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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 08/18/09

DE RUEHKO #1906/01 2300643
P 180643Z AUG 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


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(1) 2009 Lower House election: Party-heads debate at Japan National
Press Club; Foreign and security policies a source of trouble for
DPJ's plan to form a coalition government with SDP and PNP (Nikkei)

(2) Three opposition parties' fragile unity (Asahi)
(3) LDP, DPJ give consideration to small-scale farmers in
agricultural policies in manifestos (Yomiuri)
(4) Yasukuni: a nonissue in this election summer (Asahi)
(5) Okinawa Governor: Temporary transfer of helicopter unit should
be studied to remove danger of "Futenma" (Ryukyu Shimpo)
(6) Q&A of Governor Nakaima's News Conference on August: 14:
"Improper to give any assessment of political pledges" (Ryukyu
(7) Governor says he will honor pledge to close Futenma Air Station
in three years (Okinawa Times)
(8) DPJ President Hatoyama: Futenma Air Station should at least be
transferred to outside Okinawa (Okinawa Times)


(1) 2009 Lower House election: Party-heads debate at Japan National
Press Club; Foreign and security policies a source of trouble for
DPJ's plan to form a coalition government with SDP and PNP

NIKKEI (Page 3) (Abridged slightly)
August 18, 2009

The Japan National Press Club hosted a debate yesterday of the heads
of major political parties ahead of the official announcement of the
Aug. 30 House of Representatives election. Heated debate took place
on foreign and security policies and economic stimulus measures that
are vital for running the government. The debate exposed gaps in
security and other policies between the Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the People's New Party
(PNP) that have been looking for ways to launch a coalition
administration. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the DPJ also
clashed fiercely over the question of hiking the consumption tax
rate in order to increase revenues.

If the DPJ wins the upcoming Lower House election, it plans to try
to form a coalition government with the SDP and the PNP. In such a
case, foreign and security policies are likely to become a source of
trouble. These policies are not mentioned in the common policies
announced by the three parties on Aug. 14.

Refueling operations

The debates uncovered the fundamental differences in the positions
of the DPJ and the SDP over the modalities of the overseas dispatch
of Self-Defense Forces (SDF). DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama indicated
that it is best for the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) to combat piracy in
waters off Somalia. At the same time, Hatoyama said, "We have
condoned the deployment of SDF vessels in the judgment that such
(dispatch of the JCG) is not pragmatic."

SDP head Mizuho Fukushima raised an objection outright, saying: "We
are opposed to the dispatch of SDF. The JCG must play the main

The DPJ and the SDP were also at loggerheads on the Maritime

TOKYO 00001906 002 OF 007

Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean, which is
to expire next January. Hatoyama reiterated his party's basic stance
of not allowing a simple extension of the mission, adding, "Our
party will probably not be able to order an MSDF withdrawal
immediately after we take power, and I would like to ask for your
understanding on that." Fukushima insisted on immediate withdrawal.

Some foreign and security issues are likely to become hindrances to
talks between the DPJ and other opposition parties, such as the SDP,
on forming a coalition government. There was also a scene in which
Hatoyama made a concession to Fukushima.

Asked by Fukushima about the DPJ's view on the maintenance and
legislation of the three non-nuclear principles, Hatoyama said: "We
will uphold the three non-nuclear principles. We thought that the
three principles would be more effective if they were left as a
national policy, but we would like to consider the option of
legislating them in the process of cooperating with the SDP."

Watanuki plays up presence of PNP

Although the DPJ and the PNP did not expose any major gaps over
foreign and security policies, they were out of tune regarding some
other issues.

Hatoyama, for instance, reiterated his stock argument that the
country needs a national memorial for paying respects to the war
dead. This provoked a strong reaction from PNP Representative
Tamisuke Watanuki.

Watanuki asked Prime Minister Taro Aso and DPJ President Hatoyama
about where they stand on the question of granting local voting
rights to permanent foreign residents. Aso replied that the LDP does
not entirely subscribe to the view that local voting rights should
be granted immediately to permanent foreign residents. Hatoyama
replied: "There are pros and cons. We are trying to unify our views,
but I think the time has come to consider the matter more

If the SDP and the PNP become overly assertive in order to avoid
being overshadowed by the two major parties, that might take a toll
on solidarity among the DPJ, SDP, and PNP.

(2) Three opposition parties' fragile unity

ASAHI (Page 2) (Abridged)
August 15, 2009

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Social Democratic Party (SDP),
and People's New Party (PNP) - opposition parties - finally devised
a set of common campaign pledges for the upcoming House of
Representatives election. The three parties played up their unity
during prior consultations on a possible coalition government, but
gaps in their perspectives were evident. Because they put off
including in the common campaign pledges such key policies as
foreign and security policy over which the gulf between them is
wide, there remains cause for concern ahead of consultations on the
formation of a coalition government after the Lower House election.

DPJ Policy Research Committee Chairman Masayuki Naoshima proudly
said at a joint press conference on Aug. 14:

TOKYO 00001906 003 OF 007

"The biggest issue in the upcoming election is a change of
government. Since we will make efforts to implement common policies,
it is all right to interpret these as pledges by the three

Masamichi Kondo, deputy policy chief of the SDP, and Shozaburo Jimi,
PNP policy chief, attended the press conference.

The three parties began policy consultations on making common
pledges in late July at the request of the DPJ, which envisions the
formation of a coalition government with the SDP and PNP. For the
DPJ, which does not hold a majority in the House of Councillors,
even if it wins a single-party majority in the Lower House, it will
be indispensable for it to form a coalition with the two parties.
The policy consultations were meant as "a rehearsal" for working out
details on campaign pledges before the general election.

However, the policy consultations remained bumpy. The SDP was
reluctant to hold consultations. Many in the SDP, mainly in local
chapters, are wary of participating in a coalition government. It
was necessary for the DPJ to say repeatedly that the consultations
were not for forming a coalition government.

As a result, the three parties were able to reach an agreement by
obfuscating the nature of the "common pledges" under the rubric of
"common policies." When asked by reporters whether the common
policies are pledges or the adjustment of policies, DPJ Secretary
General Katsuya Okada said on August 13, "We mean that we will fight
to win our seats in the Lower House election based on common ways of
thinking. They are not preconditions for forming a coalition

The DPJ was on tenterhooks over SDP and PNP requests for specifics.
The DPJ and SDP quickly agreed to include a pledge to strengthen
employment measures and a drastic review of postal services -- their
showcase policies -- but they did not quickly find common ground on
other issues.

A pledge to leave the consumption tax rate alone, which is
stipulated in the manifestos of the SDP and PNP, was ranked number
one in the list of common policy items in a bid to highlight "a
complete difference from the LDP-New Komeito common policies,"
according to SDP deputy policy chief Kondo. This item is not
included in the DPJ's manifesto, however. A policy of giving small-
and medium-size companies extensions on repayment of loans was
included in the common campaign pledges at the urging of the PNP. It
was not originally included in the DPJ's manifesto.

(3) LDP, DPJ give consideration to small-scale farmers in
agricultural policies in manifestos

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Full)
August 17, 2009

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) have underscored their consideration to small-scale farmers in
their policy platforms (manifestos) for the upcoming House of
Representatives election. The key to winning a national election
lies in how many farm votes a political party can secure. It is also
necessary, however, to help domestic farmers become strong enough to
survive in a liberalized market.

TOKYO 00001906 004 OF 007

LDP encourages acreage reduction, crop diversification

In a bid to promote the policy of reducing the acreage under rice
cultivation, the LDP in its manifesto proposes making utmost use of
paddy fields by significantly raising subsidies for the production
of wheat, soybeans, and rice for animal feed. Reflecting the current
state of the growing rice glut, the party aims to boost the
production of grains such as wheat and soybeans while reducing rice

The LDP also vows to raise the rate of food self-sufficiency from
the current 41% to 50% by making full use of paddy fields.

The manifesto specifies: "The government will offer assistance to
all highly-motivated farmers while scrapping such conditions as the
size and age of land." With this statement, the party underscored
its consideration for small-scale farmers. In 2005, farmers' incomes
decreased by half to 3.4 trillion yen compared with 15 years before.
Bearing this in mind, the party vows to increase farmers' incomes
but gives no specific numerical target.

DPJ pledges to introduce income indemnity to all farmers

The DPJ's agriculture policy in its manifesto features an income
indemnity system for individual farmers. The party proposes setting
targeted production amounts for a variety of farm products, such as
wheat, soybeans, and rice for animal feed, besides rice as a stable
food, and allocating such amounts to individual farmers. The
manifesto pledges to also pay income indemnity to farmers who
produce more than the targeted amounts of products besides rice that
are in short supply. The LDP is aiming to achieve self-sufficiency
for all major grain products by encouraging farmers grow more
soybeans, wheat, and other key grain with income indemnity.

Regarding the objective of the income indemnity system, the
manifesto notes: "This will make it possible for all farmers,
including small-scale farmers, to continue to be engaged in
farming," demonstrating its consideration for small-scale farmers.
The party also vows to provide an extra subsidy for farmers eager to
integrate farmland or to grow products organically, but the amount
of the subsidy to be offered remains unclear.

(4) Yasukuni: a nonissue in this election summer

ASAHI (Page1) (Abridged)
August 15, 2009

With the next general election approaching, Japan marks the 64th
anniversary of the end of World War II today. The heads of the two
major political parties have announced their intentions not to visit
Yasukuni Shrine, and only one cabinet minister has declared that she
would pay homage at the controversial Shinto shrine on this
anniversary. Contrary to all the fuss during the Koizumi
administration, Yasukuni Shrine has not escalated into a point at
dispute. Regardless of the results of the election, the shrine is
likely to remain a nonissue for some time.

Ahead of attending a government-sponsored memorial ceremony for the
war dead for the first time as prime minister, Taro Aso indicated
that he would visit the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery but would
not pay homage at Yasukuni. "I think it is wrong to use those who

TOKYO 00001906 005 OF 007

sacrificed themselves for the country as a political bargaining
chip, for election campaigning, or for newspaper headlines," he told
the press corps. "Yasukuni should be kept far away from all the

Before Aso became prime minister, he used to visit the shrine about
once a year. But since taking office, he has presented in the prime
minister's name a potted masakaki -- an offering of branches of the
masaki evergreen tree considered sacred in Shinto -- to Yasukuni on
its spring and fall festivals.

Aso formulated his thinking on the Yasukuni issue in the closing
days of the Koizumi administration. The August 8, 2006, edition of
the Asahi Shimbun carried an article by Aso calling for the secular
incorporation of Yasukuni Shrine, as well as for special legislation
to establish a national memorial for paying respect to the war

A week later, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the
shrine to fulfill his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential
election pledge of visiting there on the-end-of-the-war anniversary.
The LDP presidential election to determine Koizumi's successor took
place in the following month.

DPJ calls for a new facility

Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Yukio Hatoyama, too,
visited the shrine on Aug. 15, 1992. But when Yasukuni escalated
into a political issue around August 2001, Hatoyama, who was also
serving as DPJ head at the time, urged Prime Minister Koizumi and
other cabinet ministers to refrain from visiting in their official
capacities the controversial Shinto shrine by pointing out two
facts: (1) Class-A war criminals are enshrined at Yasukuni, and (2)
an effort must be made to build a new secular national memorial for
the war dead. These two facts are reflected in the DPJ's policy
index for 2009. Although the DPJ, too, calls for a national
memorial, its plan fundamentally differs from Aso's in that his
dwells on the existence of Yasukuni.

After becoming DPJ President in May, Hatoyama told China that he
will not visit Yasukuni if he becomes prime minister. At a press
conference on Aug. 11, Hatoyama announced a policy that the prime
minister and other cabinet ministers will refrain from paying homage
at Yasukuni under a Hatoyama administration. This elicited from the
Chinese Foreign Ministry a statement welcoming Hatoyama's remarks.
The DPJ has taken a preparatory step for smooth diplomacy toward
East Asia.

(5) Okinawa Governor: Temporary transfer of helicopter unit should
be studied to remove danger of "Futenma"

Ryukyu Shimpo
August 15, 2009 page 2

At a regular news conference on August 14, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu
Nakaima commented on the fifth anniversary of the crash of a U.S.
military helicopter into (a building at) Okinawa International
University on August 13. "I have been saying that it (Futenma Air
Station) symbolizes danger and should be closed within three years,"
he said. "That was the fundamental standpoint and symbol of my
platform then (in 2006). I have requested a study for reducing
operations including the temporary transfer of the helicopter unit

TOKYO 00001906 006 OF 007

until the relocation (of Futenma Air Station) is completed. I think
the request is gaining gradual acceptance." Thus he stressed that
removal of danger by such measures as the transfer of a unit should
be examined.

Nakaima said that the Democratic Party of Japan's proposal to
relocate Futenma Air Station outside Okinawa Prefecture or outside
Japan "needs to be confirmed after the election." Thus he indicated
that if the Democratic Party of Japan takes power, he will confirm
the government's policy after the election.

Nakaima commented that "local residents' opinion should be
respected" regarding the U.S. Army's new firing range, scheduled for
completion near Camp Hansen's (firing) Range 3 at the end of
September. Local residents have requested cancellation of

(6) Q&A of Governor Nakaima's News Conference on August: 14:
"Improper to give any assessment of political pledges"

Ryukyu Shimpo (Slightly abridged)
August 15, 2009 Page 2

Q: What is your assessment of political parties' manifestos
(campaign pledges)?

A: At present these manifestos do not clearly explain how and at
what pace they want to achieve decentralization (of power from
central government to local governments), so it is improper to make
an assessment now. The Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito did
not comment on the revision of the Status of Forces Agreement. The
Democratic Party of Japan's manifesto used the expression, "will
propose," but I do not know if the party will make efforts to
achieve the revision or if it will just end up making a proposal. I
would like to confirm that after the election. Each political party
and parliamentary group has various ideas. It is nothing more or
less than a campaign pledge.

Q: Five years have passed since a U.S. helicopter crashed into (a
building at) Okinawa International University.

A: I have requested that operations at the Futenma Air Station
should be scaled back and the facility nearly closed between now and
the relocation. A council (on relocation) set up a working team to
study the elimination of danger and reduction of noise. It is a
half-step forward. I made a request to the U.S. Assistant Secretary
of Defense and have asked the Japanese Government many times. I
think they have finally begun to understand the importance of this.

Q: What is the target date of three years to bring (Futenma Air
Station) to a condition close to closure?

A: My term of office is four years, so I will (achieve a condition
of closure) within four years.

(7) Governor says he will honor pledge to close Futenma Air Station
in three years

Okinawa Times (page 2) (full)
August 15, 2009

At a regular news conference held on the morning of August 14,

TOKYO 00001906 007 OF 007

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima commented on the target to bring the U.S.
military's Futenma Air Station to a condition of closure "within
three years." "I have a counterpart to negotiate with," he said,
"so I would like people to understand the three-year target
literally as a 'target.' In any case, I would like to (achieve) the
elimination of danger before my term ends."

Regarding the feasibility of the temporary transfer of units and the
dispersal of training to different areas, which the Okinawa
Prefectural Government has requested of the Japanese and U.S.
governments, Nakaima said, "I do not know how many years it would
take to complete the transfer (to Henoko), but a request to reduce
operations (at Futenma Air Station) until the relocation is
completed is reasonable and realistic."

Nakaima referred to a working team that the Council on the
Relocation of Futenma Air Station established last year to eliminate
danger (and reduce noise). "Establishment of a team to study a
drastic reduction of noise was a half step forward," he said. "I
understand the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense and the Japanese
Government have come to be aware of the importance (of this)."

Nakaima talked about political parties' manifestos (campaign
pledges) released ahead of the public announcement of the general
election on August 18. "I give them high marks for clarity of
expression. However, the political parties have so many different
ideas on decentralization that I don't think it would be proper to
give an assessment."

Nakaima also touched on the revision of the Status of Forces
Agreement "What does the Democratic Party of Japan mean by 'will
propose (its revision)' "? he asked. "I think I will have the chance
to ask some day. I would like to confirm (the manifestos) after the

(8) DPJ President Hatoyama: Futenma Air Station should at least be
transferred to outside Okinawa

Okinawa Times (Page 3) (Full)
August 18 2009

Tokyo - During an open debate by leaders of six political parties
held on August 17, Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio
Hatoyama commented on relocation of the U.S. military's Futenma Air
Station. He said: "The most desirable plan is to transfer (Futenma
Air Station) overseas, but I think we can at least expect to
transfer (Futenma Air Station) to outside Okinawa Prefecture."

Hatoyama then said: "We cannot negotiate (this issue) right after
taking power and resolve it right away. I want to draw a final
conclusion after I fully understand the feelings of the Okinawa
Governor as well as the Okinawan people, and conduct a comprehensive


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