INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 07/28/06

Published: Fri 28 Jul 2006 02:01 AM
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SIPDIS
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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: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 07/28/06
Index:
1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule
Banned US beef breaks BSE barrier:
4) Ministry of Health and Labor: If risky materials again found in
US beef shipments, full stoppage of imports
5) US pressure reopened market to US beef, but consumers remain
distrustful of product safety
6) Restriction that only fresh meat carry country of origin sticker
7) Pre-inspections showed 27 cases in half-year of violations
involving non-removal of risk materials at US processing plants
slated to ship beef to Japan
Aso diplomacy:
8) Talks at ASEAN ARF reveal differences on North Korea between US,
Japan on one side, China, ROK on the other
9) Foreign Minister Aso in bilaterals with Chinese, South Korean
counterparts, finds foreign ministers Li, Ban a little more
agreeable than in previous contacts
10) Foreign Ministry selects Sakaba as its new spokesperson
LDP presidential race:
11) Tokyo Shimbun poll of political awareness finds 30% still
support Fukuda for prime minister, but Abe has the lead with 50%;
Public against Yasukuni visits
12) Three out of four respondents in Tokyo Shimbun poll favor
expanding Chidorigafuchi into full-fledged war memorial cemetery
13) Mainichi survey of LDP prefectural chapters finds Abe the
overwhelming choice for party president, but many disappointed at
Fukuda for quitting race
14) Abe has a huge lead in Yomiuri survey of Diet members
15) Chief Cabinet Secretary to start stumping campaign across the
country
16) Finance Minister Tanigaki throws hat into ring in LDP
presidential race, campaigning on hiking consumption tax, no
Yasukuni visits
Articles:
1) TOP HEADLINES
Asahi:
Mizutani Construction found to have paid money to lawmaker's
secretary; Investigations continue by Tokyo prosecutors and National
SIPDIS
Tax Agency officials
Mainichi:
Survey on 48 karoshi and suicide cases by Labor Standards
Supervision Office: 60% were left to decide own working hours
Yomiuri:
Survey on LDP presidential race among lawmakers: Chief Cabinet
Secretary Abe holds a commanding lead, receiving broad support from
SIPDIS
various factions
Nihon Keizai:
Health Ministry outlines health insurance premium for people aged 70
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or above, setting the minimum burden at 900 yen per month; Will
reduce burden for low-income persons in three stages
Sankei:
LDP presidential campaign about to kick off; Finance Minister
Tanigaki announces his candidacy, criticizes visits to Yasukuni
Shrine, plans to hike the consumption tax to 10%
Tokyo Shimbun:
Internet panel poll: More than 50% support Abe; Majority oppose
prime minister's visits to Yasukuni Shrine
Akahata:
Basic Education Law - Spirit: Students changed school rules at
Tatsuno Senior High School in Nagano Prefecture
2) EDITORIALS
Asahi:
(1) LDP presidential race: We want to see candidates' determination
(2) Attacks on Lebanon: Immediate cease-fire needed
Mainichi:
(1) LDP presidential race: Heated debate instead of lukewarm one
(2) Re-resumption of US beef imports: Japanese and US officials need
to strive to win consumer confidence
Yomiuri:
(1) Finance Minister Tanigaki's announcement of his candidacy:
Policy debate to start shortly
(2) Resident Register Network: More convenient use needs to be
considered
Nihon Keizai:
(1) Discord between US, Europe causes delay in Lebanon cease-fire
(2) Area of origin of US beef should be shown to consumers
Sankei:
(1) LDP presidential race: Real debate expected
(2) Decline in language ability: Rethinking the power of kanji
Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) LDP presidential race: Continuing or changing Koizumi's approach
should be made clear
(2) US beef: Do not ease oversight
Akahata:
Resumption of US beef imports: Roots of anxiety lie in government
prioritizing the US
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, July 27
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
July 28, 2006
10:56
Met at Kantei with Finance Minister Tanigaki.
11:20
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Met Asian Development Bank President Kuroda in the presence of
Finance Ministry International Affairs Bureau Director-General Ido.
14:24
Met LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Nakagawa, followed by LDP
reform headquarters chief Ota.
15:10
Met MOFA Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau chief Yoshikawa,
followed by LDP Secretary General Takebe.
16:28
Met Administrative Reform Minister Chuma.
17:33
Presented structural reform special zone and regional revitalization
certifications.
18:06
Returned to his residence.
4) Government decides to end US beef import ban; Imports will be
totally suspended in event of discovery of SRM in shipment, says
minister of health, labor, and welfare
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Excerpts)
July 28, 2006
Following the formal decision by the government to resume US beef
imports, Health, Labor, and Welfare Minister Jiro Kawasaki yesterday
held a press conference. During the press conference, he indicated
his intention to totally suspend imports in the event of a
recurrence of the inclusion of specified risk materials (SRM), such
as vertebral columns, in a shipment, which occurred in January this
year.
The US has criticized Japan's stance of suspending imports from all
meatpackers, rather than just the one that shipped the product in
question. It is expected to counter the statement by Kawasaki.
He stressed his determination, noting: "If the same thing occurs
again, despite the fact that Tokyo and Washington have decided to
reinstate beef trade after six months of negotiations, I will be
held accountable." He continued: "I hope there are no problems, and
it should be possible to move forward without any. But if there is
one, the person at the top has a job to do." Regarding a response to
a possible recurrence, the MHLW has thus far taken the position of
not totally suspending imports, provided that the problem occurs
after the US has observed import conditions for a certain period,
noting, "Our approach will depend on the length of time that the US
has observed import conditions." However, Kawasaki indicated his
view that a total ban could be reimposed regardless of the length of
time that the US has observed import conditions.
5) Government decides to resume US beef imports; US pressure raises
distrust of consumers
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 9) (Excerpts)
July 28, 2006
The government yesterday decided to resume US beef imports six
months after a total embargo was placed this January. In the
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meantime, with mid-term elections approaching in November, the US
government and Congress made a barrage of pressure statements in an
effort to force open the Japanese market. This act has upset
Japanese consumers, sparking distrust in the safety of US beef. A
perception gap will likely remain after the resumption of imports.
Following the government decision to open the Japanese beef market
to US products, Health, Labor, and Welfare Minister Jiro Kawasaki
told a news conference: "(In the event of the discovery of
violations of export conditions), it is our country's risk
management organization that will decide whether to suspend all
imports or just products from the plant in question. To be honest,
in my view, this is not a matter in which Japan would follow US
instructions." He thus checked the US, which has strongly urged
Japan not to totally suspend US beef imports again. Kawasaki thus
played up his intention to place an overall ban on imports in the
event of a recurrence of the inclusion of specified risk materials
(SRM) in shipments.
When SRM were found in a shipment on January 20, the US offered
profuse apologies. However, as the total ban became prolonged and
the mid-term elections drew near, voices dissatisfied with Japan's
response began to build in the US. In bilateral negotiations held
shortly after imports were suspended, the two countries looked into
the possibility of setting up rules to deal with possible problems,
such as violations of import rules. However, the idea came to
nothing, as it was rejected by the US.
6) Country-of-origin labeling required only for fresh meat; New law
needed
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 9) (Excerpts)
July 28, 2006
The government has decided to resume US beef imports, ending a
six-month ban. US beef will soon become available at supermarkets
and restaurants. However, only some US beef will carry
country-of-origin labels. Chances are that consumers might buy and
eat US beef without knowing it.
Though the ban on imports of cuts of beef and internal organs has
been removed, processed goods, such as minced beef and beef jerky,
are still banned. Tourists to the US must be made aware that they
are not allowed to bring back those products to Japan. How will beef
that has cleared customs be handled?
US beef products sold by retailers, such as supermarkets, will carry
"US beef" labels as mandated under law, as is the case for domestic
and Australian beef.
7) US beef: 27 violations in half-year of non-removal of risk
materials at plants scheduled to ship beef to Japan, pre-inspection
report reveals: Absurdity of resuming imports
AKAHATA (Page 14) (Excerpt)
July 28, 2006
It was learned yesterday from the report that the ministries of
health and labor, and agriculture presented to a meeting of the Food
Safety Commission (FSC) that at US meat-processing facilities slated
to ship beef to Japan, violations of the requirement to remove
BSE-related specified risk materials (RSM) occurred during 2006
TOKYO 00004217 005 OF 011
repeatedly. In a half-year, such violations rose to 27 cases, of
which two cases were unresolved with warnings having been issued (by
USDA). According to the ministries' report, 51 cases of such
violations occurred over the entire year 2005, so the violations are
occurring at about the same pace as before.
Facilities with a BSE non-compliance record, based on spot
inspections by the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and
Inspection Service, reached 15 out the 35 meat-processing plants
inspected. One of the facilities had a repeat record with 5 and then
4 violations.
The specific details of the BSE violations are not recorded in the
report. At the request of the US government, the names of the
facilities were not revealed.
8) Gap in views toward North Korea expanding between Japan, US, and
China, South Korea, and Russia; Eight-country foreign ministerial to
be held
SANKEI (Page 5) (Excerpts)
July 28, 2006
Jiro Otani, Kuala Lumpur
An eight-country foreign ministerial will be held in Kuala Lumpur to
discuss the North Korean nuclear and missile issues. Japan
originally eyed a meeting of the foreign ministers of six countries,
including North Korea, but China and South Korea objected to it. The
gap is expanding between Japan and the United States, which want to
apply greater pressure on North Korea in order to bring it back to
the negotiating table, and China, South Korea, and Russia, which
want to avoid excessively irritating the North.
Japan's scenario was to drag North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam
Sun out to the foreign ministerial meeting, which ranks higher than
the six-party talks to pave the way for the six-party talks. "It
would have been a good chance for North Korea to lower its fist," a
Foreign Ministry official explained.
But the North did not show any signs of softening its stance. US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice commented during his trip from
SIPDIS
the Middle East to Malaysia, "We are ready to open the six-party
talks, but the North apparently does not have any intention to do
so."
As a result, Foreign Minister Taro Aso in his talks with Chinese
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing suggested a five-country foreign
ministerial excluding North Korea. But Li at first rejected the
idea, saying, "A five-nation session is not good, It would irritate
the North and make the process of the six-party talks difficult. We
are open to any approach other than that." He thus showed a positive
stance to a meeting of countries, including Australia and Malaysia.
9) Japanese, Chinese, South Korean foreign ministers search for ways
to improve relations
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Abridged)
July 28, 2006
Toyofumi Amano, Kuala Lumpur
TOKYO 00004217 006 OF 011
Bilateral foreign ministerial talks took place on July 27 in
Malaysia between Japan and South Korea and between Japan and China.
In the talks, China and South Korea exhibited their eagerness to
find a lead to improving their relations with Japan with a
post-Koizumi era in mind.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing announced Beijing's willingness
to discuss the abduction issue in the six party talks on the North
Korean nuclear issue, reversing its previous stance of focusing only
on the nuclear issue. Touching on the UN Security Council's adoption
of a resolution on North Korea following a conflict between Japan
and China, Li said: "We give high marks to the flexibility exhibited
by the Japanese government."
South Korean Foreign and Trade Minister Ban Ki Moon stated regarding
North Korea policy: "We need to handle the matter carefully so that
(the difference) in positions between Japan and South Korea will not
be portrayed greater than reality." Ban also announced Seoul's
willingness to study a system to notify each other in advance of
conducting a maritime survey around Takeshima/Dokdo, on which both
Japan and South Korea have claimed sovereignty. South Korea has
apparently softened its previous stance of not recognizing the need
for such a system.
Touching on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni
Shrine, Li said: "A political obstacle has not been removed." Ban
said: "We hope that the issue will not disturb relations between the
two countries any further." The three countries are still faced with
mounting challenges, such as the developments of gas fields in the
East China Sea and talks on the exclusive economic zones of Japan
and South Korea.
10) Sakaba to be foreign press secretary
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)
July 28, 2006
Foreign Minister Taro Aso decided on July 27 on personnel actions at
his ministry, including the appointment of Deputy Foreign Minister
Mitoji Yabunaka as chief of the International Cooperation Bureau to
be established in August. Yabunaka will double as bureau chief.
Press Secretary Yoshinori Katori will become an ambassador. Katori's
post will be filled by Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Bureau
Director-General Mitsuo Sakaba. Economy, Trade, and Industry
Ministry Trade Policy Bureau Deputy Director-General Akira Miwa, who
is now seconded to METI, will replace Sakaba. Public Relations and
Cultural Affairs Department chief Masaki Okada will be assigned to a
diplomatic mission abroad. Ambassador in Charge of International
Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Tadamichi Yamamoto will replace Okada.
The appointment will take effect on August 1.
Coordination is underway to let prime ministerial secretary Koro
Bessho lead the International Cooperation Bureau after Prime
Minister Koizumi steps down in September. The International
Cooperation Bureau will be established by absorbing the Economic
Cooperation Bureau and part of the Multicultural Cooperation
Division. The new bureau will be responsible for planning for
official development assistance (ODA)
Mitsuo Sakaba: Entered the ministry in 1973 after graduating from
Yokohama City University; served as consul general at Chicago and
became Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Bureau director-general
TOKYO 00004217 007 OF 011
in April 2004; native of Tokyo; age 57.
11) Poll: Support for Abe tops 50%
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Top play) (Abridged)
July 28, 2006
With the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election set
for this September, the Tokyo Shimbun conducted a public opinion
survey on the Internet to probe into public attitudes toward
politics and tabulated its results yesterday. In the survey, more
than half of all those who responded to the survey picked Chief
Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe as a politician they support in the LDP
race. Former CCS Yasuo Fukuda has now decided not to run in the
race, and more than 30% of those who picked him in the last poll
backed Abe. Respondents were also asked if they thought Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi should visit Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15,
the anniversary of the end of World War II. In response to this
question, 5.5% answered "yes," with 29.8% leaving the matter to the
prime minister's decision. Those accepting his Aug. 15 visit to
Yasukuni Shrine totaled no more than 35.3%, with 52.3% opposing it.
A total of 500 persons were chosen as political monitors for the
Internet survey, and they were polled July 22-25. Answers were
obtained from 400 persons or 80%.
The same monitors were polled late last month, and the survey taken
this time is the second poll on the web.
In the latest survey, 51.5% wanted Abe to become LDP president. He
topped all others. In the last poll, he stood at 35.6%. Among other
politicians, Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki garnered 13.0% (4.7%
in the last poll), Foreign Minister Taro Aso at 8.8% (4.0% in the
last poll), Senior Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono at 7% (3.0% in
the last poll), Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano at
4% (3.2% in the last poll), former LDP Vice Minister Taku Yamasaki
2.5% (1.0% in the last poll), and Defense Agency Director General
Fukushiro Nukaga at 1.3% (0.2% in the last poll).
12) Poll: 3 in 4 favor new memorial for war dead
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Abridged)
July 28, 2006
In the Tokyo Shimbun's latest Internet political poll of monitors,
52.3% answered that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi should not
visit Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the anniversary of the end of
World War II.
Meanwhile, a total of 35.3% favored an Aug. 15 visit to the shrine,
saying he should do so or leaving it to his decision. Those in favor
of his visiting the shrine on days other than Aug. 15 accounted for
no more than 7%. Among those who support the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party, however, the proportion of those in favor of an
Aug. 15 visit to the shrine is 59.3%.
The LDP is discussing the idea of building a new memorial for the
war dead. In the survey, 74.3%, or about three-fourths, favored the
idea. However, opinion was split over whether the new memorial
should be an alternative to Yasukuni Shrine, with affirmative
answers accounting for 38.0% and negative answers 36.3%
TOKYO 00004217 008 OF 011
13) Poll of LDP's local execs: Abe leads post-Koizumi race
MAINICHI (Page 1) (Abridged)
July 28, 2006
Ahead of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's upcoming presidential
election, the Mainichi Shimbun conducted a questionnaire survey of
the LDP's 141 local executive officers in the posts of secretary
general, executive board chairman, and policy board chairman for the
party's prefectural federations. In the survey, 68 persons or nearly
half of all those polled picked Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe,
51, as a politician appropriate to become the next prime minister.
Abe ranked top with a substantial lead over all others including
Foreign Minister Taro Aso, 65, who was picked by 15 persons. Yasuo
Fukuda, 70, one of Abe's predecessors in the CCS post, has now made
up his mind not to run in the race. Consequently, Abe now holds the
top position among the LDP's local chapters as well, adding further
momentum to his unchallenged lead. Meanwhile, 80 persons or more
than half of those polled wanted Fukuda to run against Abe.
The survey was conducted July 20-26, with 106 persons or 75%
answering the question about a politician appropriate to become the
next prime minister. Fukuda was excluded from the list of
politicians to be chosen in the questionnaire. Last month, the
Mainichi Shimbun conducted a similar survey of the LDP's 47 local
chapter secretaries general, with 43% of them responding. In the
latest survey, the response rate increased to 66%. The LDP's local
executives are now showing their stances.
Above all, Abe stands out among all post-Koizumi candidates.
However, 35 persons did not respond to the survey. Still, Abe will
likely to keep the upper hand of his opponents even if all these 35
persons support other candidates. Aso is garnering support in the
Kyushu bloc. Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, 61, who announced
his candidacy yesterday, is supported by 6 persons. Former LDP Vice
President Taku Yamasaki, 69, and Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister
Kaoru Yosano, 67, were on a par with two persons each.
14) Survey of LDP presidential race among lawmakers: Chief Cabinet
Secretary Abe holds a commanding lead, receiving broad support from
SIPDIS
various factions
YOMIURI (Top play) (Almost full)
July 28, 2006
A survey conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun on the Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) presidential election slated for Sept. 20 among LDP
lawmakers found that Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe, 51, garners broad
support. It seems highly unlikely that Finance Minister Tanigaki,
61, and Foreign Minister Aso, 65, would be able to reverse the tide,
even if interviews earlier conducted by this newspaper as well as
the outcome of a survey conducted in June toward LDP members are
taken into account. Yesterday, Tanigaki made an official
announcement of his candidacy for the LDP presidency, while Abe hit
the road for nationwide campaigning as part of his activity for the
government's council on giving people a second chance to try again.
Contenders for the LDP presidency are now gearing up for
full-fledged campaigning.
The survey was conducted toward 403 LDP lawmakers from mid-July to
July 27, and responses were obtained from 310 lawmakers. As to the
question of whom they would support as a presidential candidate, 83
TOKYO 00004217 009 OF 011
lawmakers cited candidates by name, with Abe favored by the largest
number -- 38 lawmakers -- followed by Tanigaki, named by 11, and
Aso, named by 10. Of the lawmakers supporting Abe, 24 are members of
the Mori faction, to which Abe belongs, and 14 are members of other
factions. Support for Abe is widening beyond factional bounds.
Tanigaki and Aso have ensured support from the factions they
respectively belong to, but they have yet to garner support from
other factions.
There is a move to put up Defense Agency Director-General Nukaga as
a presidential candidate. Nukaga and former Education Minister Kunio
Hatoyama, 57, who has shown enthusiasm about running in the
presidential race, each received support from three lawmakers.
Former Vice President Taku Yamasaki, 69, who does not rule out the
possibility of running in the presidential race, received support
from two lawmakers, and Senior Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono, 43,
received support from one lawmaker.
In addition to this survey, the Yomiuri Shimbun interviewed
lawmakers. The results of the interviews show that the 86 members of
the Mori faction are certain to line up behind Abe as former Chief
Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda declared days ago that he would not
run in the election. Most of the Ibuki faction with a membership of
32 and the Komura faction with a membership of 15 are considering
backing Abe. Of the lawmakers of other factions who did not make
clear their attitudes in the interviews this time, many voiced their
support for Abe. Of the newcomer lawmakers who do not belong to any
faction, 25 remained undecided, but most of them are likely to give
support to Abe.
In a survey conducted in June toward the LDP members by the Yomiuri
Shimbun, a majority indicated support for Abe.
Given these results and when the 403 votes from lawmakers and 300
votes from the LDP members at large are combined, Abe has already
garnered more than a majority of votes of 352. If no candidate wins
a majority in the first tally, a runoff among LDP lawmakers will be
carried out between the two top candidates. But at this point, Abe
is most likely to win a majority in the first vote.
Yet, many LDP members responded to the survey, "I remain undecided,"
and a lineup of candidates has yet to be confirmed. So uncertainties
still remain.
In the survey among the lawmakers, this newspaper asked them what
would be the major campaign issues and obtained answers from 190
lawmakers. Of them, 62% -- the largest figure -- cited "Fiscal
reconstruction."
15) Abe begins nationwide campaign; Gives consideration to growing
social gap in Iwate Prefecture
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
July 28, 2006
Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe yesterday visited Iwate
Prefecture and listened to views of farmers there. The trip to Iwate
was his first attempt to reflect regional voices in the government's
measures to create a society in which failed entrepreneurs can try
again to reenter the market. The Iwate visit was the start of a
nationwide stumping tour in a bid to win the Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) presidential election. He experienced farm work by
TOKYO 00004217 010 OF 011
cutting gentians (blue flowers) in a work suit and rubber boots.
After that, he had an informal meeting with about ten residents at
the community center. The farmers attending the session voiced the
following views: "The government should consider preferential tax
treatment for the expansion of the scale of farm land;" and "Since
agriculture is important, highly-motivated people should be engaged
in this business."
After the meeting, Abe told reporters, "There are various problems
before one can start agriculture, timber industry and fishing
operations. Eliminating those problems will lead to a society
providing people a second chance."
Abe intends to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's structural
reform policy line. However, since there is a growing complaint that
Koizumi's reform drive has widened the income gap and social divide
between urban and rural areas, Abe aims to show consideration to
regional views. Abe's aides are keeping the next general election in
mind. Since the LDP is expected to fight a fierce battle with the
main opposition party Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) in the
House of Councillors election in the summer next year, many LDP
members hold high expectations that the next president should have
strong character to use in that election.
Abe seems to have chosen Iwate Prefecture as the first stop in his
stumping tour to show a stance of fighting in the future election.
Abe plans to visit Tachikawa City in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka until
early August. He is expected to hear views from managers of small
businesses and women who are finished raising their families.
16) Tanigaki announces candidacy for LDP presidential election;
Criticizes Koizumi's Yasukuni visits; Vows to hike consumption tax
to 10%
SANKEI (Top Play) (Excerpts)
July 28, 2006
Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, 61, yesterday formally announced
at party headquarters his candidacy for the Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) presidential election to choose a successor to Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi. He pledged that if he became the next prime
minister, he would raise the consumption tax to 10%. He criticized
Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine. Meantime, Chief Cabinet
Secretary Shinzo Abe, 51, who is expected to declare his candidacy
SIPDIS
for the race in late August, has begun a nationwide stumping tour,
visiting yesterday Iwate Prefecture. Foreign Minister Taro Aso, 65,
indicated that he would announce his candidacy around Aug. 20.
Campaigns for the LDP presidential election in effect have already
started.
In yesterday's press meeting, Tanigaki expressed strong enthusiasm
for policy debate, stating, "I cannot look with optimism at (my
support rates in opinion polls). I would like to make efforts for
policy debate so that I will gain support from the public and party
members."
The dominant view is now that with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo
Fukuda's announcement that he will not run in the election, Abe is
far ahead of other candidates. Public support rates for Tanigaki
have remained at the three% level.
TOKYO 00004217 011 OF 011
In a bid to fill the gaps between Abe and him, Tanigaki has been
determined that he must display his own policy imprint. His strategy
is to make clear his differences with Abe, who is believed to follow
Koizumi's reform drive and foreign policy line.
Tanigaki pledged that if he became the next prime minister, (1) he
would have dialogues with the leaders of China and South Korea, (2)
he would hike the consumption tax to 10% by early in the 2010s for
the purpose of covering social security expenditures, and (3) he
would do his best to revitalize regional areas.
He criticized Koizumi's Yasukuni visits. Asked about the argument
calling for separating the Class-A war criminals from Yasukuni
Shrine, he responded, by saying, "The ball is on the Yasukuni side.
My view is close to the view calling for the disenshrinement of
Class-A war criminals from the Shinto shrine." He is seeking to
check Abe on the issue.
Tanigaki also underscored his differences with Abe on the
consumption tax issue, saying, "The next prime minister should look
for concrete ways to resolve the issue."
SCHIEFFER
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