Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 10/23/09

DE RUEHKO #2454/01 2960630
P 230630Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


(1) Government to prepare plan to relocate Futenma facility to new
alternative site in Okinawa, present it to U.S. by year's end

(2) Government seems eager to make new proposal on Futenma to send
signal that he will make a swift decision (Sankei)

(3) In meeting with Okada, U.S. defense secretary strongly calls for
Japan to reach early conclusion on Futenma relocation issue (Nikkei)

(4) Futenma Air Station relocation and measures to support
Afghanistan are separate issues, U.S. secretary of defense tells
defense minister (Asahi)

(5) Editorial: The Hatoyama administration should debate issues in
Diet (Nikkei)

(6) Editorial: Japan-U.S. defense talks -- A warning to take the
bilateral alliance seriously (Sankei)

(7) Editorial: New administration must finalize Futenma relocation
policy (Asahi)


(1) Government to prepare plan to relocate Futenma facility to new
alternative site in Okinawa, present it to U.S. by year's end

SANKEI (Top Play) (Slightly abridged)
October 23, 2009

The government has decided to give up the Democratic Party of
Japan's campaign pledge to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma
Air Station in Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture, outside the
prefecture. It intends to draw up a plan to relocate the facility to
a new alternative site within the prefecture and present the plan to
the U.S. by the end of this year, according to government sources
yesterday. In Okinawa, a number of people have begun to judge that
relocation of the alternative facility within the prefecture is
inevitable. The policy switch also reflects consideration for the
U.S., which is urging the Japanese government to quickly make a
final decision. Even so, it is uncertain whether the Japanese and
U.S. governments would be able reach agreement on the new plan with
the local communities concerned.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano, Foreign Minister Katsuya
Okada, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, and other cabinet
ministers concerned unofficially agreed in early October on the idea
of presenting a new relocation site to Washington by the end of this
year. They later reported the idea to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
Final coordination is now underway for the government to present to
U.S. President Barack Obama when he visits Japan in November its new
policy of proposing a different relocation plan by the end of the

In a series of meetings with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
during his visit to Japan on Oct. 20-21, the Japanese side
unofficially proposed a plan to integrate the functions of Futenma
into Kadena Air Base, but the U.S. side rejected this.

TOKYO 00002454 002 OF 008

In their agreement in 2006, Japan and the U.S. decided to relocate
the Futenma air station to the coastal area of U.S. Camp Schwab in
Nago City. But the DPJ, in its call for lightening the burden on
Okinawa Prefecture, specified in its report titled "Okinawa Vision
2008" released in July of last year: "The party will explore ways to
move the facility out of the prefecture and even aim at relocating
it out of the nation, based on changes in the strategic
environment." Prime Minister Hatoyama also pledged in the campaign
for the last House of Representatives election that he would
relocate the air station outside the prefecture if he took power.

The U.S. government has opposed the Hatoyama administration's
proposal for transferring the air station outside the prefecture.
The government therefore has begun to judge that this proposal might
impact the planned transfer of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam
and the return of six facilities south of Kadena Air Base to Japan
-- plans included in the Japan-U.S. agreement on the realignment of
U.S. forces in Japan. In addition, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima
has also said: "The Okinawa government had to accept the transfer
within the prefecture." Bearing such circumstances in mind, the
government decided to present a fresh plan to relocate the facility
to an alternative site in the prefecture.

Gates stated in a meeting with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada on the
20th: "This (the existing plan) is the only feasible plan." When he
met with the defense minister on the 21st, Gates also ruled out the
Kadena-Futenma integration plan, which the government was looking
into as an alternative to the current plan.

Even if the government adopts a new relocation plan, however, the
possibility of its acceptance by the U.S. government or the Okinawa
prefectural government is slim. Given this, it is highly likely that
Japan and the U.S. will discuss the Camp Schwab plan again. The
three ruling parties' agreement stipulates that the government will
move in the direction of reviewing the current U.S. force
realignment plan." The Social Democratic Party has insisted on the
need to relocate the functions of Futenma out of the nation. Under
such circumstances, coordination is unlikely to be easy.

(2) Government seems eager to make new proposal on Futenma to send
signal that he will make a swift decision

SANKEI (Page 3) (Abridged slightly)
October 23, 2009

With respect to the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps'
Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture), the government
has shown a stance of presenting a new plan before the year's end
and re-discussing the matter with the United States. This shows the
government's consideration of the United Sates, which wants to
settle the matter before President Barack Obama visits Japan in
November. Nevertheless, chances are slim for the two governments to
reach an agreement in a short period of time. The government's
attempt can be said to be the last resort with the acceptance of the
existing plan in mind.

"We have other options, so the Futenma relocation issue can be
settled early," Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told the press corps
in the Diet building yesterday, implying that the government will
look into new location plans.

There were moves to examine new candidate sites replacing the

TOKYO 00002454 003 OF 008

coastal area of Camp Schwab, the relocation site for Futenma Air

Earlier this month, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa sent Local
Cooperation Bureau Director-General Motomi Inoue to Okinawa to tour
such places as the U.S. military's Kadena Ammunition Depot area and
Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield. It was reportedly part of verification
work in accordance with the Japan-U.S. agreement. However, Kitazawa
commented that he wanted to expand options before Gates's Japan
trip, implying that the government had looked into new relocation

Nevertheless, all places cited as potential candidate sites had been
examined and rejected by the previous coalition administration of
the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito. "They are like
ghosts," a Japanese government source said. There is even
speculation that the government will come up with a new plan that
can be used as a pretext for accepting the existing one.

During his stay in Japan, Gates reportedly declined such events as a
salute from Defense Ministry officials/Self-Defense Force troops and
a welcome dinner party in a bid to demonstrate a tough stance toward
Tokyo. The Hatoyama administration got the message.

Prime Minister Hatoyama has said he plans to decide the final policy
after seeing the results of the Nago mayoral election next January.
But because a simple postponement might result in greater pressure
from the United States, the Prime Minister wants to determine a new
relocation plan to send the United States a signal indicating that
he will make a decision swiftly.

(3) In meeting with Okada, U.S. defense secretary strongly calls for
Japan to reach early conclusion on Futenma relocation issue

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 23, 2009

It has been learned that with regard to the relocation of the U.S.
Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station (in the city of Ginowan, Okinawa
Prefecture), an issue pending between Japan and the United States,
during talks on Oct. 20 with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, U.S.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates made remarks to the effect that "I
don't want you to put President Barack Obama to trouble when he
visits in November." It is believed that his remarks indicated the
U.S.'s tough stance of moving toward an early conclusion on the
Futenma issue with an eye on the planned Japan-U.S. summit.

When asked by reporters on Oct. 22 whether Gates had called on him
to reach a conclusion before Obama's Japan visit, Prime Minister
Yukio Hatoyama said, "I heard that second hand. But we did not
discuss it." As to the timing for a conclusion, Hatoyama reiterated,
"Basically, it doesn't matter if a conclusion is reached after (the
Nago mayoral election next January)."

According to informed sources, during his talks with Okada, Gates
also asked him to inform Washington of the result of the Japanese
side's verification of how and why the previous government had
adopted the current Futenma relocation plan.

Appearing on a Tokyo Broadcasting System Television program on Oct.
22, Okada said, "The Futenma issue is one of the issues that should
be resolved before the end of the year or within 100 days."

TOKYO 00002454 004 OF 008

(4) Futenma Air Station relocation and measures to support
Afghanistan are separate issues, U.S. secretary of defense tells
defense minister

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
October 23, 2009

It has been learned that when he met with Defense Minister Toshimi
Kitazawa on Oct. 21, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told him
that the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in
Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture, and Japan's new support measures
for Afghanistan are two different issues. Gates thus disappointed
the Hatoyama administration straight off, as it had hoped that it
would be able to win concessions from the U.S. over the relocation
issue by proposing additional contribution measures for

According to a senior Defense Ministry official, Gates pressed
Kitazawa to move ahead with the relocation according to the present
plan without regard for new support measures for Afghanistan,
categorically noting that the Futenma relocation issue and aid
measures for Afghanistan are two different issues. He called on
Japan to settle the issue at an early time, underscoring the fact
that the U.S., after studying various relocation candidate sites,
had reached a decision that any plan other than the present one
would not be implementable.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on the 22nd met with Foreign Minister
Katsuya Okada and Kitazawa at the Prime Minister's Official
Residence (the Kantei) and discussed a future policy on the Futenma
issue. In the evening on the same day, he told reporters, "For
President Obama, the issue of supporting Afghanistan and Pakistan is
in a way a far greater issue (than the Futenma issue)." He thus
hinted that there is no change in his perception that it would be
possible to obtain understanding from the U.S. on the Futenma
relocation issue by contributing assistance to Afghanistan.

The prime minister also stressed that it would be all right if the
government reaches a decision on the matter after the Nago mayoral
election in January next year, noting, "I would like the U.S. to
understand that settling the relocation issue requires a fair amount
of time."

(5) Editorial: The Hatoyama administration should debate issues in

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 23, 2009

The 173rd extraordinary Diet session, the first venue for debates
between the ruling and opposition camps since the change in
government, is to be convened on Oct. 26. We feel that it is late to
convene a Diet session, because more than a month has elapsed since
the launch of Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration led by
Yukio Hatoyama. The prime minister should clarify the priority order
of immediate policy issues through a policy speech or Diet debate.
He should come up with definite policies both on the diplomatic and
security fronts. The Diet will stay in session 36 days until Nov.
30. It is questionable whether the ruling and opposition camps can
undertake sufficient debate in such a short session. The number of
bills to be submitted has also been narrowed down. It is regrettable

TOKYO 00002454 005 OF 008

that some of bills and issues that appear to require attention have
been put on hold.

The session ends as early as the end of November. This is presumably
intended to allow the government to devote the rest of the year to
the compilation of the fiscal 2010 budget. However, Diet
deliberations have nothing to do with the compilation of the budget
before year's end. It is out of the question if the government set a
short-term Diet session with the intention of thwarting
investigation of the issue of the fabrication of political fund
donations from individuals connected with the prime minister. We
would like the prime minister to fulfill his accountability in a
dignified manner on the political funds donation issue as well.

It is also unacceptable that legislation stipulating the competence
of the National Strategy Bureau (NSB) will not be submitted. The NSB
had been expected to map out basic guidelines for macro-economic
policies and budget compilation in place of the defunct Council of
Economic and Fiscal Policy and serve as one axle of support, the
other being the Government Revitalization Unit (GRU).

The presence of Deputy prime Minister and State Minister for
National Strategy Naoto Kan, who was supposed to serve as the
central command, is eclipsed due to the postponement of the
legislation. The role of the NSB is to clarify the priority order of
budget distributions with an eye on the mid- to long-term viewpoint
and the economic and employment trends. We cannot dispel concern
that if the situation is left as is, the government's aim of
compiling the budget under political leadership will fail to live up
to expectations. We cannot rid ourselves of uneasiness about the
economic and employment situations either.

The legislation that would enable the continuation of the Maritime
Self-Defense Agency's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean will not
be submitted either. The refueling mission will likely be terminated
in January next year. And yet neither the prime minister nor the
foreign minister has given any clear-cut account on why the
government will suspend the refueling operation, which is earning
the international community's high praise. The government has yet to
come up with concrete proposals for contributing to the war on
terror in place of terminating the refueling mission.

It has been viewed that the submission of a ship-inspection bill
targeting North Korea would be put on the back burner. However,
consideration is now under way for its submission to the upcoming
extraordinary Diet session. But the prospect is that an article
noting the involvement of the Maritime Self-Defense Force in ship
inspection will be deleted. It is necessary to hold in-depth debate
on whether this will enable effective operations.

We would like the Liberal Democratic Party, which has gone into the
opposition camp, to squarely debate the Hatoyama administration on
these issues. It is the role of the Diet to clarify political
challenges and points at issue through debate between the ruling and
opposition parties.

(6) Editorial: Japan-U.S. defense talks -- A warning to take the
bilateral alliance seriously

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 22, 2009

TOKYO 00002454 006 OF 008

In his talks with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Defense Minister
Toshimi Kitazawa, among others, visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates urged Japan to swiftly implement the relocation of the
U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan, Okinawa
Prefecture) to the coastal area of Camp Schwab (in Nago) based on
the bilateral agreement.

To Japan, which has yet to come up with a clear-cut answer,
Secretary Gates stressed, "Without the relocation of Futenma Air
Station, there will be no relocation of U.S. Marines to Guam." This
must be taken as a warning from Gates -- who is disappointed with
the Hatoyama administration's stance of postponing the issue of the
realignment of U.S. forces in Japan -- that unless the Hatoyama
administration actively address the matter, the Japan-U.S. alliance
might fall apart.

The lack of concrete progress from this visit means a similar
situation could arise during President Barack Obama's visit in
November. We fear such a development. The matter goes beyond the
realization of the manifesto (campaign pledges), which falls in the
realm of domestic politics. The Prime Minister and relevant cabinet
ministers must speed up their coordination efforts with a shared
sense of crisis.

Through their talks, Prime Minister Hatoyama and Secretary Gates
affirmed, among other matters, a policy direction to further
strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister
simply said, "I want to come up with an answer from the viewpoint of
obtaining the understanding of the people, including those in
Okinawa." His words were designed to demonstrate the stance of
attaching importance to the process that led to the change of
administration following his party's overwhelming victory in the
latest House of Representatives election. Defense Minister Kitazawa,
on the other hand, has played up the stance of swiftly settling the
issue, saying the government has no intention to waste time. The
government's policy obviously lacks coherence.

In their explanations to Gates, the Prime Minister and Foreign
Minister Katsuya Okada cited local factors, such as a rise in the
number of Diet members opposing the relocation within Okinawa. Their
logic clearly reflects a lack of responsibility as political leaders
in charge of national security.

After years of talks, the governments of Japan and the United States
have decided to relocate Futenma Air Station within Okinawa and the
Marine Corps to Guam - these go hand in hand. This is the conclusion
drawn from the overall security policy of reducing the burden on
Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. bases in Japan, and of
retaining the U.S. military deterrent.

The realignment of U.S. forces in Japan is part of the U.S. strategy
to realign U.S. forces worldwide. A setback in Japan could have an
ill effect on the U.S. global strategy. In the Japan-U.S. defense
summit, the two leaders agreed to work closely in dealing with the
North Korean missile and nuclear issues, China's military buildup,
and other matters. It must not be forgotten that a failure to
implement the Japan-U.S. agreement would undermine regional

Secretary Gates repeatedly expressed appreciation for the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean. The
Hatoyama administration must sense high expectations for Japan to

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take pragmatic and effective action in the war against terrorism.

(7) Editorial: New administration must finalize Futenma relocation

ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
October 22, 2009

Visiting Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stressed the U.S.'s basic
policy was that relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station
Futenma to the Henoko district in the city of Nago in Okinawa is the
sole plan; there is no other alternative.

The relocation of the Futenma base to the Henoko district was agreed
by the previous governments of Japan and the United States. Because
there was a change of government in both countries, it is only
natural for the two new governments to verify the agreement and
propose its review if necessary. The U.S. Obama administration
concluded upon examination of the agreement that the existing
relocation plan is the best option. What decision will the Hatoyama
government make?

"Because we have our own view as the new government, we want to take
time to produce a good result," Hatoyama said to reporters. The
Prime Minister, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, and Foreign
Minister Katsuya Okada each conveyed such a view to Gates.

Originally the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) called for the
relocation of the Futenma base out of Okinawa or out of Japan.
Although the U.S.'s position is that the current relocation plan is
the best option, it is natural for Japan to ask Washington for time
to examine the current plan and any fresh options.

However, Japan should not ask for more time just to put off a
conclusion. Hatoyama has expressed his intention to gauge the result
of the Nago mayoral election to be held in January next year.
Although it is important to respect the will of the Okinawan people,
the Hatoyama administration must not forget it is pressed to make a
decision and reach a conclusion that can persuade the public.

We hope the new government will seriously look for every possible
option and present the result to the public in a tangible manner.
The new government should then finalize its policy and strive for
its implementation. The United States wants to remove the risk posed
by the Futenma base, which is located in a densely built-up
residential area, but there is a limit to the U.S.'s patience. If
the Hatoyama administration reviews the current agreement, it must
come up with a plan acceptable to both the local community and
Washington so that the plan can be implemented.

The Secretary of Defense's remarks disclosed the U.S.'s hard stance.
He was quoted as saying that if the relocation of the Futenma base
to the Henoko district is not realized, the air station will remain
in Futenma and the entire USFJ realignment program, designed to
lighten Okinawa's burden of U.S. military bases by, for example,
relocating 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, will grind to a

Washington's concern is understandable, but the nation and Okinawans
are hardly convinced by the current plan to construct a permanent
U.S. base in Okinawa, where U.S. bases are concentrated, by
reclaiming sea brimming with important species. The question is how

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Hatoyama perceives Okinawans' feelings and how he responds to the
will of the Japanese people, which was expressed in the latest Lower
House election, in the form of a change in government. That is what
he must do.

The new government must prevent the divergence in bilateral views on
the Futenma issue from undermining the entire alliance relationship.
The identity of the two countries' interests and mutual trust are
the pillars of the alliance. It would be unfortunate for Japan and
the United States if the Futenma issue undermines bilateral

We hope that Prime Minister Hatoyama will make President Obama's
visit to Japan next month a starting point for searching for common
ground for resolving the Futenma issue from the broader standpoint
of the Japan-U.S. relationship. To that end, the Hatoyama
administration must finalize its fundamental Futenma policy as early
as possible.


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