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Cablegate: Prime Minister Hatoyama's First Diet Policy Speech

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TOKYO 002485

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR JA
SUBJECT: PRIME MINISTER HATOYAMA'S FIRST DIET POLICY SPEECH

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1. (U) Summary: Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama delivered his
first policy speech to both houses of the Diet on October 26.
He outlined his administration's policies on prominent
domestic and international issues such as unemployment and
economic recovery, child care allowances, free public high
school tuition, pension recordkeeping, greenhouse gas
emissions, nuclear nonproliferation, and Japan's ties with
the Asia-Pacific region. On topics of particular concern to
the United States, the Prime Minister explained more fully
what he meant by a "close and equal" relationship between the
two countries: a "multilayered alliance in which Japan also
proactively proposes the role both countries can play in
maintaining global peace and security." Furthermore, without
committing to a specific decision, he promised to examine
more carefully issues such as realignment of U.S. forces in
Japan and contributions related to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Hatoyama also described the wider political ambitions of his
administration, comparing steps it is taking to those taken
by Meiji Restoration reformers who transformed Japan more
than a century ago. End Summary.

- - - - - - - - -
Domestic Concerns
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2. (U) On the first day of the 173rd extraordinary session of
the Diet ("rinji kokkai"), Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
addressed a joint session of lawmakers from the Lower and
Upper Houses. In the 52-minute address (the longest on
record), Hatoyama covered domestic topics, regional and
global issues, U.S.-Japan relations, and his administration's
larger political philosophy and goals. Although not in great
detail, the Prime Minister did touch on the domestic issues
voters showed they were most interested in. With regard to
unemployment and economic recovery, Hatoyama said his
government would adopt emergency economic measures to aide
those without jobs and provide support for small and
medium-sized companies struggling with the continued economic
slump. Hatoyama also reaffirmed his Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ)-led administration's pledge to provide child care
allowances, make public high school tuition free, and
straighten out the government's sloppy recordkeeping on
national pensions.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Regional and Global Issues
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3. (U) Hatoyama also addressed regional and global issues
that were a part of his party's campaign manifesto. He
reiterated one of his earliest announcements as prime
minister- -to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent to
1990 levels by 2020- -and added that he would make sure Japan
played a leading role in international negotiations on
curbing global warming. The Prime Minister also renewed his
determination to create a world without nuclear weapons,
denuclearize North Korea, seek to resolve the adduction issue
using "every conceivable means," and continue promoting the
idea of forming an East Asian Community for close regional
cooperation in areas such as the economy, trade, and the
environment. On the reconstruction of Afghanistan and
Pakistan, which he termed one of the "most significant"
issues facing the international community today, Hatoyama
stated that although he would not "simply" extend the
Maritime Self Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian
Ocean after its expiration in January 2010, Japan would
contribute to antiterrorism efforts through agricultural
assistance and job training in Afghanistan. Prime Minister
Hatoyama also expressed his desire that Japan become a bridge
between East and West, industrialized and developing
countries, and various cultures.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Regarding the United States

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- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (U) In his policy address, Hatoyama said that the basis
for peace in the Asia-Pacific region would be a "close and
equal Japan-U.S. alliance" and described this "close and
equal" relationship between the two countries as a
"multilayered alliance in which Japan also proactively
proposes the role both countries can play in maintaining
global peace and security." While the Prime Minister did not
commit to a specific policy direction on the realignment of
U.S. forces in Japan, he did promise to examine the process
that led to the current bilateral agreement on the topic and
take into consideration the "burden, pains, and sorrows
experienced by the people of Okinawa" before making any
decisions.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hatoyama's "Bloodless Heisei Restoration"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (U) Hatoyama devoted almost one-fourth of his speech to
explaining his concept of "yuai" ("fraternity")-based
politics and the larger political ambitions of his
administration, which he described as a "bloodless Heisei
restoration." Drawing a reference to the Meiji Restoration
(also known as the Meiji Revolution or Meiji Reformation)- -
a chain of events that led to enormous changes in Japan's
political and social structure in the latter half of the 19th
century- - Hatoyama vowed to "clean up the postwar
administration" through a "180-degree switch" by putting
politicians and the people at the helm of policymaking,
ending reliance on bureaucrats, and introducing a governing
culture that values the lives of individuals and protects
their livelihoods. Hatoyama explained his "yuai politics" as
one that also "respected the viewpoints of people in
vulnerable positions or minority groups," and called on
increased volunteerism by individual citizens to help the
weak. He also promised that his government would assist such
individuals as well as nonprofit organizations involved in
social support, in what he deemed to be the "role of 21th
century politics."

6. (U) An important part of creating a government that truly
works for its citizens is eliminating wasteful spending at
administrative offices, and towards this end, Hatoyama
pledged to "drastically review how tax money is spent and how
the national budget is formed," in addition to transforming
the country's fiscal structure. Eliminating "amakudari" and
"watari" (the practices of retired bureaucrats landing jobs
at private-sector companies or government-affiliated
organizations that were previously under their jurisdiction)
and promoting more disclosure of information are other ways
to build a government for the people, which the people can
trust. Perhaps to reinforce his point on people's faith in
government, Hatoyama offered a rare public apology for having
bred public mistrust with his political fund management
body's false funds reporting and said he would continue to
cooperate fully with prosecutors in their ongoing
investigation.

7. (U) Another pillar of Hatoyama's "bloodless" revolution
mentioned in his speech was regional autonomy, or
transferring power to local governments, to allow residents
to decide affairs that affect their own areas. An income
support system for farming households and a review of postal
services are two examples of projects intended to revitalize
local communities, according to the Prime Minister.

- - - - - - - -
Call for Change
- - - - - - - -

8. (U) At 12,905 characters and lasting nearly an hour,
Hatoyama's speech was roughly double the length of previous

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prime ministerial addresses to the Diet, as well as the
longest in history. Opposition lawmakers called it
"redundant," "sentimental," "flowery," and "lacking in
details." Several media outlets also pointed to similar
deficiencies. Nevertheless, the ambition of Hatoyama's
message and its goal to transform Japanese politics was
clear: "We are at a crossroads. The real time for change
lies ahead. Let us make today the day of commencement."
ROOS

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