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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Japan's Elections

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1068/01 2450837
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020837Z SEP 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2236
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9370
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0800

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001068

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/P, EAP/PD - THOMAS HAMM
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: JAPAN'S ELECTIONS

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused news
coverage September 2 on the Dalai Lama's visit in Taiwan; on the
Cabinet reshuffle slated to be announced on September 7; on the
Taiwan government's plan to fight the H1N1 epidemic; and on the
Taipei District Court's verdicts against family members of former
President Chen Shui-bian for perjury. In terms of editorials and
commentaries, a column in the KMT-leaning "China Times" discussed
the new Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government in Tokyo and said
neither Washington nor Beijing can tell right now which line the DPJ
will take in terms of its future policy direction. An op-ed in the
pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times," however,
suggested that Taiwan work hard to "support Washington's
'Japan-centric Asian Policy,'" or there will be huge change in
Japan's own Asian policy if the United States shifts to a
"China-centric policy." End summary.

A) "Japan's 'National Interests' in between China and the United
States"

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The "International Lookout" column in the KMT-leaning "China Times"
[circulation: 120,000] wrote (9/2):

"... As of now, both Washington and Beijing maintain a wait-and-see
attitude toward the [future] policy direction of Japan's new regime.
Washington is of course very cautious, but Beijing is close to
being quiet and serene, because neither can easily tell which line
the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will eventually take in the
future. People tend to use the previous words and deeds of key
members of the DPJ as a basis for their general and apparent
observation [regarding the DPJ's future policy direction]. ... But
in reality, those [deeds and words] have nothing to do with Japan's
future policy direction after the DPJ takes over the helm. What the
DPJ [leaders] are pondering are 'Japan's interests.'

What are 'Japan's interests' then? Japan's interests are the
resources in the East China Sea and the Senkaku Islands; whatever
the United States, Europe, India or even Australia can do to
restrain or overcome China's growing strength is in Japan's
interests; China's ability to expand its market to accept Japan's
exports is in Japan's interests; and China's [decision] not to block
Japan's adamant plan to join the UN Security Council as a permanent
member is in Japan's interests.

"As for the United States, Washington's continued reliance on Japan
without increasing the latter's burdens will meet Japan's interests;
also, it will be in Japan's interests if Washington can assist Japan
diplomatically and treat it with reciprocity. It will serve Japan's
interests if the United States does not interfere with Japan's
constitutional amendments, and it is in Japan's interests if
Washington allows Tokyo to cut back on its expenses on the U.S.
military deployments [in Japan]. Also, it will meet Japan's
interests if the United States can respect Japan's nuclear
principles."

B) "The Balance between the US, Japan and Taiwan"

Sebo Koh, a member of the Central Committee of the World United
Formosans for Independence and the spokesman of World Taiwanese
Congress, opined in the pro-independence, English-language "Taipei
Times" [circulation: 30,000] (9/2):

"Though what the Japanese prime minister-elect said before the
election was alarming, my prediction is that nothing much will
change in Japan's policy toward the US or Taiwan. ... Japan has had
no unified national strategy since the end of World War II. Its
attitude and policies toward other Asian countries follow those of
the US. Tokyo's policy toward Taiwan will only change if
Washington's does. People say Japanese prime ministers after the war
are experts in karaoke -- Americans write songs and they sing them.
The danger is changes in US policy toward Asia in general and Taiwan
in particular. Though there are only hints of a subconscious shift
toward a China-centric Asian policy, even those hints are
worrisome.

"So far, the US continues to stress the central importance of Japan
in Asia, but if there is any substance at all to hints of a
"China-centric policy," there will be huge change in Japan's own
Asian policy. Tokyo would have to set out on its own or become a
junior ally of China. The latter would be a very hard pill for
Japanese to swallow. More likely, Japan will become more
nationalistic and militaristic. Going nuclear would be unavoidable
if Japan wanted to maintain a balance of power with China. It's
difficult to imagine an Asian regional cooperative with China as the
hegemon and Japan a junior partner. ... Taiwan has to work hard to
support Washington's 'Japan-centric Asian Policy,' emphasizing
Taipei-Tokyo relations and the Taiwan-Japan-US alliance.
Unfortunately, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou isn't
inclined to do so. It falls on Taiwanese, Taiwanese-Japanese and
Taiwanese-Americans to try to influence these policies. It will be
hard but not impossible."

STANTON

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