democratic Party of Japan rejects the North as a
nuclear power in the same manner as the ROK and the U.S. The
cooperation of the international community including the ROK, Japan
and the U.S. is crucial in maintaining this principle after Japan's
transition of power. The Democratic Party has also pledged to do
everything it can with government resources to resolve the North's
past abductions of Japanese nationals.

On domestic policy, the party introduced measures to support
childcare, make public high school education free, accelerate
decentralization, prohibit political appointments of public
officials, and pursue eco-friendly economic development. While some
expressed hope for the introduction of a new economic growth model,
others have criticized the party's pledges as pork barrel measures
that fail to consider economic resources. It also remains to see
how the Japanese economy, which experienced rapid growth after the
Second World War with the Liberal Democratic Party model, will fare
under the Democratic Party.

Korea and Japan must still rectify remnants of their unfortunate
history, but are indispensable to each other given their
geographical proximity and shared respect for a free democracy and
market economy. Japan's historic transition of power should serve
as an opportunity to upgrade bilateral relations.

(This is a translation provided by the newspaper. Some minor
changes have been made to make it identical to the Korean version.)


TOKOLA

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