Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 12/17/09

DE RUEHKO #2891/01 3512308
P 172308Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


(1) Basic policy for FY2010 defense budget to include mention of
"deepening of Japan-U.S. security alliance" (Nikkei)

(2) Weight of Japan-U.S. alliance (Part 1): "Japan fatigue"
spreading among U.S. officials (Yomiuri)

(3) Rift in Japan-U.S. relations (Part 1): Prime Minister Hatoyama
must exercise leadership in regaining confidence (Yomiuri)

(4) Situation of Futenma relocation issue after 13 years of drifting
(Part 1): PM Hatoyama looks for relocation site other than Henoko;
SDP wary of solution based on current plan with minor modifications


(1) Basic policy for FY2010 defense budget to include mention of
"deepening of Japan-U.S. security alliance"

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
Evening, December 17, 2009

The government decided its basic policy on the FY2010 defense budget
at a cabinet meeting on Dec. 17. With regard to the Japan-U.S.
alliance, this policy will include an explicit reference to
"deepening security cooperation between Japan and the United
States." It terms North Korea's nuclear and missile issues a
"serious" problem and points out the need to reinforce missile
defense capability. The deployment of ground-to-air Patriot missiles
(PAC-3) will be limited and a request to increase the size of the
Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will be turned down.

This basic policy is being formulated in light of the delay by one
year in revising the National Defense Program Guidelines, originally
scheduled for end of 2009, and is meant to be a provisional policy
for defense buildup. While the policy says the government will
"build up defense capability based on the concepts under the current
Guidelines," it adopts the stance of reducing defense expenditures
in response to the position of the Social Democratic Party, which is
a member of the ruling coalition, and the results of the budget
screening process of the Government Revitalization Unit.

In light of China's continuous military expansion, the policy points
out that "military modernization and increasing military activities
have been observed in the neighboring countries." On the other hand,
it also calls for the SDF's active participation in UN peacekeeping
operations (PKO) and other international contribution projects.

(2) Weight of Japan-U.S. alliance (Part 1): "Japan fatigue"
spreading among U.S. officials

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 16, 2009

The expression "Japan fatigue" has been quietly spreading among U.S.
government officials recently. It signifies their desire to stay
away from Japan as much as possible, because its prime minister
lacks the ability to deal with issues due to domestic concerns such
as maintaining the coalition government.

Following the Hatoyama administration's decision to return the issue

TOKYO 00002891 002 OF 006

of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to square
one, a U.S. government source indicated his sense of fatigue on Dec.
14, saying: "I don't think I will feel like working on any new
projects with Japan for a while." A series of responses by Prime
Minister Yukio Hatoyama has caused Japan fatigue to grow rapidly
among U.S. government officials. Japan's policy presence could
weaken as a result.

A close aide to the prime minister emphasized: "The Futenma issue is
not the sole pending issue between Japan and the U.S." But this
issue as resulted in throwing Hatoyama's personal view of the U.S.
into stark relief. In addition, two events that took place in
December turned out to be the defining factors in the U.S.
government's negative view toward the Hatoyama administration.

One event was a visit to Washington in early December by Japan
Research Institute Chairman Jitsuro Terashima, who is said to be
close to Hatoyama. During his visit, Terashima explained to experts
on Japan the idea of significantly reducing the U.S. military bases
in Japan and dispatching U.S. troops stationed in Guam and Hawaii to
Japan only in times of emergency. The U.S. government interpreted
this idea as being connected with Prime Minister's instructions to
look for a new relocation site for the Futenma airfield. Concerned
U.S. officials have also speculated that Hatoyama might begin to lay
the groundwork to put his stock argument for a security arrangement
without the permanent presence of U.S. forces into practice.

The other event was a visit to China by Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ) Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa accompanied by a delegation of
about 140 DPJ lawmakers. Officials in charge of Asian affairs in
Washington have made this analysis: "The visit might be part of the
administration's moves to distance itself from the U.S. and to
approach China."

U.S. officials expected the Hatoyama administration "to be aware of
the necessity of the Japan-U.S. alliance in the future," as a
Congress member said. But such expectations have been dashed

A senior Foreign Ministry official predicts that "Japan-U.S.
relations could become heartless in the future." Even if both sides
are in disagreement over economic or diplomatic issues, there will
be no problem as long as the bilateral alliance remains firm. But if
measures to break the current impasse are not taken, the security
arrangement could be undermined.

Even within the DPJ, an increasing number of members are now
apparently skeptical of the prime minister's stance toward the U.S.
Upon hearing about the prime minister's decision to return the
Futenma issue to square one, a mid-ranking DPJ lawmaker grumbled
yesterday: "At a time when Japan must cooperate with the U.S. in
dealing with such economic issues as the yen's appreciation and the
global recession, if Japan continues to be at odds with the U.S., it
will become impossible for the government to proceed smoothly, as
was the case with the previous South Korean government of President
Roh Moo Hyun."

(3) Rift in Japan-U.S. relations (Part 1): Prime Minister Hatoyama
must exercise leadership in regaining confidence

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
December 16, 2009

TOKYO 00002891 003 OF 006

Fumiaki Kubo, professor at the University of Tokyo

The Hatoyama administration has sent the relocation of the U.S.
Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station back to square one. The Japan-U.S.
relationship has now been strained more than ever. Next year will
mark the 50th anniversary of the revision of the U.S.-Japan Security
Treaty. However, it would be difficult for the two countries to
celebrate the results of the treaty in an amicable atmosphere.

The U.S. Obama administration at first felt strong affinities with
the Hatoyama government, because both have taken the reins of
government, advocating the need for "change (reform)." However, the
Obama administration has been confused by the Hatoyama cabinet's
position of not adopting a realistic security policy. It would be
possible for the two governments to cooperate on such issues as
global environment and nuclear disarmament, but they have failed to
build mutual trust, missing chances.

The Futenma issue is significant, but a more serious problem is
probably that the Hatoyama administration's basic security policy
has been unclear. Are there any security threats to Japan? In case
threats do exist, will Japan deal with them by itself or will it ask
the United States for cooperation? On this point, the Hatoyama
administration has not clarified its position. Since it wavered back
and forth in making a decision on the Futenma relocation issue, the
United States has grown distrustful of it.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) did not include security policy
in its manifesto (set of campaign pledges) for the August House of
Representatives election campaign. The DPJ included in its manifesto
its desire to forge an "equal" partnership with the U.S. However,
the meaning of the Japan-U.S. equal partnership is not clear.

The rights and obligations of the bilateral security treaty are
asymmetrical. Japan's obligation is to provide bases to the United
States, and the U.S.'s obligation is to defend Japan. The United
States also has the right to use Japan's bases for the peace and
security of the Far East. Under these circumstances, it is difficult
to define an "equal partnership" between Japan and the United
States. For the U.S., an equal partnership would mean Japan's
exercising the right to collective defense and boosting defense

President Barack Obama might be considering Hatoyama as
"untruthful." Even if the Hatoyama administration harbors
expectations for U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. side may not give
consideration to Japan. North Korea has called for excluding Japan
from the framework of the Six-Party Talks. I wonder how long the
United States will be able to continue to refuse the North's demand.
I am concerned about the degree to which Washington pay heeds to
Tokyo's emphasis on the abduction issue.

The Hatoyama government failed in its U.S. policy from the very
start. It has given the impression of not cooperating with the
United States. It is not easy to erase that image. However, it would
be a blow to the U.S. to lose Japan, which is the U.S's most
important ally in Asia. Washington, therefore, proposed to shift
part of the Futenma heliport facilities to a Ground Self-Defense
Force range in Higashifuji, Shizuoka Prefecture.

The Prime Minister has not exercised leadership, just going with

TOKYO 00002891 004 OF 006

public opinion, without persuading or making a decision. He must
make a decision, while considering the security of the all Japan.

With the relocation of the Futenma base returned to square one, the
Japan-U.S. relationship has been strained. I would like to ask
experts how Japan should deal with the issue and their thoughts on
the historical meaning of the Hatoyama administration's decision to
return the Futenma relocation to square one.

(4) Situation of Futenma relocation issue after 13 years of drifting
(Part 1): PM Hatoyama looks for relocation site other than Henoko;
SDP wary of solution based on current plan with minor modifications

MAINICHI (Pages 1, 3) (Full)
December 16, 2009

On Dec. 15, after the government decided to defer a conclusion on
the relocation site for the U.S. forces' Futenma Air Station (in
Ginowan City, Okinawa) to next year, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
told reporters at the Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei):
"We will look for a location other than Henoko. We will create the
conditions conducive for making a decision (on the relocation site)
as much as possible." He indicated a strong intention to review the
existing plan to relocate the Futenma base to the coastal area of
Camp Schwab (in Henoko, Nago City).

While this can be interpreted as a concession to the Social
Democratic Party (SDP), which advocates reviewing the Japan-U.S.
agreement, Hatoyama also said, "We will need a few months' time for
this process." The Ministerial Committee on Basic Policies meeting
on Dec. 15 participated in by the party leaders failed to agree on
setting May 2010 as the deadline for reaching a conclusion on the
relocation site, but since Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano
has been given full authority over the details of the discussion
process, May next year is regarded as the de facto deadline.

The SDP remains wary that "(the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)) may
be thinking of settling this issue by relocation to Henoko after the
deliberation process, even at the expense of dissolving the

Next May will be a critical juncture in domestic politics. The
government and the ruling parties plan to submit the second FY09
supplementary budget bill and the FY10 budget bill to the next
regular Diet session to be convened in January. There will be a
House of Councillors election in summer, so the government would
like to enact without fail the FY10 budget and the related bills,
which will realize its showcase policies, such as the child
allowance. This means that the DPJ, which does not control a
majority in the Upper House, will only need the SDP's Upper House
members until April. A senior SDP official is worried that "if a
solution is decided based on the current relocation plan with minor
modifications after Diet deliberations on the budget, we may be
forced to bolt the coalition."

On the other hand, the U.S., which demands the early implementation
of the U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) realignment road map agreement, has
reacted strongly. Hatoyama told reporters in the late afternoon of
Dec. 15: "If you think of the importance of the Japan-U.S. agreement
and the Okinawan people's fervent wishes, a quick decision right now
is bound to fail." Hatoyama met with U.S. Ambassador to Japan John
Roos at the Kantei that evening. It is believed that he explained

TOKYO 00002891 005 OF 006

that Japan is not procrastinating aimlessly and sought the U.S.'s

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was critical, with Secretary
General Tadamori Oshima remarking that "indecision runs counter to
the national interest." Meanwhile, DPJ Secretary General Ichiro
Ozawa gave a speech at a (closed door) party he held in Tokyo on the
same day, and according to a participant in this party, he said:
"The U.S. and Japan should have a relationship under which they can
talk to each other frankly."

(Above sections by Keiichi Shirato, Takenori Noguchi; following
sections by Shinichiro Nishida, Teruhisa Mimori)

On the afternoon of Dec. 15, Governor Hirokazu Nakaima was
surrounded by reporters at the Okinawa Prefectural Government
building. He said: "If the basic policy is not decided at an early
date, the danger posed by the Futenma base cannot be removed. There
is no way for me to comment unless I am presented with something
close to a concrete proposal." He appeared to be distressed at the
government's decision to defer the Futenma relocation issue.

Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, 63, of Nago City, who accepts the
current plan to relocate Futenma to the coastal area of Camp Schwab
on certain conditions, told reporters at the city hall: "The cabinet
ministers all say different things. I ask the government to come up
with a consensus at an early date."

While expectations are high in the local communities in light of the
decision to reconsider the relocation site, with the current plan
remaining one of the options, the citizens have been at the mercy of
the government's vacillations. Incumbent Mayor Shimabukuro will be
running against Susumu Inamine, 64, who is endorsed by the DPJ, the
SDP, the Japanese Communist Party, and other groups favoring
relocation out of Okinawa, in the Nago mayoral election taking place
in a month (official declaration of candidacy on Jan.17; voting on
Jan. 24). Acceptance of the Futenma facility will be the main

Citizens of Nago often talk about the "Okada shock" these days. A
meeting was held at a civic hall in Nago on Dec. 5. After members of
the media were asked to leave, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada gave
the following answer to a question from the floor: "I understand how
you feel, but the Japan-U.S. agreement cannot be changed so easily."
Dead silence fell over the hall for a moment at Okada's surprising
statement. Most members of the audience were supporters of DPJ House
of Representatives members elected on a platform of opposing
Futenma's relocation within Okinawa.

Many participants said: "Local citizens are divided (over the
relocation issue) and it has been awful. We ask for early relocation
out of Okinawa or out of Japan." Okada reiterated: "If you continue
to oppose (the relocation plan), Futenma will remain where it is.
The U.S. will no longer consent to the relocation of 8,000 Marines
to Guam."

Chikako Toguchi, 48, who participated in the signature campaign for
voting "no" in the referendum in 1997 on the construction of an
offshore heliport to replace the Futenma airfield, stated with
resolve after attending the Dec. 5 meeting: "We need to win the
mayoral election and manifest the popular will in Nago once again."

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On the other hand, an official of the Inamine camp voiced this
complaint: "If they continue to behave like this, citizens who have
great expectations will be angered and exasperated, thinking 'what's
wrong with the DPJ?' We thought we were at an advantage in this
election, but it's going to be a tough battle." The situation
surrounding the mayoral election is becoming increasingly

The Futenma issue started with the rape of an Okinawan school girl
by U.S. Marines in September 1995. The Japanese and U.S. governments
agreed on the return of the Futenma base in April 1996 on the
condition of building a new heliport in Okinawa. The final report of
the Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) in
December called for the construction of an offshore heliport "in
waters off the east coast of the main island of Okinawa."

A Kantei official who was involved in negotiations with the U.S.
side on the relocation site relates: "We were unable to find a
location in Japan that was willing to accept the 20,000 Marines in
Okinawa. There was also no way we could relocate the USFJ's only
combat units out of the country and create a vacuum in deterrence
against China and North Korea."

Another meeting was held at the Nago civic hall on the evening of
Dec. 10. Former Mayor Tetsuya Higa, who announced his resignation
after making the decision to accept Futenma's relocation in exchange
for economic development measures in December 1997, recalled the
situation at that time and said: "We have not done enough. We need
to continue our efforts next year." He appealed for support for
Shimabukuro in the forthcoming mayoral race.

The fact that "economic development for northern Okinawa" is still
used as a slogan in the election reflects the Hatoyama
administration's continuing ambivalence even after the change of
administration. The DPJ used to criticize the LDP-New Komeito
administration's policy of "imposition of military bases in exchange
for economic development measures" as a carrot-and-stick tactic.

The Inamine camp says: "We don't want any cabinet minister who does
not clearly stand for relocation out of Okinawa to come," while the
Shimabukuro camp says: "An early decision should be made on the
relocation site." The citizens of Nago are sharply divided once
again. Yet, what they do share in common is frustration with the
government. They ask: "What was the past 13 years all about?"


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