Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 09/18/07

Published: Tue 18 Sep 2007 10:52 PM
DE RUEHKO #4328/01 2612252
P 182252Z SEP 07
E.O. 12958: N/A
(1) Spot poll on Prime Minister Abe's resignation
(2) Prime minister to be elected on Sept. 25; Cabinet likely to be
formed that night
(3) 2007 LDP presidential race: Fukuda would cooperate with DPJ for
continued Indian Ocean refueling mission; Aso would not hesitate to
resort to Lower House overriding Upper House vote
(4) Seiron: "Sept. 11" symbolizes Japan-US relations
(5) Five years since signing of Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration,
but no prospect in sight for a resolution of abduction issue
(6) CO2 emissions credits: Japanese companies obtain 90 million tons
or half the amount they must reduce
(7) Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) in public primary, middle and
high schools: Move to avoid JET program accelerating due to
increased troubles, such as teachers returning home halfway through
tour, being late for classes
(1) Spot poll on Prime Minister Abe's resignation
ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
September 14, 2007
Questions & Answers
(Figures shown in percentage, rounded off.)
Q: Prime Minister Abe has now announced his resignation. Do you
think it's good?
Yes 51
No 29
Q: Prime Minister Abe made his policy speech before the Diet at the
offset of its current extraordinary session. Two days later, when he
was to have answered questions from party representatives, he
announced his resignation. Do think it is irresponsible to announce
his resignation at that time?
Yes 70
No 22
Q: Were you surprised at Prime Minister Abe's announcement of his
Yes 67
No 30
Q: Mr. Abe has served as prime minister for about one year. What's
your rating for his job performance as prime minister? (One choice
Appreciate very much 4
Appreciate somewhat 33
Don't appreciate very much 45
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Don't appreciate at all 15
Q: In order to fight terrorist groups in Afghanistan, the United
States and other foreign countries have sent their naval fleets to
the Indian Ocean. The Antiterrorism Special Measures Law, which is
for the Self-Defense Forces to back up their fleets, is to expire
Nov. 1. The government will introduce a new legislative measure to
the Diet in order for Japan to continue the SDF's activities there.
However, the Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) is poised to
oppose the legislation. Do you support it?
Yes 35
No 45
Q: Prime Minister Abe explained why he decided to step down, saying
he thought to himself that he had to resolve the situation in order
to continue the SDF's activities in the Indian Ocean. Is this
explanation convincing?
Yes 11
No 75
Q: Who would you like to see become the next prime minister? Pick
only one from among Dietmembers.
Taro Aso 14
Yasuo Fukuda 13
Junichiro Koizumi 11
Ichiro Ozawa 6
Yoichi Masuzoe 2
Sadakazu Tanigaki 2
Nobutaka Machimura 1
Other politicians 2
No answer (N/A) + don't know (D/K) 49
Q: Which political party do you support now? (Figures in parentheses
denote the results of a survey taken Aug. 27-28.)
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 30 (25)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 28 (32)
New Komeito (NK) 3 (3)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 2 (3)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 1 (1)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0 (0)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0 (0)
Other political parties 0 (1)
None 30 (29)
N/A+D/K 6 (6)
Q: Do you think the House of Representatives should be dissolved as
soon as possible for a general election? (Figures in parentheses
denote the results of a survey conducted July 30-31.)
Yes 50 (39)
No 43 (54)
Q: Would you like the current LDP-led coalition government to
continue, or would you otherwise like it to be replaced with a
DPJ-led coalition government? (Figures in parentheses denote the
results of a survey conducted July 21-22.)
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LDP-led government 33 (30)
DPJ-led government 41 (46)
Polling methodology: The survey was conducted Sept. 13 over the
telephone on a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis.
Respondents were chosen from among the nation's voting population on
a three-stage random-sampling basis. Valid answers were obtained
from 1,029 persons (62 PERCENT ).
(2) Prime minister to be elected on Sept. 25; Cabinet likely to be
formed that night
YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
Eve., September 18, 2007
With Prime Minister Abe expected to step down shortly, the
government and the ruling coalition this morning decided to elect a
prime minister in both the chambers of the Diet on Sept. 25. The new
prime minister is expected to form a cabinet possibly later that
day. The government plans to undertake coordination with the
opposition parties on a plan for the prime minister to deliver a
general-policy speech on Sept. 28 and hold a question-and-answer
session to the speech on Oct. 1-3. Meeting the press this morning,
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yosano commented: "Given that a new
president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will be chosen on
Sept. 23, it is only natural for the Abe cabinet to resign en masse
at a cabinet meeting (on Sept. 25). It is also customary to
designate a prime minister once the cabinet resigns en masse."
A government official this morning said: "A new prime minister will
be elected late at night on Sept. 25. A new cabinet will be set in
motion possibly within Sept. 25 or 26."
The Diet Affairs Committee chairmen and other officials of the LDP
and its junior coalition partner New Komeito this morning met and
confirmed that a new prime minister would be designated in both the
chambers of the Diet on Sept. 25. Afterwards, the LDP's Diet Affairs
Committee Chairman Tadamori Oshima and others met separately with
their counterparts of the opposition parties and consulted with them
on this timetable. The opposition parties basically accepted it.
In the Lower House, a new president of the LDP is expected to be
designated as prime minister. In the Upper House, which is under the
opposition parties' control, the main opposition Democratic Party of
Japan's (DPJ) President Ichiro Ozawa is likely to be designated as
prime minister. In this case, precedence is given to the person who
is designated by the Lower House over the person designated by the
Upper House.
(3) 2007 LDP presidential race: Fukuda would cooperate with DPJ for
continued Indian Ocean refueling mission; Aso would not hesitate to
resort to Lower House overriding Upper House vote
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Abridged slightly)
September 18, 2007
Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda and LDP Secretary
General Taro Aso are in the midst of a one-on-one race in the run-up
to the September 23 LDP presidential election. Given the reversal of
positions between the ruling and opposition parties in the Upper
House, which is now under the opposition bloc's control, how are the
two contestants planning to change Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's
TOKYO 00004328 004 OF 010
policies? This article examines their main policy stances.
Prime Minister Abe's decision to step down was triggered by the
issue of extending the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling
mission in the Indian Ocean.
The Antiterrorism Special Measures Law, enacted following the 9/11
terrorist attacks on America, will expire on Nov. 1.
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto), now the largest
party in the Upper House, has clearly expressed its opposition to
extending the MSDF mission, saying there was no need to support an
American war for self-defense. It will be near impossible to obtain
Diet approval for a bill amending the Antiterrorism Law before it
expires on Nov. 1.
The government and ruling parties fear erosion in Japan's
international credibility if the MSDF has to withdraw from the
Indian Ocean following the expiration of the Antiterrorism Law, the
legal basis for the MSDF mission.
At the September 8 Japan-US summit meeting, Prime Minister Abe
announced his determination to make utmost efforts to continue
refueling operations. At a press conference the following day, Abe
also announced that he would "stake his job" on the extension of the
refueling mission, deeming it an "international commitment."
This was taken to reveal Abe's strong resolve to use the ruling
bloc's two-thirds majority in the Lower House to override an Upper
House rejection of new legislation that would follow a temporally
halt to the refueling mission.
Fukuda and Aso are in total accord on continuing the refueling
mission, thinking Japan's failure to do so would draw international
criticism. But when it comes to a second vote by the Lower House to
override the Upper House vote, Fukuda remains cautious, while Aso is
eager to use that approach.
Secretary General Aso, who previously served as foreign minister
under the Abe administration, has completely inherited Abe's
thinking. Asked about the Lower House re-voting on the bill, based
on talks with the DPJ, Aso noted, "This is something that must be
done even if public opinion oppose it."
Fukuda's opinion, on the other hand, is that re-adoption is the last
resort, as there are many options before that.
Fukuda, when serving as chief cabinet secretary in the Koizumi
administration, was responsible for the Antiterrorism Law being
enacted. Fukuda is well aware of repeated talks with the DPJ
regarding prior Diet approval.
Fukuda is eager to hold talks with the DPJ in order to win the
largest opposition party's cooperation for a continued refueling
Fukuda also offered an apology for the Diet being effectively out of
session due to the LDP presidential race, saying, "I, too, feel
responsible for causing trouble."
This can be taken as Fukuda's message to the DPJ in an attempt to
set the stage for the major opposition to come to the negotiating
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Even if talks with the DPJ get underway, there are not good ideas
for extracting compromises from the largest opposition party.
Clearing the way for a continued refueling mission still appears
extremely difficult.
(4) Seiron: "Sept. 11" symbolizes Japan-US relations
SANKEI (Page 11) (Full)
September 18, 2007
By Koji Murata, professor at Doshisha University
Difference in sense of time in Iraq and US
I was in Washington on Sept. 11 this year, the anniversary of the
terrorist attacks on the United States. I have been there over the
past one and a half months.
Appearing at a congressional hearing that day, General David
Petraeus, commander in Iraq, recommended cutting the number of US
troops by 30,000 by next summer, emphasizing improvement in the
security situation in Iraq. But both Democratic and Republican Party
members are increasingly irritated because the government has
prepared no long-term exit strategy to end the US engagement in
Iraq. Some even called Petraeus "betray us." There is a wide gap
between the strategic sense of time in Iraq (priority to stability)
and the political sense of time in Washington (priority to
The Bush administration has yet to come up with any tactics to link
the strategic sense of time and the political sense of time. Those
critical of the Iraq war will also be unable to maintain public
support as long as they just repeat their conventional argument that
the situation in Iraq is a quagmire. It is difficult to predict how
the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates will address
the Iraq problem and what the situation in Iraq will be on Sept. 11
of next year. It is certain, though, that the answers to these
questions will significantly affect the outcome of the presidential
election next fall.
"War on terrorism" and Japan-US alliance
On Sept. 11 two years ago, the LDP (then Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi) won a historic victory in a snap election held after
Koizumi dissolved the House of Representatives, with the
privatization of postal services as the sole campaign issue. It was
said at that time that the Japan-US alliance was in the "most stable
shape" or in a "golden age" under the strong personality and
leadership of Prime Minister Koizumi and based on the LDP's
rock-solid power base.
Two years and a day later, however, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
announced his resignation. This decision surprised and disappointed
many people. The prime minister's resignation came too late to take
responsibility for the LDP's crushing defeat in the earlier House of
Councillors election and too early to fulfill his responsibility to
extend the Antiterrorism Special Measures Law. Although Abe might
have made the bitter decision due to his poor physical condition, he
cannot avoid being labeled irresponsible as the leader of "a
beautiful country." No matter whom the LDP picks as Abe's successor,
TOKYO 00004328 006 OF 010
it is expected to become necessary for the government to seek the
voters' judgment by holding a Lower House election in the near
future. The main opposition party might be able to grab political
Negative factors are appearing in relations between Japan and the
US. First of all, there is the issue of extending the Antiterrorism
Law. Even if Japan discontinues the Maritime Self-Defense Force's
refueling operation in the Indian Ocean, the alliance will not come
to an end. Even so, the refueling operation in the Indian Ocean is
more effective despite the cost and risk being far lower than if
Japan were to dispatch SDF troops to Afghanistan.
The refueling mission is highly required and justified by the
international community, going beyond the framework of the Japan-US
alliance. At present, 75 countries have cooperated with the US in
fighting terrorism. Not only the US but even Afghanistan, Pakistan
and many other countries have expressed appreciation for Japan's
refueling mission.
The Democratic Party of Japan once opposed the Antiterrorism Law.
But I remember that it was opposed not to the purport of the
legislation itself but to the provision for prior Diet approval.
Meanwhile, it is a matter for regret that the government has given
no full explanation about the contents of the MSDF activities in the
Indian Ocean, as pointed out by the DPJ. The government should be
aware that it must fully explain its security and foreign policies
to the public.
Difficult issues related to Iraq and North Korea
In the six-party talks on North Korea's denuclearization, as well,
Japan has found itself isolated more frequently over the abduction
issue (setting aside whether Japan is actually isolated or not),
given the recent rapid improvement in relations between the US and
North Korea. Such a situation was inconceivable two years ago.
Washington's tough stance toward North Korea and Abe's resolute
posture on the abduction issue gave Abe a boost to the post of prime
minister. It was after the midterm elections last year when the US
government began to change its policy course significantly. Over the
Iraq issue, the US altered its course after neoconservatives, who
also have a bad reputation in Japan, were driven out of the Bush
administration. This means that neoconservatives were indisputably
echoing the Japanese public in dealing with North Korea.
Nobody can tell what will become of the Japanese political situation
and Japan-US relations on Sept. 11 of next year. What is clear now
is that the leaders of both Japan and the US are required to fulfill
their responsibility to explain to the international community and
their peoples and present their respective long-term and realistic
strategies on Iraq and North Korea.
(5) Five years since signing of Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration,
but no prospect in sight for a resolution of abduction issue
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Almost full)
September 18, 2007
Five years passed yesterday since then Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi made a sudden visit to Pyongyang, North Korea, where he and
General Secretary Kim Jong Il signed the Pyongyang Declaration.
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Afterwards, although five abductees and their families members were
ultimately allowed to repatriate to Japan, but on the whereabouts of
other abductees and the prospect of normalization of relations
between the two countries, progress is nowhere in sight. North Korea
policy has become a topic for debate in the ongoing presidential
campaign of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), but in order
for Japan to seriously undertake negotiations with North Korea, the
domestic political situation must first be stabilized.
"The current policy line of unrelenting pressure on North Korea may
shift if (former Chief Cabinet Secretary) Yasuo Fukuda is chosen as
prime minister," one Foreign Ministry official noted. "Full-fledged
Japan-North Korea talks will not start before the next cabinet
establishes its policy," another commented. Foreign Ministry
officials, wearing expressions that reflected their mixed feelings,
are keeping tabs on moves in the Diet at Nagata-cho as the LDP
presidential campaign continues.
After the release of the Pyongyang Declaration, Tokyo consistently
maintained a "dialogue-and-pressure line" toward the North.
But the government and the ruling bloc became divided over the
question of which was more important, dialogue or pressure, and
policy confusion often reigned.
A hard-liner who favored applying more pressure, Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe served as deputy chief cabinet secretary when the
Pyongyang Declaration was released. At the time, Abe was at the
forefront of the hard-liners. During Koizumi's visit to Pyongyang,
Abe insisted that General Secretary Kim should apologize to Japan,
and he also prevented the five abductees from being sent back to the
North after their "temporary return" to Japan. As a result, Abe
became even better known as the next leader of the hard-liners.
Even after taking office as prime minister, Abe emphasized the need
to pressure the North and would not budge even an inch from his
principle that he would not provide economic assistance to the DPRK
without progress first on the abduction issue. Secretary General
Taro Aso, foreign minister in the first Abe cabinet, backed this
policy. If Aso becomes prime minister, he would likely follow Abe's
hard line.
If Fukuda becomes prime minister, he would likely modify the
previous line. When Fukuda served as chief cabinet secretary, he and
then Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director-General Hitoshi
Tanaka of the Foreign Ministry promoted a dialogue line.
Some in the government in this regard commented: "Fukuda is flexible
about holding talks with the North Koreans, so he could move
relations forward more easily."
There is another matter of concern for Japan, namely, how the Bush
administration, approaching its final year, will respond to the
North in the months ahead. The Bush administration is moving ahead
with talks with the Kim regime presumably to achieve results on
North Korean issues while the President is in office. The Bush
administration is in a hurry to resolve the nuclear issue though
six-party talks.
If Japan continues to refuse to provide economic assistance in
exchange for progress on the nuclear issue as a result of
excessively sticking to the abduction issue, discord with the US and
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China could grow.
"President Bush is really angry about the North having abducted
Japanese, but he is not about to put a stop to US talks with North
Korea." Views like this are widespread in the government and the
ruling coalition.
It is likely therefore that the North Korean issue will hamper the
efforts of the next cabinet. There are so many tasks to be handled
that the presidential campaign cannot deal with all of them.
(6) CO2 emissions credits: Japanese companies obtain 90 million tons
or half the amount they must reduce
NIKKEI (Top Play) (Slightly abridged)
September 17, 2007
The Nikkei learned that Japanese companies have amassed nearly 90
million tons in CO2 emissions rights in annual terms through
overseas greenhouse gas reduction projects. This is equivalent to
half the amount Japan is mandated to cut between 2008 and 2012 under
the Kyoto Protocol. The cost needed to amass that amount is expected
to reach more than 400 billion yen. The industry and energy sector,
the largest carbon dioxide emitter, will be very close to achieving
its goal. However, the nation has a long way to go to meet its
emissions reduction goal of 6 PERCENT . Reductions by the household
and transport sectors will come into focus now.
The Kyoto Protocol mandates that Japan cut its greenhouse gas
emissions by approximately 76 million tons or 6 PERCENT on average
between 2008 and 2012 from the 1990 level of 1.261 billion tons.
However, with emissions in 2005 up 7.8 PERCENT from the 1990 level,
the amount Japan must cut has increased to 175 million tons. CO2
credits leading Japanese companies have amassed are equivalent to
half of this amount. Companies can use the CO2 credits they have
amassed to achieve reduction targets they independently set. The
government can enter that amount into a reduction record achieved by
Japan as a whole.
The industry and energy sector, such as factories and power
generation plants, need to cut more than 30 million tons compared
with the 2005 level. Those companies have amassed carbon dioxide
emissions rights largely exceeding that figure. However, there is a
strong possibility of their CO2 emissions increasing due to expanded
production activities. In addition, if the shutdown of the
Kariwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Kashiwazaki following the
Chuetsu Earthquake is made up for with thermal power generation,
greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 28 million tons this
fiscal year alone.
Trading houses have obtained emissions rights in a large quantity in
a plan to sell them to the government, which plans to secure about
20 million tons worth a year, and to companies that have failed to
achieve their voluntary reduction targets. Chances are that even the
amassment of about 90 million tons a year will not cover the amount
needed by the industry and energy sector. A move to secure more
credits will likely appear.
The Japanese government approved 92 projects in the January-June
half of 2007, double the number it did in the July-December half of
2006. The total amount of CO2 credits Japan has amassed has reached
89 million tons a year, according to the tally by the Nikkei.
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The power industry as of early this year had revealed plans to
acquire 6 million tons a year, but the leading seven companies alone
have already obtained 15.8 million tons a year. Among leading steel
companies, Nippon Steel Corporation is the only company that has
obtained 1 million tons a year as of this moment. The steel industry
has revised its CO2 credit purchase plan from 5.6 million tons a
year to over 8 million tons. The overall cost of obtaining CO2
credits is estimated to reach between 450-670 billion yen.
Japan is limited in what it can do in achieving its reduction goal
with CO2 credits alone. The Environment Ministry has calculated that
if energy-saving household electronic appliances are disseminated,
it would be possible to cut CO2 emissions by more than 40 PERCENT
from the 174 million tons emitted in 2005. How to promote the
replacement of such appliances will likely become a pending issue.
(7) Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) in public primary, middle and
high schools: Move to avoid JET program accelerating due to
increased troubles, such as teachers returning home halfway through
tour, being late for classes
SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
September 18, 2007
JET or the Japan Exchange and Teaching is a Government of Japan
program that dispatches Assistant Language Teachers (ALT) to public
primary, middle and high schools throughout the nation. This
newspaper has learned on Sept. 17 that the program is fraught with
troubles involving foreigners who came to Japan as JET teachers.
There have been cases in which ALTs returned home on their own
accord before completing their contract period or were frequently
late for their teaching classes. A move to avoid using the JET
program is accelerating, with a number of local governments
switching to similar services rendered by the private sector, which
charges less. The government's English education program, which has
been in place for more than 20 years, is now at a major turning
Three ministries, including the now defunct ministry of home affairs
(now Internal Affairs Ministry), launched JET in 1987 with the aim
of boosting English education. ALTs, who are supposed to provide
support to the regular teachers, are mainly assigned to public
According to related sources, 1,038 municipalities accepted ALT's
this year. The number is half that of the peak year of 2002. The
number of foreigners who took part in the program has dropped to
5,119, down approximately 13 PERCENT from 2002.
The number of ALT's who returned home for their own personal reasons
before completing their one-year contract period, such as having
found jobs in their home countries, has increased annually. There
also have been many cases of ALTs arriving late for their teaching
classes or being absent from school - attributed to the difficulty
of communicating due to the language barrier. In fiscal 2005, 160
ALT's or nearly 4 PERCENT of all returned home in mid-contract.
The JET program does not fill such vacancies. The cost of
participating in the program is also a major issue. Accepting one
ALT costs a municipality about 6 million yen a year to cover
approximately 300,000 yen a month in pay, relocation expenses and
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social insurance premiums.
Receiving similar services from a private company is reportedly 80
PERCENT lower that the cost involved when accepting an ALT
dispatched under the JET program.
In urban areas, where there are many private firms, such as English
language schools, many public schools have stopped using the JET
program. Most municipalities in Tokyo have adopted a private
consignment system from the beginning.
Yokohama City stopped using JET in fiscal 2003. It switched from 114
ALT's to teachers dispatched by private companies. As one municipal
educator explained, "JET is above all a system for international
exchange. The private sector is a better choice since it can provide
capable teachers at a cheaper price."
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