Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 10/16/07

Published: Tue 16 Oct 2007 01:34 AM
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1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)
MSDF fueling mission:
4) Asahi poll: 39 PERCENT approve, 44 PERCENT disapprove of MSDF
operation in Indian Ocean; Fukuda Cabinet support slips to 47
5) Government's new MSDF refueling-mission law to be limited to one
year (Nikkei)
6) Text of exchange in Upper House committee on MSDF refueling issue
(Tokyo Shimbun)
7) Former JDA chief Gen Nakatani on TV talk show calls Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ) "terrorists" for rejecting MSDF service in the
Indian Ocean (Mainichi)
8) Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura irritated at DPJ for not
agreeing to prior consultation on antiterror bill or other
legislation (Tokyo Shimbun)
DPJ's Afghan mission:
9) With party split over Ozawa's ISAF proposal, DPJ is drafting
legislation that would send civilians to Afghanistan instead of SDF
troops (Sankei)
10) DPJ counterproposal to antiterror law is centered on providing
food aid to Afghanistan via NGOs (Nikkei)
11) Japan, DPRK agree in informal contacts to hold by end of month
working group talks on normalizing relations (Nikkei)
12) Prime Minister Fukuda pledges 1 billion yen in ODA loans to
Cambodia (Mainichi)
13) Senior vice minister to visit Teheran, Iran (Mainichi)
14) Political agenda:
15) Idea of Lower House dissolution through discussions surfaces in
ruling and opposition camps; "Election could be held next April,"
says DPJ secretary-general (Nikkei)
16) DPJ pressure tactics on ruling camp centering on summoning
witnesses, using party's investigative authority (Nikkei)
Asahi & Sankei:
Acute Medicine Association formulates guidelines on when to take
terminal-stage patients off respirators
Plaintiffs demand apology, relief over hepatitis-C through tainted
112 foreign crewmembers found missing from tuna fishing ships
entering Japanese ports
Government, ruling camp eye 80 PERCENT cut in inheritance tax on
small businesses
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Tokyo Shimbun:
Tokyo District Court recognizes for first time suicide due to
harassment as work-related death
167 Okinawa residents demand retraction of history textbook
(1) Leak of interrogation records of boy: Arrest of doctor
(2) South Korean presidential election: Make it occasion to open new
(1) Chinese Communist Party: Democratization is "scientific
(2) Arrest of expert medical witness: Concern that
information-providers will shrink back
(1) 10 years of Organ Transplant Law: How long will Diet put off
(2) National Congress of Chinese Communist Party: China needs
reforms for "harmonious society"
(1) How will South Korean presidential candidates deal with North
(2) Arrest of expert medical witness excessive
(1) Chinese Communist Party's National Congress: Don't avoid
political reforms
(2) 10 years of organ transplants: Diet must pass revision bill as
early as possible
Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Publication of book on interrogation records of boy: Arrest of
information source cannot be ignored
(2) Chinese Communist Party's National Congress: Can China creates
true "harmonious society"?
(1) Akahata opposes consumption tax hike
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, October 14
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 16, 2007
Spent the day at private residence in Nozawa.
Prime Minister's schedule, October 15
Met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Iwaki at the Kantei.
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Upper House Budget Committee meeting.
Returned to the Kantei.
Upper House Budget Committee meeting.
LDP executive meeting.
Met with Foreign Ministry Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau
Director General Okuda at the Kantei.
Met with Cambodian National Assembly President Hen Samrin.
Returned to private residence.
4) Poll: 39 PERCENT for, 44 PERCENT against continuing MSDF
mission in Indian Ocean
ASAHI (Page 1) (Full)
October 16, 2007
The Asahi Shimbun conducted a telephone-based nationwide public
opinion survey on Oct. 13-14, asking respondents if they support the
government's plan to continue the Maritime Self-Defense Force's
activities in the Indian Ocean. In response to this question, 39
PERCENT answered "yes," with 44 PERCENT saying "no." The
proportion of affirmative answers increased somewhat from 35 PERCENT
in a previous survey taken Sept. 13 in the wake of former Prime
Minister Abe's clarification of his resignation. However, negative
answers still outnumbered affirmative ones.
The government will introduce a new legislative measure to the Diet
in order for Japan to continue the MSDF's activities in the Indian
Ocean. The newly planned legislation is to replace the Antiterrorism
Special Measures Law, which is currently in effect (but is to run
out on Nov. 1.). In the survey, respondents were also asked if they
supported the new legislation. To this question, affirmative answers
accounted for only 28 PERCENT , with negative ones at 48 PERCENT .
Meanwhile, the approval rating for the Fukuda cabinet was 47 PERCENT
, somewhat down from its inaugural 53 PERCENT rating. The
disapproval rating was 30 PERCENT (27 PERCENT in the last survey).
Respondents were further asked when they thought the House of
Representatives should be dissolved for a general election. In the
breakdown of answers to this question, the proportion of those who
think the Diet's lower chamber should be dissolved early decreased
substantially from 50 PERCENT in the Sept. 13 survey to 32 PERCENT
in the survey this time. The proportion of those who think there is
no need to hurry increased from 43 PERCENT to 60 PERCENT .
Asked about the desirable form of government, public opinion was
split, with 33 PERCENT choosing a coalition government led by the
Liberal Democratic Party and 32 PERCENT preferring a coalition
government led by the Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto). In the
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Sept. 13 survey, 41 PERCENT chose an LDP-led coalition, with 33
PERCENT opting for a DPJ-led coalition.
5) Government sets one-year time limit for new antiterrorism
legislation, reflecting LDP's consideration to New Komeito
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
October 16, 2007
The government and the ruling coalition decided yesterday to set a
one-year time limit for new legislation designed to extend the
Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.
The government had outlined a bill with a two-year time limit and
presented it to the opposition camp. But the New Komeito insisted
that the law be limited to one year to ensure civilian control of
the Self-Defense Force (SDF). Giving consideration to its ruling
coalition partner's opinion, the Liberal Democratic Party decided to
change the time limit. With an eye on the next House of
Representatives election, the New Komeito aimed to play up its
presence. It also intends to make more requests on the new
In a press conference yesterday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka
Machimura implied that the government changed its draft bill out of
consideration to the New Komeito' view. He said: "In the ruling
coalition, there is a view calling for the term of validity to be
set at one year to ensure civilian control. The government decided
to take this view into account." A senior New Komeito member
commented: "The one-year time limit will be desirable in terms of
ensuring civilian control."
Under the new legislation unveiled yesterday, the law would be
effective for one year. The MSDF would supply fuel only to warships
engaged in maritime intercept operations aimed to prevent the
movement of terrorists or weapons in the Indian Ocean and not to
aircraft carriers that may be involved in attacks in Iraq or
With a two-year time limit, the government's original draft required
reporting the contents of SDF operations one year later, instead of
incorporating a provision for Diet approval.
However, the New Komeito expressed discontent with the exclusion of
the requirement for Diet approval. It insisted that the term of
validity be limited to one year and a vote be taken in the Diet
every year in order to ensure civilian control.
6) Diet interpellations
TOKYO (Page 7) (Abridged)
October 16, 2007
The following is a gist of questions and answers in a meeting
yesterday of the House of Councillors Budget Committee.
Refueling activities
Akio Sato (Liberal Democratic Party): The Maritime Self-Defense
Force has been tasked with refueling in the Indian Ocean. Do you
think this is against the Constitution?
Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba: The government has set up noncombat
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areas to avoid using armed force. It's inconceivable to conflict
with Article 9 of the Constitution. I want the Democratic Party of
Japan to state its definition of collective self-defense. If they
are going to send out the Self-Defense Forces to participate in the
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), they should talk
about the SDF's competence to use weapons and the equipment it would
Sato: What's your view of UN-centered diplomacy?
Ishiba: (Some contend that) if there's a United Nations resolution,
it's alright to use armed force. This kind of view is inconsistent
with the government's view. If Japan accepts the use of armed force
in Northeast Asia, it will obviously help the United States, not the
United Nations.
Sato: What about the new legislation to continue the MSDF's
refueling mission in the Indian Ocean?
Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura: Japan cannot stay away
from the war on terror. That's a basic premise. The new law will be
the Diet's current approval itself. The Diet's deliberation on the
legislation is tantamount to its approval.
Sato: There are questions about which operation the fuel provided by
Japan was used for. Do you think it's difficult to confirm that?
Ishiba: No country will disclose everything about military
intelligence. However, the United States discloses as much
information as possible. It's the government's responsibility to
come up with materials for discussions. We're making our utmost
efforts to disclose information.
7) Gen Nakatani criticizes DPJ for its opposition to MSDF refueling
operations, saying, "Only terrorists are opposing refueling
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
October 16, 2007
Referring to the Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ or Minshuto)
opposition to continuation of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's
(MSDF) refueling operations in the Indian Ocean, Gen Nakatani,
former Defense Agency director general and chairman of the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) Research Commission on Security, during a
Fuji-TV talk show yesterday said, "The MSDF operation is highly
praised by the international community. Only terrorists are opposing
the operations."
The DPJ yesterday was strongly offended by this comment. Diet
Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka told a press conference
that "Nakatani's comment was tantamount to saying that those who do
not support the refueling operation are all terrorists. There are
many in the LDP who call themselves security specialists. I feel
this is a very dangerous trend."
Mitsuru Sakurai also took up this remark at an Upper House Budget
Committee meeting. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda was busy tamping down
the repercussions of Natakani's remark, saying, "I believe he made
that remark as an analogy, but it was not appropriate."
8) Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura irritated by Diet deliberations
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on new refueling bill not moving forward as planned
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
October 16, 2007
Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura has been saying
frequently that it is "frustrating" that Diet deliberations on the
continued refueling operation in the Indian Ocean have yet to move
forward. Although the government and ruling coalition considered the
budget committee meetings of the two houses of the Diet to be prior
consultations on the new refueling bill, the main opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) pursued at those
sessions the alleged diversion of fuel provided by the Maritime
Self-Defense Force for use in the Iraq operation.
Machimura stated at a press conference yesterday:
"We presented our outline of the bill and hoped to discuss it at the
Lower House Budget Committee. It is regrettable that debate on the
contents of the bill was not conducted. I hope that positive
discussion will be carried out in the (Upper House)."
Since last week, he has been saying: "Frankly speaking, I am not
satisfied with Diet debate."
With prior consultations in mind, the government presented the DPJ
the outline of the new bill, but the DPJ is unlikely to agree to
hold prior consultations.
9) Japan's ISAF participation limited to civilian assistance only:
SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
October 16, 2007
Ichiro Ozawa, president of the leading opposition Democratic Party
of Japan (Minshuto), has advocated participating in the
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. In
this regard, Ozawa clarified his view yesterday, limiting Japan's
ISAF participation to civilian assistance like food aid. In
response, the DPJ will incorporate ISAF participation in its
counterproposal to the ruling coalition's new antiterror
legislation. However, Ozawa has yet to show his view of how to
involve the Self-Defense Forces in civilian assistance. The DPJ is
going to discuss it from now on.
Ozawa met with Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) President
Tsuyoshi Takagi yesterday. "They take it as if I'm saying the
Self-Defense Forces will participate in combat operations," Ozawa
said in his meeting with Takagi. "But," Ozawa went on, "Japan is
probably not expected to go so far as to do so." He added, "I'm
saying there are a lot of things to do in civilian areas."
Specifically, Ozawa cited food aid to the Afghan people.
Ozawa, writing for a monthly magazine that hit store shelves on Oct.
9, advocated sending SDF members to participate in ISAF after the
DPJ takes the reins of government. His article about the SDF's
involvement in ISAF drew objections from within his party.
Meanwhile, the DPJ has been forming a united front in the Diet with
the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party
(Shaminto). The JCP and the SDP, however, are both critical of
Ozawa's advocacy, with SDP President Mizuho Fukushima calling it
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"unconstitutional." Ozawa is believed to have aimed at dodging the
proliferation of objections by clarifying his view that restricts
Japan's ISAF participation to civilian assistance.
Ozawa's advocacy of Japan's ISAF participation has also affected his
party in its making of a counterproposal to the government's new
antiterror legislation. "We will work out (bare bones for the DPJ's
counterproposal) in a few days about Japan's role in ISAF," DPJ
Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama said yesterday.
10) DPJ mulling counterproposal with focus on food aid: Ozawa also
attaches importance to assistance for human needs
NIKKEI (Page 3) (Full)
October 16, 2007
As a proposal countering the government and ruling camp-sponsored
new legislation intended to continue Japan's refueling operations,
the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) plans to compile
assistance measures with focus on food aid to Afghanistan led by
non-governmental organizations. It will undertake coordination to
compile its plan as a bill.
The DPJ is considering food aid drawing funds from the official
development assistance (ODA) budget. Commenting on this
counterproposal, Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama in a speech given
yesterday noted, "We want to finalize our ideas around the time the
government adopts its bill at a cabinet meeting. I think it would be
best if we compile our proposals into a bill."
However, some party members are opposing President Ichiro Ozawa's
call for active participation in peace operations involving the use
of armed force led by the United Nations, such as participation in
the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
Taking this situation into account, Ozawa is gradually shifting
emphasis to assistance for basic human needs.
When Tsuyoshi Takagi, chairman of the Japanese Trade Union
Confederation, asked Ozawa at the DPJ headquarters yesterday, "You
are saying that Japan should take part in battles involving the use
of armed force. What is your view on participation the ISAF?", Ozawa
replied, "No countries in the world would expect Japan in terms of
armed force. There are many other things Japan can contribute to the
nation, including food aid."
11) Japan, North Korea agree to hold working group session this
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 16, 2007
Japanese and North Korean officials in charge of negotiations on
normalizing bilateral ties met in Shenyang, China, on Oct. 14. In
the meeting, both sides agreed to hold later this month the next
session of the working group on normalizing ties as part of the
six-party talks, according to informed sources. They also agreed to
accelerate the discussion by holding a working-group session several
times, if necessary, by the end of this year. However, on the key
issue for Japan of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea, no
progress was made in the meeting.
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Attending the meeting were Foreign Ministry North and East Asian
Division head Shigeo Yamada and Ambassador of North Korea for
Normalization Talks with Japan Song Il Ho. Yamada returned to Japan
A senior Foreign Ministry official said yesterday: "There was no
major breakthrough." According to this official, an agreement is
unlikely to be reached in the next working-group session, and in
order to produce results, it will be necessary to hold several
meetings by the end of the year. Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi
stated in a press conference: "We are willing to hold talks with
North Korea in any form if they contribute to resolving (bilateral
pending issues)."
Thinking of Kuala Lumpur as the site for the next session, Japan
will carry out coordination with countries concerned.
According to sources involved in the meeting on the 14th, Japan
insisted that Pyongyang return Japanese abduction victims to Japan
at an early date and clear up the details of the issue. Meanwhile,
North Korea renewed its call for resolving the issue of "settling
past accounts." Both reconfirmed the need for accelerating talks to
normalize bilateral diplomatic relations. On the issues of
abductions and past accounts, a senior government official remarked:
"In the meeting, both sides tried to probe into the other side's
readiness to move the issue forward."
12) Yen loans worth 1 billion yen to be extended to Cambodia: Prime
minister meets with National Assembly president
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Slightly abridged)
October 16, 2007
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda yesterday met with Cambodian National
Assembly President Hen Samrin at the Prime Minister's Official
Residence (Kantei). He conveyed a plan to extend new yen loans worth
1 billion yen to Cambodia as a measure to reduce poverty. Fukuda at
the same time sought further consolidation of that nation's
investment environment to promote investment by Japanese companies.
Fukuda made that request in response to the president's comment, "I
hope relations between Japan and Cambodia will develop in the
economic field, such as investment and tourism," which he made after
expressing gratitude for Japan's official development assistance.
13) Senior Vice Foreign Minister to leave for Tehran
MAINICHI (Page 5 (Full)
October 16, 2007
Regarding the incident of Satoshi Nakamura (23), a senior at
Yokonama National University, being kidnapped by an armed group
while traveling in southeast Iran, Senior Vice Foreign Minister
Itsunori Onodera, head of the Foreign Ministry Emergency Measures
Headquarters, will leave for Tehran in order to find a breakthrough
in the matter. He will stay in Tehran until the 19th and meet with
key government officials and security officials to ask them to
secure Nakamura's safety and settle the case at an early date.
14) Idea of Lower House dissolution through discussions surfaces in
ruling and opposition camps; "Election could be held next April,"
says DPJ secretary-general
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NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 16, 2007
There is a rumor in the ruling and opposition parties that the House
of Representatives will be dissolved "through discussions" next
April after the compilation of the budget for fiscal 2008.
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary-General Yukio Hatoyama
stated in a speech in Tokyo yesterday:
"I think around April would be the most likely timing for a
dissolution of the Lower House. It is possible that compiling the
budget would be considered as a condition for (Lower House
dissolution) in discussions."
In the government and ruling coalition, the idea of dissolving the
Lower House thorough discussions has been talked about. However, it
was the first time for a DPJ executive to talk about it. The
possibility is that calls for a general election after the Lower
House is dissolved in April will likely become stronger.
Asked by reporters last night about Hatoyama's remarks, Prime
Minister Yasuo Fukuda responded:
"I don't feel like talking about it now. What we should do first is
pass the bill (to enable the Maritime Self-Defense Force to continue
its refueling operation). I'm not thinking about the timing of a
dissolution of the Lower House."
During the presidential campaign for the Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP), Fukuda said: "If we can share awareness of the issues, there
will be negotiations with the opposition camp."
The opposition camp traded places with the ruling coalition in the
July House of Councillors election. The DPJ is expected to oppose
the key bills backed by its victory in the latest Upper House
election. Therefore, the present situation is that major bills,
except for the FY 2008 budget, will unlikely clear the Diet. Many in
the government and ruling bloc are gradually thinking that it will
be unavoidable to dissolve the Lower House to call a general
election after the budget is approved.
15) Refueling issue takes center stage in Upper House Budget
Committee deliberations; DPJ threatens ruling camp with summoning
witnesses and invoking investigative powers, setting off confusion
NIKKEI (Page 3) (Abridged slightly)
October 16, 2007
Deliberations started yesterday at the House of Councillors Budget
Committee in the divided Diet. Focused on the Maritime Self-Defense
Force's refueling operation in the Indian Ocean, the main opposition
Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto or DPJ) has begun threatening
the ruling camp with summoning witnesses to the Diet and exercising
the right to investigate state affairs. The DPJ is visibly split
over the hard-line approach, however. The ruling parties have no
winning hand to play, either. The trends of public opinion are
likely to sway the future course of the standoff between the ruling
and opposition camps.
DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chair Kenji Yamaoka in a press conference
yesterday again referred to the Defense Ministry's correction this
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past September of the amount of oil provided to a US oiler in 2003,
saying, "We want to know who is really responsible for the matter as
soon as possible." He also revealed the DPJ's plan to summon former
Vice Administrative Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya and an
administrative official responsible for the matter to the Diet to
testify before the Upper House Budget Committee and other venues.
Given its majority in the Upper House, it is possible for the
opposition bloc to decide to summon witnesses to the Diet, invoke
the right to investigate state affairs, and adopt a censure motion
in the upper chamber. Many in the DPJ think the party should use
such cards actively. Appearing on an NHK talk show on Oct. 14, DPJ
shadow foreign minister Yoshio Hachiro called for Diet testimony by
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who was chief cabinet secretary in
Attention is specifically focused on the allegation that oil
provided by the MSDF was diverted for use in the Iraq war. Yamaoka
referred to the possibility of the Upper House exercising its
investigative powers in order to examine operational actions taken
by the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and the Aegis destroyer USS
Paul Hamilton that received oil directly or indirectly from the
Such a hard-line approach is popular among Lower House DPJ
lawmakers, including Yamaoka. At the same time, the overheated
debate yesterday set off confusion in the DPJ Upper House. Upper
House Budget Committee principal director Mitsuru Sakurai after the
committee meeting told the press corps about summoning Moriya and
others: "(The Upper House) does not know yet what the problem is."
The Upper House customarily decides unanimously on such matters as
summoning witnesses to the Diet and invoking investigative powers.
Yamaoka said: "Is it proper to decided on a vital state matter based
only on an agreement between the ruling and opposition blocs, (as
before)?" But a senior Upper House Diet Affairs Committee officer
grumbled: "The procedural requirements would be extremely high, so
things would not be that easy." A budget committee member also
voiced displeasure with the DPJ Lower House caucus.
Cautious views are also heard in the DPJ Lower House caucus.
Summoning witnesses and exercising investigative powers might result
in a censure motion against the prime minister, depending on how
things turn out. The adoption of a censure motion might be followed
by a Lower House dissolution for a snap general election. Pessimism
is simmering in the party that the hard-line policy course alone is
not enough to keep attracting voters.
With an eye on discord in the DPJ, the government and ruling parties
are trying to turn the tables. In the Upper House Budget Committee
session yesterday, Liberal Democratic Party member Akio Sato asked
for the government's view on DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa's proposal
for joining the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in
Afghanistan. In response, Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba blasted
Ozawa, saying, "It is not appropriate politically to call for taking
part in the ISAF without thoroughly discussing the guidelines for
weapons use."
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