Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 12/11/07

Published: Tue 11 Dec 2007 02:02 AM
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1) Top headlines
2) Editorials
3) Prime Minister's daily schedule (Nikkei)
4) Yomiuri poll: Public remains split, 45 PERCENT for and 43
PERCENT against, on the new antiterrorism special measures bill now
before the Diet (Yomiuri)
U.S. base issues:
5) -- Negotiations on host-nation support for U.S. forces in Japan
reaches final stage, with foreign and finance ministries still
locking horns over cutting funds (Nikkei)
6) -- Environmental assessment for Futenma relocation may start in
January; Government and Okinawa still at odds over altering plan
7) -- Third strike of Japanese employees at U.S. bases linked to
cuts in salaries funded by Japan's host-nation support budget
8) -- At 70 million yen a house, Defense Minister calls the
estimated cost of planned Marine housing on Guam too pricy (Yomiuri)
9) U.S. Embassy after 10 years of negotiating over old documents
with Japanese government pays up rent in arrears (Mainichi)
Diet clashes:
10) -- LDD, Komeito to make final decision today to re-extend the
Diet session to Jan. 15 in order to allow time to pass the
antiterrorism bill (Sankei)
11) -- Conflict in Diet between ruling and opposition camps over
antiterror bill is intensifying (Tokyo Shimbun)
Economic affairs:
12) -- Government plans to assist small companies hit hard by rising
fuel costs (Yomiuri)
13) -- Government sees 2 PERCENT growth possible next fiscal year
despite high cost of oil (Sankei)
14) Cop13: Chairman's call for 25-40 PERCENT cuts in emissions by
advanced countries has Japan, U.S. upset (Yomiuri)
15) Foreign Ministry protests China's removing parts of recent joint
communiqu after high-level economic talks (Yomiuri)
Social Insurance Agency faces difficulty in identifying 19.75
million pension accounts
Mainichi & Yomiuri:
Putin names Medvedev, first deputy prime minister, as successor
Swiss bank UBS to post 1.1 trillion yen in losses caused by subprime
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20 PERCENT of missing pension records difficult to identify
Tokyo Shimbun:
Aichi Prefectural Police Headquarters to prosecute sumo wrester's
death as criminal case
JCP member stresses in Diet session need for aid to poor people
(1) New national soccer team coach Okada should make use of his
experience while valuing what Osim left
(2) Local governments urged to set up patient-friendly systems
(1) Begin with the nature of official duties in streamlining
independent administrative corporations
(2) Make e-voting a new step toward democracy
(1) Easing import conditions for U.S. beef proper
(2) Japan, China should deepen dialogue on Nanjing Incident on
occasion of 70th anniversary
(1) Eliminate waste from special accounts
(2) Chinese Foreign Ministry must be aware of the weight of
diplomatic documents
(1) Excessively staged TV programs lose viewers' trust
(2) Senba Kitcho must translate self-reflection into action
Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Mislabeling by Senba Kitcho exposes arrogance and
(2) Gradually deregulate double-billing system for medical services
(1) Drastically review Worker Dispatch Law from standpoint of
3) Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)
Prime Minister's schedule, December 9
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 11, 2007
Stayed at his official residence in Nozawa.
Attended a foreign policy study meeting held at the Hotel Okura.
Retuned to his residence.
Prime Minister's schedule, December 10
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NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 11, 2007
Met Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Iwaki at the Kantei.
Attended an Upper House Audit Committee meeting.
Attended a government and ruling coalition liaison meeting at the
Kantei. Afterward met Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura.
Attended the Upper House Audit Committee meeting.
Attended an LDP executive meeting. Afterward met LDP tax commission
chief Tsushima and subcommittee chief Yosano.
Met Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Futahashi at the Kantei.
Held talks with President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and a joint press
conference. Afterward hosted with his wife a dinner party for the
Returned to his private residence.
4) Poll: Public split over antiterror bill
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
December 11, 2007
A new bill is now before the Diet to resume the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean. In
the event the House of Councillors votes down the legislation, the
House of Representatives may override the opposition-dominated upper
chamber's decision with the ruling coalition's concurring majority
of two-thirds. In a recent face-to-face public opinion survey
conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun on Dec. 8-9, respondents were asked
if they thought it would be appropriate for the Diet's lower chamber
to do so. In response to this question, 43 PERCENT answered "yes,"
with 44 PERCENT saying "no."
Respondents were also asked if they supported the new antiterror
legislation. To this question, 45 PERCENT answered "yes," with 43
PERCENT saying "no." Among those who answered "yes," 66 PERCENT
think it is appropriate to override the upper chamber's decision,
while 26 PERCENT think it is inappropriate to do so. Among those
who answered "no," 69 PERCENT think it is inappropriate to do so,
but the proportion of those who think it is appropriate also reached
Respondents were further asked if they supported the government's
plan to resume the MSDF's refueling activities. To this question, 48
PERCENT answered "yes," with 41 PERCENT saying "no." In this
October's survey and in the following survey, "yes" accounted for
nearly 50 PERCENT and "no" at around 40 PERCENT .
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In the breakdown of public support for political parties, the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party stood at 35.3 PERCENT , up slightly from
the last survey taken in November (34.3 PERCENT ). The leading
opposition Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) was at 17.1 PERCENT
, down 5.4 percentage points.
The rate of public support for the Fukuda cabinet was 52.5 PERCENT
(52.2 PERCENT in the last survey). The nonsupport rate was 35.3
PERCENT (36.0 PERCENT in the last survey).
5) Sympathy budget for U.S. forces in final stage of negotiations
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 11, 2007
Japan and the United States are in the final stage of
intergovernmental negotiations to revise an agreement regarding
Japan's host nation support (omoiyari yosan or literally "sympathy
budget") for U.S. Forces Japan. The Japanese government insists on
the necessity of cutting down on its budgetary burden of hosting
USFJ due to financial stringency. The U.S. government is strongly
opposed to reduction. The Japanese government wants to settle the
negotiations within this week. However, its negotiating ministries
are getting out of step. The final cutback is expected to be
downscaled in consideration of relations with the United States.
"We wanted to settle the talks last month," Administrative Vice
Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi said in a news conference yesterday.
"But," Yachi went on, "we couldn't reach an agreement." He added,
"We're now in working out details in connection with budget
compilation." With this, he stressed that the negotiations are now
in the final stage.
The sympathy budget is made up of two portions, which are under the
Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and a special
agreement. The SOFA portion covers outlays for U.S. military
facilities in Japan, amounting to 76.5 billion yen for FY2007. The
special agreement portion covers basic wages for Japanese employees
working at U.S. military bases in Japan. In addition, this special
slot covers utilities, amounting to 140.8 billion yen. The current
agreement is for a period of two years up until the end of next
year. However, the Japanese and U.S. governments are coordinating to
enter into a new agreement for a period of three years.
The Japanese government, centering on the Finance Ministry, proposed
cutting back on utilities currently up to approximately 25 billion
yen. The U.S. government is strongly opposed to the proposed cutback
in the coverage of utilities because of the growing amount of
military costs for the Iraq war and antiterror mop-up operations in
The Foreign Ministry asked the Finance Ministry for special
consideration. "For the United States, the sympathy budget is a
priority issue that is on a par with the new refueling legislation
or beyond it," a senior official of the Foreign Ministry said. The
Finance Ministry is seeking to reduce maintenance costs for provided
facilities and is also looking for other budget-cutting ways that
will not directly affect the United States.
There is a time limit to the ongoing negotiations, so the government
is also expected to maintain the special agreement and reduce the
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sympathy budget as a whole.
6) Environmental assessment for Futenma relocation may start in
January; Government and Okinawa still at odds over altering plan
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 11, 2007
The government has decided to begin as early as next January an
environmental impact assessment of the coastal area of Camp Schwab
in Nago, the relocation site for the Marine Corps' Futenma Air
Station in Ginowan. The government, Okinawa, and affected
municipalities are expected to confirm "efforts for the smooth
implementation of the assessment" at their Futenma relocation
consultative meeting tomorrow. The relocation plan has taken a step
forward with the start of the environment impact assessment, the
basis for building an airport. Nevertheless, the plan's future is
still murky because the government and Okinawa still remain at
loggerheads over making changes to the alternative facility, coupled
with the bribery and corruption scandals involving the Ministry of
Defense (MOD).
The government announced yesterday that the Futenma relocation
consultative council would meet tomorrow, following the last meeting
on Nov. 7. At the council meeting, views will be exchanged on the
alternative facility construction plan after confirming the start of
the environmental impact assessment and its specific procedures. In
August this year, the then Naha Defense Facilities Administration
Bureau (currently the Okinawa Defense Bureau) sent to the
prefectural government a notice specifying the outline of the
environmental impact assessment to be conducted by MOD. But the
prefectural government reacted strongly to it, saying it contains
many flaws. This made it difficult for Japan to realize the
relocation by 2014, as was agreed upon with the United States.
Given the situation, Tokyo earlier this month renewed its call for
an early implementation of the environmental assessment, and Okinawa
accepted it in principle. About the background of Okinawa's
acceptance of the assessment, a ruling party member explained:
"Okinawa shares the desire for pushing the planned relocation
forward. Okinawa probably needed the steady implementation of the
economic package for the prefecture."
Given bright prospects for starting the assessment, the government
plans to implement shortly the Okinawa northern area economic
package (10 billion yen for fiscal 2007) that has been frozen.
The government plans to build a V-shaped pair of runways at the
coastline of Camp Schwab, but Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has asked
the government to move them out to sea, saying, "They would have
adverse effects on the living and natural environments; it is not
the best plan." But the government is insisting on building the
runways, as planned, and the two sides remains at odds. At
tomorrow's meeting, they are expected to simply confirm continued
talks on the construction plan. Once the environmental impact
assessment is over, the government will file a request with the
governor to allow the central government to reclaim public waters
around Camp Schwab. If the governor rejects the request, the
relocation plan might stall.
Former Administrative Vice-Defense Minister Takamasa Moriya, who is
under arrest for taking bribes over the procurement of defense
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equipment, was deeply involved in the process of adopting the
government plan. If there are unclear points in the process, calls
for a review of the plan might grow louder.
7) Zenchuro plans third strike tomorrow
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 11, 2007
Talks between the All Japan Garrison Forces Labor Union (Zenchuro)
and the Ministry of Defense (MOD) over reducing the salaries and
allowances of Japanese employees working at U.S. bases in Japan as
part of the plan to review Japan's host-nation support (commonly
called the sympathy budget) for U.S. forces in Japan are now in the
final stage. The two sides held informal talks yesterday but failed
to reach an accord. MOD plans to present a compromise plan in talks
today. If agreement is not reached, Zenchuro is set to stage a third
strike tomorrow.
8) Housing units on Guam that cost 70 million yen per unit "way too
expensive," says defense minister
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 11, 2007
Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba revealed at yesterday's House of
Councillors Audit Committee session that the government has received
a U.S. estimate that building housing units on Guam for U.S. Marines
to be relocated from Okinawa would cost Japan approximately 610,000
dollars per unit. Ishiba expressed displeasure, saying: "Is it
necessary to build housing units costing over 70 million yen (per
unit) with taxpayer money? It is way too expensive from the
perspective of ordinary people. We will ask for the basis of the
estimate and closely examine it."
9) U.S. Embassy in Japan pays rent for first time in decade after
refusing based on old document
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
December 11, 2007
The U.S. government had failed to pay rent on the approximately
130,000 square meters in state-owned land where its embassy is
located (Minato Ward, Tokyo), since 1998. However, it has decided to
start paying the rent after a 10 year hiatus. It had been opposed to
a major hike in rent. However, since the rent for fiscal 1998 will
reach the statute of limitations this month, the governments of both
countries yesterday reached an agreement that the rent be raised in
According to the Finance Ministry, rent for the U.S. Embassy has
been revised twice in proportion to rises in the prices of nearby
land. The annual rent from 1983 through 1997 was 2.52 million yen.
When the ministry sounded out the embassy about a third increase,
the U.S. side refused to pay based on a document signed more than a
century ago, noting that since the contract signed in 1896 did not
provision on a rise in rent, it was not possible to accept a request
for a rent increase.
The governments of Japan and the U.S. agreed that the annual rent
for 1998-2007 should be 7 million yen, rising to 10 million yen
annually in 2008-2012 and to 15 million yen in 2013-2027. The U.S.
TOKYO 00005504 007 OF 011
has as of Dec. 10 paid 70 million yen covering the 10-year period.
10) LDP, New Komeito to decide today to re-extend extra Diet session
until Jan. 15, with eye on two-thirds majority vote on new
antiterrorism bill
SANKEI (Page 3) (Slightly abridged)
December 11, 2007
The government and ruling parties has decided to re-extend until
Jan. 15 the current extraordinary Diet session, which will end on
Dec. 15. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and New Komeito Chief
Representative Akihiro Ota will meet today to make a formal
decision. With the present political situation, in which the ruling
coalition holds a majority in the House of Representatives and the
opposition camp controls the House of Councillors, there is no
prospect that a new antiterrorism special measures bill will be
enacted into law during the current session. The government and
ruling camp have, therefore, determined that it is necessary to
secure more days for a two-thirds vote in the Lower House, which is
allowed by Article 59 of the Constitution, which stipulates that if
the Upper House fails to take a vote on a bill within 60 days after
it received it from the Lower House, it may be determined that the
lower chamber rejected the bill. As the government and ruling
coalition have generally decided to convene a regular session on
Jan. 18, the ongoing session will continue until early January next
Since opposition parties, including the Democratic Party of Japan
(DPJ or Minshuto), have strongly opposed a lengthy re-extension of
the extra session, chances are that a planned one-on-one meeting
between the Prime Minister and DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa will be
canceled. If the bill is readopted by a two-thirds majority vote at
the Lower House based on Article 59, useless Upper House debates
might be prolonged. So, there is also a possibility of the
tug-of-war between the ruling and opposition camps intensifying at
the end of the year and beginning of the new year.
Ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet Affairs Committee
Chairman Tadamori Oshima held a meeting yesterday with his DPJ
counterpart Kenji Yamaoka, in which Oshima said:
"Instead of looking into a possibility of a permanent law on
overseas dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), I want the Upper
House to put the bill on a vote before the end of the year."
The meeting, however, ended in a failure, as Yamaoka insisted that
top priority should be on shedding light on a series of scandals
involving the Defense Ministry, including the bribery scandal caused
by former Administrative Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya.
Given that, Oshima discussed the matter with LDP Secretary General
Bunmei Ibuki and New Komeito Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Yoshio
Urushibara. As a result, the three have decided that there is no
other choice but to re-extend the current Diet session (until
mid-January). The New Komeito, which had baulked previously at a
lengthy Diet extension, reportedly showed understanding toward the
11-1) Ruling coalition decides to use Lower House revote to force
through new antiterrorism bill, given distrust in DPJ
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TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Excerpts)
December 11, 2007
The government and the ruling camp have decided to extend the
current Diet session until the middle of January and force through
the new antiterrorism bill by a two-thirds House of Councillors
overriding vote. It is conceivable that the government may be forced
to dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap election as a
result of the standoff between the ruling and opposition camps
escalating, but Prime Minister Fukuda seems to be making up his mind
to do so. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will also be pressed
to decide on whether to submit a censure motion against Prime
Minister Fukuda early next year.
In the ruling camp, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General
Bunmei Ibuki, Executive Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai, and Diet
Affairs Committee Chairman Tadamori Omori met at party headquarters
yesterday to make preparations for re-extending the Diet session.
The ruling bloc has been discussing the length of extension of the
Diet session, focusing on one month. In order to secure the
enactment of the antiterror bill in the current Diet session, it is
necessary to continue the session until January 12, when it becomes
possible for the ruling coalition to use Lower House revote under
the Constitution.
But some LDP members and the New Komeito insisted that the length of
extension should be a week or 10 days. If the government decides an
unusual year-crossing extension, it will inevitably affect the
process of compiling the FY2008 budget. Additionally, the Diet may
be thrown into chaos, and the government may be pressed to dissolve
the Lower House early next year.
However, a DPJ member now assumes the chairmanship of the Upper
House Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, where deliberations on
the antiterror bill are going on. Given this, the ruling coalition
has judged it necessary to extend the Diet session through next
year, even if there is some effect on the budget compilation. One
lawmaker remarked: "If the Diet is extended for a short period and
if the DPJ refuses to take a vote on the bill, the bill will be
abandoned, with deliberations incomplete. Even if the DPJ pledges
beforehand to take a vote, we cannot trust it."
11-2) Sense of concern behind DPJ's strong opposition to lengthy
extension of Diet session
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Excerpts)
December 11, 2007
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) yesterday strongly opposed the
government's plan to re-extend the current Diet session for a
lengthy period. In the case of a lengthy extension, the new
antiterrorism bill will surely be passed by a two-thirds House of
Representatives overriding vote and the main opposition party will
be eventually driven into a difficult situation.
DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama told reporters in Tokyo
yesterday: "The session has already been extended by 35 days. It is
outrageous that (the ruling camp) say more extra days are needed. A
year-crossing Diet session contains an unstable factor. The
government should not decide to do so for the sake of the people."
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DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka also said during
his separate meetings with his counterparts Tadamori Oshima of the
Liberal Democratic Party and Yoshio Urushibara of the New Komeito:
"If the session is extended further, three problems will emerge." As
one problem, Yamaoka cited the possibility that former House of
Councillors member Junichi Fukumoto, whose name was removed from the
DPJ membership list, may be summoned as an unsworn witness, keeping
in mind the New Komeito's unwillingness to allow his relations with
the Soka Gakkai, its support group, to be taken up at the Diet
A sense of concern is behind the DPJ's strong reaction to a lengthy
extension, because if the ruling coalition decides to use Lower
House revote, the DPJ will be pressed to make a hard decision on
whether to submit a censure motion against Prime Minister Fukuda to
the Upper House.
12) Government decides to subsidize kerosene fees as measure against
high crude oil prices: Conditions for repayment of loans small- and
medium-size businesses have taken out from government-affiliated
financial institutions to be eased
YOMIURI (Page 11) (Excerpts)
December 11, 2007
The full text of basic guidelines to be adopted at an emergency
cabinet meeting to be held to find measures to deal with high crude
oil prices was revealed yesterday. As a cardinal feature of the
package, the government will allocate special tax grants to local
governments that subsidize kerosene fees for low-income earners. For
small and medium-size businesses, which are suffering from high
crude oil prices, it will ease conditions for the repayment of loans
taken out from government-affiliated financial institutions. The
government will formally adopt specific assistance measures within
the year, based on the basic guidelines. Regarding measures that
will require fiscal measures, it will make appropriations from the
fiscal 2007 supplementary budget.
Subsidies for kerosene fees have been adopted with the welfare
kerosene system implemented by Kushiro City, Hokkaido, in mind.
Fifty municipalities in Hokkaido either have implemented or are
planning a similar system in fiscal 2007. Under the system, local
governments issue kerosene vouchers or discount tickets to elderly
people and single-mother households. Though the amounts of subsidies
vary, depending on municipalities, one household receives between
several thousand yen and about 30,000 yen. The government at present
has no such subsidy system. However, according to the basic
guidelines, it will allocate special tax grants to local governments
that adopted such a system. Of the special local allocation tax, the
use of 660 billion yen has not yet been decided. The government will
likely use part of that money.
Special tax grants will also be allocated to local governments whose
expenses to maintain communications systems by air and sea and a
public bus service system in regional areas have increased.
13) Government's GDP forecast rate at around 2.0 PERCENT
SANKEI (Page 1) (Excerpts)
December 11, 2007
It was revealed yesterday that the government was adjusting at
around 2.0 PERCENT a growth rate of the gross domestic product
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(GDP) excluding an effect by price changes regarding economic
outlook, which will become a premise for economic and fiscal
management for fiscal 2008. A nominal growth rate is expected to be
more than 2.0 PERCENT , putting an end to the trend in which the
real rate of growth exceeds the nominal rate of growth, for the
first time in 11 years. Meantime, the government intends to lower
the growth rate of real GDP for 2007 to around 1.7 PERCENT from the
initial projection of 2.1 PERCENT .
Since the government's economic outlook is a premise for the
compilation of state budget for the coming year, it is approved by
the cabinet around Dec. 20 and it is formally decided by the cabinet
in January every year.
14) Bali climate change conference: Acrimonious exchange of views on
chairman's proposal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions 25 PERCENT
-40 PERCENT ; Japan, U.S. at odds with EU
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
December 11, 2007
Bali, Indonesia, Hiroko Kono
The 13th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate
Change Convention (COP13) yesterday entered full-fledged discussions
on how to expedite international negotiations in the future and a
road map for items up for consideration. However, the U.S. and Japan
opposed the phrase "industrialized countries are to be urged to cut
greenhouse gas emissions by 25 PERCENT -40 PERCENT by 2020,
compared with 1990 levels" included in a joint proposal made by a
working group and the chairman as a draft. Acrimonious exchanges of
views are continuing with the European Union (EU), which supports
the chairman's proposal.
The words in question are included in a preface to the main subject
mentioning what should be decided at the session this time. The
preface notes that in order to prevent the worst possible effects of
climate change, it would be necessary for industrialized countries
to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 PERCENT -40 PERCENT , the
figures worked out based on science. The words are written in a
manner that can be taken as a premise that all countries should
Harlan Watson, senior climate negotiator and special representative
of the U.S. State Department, during a press conference on Dec. 10
strongly criticized the proposal, saying, "The roadmap should allow
no presuppositions regarding the outcome of future international
negotiations. We cannot accept any numbers." Japan is also against
the proposal, with a member of the government delegation noting,
"Only the EU will be able to cut emissions by 25 PERCENT -40 PERCENT
. Neither Japan nor the U.S. would be able to comply with a
numerical goal."
In response, a delegate from the EU announced a stance that the
chairman's proposal should incorporate numbers, noting that
negotiations must by pursued based on science instead of politics.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer from the Netherlands during a press
conference indicated his perception that the description, which
would become a focal point of future negotiations, would be
indispensable. He underscored, "Numbers will indicate a direction of
the talks."
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15) China's altering joint communiqu may adversely affect
Japan-China friendship
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 11, 2007
The Chinese government released a document agreed at the Japan-China
High-Level Economic Dialogue held in Beijing on Dec. 1, after
altering the document. In this connection, some Japanese government
officials are concerned about negative effects on the increasingly
friendly mood between the two countries. With Prime Minister Yasuo
Fukuda's visit to China approaching, the Japanese government intends
to carefully deal with the matter, while it will continue to ask
China to correct the document.
Administrative Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi stated with
annoyance at a press conference: "Normally, this should never
happen. Honestly, I am surprised at it."
The Japanese government has lodged a protest with China over this
issue through diplomatic channels. The Chinese government
reportedly, however, has not responded in a sincere manner,
insisting that the document was released after deleting some part at
the request of concerned departments and bureaus and that it was
just a working-level agreement.
There is a growing view in the Foreign Ministry that the Chinese
government might have been trying to keep the Chinese people from
thinking that the document was forced on Beijing by Tokyo, as China
deleted such parts as that 1) Japan hopes China will revalue the
yuan, and 2) Japan urges China to participate in the energy Charter
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