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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 02/09/10

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 TOKYO 000274

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DEPT FOR E, P, EB, EAP/J, EAP/P, EAP/PD, PA;
WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION;
TREASURY/OASIA/IMI/JAPAN; DEPT PASS USTR/PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
SECDEF FOR JCS-J-5/JAPAN,
DASD/ISA/EAPR/JAPAN; DEPT PASS ELECTRONICALLY TO USDA
FAS/ITP FOR SCHROETER; PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR;
CINCPAC FLT/PA/ COMNAVFORJAPAN/PA.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA

SUBJECT: DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS 02/09/10

INDEX:

(1) Ozawa makes Obama meeting condition for U.S. visit (Nikkei)
(2) Japan must expedite process of acceding to convention on child
abduction (Nikkei)
(3) Okinawa in turmoil; Nago's anti-base administration gets off to
start; Okinawa a base for anti-U.S. struggle (Sankei)
(4) Commentary: New vision for Japan-U.S. alliance on its 50th
anniversary -- Thoughts on the Prime Minister's theory of stationing
U.S. troops only in a contingency (Mainichi)
(5) Will Ozawa's leadership be undermined? Part 1: Rebellion in DPJ
lasted only four days (Nikkei)
(6) Will Ozawa leadership be undermined? part-2: Upper House and
labor unions support Ozawa (Nikkei)
(7) Canadian Finance Minister, G7 chair, says G7 agreed to become
informal framework (Asahi)
(8) Cabinet adopts bill to promote policymaking led by politicians
(Asahi)

ARTICLES:

(1) Ozawa makes Obama meeting condition for U.S. visit

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 9, 2010

Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, at a press
conference on Feb. 8, disclosed, with regard to a contemplated
delegation of DPJ lawmakers to the U.S. over the long holiday
beginning in late April, that he had told the U.S. government:
"Since I would be making the trip, it would not do if President
Obama didn't set aside a reasonable amount of time to see me." It is
highly unusual for an executive of a ruling party to request an
interview with the President as a condition for visiting the U.S.

Assistant Secretary of State Campbell (East Asian and Pacific
Affairs) asked Ozawa at a meeting in February to send a delegation
of DPJ lawmakers to the U.S. At the meeting Ozawa reportedly
mentioned his having been greeted by President Hu Jintao during a
DPJ lawmaker delegation's visit to China late last year and asked
for a meeting with President Obama.

Following his meeting with the top Chinese leader, Ozawa appears to
want to hold talks with the American president to demonstrate his
important role in relations with the U.S. and dispel criticism of
him inside and outside the DPJ.


(2) Japan must expedite process of acceding to convention on child
abduction

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 9, 2010

Disputes over child custody can occur after international marriages
end in divorce. The Hague convention exists to deal with such
situations. At present, 81 countries are signatories to the
convention. Japan, the only country among the Group of Seven
industrialized countries that is not a signatory, needs to expedite
the process of acceding to the convention.

The convention is officially called the Hague Convention on the

TOKYO 00000274 002 OF 010


Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. If a child under the
age of 16 is illegally removed from the country of his or her
habitual residence, the convention requires that the country to
which the child is taken to return the child to the country of his
or her habitual residence.

For instance, if a child living in the United States with his or her
Japanese mother and American father is taken to Japan by his or her
mother without the consent of the other parent, the Japanese
government will be required to send the child back to the United
States.

Japan has over 40,000 international marriages every year, and
disputes involving international parental child abduction are on the
rise.

Broken down by country, Japan has some 70 cases of parental child
abduction involving the U.S. and 30 cases each involving the U.K.,
France, and Canada. Conversely, there are apparently over 30 cases
in which a child has been taken away from Japan by a foreign
parent.

Because Japan is not a signatory to the convention, the country
cannot deal effectively with disputes. Parents are unable to see
their children. The act of removing a child is considered abduction,
which is a crime, in the U.S. and European countries.

Differences in culture, including legal systems, are often cited as
reasons why Japan has not acceded to the convention. To be sure,
there is a difference between Japan, where sole custody is granted
to one parent after divorce, and the U.S. and European countries,
where joint custody is the norm. Nevertheless, it makes sense to
apply the generally accepted rules to disputes involving
international marriage.

The convention is based on the idea that a dispute over a child must
be settled in the countries of his/her habitual residence without
regarding the parent who has taken the child away as a victor. This
idea sounds logical enough.

Some people have pointed out that a large portion of the Japanese
nationals who have returned home were women who were fleeing
domestic violence. However, the convention has a special exemption
stipulating that a child should not be returned if doing so would
expose him/her to a serious threat.

In the face of growing pressure from the U.S., the U.K., France, and
other countries, the Foreign Ministry set up a parental child
abduction office late last year and has begun studying the
conditions for acceding to the convention together with relevant
government agencies, such as the Justice Ministry. To accede to the
convention, laws and organizations must be reviewed, which will take
time. The government must expedite its preparations.

(3) Okinawa in turmoil; Nago's anti-base administration gets off to
start; Okinawa a base for anti-U.S. struggle

SANKEI (Top play and page 2) (Abridged slightly)
February 7, 2010

Masashi Miyamoto


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Susumu Inamine, who is opposed to the plan to relocate the U.S.
Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to the coastal area of Camp Schwab
in Nago's Henoko district, has been elected as the mayor of Nago.
Inamine's "anti-base administration" will officially get off to a
start on Feb. 8. His election has energized the local newspapers
that are calling for relocation outside Okinawa or even outside
Japan, who already have the wind at their back thanks to Prime
Minister Yukio Hatoyama's statement expressing his intention to
respect the results of the election as a manifestation of the
popular will. At the same time, there is concern that the Inamine
administration might become an extreme left-wing administration.

During the election campaign, the Democratic Party of Japan, the
Social Democratic Party, the People's New Party, and the Japanese
Communist Party (JCP), all of which supported Inamine, maintained
that even if the city would not offer a replacement site, the city
can receive an economic package as long as there are communication
channels to the government. This approach succeeded in rekindling
the anti-U.S. sentiments Nago's citizens harbor deep down inside.

Anti-U.S. groups inside and outside Okinawa seem to have capitalized
on this strategy as well.

An informed source following U.S. base issues took this view on the
results of the Nago mayoral election: "For anti-U.S. forces, Okinawa
is a great base for conducting activities. The fact that the group
opposing the relocation of Futenma to Henoko includes many people
from outside Okinawa symbolizes that."

The source also said: "The election became a huge chance for the
anti-U.S. group. The people in Okinawa have accepted the bases for
economic reasons, and the anti-U.S. group tactfully manipulated
their sentiments. The group successfully inspired dreams among
voters, drawing their attention away from the city's dependence on
the bases for its economy." At the same time, a real estate agent in
Naha indicated that some anti-base citizens have purchased land for
lease to the U.S military to secure a steady income after
retirement. So whether the election results really reflect the
popular will is questionable.

"The anti-base group includes many individuals who have been
brainwashed by activists inside and outside Okinawa -- activists
engaged in an ideological struggle," the same source noted.

In the mayoral election, a JCP-affiliated civic group had initially
considered fielding its own candidate, but it later decided to
jointly back Inamine. "In the election, the JCP's support was
strong. The JCP will have a louder voice in the new city
administration," a former city council member predicted.

"There is a strong possibility that during campaigning, the
anti-U.S. group took advantage of the distracted state of mind of
citizens who are suffering from the recession," the ex-city council
member said angrily. "I am worried that Nago might have an
ultra-left administration. The Hatoyama administration used the base
issue and toyed with the sentiments of Okinawans for the sake of
change of government. The coalition government has committed a crime
that is unpardonable."

"The U.S. base issue in Okinawa cannot be discussed in a brief space
of time because five points -- economic dependence on the bases, the
perception of history, the anti-U.S. struggle, national defense, and

TOKYO 00000274 004 OF 010


the view of the state - are complicatedly intertwined with it,"
Okinawa Prefectural Museum Director Hirotaka Makino said.

Priority has been given to the superficial sentiments of the
Okinawans with respect to the Futenma issue, and there is no sign
that the five points have been discussed.

Since Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972, the government has
provided financial aid to 25 municipalities hosting U.S. bases in
Okinawa. In fiscal 2007, the government paid 161.961 billion yen for
a project to improve the surroundings of U.S. bases.

Nago, which hosts Camp Schwab, also received 120 million yen in
expenses for improving areas close to the base and 640 million yen
in subsidies to improve areas surrounding the defense facilities in
fiscal 2006. In addition, the government has paid some 280 million
yen in base subsidies to Nago annually. In a ten-year period, the
government extended a total of 77.5 billion yen in a local economic
stimulus package to Nago in return for accepting the Futenma
relocation plan.

Separate from this, municipalities and some 39,000 land owners who
are providing their land to the U.S. military can receive rents from
the government annually. Rent totaled 77.7 billion yen in 2006, 80
billion yen in 2008, and 90 billion yen in 2009.

Money spent by U.S. military personnel, civilian employees, and
their families, plus Japanese (some 9,000) working at the U.S. bases
in Okinawa came to 215.5 billion yen in fiscal 2006. The figure is
large even in comparison with Okinawa's tourist industry, which
earns some 400 billion yen annually and public works projects, which
total 220 billion yen per annum.

Owners of land leased to the military and municipalities benefitting
from U.S. bases do not express what they really think. At the same
time, they have harbored anti-base sentiments since Okinawa was
returned to Japan along with a strong sense in the back of their
minds of being victimized by the bases.
"I have swallowed my anti-base sentiment in return for aid for
accepting the base," said a 70-year-old man, who is providing his
land to Futenma Air Station. "To me, the base has been something
that will bring economic benefits; I haven't expected anything else
from it."

It is difficult to grasp the true level of anti-base sentiments of
the people of Okinawa. It can be said that the Hatoyama
administration is turning a deaf ear to the "invisible popular will"
on the Futenma issue that has a significant impact on the overall
security of Japan.

(4) Commentary: New vision for Japan-U.S. alliance on its 50th
anniversary -- Thoughts on the Prime Minister's theory of stationing
U.S. troops only in a contingency

MAINICHI (Page 9) (Full)
February 9, 2010

Tomoko Onuki, political reporter

The revised Japan-U.S. security treaty has marked its 50th
anniversary since it was signed on Jan. 19, 1960, and embarked on a
new course. The Japanese and U.S. governments have started talks to

TOKYO 00000274 005 OF 010


deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance on the assumption of upholding it. I
also believe that maintaining the alliance is best for Japan's
national interest under the present circumstances, but I would like
to raise a new issue. I think Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's ideal
of an East Asian Community and the theory of stationing U.S. troops
only in a contingency that follows from there are worthy of
examination.

On the occasion of the 50th year of the alliance, I interviewed
officials of the Prime Minister's Official Residence involved with
foreign policy, senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MOFA), and experts knowledgeable about Japan-U.S. relations. What I
found out is that while the focus of the alliance has shifted from
"Japan's defense" to "peace and prosperity in Asia" in its course of
evolution, Japan finds itself being torn between the "ideal" of
pursuing equality while leaving the foundation of its security in
the hands of the U.S. and "reality."

The old security treaty signed in 1951 reflected Japan's choice of
light armament and giving priority to economic reconstruction. In
light of the strong reaction to this "Yoshida Doctrine" of (then)
Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and the rising clamor for equality,
the Nobusuke Kishi cabinet achieved the revision of this treaty. The
framework under which Japan is protected by the U.S. but has no
obligation to defend the U.S. while it also aspires for equality has
remained unchanged for half a century.

A former administrative vice minister of foreign affairs looks back
on the past and states as if in self-reproach: "I think from the
U.S.'s standpoint, demanding an equal relationship means taking up
equal responsibilities, while from Japan's standpoint, this means
saying what needs to be said."

The basic thinking behind the "equal Japan-U.S. relationship"
advocated by the Hatoyama administration is similar to the
aspiration at the time of the security treaty revision in 1960. This
has the danger of unwittingly provoking a rise in nationalism, while
the pursuit of equality with a country that is a superpower
militarily, economically, culturally, and in all other aspects is
unrealistic.

However, the Prime Minister's pet concept of an East Asian Community
has the potential of taking the first step away from the past
framework of the alliance. When Hatoyama was in opposition, he used
to argue that in the future, the East Asian Community could replace
some collective security functions of the Japan-US. alliance and
with the relaxation of regional tension, the gradual withdrawal of
U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) would be possible.

MOFA officials are skeptical about this theory of the Prime
Minister's. A senior official in charge of security policy voices
the following criticism: "My answer is that without the Japan-U.S.
alliance, the next thing you know is that Chinese armed forces will
be entering Japanese territorial waters both from the sea and the
air." Another senior official responsible for Asian affairs says
unequivocally: "Stabilizing Asia through an East Asian Community and
eliminating the Japan-U.S. alliance as an absolute given is not an
option for Japan's foreign policy." In light of the elements of
uncertainty remaining in Asia, such as China's military expansion
and the North Korean situation, it is indeed unrealistic for the
USFJ to withdraw at this point.


TOKYO 00000274 006 OF 010


However, Hatoyama has not forgotten the attempt at historical
reconciliation with Asian countries, which is indispensable for
promoting the concept of an East Asian Community. He is commendable
on this point. Asian countries are still wary of a Japanese military
buildup, and they, in a way, desire the stationing of the USFJ. If
Japan is prepared to lead in building peace in Asia, it is not a bad
idea to pursue its ideals.

The issue of the relocation of the USFJ's Futenma Air Station (in
Ginowan City, Okinawa) is a sticking point in the talks on the
deepening of the alliance. For now, the talks are limited to a "plan
B" pertaining to cooperation at the working level. Prospects for
implementing "plan A" regarding the vision of the alliance in the
future remains unclear at this point.

However, this is a rare opportunity for a basic examination of what
the alliance stands for. I would like to propose that the Prime
Minister's theory be regarded as a "plan C" to be discussed together
with plans A and B in an effort to look at all possibilities. What
are the requirements for creating a collective security framework
with countries with different political regimes like China? What is
the difference between Hatoyama's East Asian Community and the
European Union (EU)? Will the deterrence of the USFJ still be
necessary in 50 years?

Not a few experts and Democratic Party of Japan members share the
Prime Minister's thinking. If after a thorough debate, the
conclusion turns out to be that the current Japan-U.S. alliance
should be maintained, the need for the alliance will be much more
persuasive. Prime Minister Yoshida reportedly asked MOFA and a
number of experts to look into several proposals, including the
stationing of U.S. troops and unarmed neutrality, at the time the
old security treaty was signed.

At the same time, the government should provide materials for all
citizens to make their judgment on the alliance. This
administration, which takes a positive attitude on information
disclosure, can possibly disclose the minutes of consultations
between Japan and the U.S. in the past 50 years, for example. After
the anti-security treaty protests of 1960, the debate on security
has taken place only among a handful of concerned people. However,
the main purpose of the alliance is to protect the people's peace
and security. Unless there is broad support at the grassroots level,
what's the point of security policy?

(5) Will Ozawa's leadership be undermined? Part 1: Rebellion in DPJ
lasted only four days

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Almost full)
February 5, 2010

With public prosecutors dropping the case against Democratic Party
of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Ozawa over his Rikuzan-kai fund
management body violating the Political Funds Control Law in its
land purchase, the government administration led by Ozawa has been
set to continue. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who leaves party
affairs to Ozawa to deal with, has managed to avert the biggest
crisis since the launch of the administration for the time being.
However, with the Upper House election close at hand in the summer,
calls for Ozawa to take political and supervisory responsibilities
are still lingering. Developments in the party, Diet debate, and
public opinion will determine the future of the Ozawa leadership.

TOKYO 00000274 007 OF 010

The rebellion against the Ozawa leadership ended in four days. On
Feb. 4, Transport Minister Seiji Maehara, Deputy Vice Finance
Minister Yoshihiko Noda, and Yukio Edano either began defending
Ozawa or keeping quiet about him, although it was only four days
prior that they had referred to Ozawa's accountability.

Statements by Maehara, Noda, and Edano

Edano, who had urged Ozawa to take responsibility, kept silent when
he met with State Minister for Government Revitalization and Civil
Service Reform Yoshito Sengoku. Maehara, who had said, "When a new
phase emerges, we must take strict remedial action," refrained from
making an official statement. Voices calling for Ozawa's resignation
have thus disappeared in four days.

The "seven magistrates," as dubbed by Vice Speaker of the Lower
House Kozo Watanabe, are all distancing themselves from Ozawa. Moves
to file requests to the Ozawa leadership got under way at a
traditional Japanese restaurant in Akasaka on Jan. 16.

Opinions such as "Prevent the prime minister from being made to
share the fate of Mr. Ozawa" or "(The administration) will not hold
up if the situation is left as is" were voiced at a meeting hosted
by Watanabe. In terms of the timing for taking action, they were
thinking about right before the deadline for the detention of Lower
House member and secretary to Ozawa Tomohiro Ishikawa on Feb. 4.

Trend changes completely

The trend changed on the 3rd, when it became likely that public
prosecutors would drop the case against Ozawa. Maehara immediately
switched to supporting Ozawa's remaining in office. Noda at a
meeting of the group of his supporters held at a Japanese-style pub
said, "It is not good for the party to become disintegrated. It is
important for us to remain unified." Members of a group supporting
Ozawa said that the pattern this time is just the same as the false
e-mail incident, in which Mr. Maehara lost perspective.

On the 4th, members of the Isshin-kai group, which supports Ozawa,
enthusiastically said at their regular meeting that they wanted the
secretary general to stick it out. Although the DPJ is critical of
the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), power struggles within the LDP
served to "put a proper end" to problems that occurred during an era
when party factions were active.

Dependence on public opinion

Koichiro Genba, one of the "seven magistrates," pointed out, "It was
good that Mr. Ozawa was not indicted. The problem is whether the
public will understand the situation better as a result." The
anti-Ozawa force, which is reluctant to pursue intra-party debate,
is depending on public opinion. A first-term lawmaker said on
condition of anonymity: "When I make speeches in front of stations,
I am often asked why I remain silent (about the matter). Public
opinion is harsh."

What kind of impact will the incident have on the upcoming Upper
House election and public support ratings for the cabinet? Watanabe,
the godfather of the "seven magistrates," said, "We must nail down
public opinion."


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(6) Will Ozawa leadership be undermined? part-2: Upper House and
labor unions support Ozawa

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 6, 2010

Public prosecutors on Feb. 5 dropped a case against Democratic Party
of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa over his fund
management body "Rikuzan-kai's" alleged violation of the Political
Fund Control Law. Ozawa arrived at his office at the party
headquarters shortly after 10:00 a.m. on the following day. Among
party executives, Azuma Koshiishi, president of the Upper House, was
the first to meet him after the public prosecutors' decision not to
prosecute him.

Koshiishi stood firm in supporting Ozawa all the way

When Koshiishi visited his office, Ozawa was already at clerical
work for the upcoming Upper House election. Their meeting lasted for
only five minutes. Koshiishi told the press corps, "We didn't
discuss anything in particular." However, the fact that Ozawa first
met Koshiishi after he was exempted from prosecution. This tells of
the position of the Upper House and trade unions under the Ozawa
leadership.

When it became certain that Ozawa would be exempted from
prosecution, Koshiishi told persons around him, "I have defended Mr.
Ozawa all the way." At a party convention held right after Lower
House member Tomohiro Ishikawa was arrested, Ozawa even presented a
plan to temporarily delegate party affairs to Koshiishi to handle so
that he could devote himself to dealing with public prosecutors.
Koshiishi, who was already serving as his deputy at the time,
struggled to pave the way for Ozawa to remain in office, noting,
"Mr. Ozawa does not need to quit. If I were asked my opinion, I
would like to ask why it is necessary for him to step down."

Yoshimitsu Takashima, secretary general of DPJ members in the House
of Councillors, who supports Koshiishi, the deputy for the DPJ
secretary general, planned a meeting of executives of the ruling
parties, involving the Social Democratic Party and the People's New
Party. Koshiishi gave a toast at the meeting held on the evening of
Jan. 28 at a traditional Japanese restaurant in Akasaka, joined by
Ozawa as well. During the meeting he criticized the public
prosecutors.

Koshiishi, a former member of the Japan Teachers Union, and
Takashima, a former member of the All Japan Prefectural and
Municipal Workers' Union, took charge of the secretary general's
office and the party leadership during Ozawa's absence. As a measure
against public prosecutors' investigation, they repeatedly made
positive statements regarding the idea of submitting a bill for
introducing legislation designed to enable the taping and recording
of the entire questioning process. They stood firm, even when their
statements were criticized as pressure on public prosecutors.

They fully supported Ozawa. So much so that a senior ruling party
member was impressed and said, "(The) Upper House (members are)
amazing. Usually, one is afraid of falling victim (to a scandal)."
Learning lessons from his own experience of having made a mistake by
slighting the Upper House at a time when the LDP Takeshita faction
split, for instance, Ozawa formed deep ties with the Upper House.
The full support extended to him by the Upper House this time is the

TOKYO 00000274 009 OF 010


result of such an experience of Ozawa.

Fielding candidates making little progress

"If many candidates run in the upcoming election in Tottori
Prefecture, its strength will be diversified. Please lend us a hand
for the sake of Japan." The first work Ozawa performed on the 5th
was to ask Upper House member Kotaro Tamura, who had just left the
LDP, to join the DPJ.

If Tamura join's the DPJ floor group, its seats in the Upper House
will reach 121 (excluding Speaker Satsuki Eda), and it will become
the majority without the SDP. The request to Tamura to join the DPJ
means that the Upper House is the linchpin of the Ozawa leadership.

While Ozawa was being involved in the incident, the selection of
candidates for the Upper House election made little headway. The
Upper House election has been vulnerable to the impact of trends
since 1989, when the LDP lost its majority for the first time. The
situation changes quickly.

Commenting on the critics of public prosecutors or full support to
Ozawa by Upper House members of the DPJ, a senior official of the
LDP, which has long been in power, said, "Since the DPJ had long
been an opposition party, they do not know how formidable power
really is." The power base of the Ozawa leadership, which the Upper
House and the trade unions support, will be tested in the upcoming
summer election.

(7) Canadian Finance Minister, G7 chair, says G7 agreed to become
informal framework

ASAHI (Page 13) (Full)
February 9, 2010

Toshihiko Ogata in Ottawa

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who chaired the G7 meeting
of finance ministers and central bank governors in Iqaluit, Canada,
gave an exclusive interview to Asahi Shimbun on the evening of Feb.
7. Flaherty said that the G7 representatives "agreed unanimously" to
make the G7 an informal framework. He also indicated that the U.S.
government's new regulations to tighten control on banks are the
U.S.'s own policies, and it is not necessary for the other G7
nations to follow suit.

Flaherty gave the interview at the Ottawa airport. Regarding turning
the G7 into an informal framework, he said: "It is important not to
issue a joint statement. The ministers will be able to express their
candid opinions freely. This is an important change for the future
(of the G7)."

Regarding financial regulation, Flaherty explained: "We basically
agreed on the principle that the banking institutions which brought
about the financial crisis should shoulder the cost (for their
bailout) based on their liability, and this should not be borne by
the taxpayers. That is our basic thinking." He added: "Each country
should also choose what else they want to do. The UK, the U.S.,
Germany, and France each have their own ideas," thus stating that
the G7 nations should take additional measures. He also indicated
that the U.S.'s plan to impose stricter regulations to raise the
barrier between banking and securities operations is the U.S.'s

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additional measure.

With regard to the appreciation of the Chinese yuan and China's
economic and monetary policies, Flaherty said: "There was discussion
on the disequilibrium in the world economy, and one of the main
concerns is the disequilibrium in the national currencies. While
this was discussed at the G7 meeting, the main debate should take
place at the G20, which is participated in by other countries."

(8) Cabinet adopts bill to promote policymaking led by politicians

ASAHI (Page 4) (Full)
February 6, 2010

The Hatoyama cabinet adopted on Feb. 5 a bill to set up a
politician-led decision-making system aimed at policymaking led by
the Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) and strengthening
the Kantei's coordination function. The bill was submitted to the
Diet on the same day. The main points of the bill are the
establishment of a National Strategy Bureau, which would decide on
the outlines for mid- and long-term growth strategies in addition to
tax and fiscal policies, as well as appointing five people from the
private sector as new special advisers to the prime minister. The
government intends to pass the bill through the Diet by the end of
March and shift to the new system in April.

Under the legislation, the number of deputy chief cabinet
secretaries (the same rank as senior vice ministers), currently
three, would be increased by one, and the new deputy chief cabinet
secretary would be appointed as chief of the National Strategy
Bureau. Also, a new post of national strategy officer (the same rank
as parliamentary secretary) to support the National Strategy Bureau
chief would be established. The national strategy officer would be
in charge of drafting and coordinating the basic policies for
economic growth strategies and tax and fiscal management, as well as
the basic policy for budget compilation.

The government intends to increase the number of special advisers to
the prime minister from the current five to ten. The additional five
special advisers would be appointed from the private sector. It also
intends to give legal authority to the Government Revitalization
Unit, which was set up last September and conducted budget
screening.

In its manifesto (campaign pledges) for the House of Representatives
election last year, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)
pledged to establish a National Strategy Bureau. Soon after it took
over the reins of government, the DPJ-led government launched the
National Policy Unit as the predecessor of the National Strategy
Bureau. However, the presence of the National Policy Unit has been
weak because its authority is unclear.

Referring to the National Strategy Bureau, Yoshito Sengoku, state
minister for national strategy, stressed at a press conference after
the cabinet meeting on Feb. 5: "Under the Kantei's initiative, we
will (coordinate) discussions among the government offices." Sengoku
indicated in his remarks that the National Strategy Bureau will
assume the role of coordinating such significant issues as the
creation of a taxpayer identification number system and pension
reform.

ROOS

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