Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 09/29/08

Published: Mon 29 Sep 2008 01:11 AM
DE RUEHKO #2682/01 2730111
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Aso's diplomatic debut:
1) Prime Minister Aso makes diplomatic debut at the UNGA, stressing
in speech desire for Japan to use right of collective defense,
strength of alliance with U.S. (Sankei)
2) Aso in UN speech makes continuing of oil refueling mission in
Indian Ocean an international commitment, but fulfilling pledge
depends of domestic politics (Nikkei)
3) Aso meets international leaders in bilateral meetings at the
United Nations (Nikkei)
4) Foreign Minister Nakasone in meeting with Secretary Rice pledges
effort to continue MSDF's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean
5) Japan's North Korea policy line of "dialogue and pressure" will
not change under the new Aso administration (Nikkei)
Defense and security:
6) Defense Minister Hamada and U.S. Navy Secretary Winter agree to
close cooperation in ensuring safety of newly deployed carrier
George Washington (Tokyo Shimbun)
7) Navy Secretary Donald Winter in press conference calls on Japan
to continue refueling operations in the Indian Ocean (Mainichi)
8) Political turmoil in the Aso government to have an impact on the
relocation of Futenma Air Station (Yomiuri)
9) Major unit of the U.S. Marines to be left in Okinawa after troop
transfer to Guam (Akahata)
Political turmoil:
10) Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Nakayama quits for
series of offensive remarks; Replaced by Kazuyoshi Kaneko; Diet
dissolution on Oct. 3? (Sankei)
11) "Five day cabinet minister" Nakayama in resignation statement
unrepentantly spends an hour repeating his anti-teachers' union
tirade (Asahi)
12) Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers outraged at Nakayama's caper
that led to resignation, one calling it a "suicide terrorist
bombing" that damages the LDP (Asahi)
13) Nakayama caper sets off calls in ruling camp for an immediate
Diet dissolution before passing extra budget in order to minimize
political damage (Nikkei)
14) LDP Secretary General Hosoda sets a minimum goal in the Lower
House election of a bare majority of seats (Mainichi)
15) Upper House lawmaker Naoki Tanaka, husband of Makiko Tanaka,
quits the LDP (Mainichi)
1) Aso diplomacy shackled, despite emphasis on need to change
interpretation on right to collective self-defense
SANKEI (Page 3) (Excerpts)
September 27, 2008
(Keiichi Takagi, New York)
Prime Minister Taro Aso indicated in a press conference at UN
Headquarters in New York on the night of Sept. 25, local time, that
the government should change its interpretation of the Constitution
to enable the Self-Defense Force to use the right to collective
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self-defense. While in the U.S., which he visited to attend the 63rd
UN General Assembly, Aso said: "I have consistently said that the
interpretation should be changed. This is an important issue."
On the issue of whether Japan should continue the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's (MSDF) refueling mission in the Indian Ocean
beyond its expiration on Jan. 15, however, Aso stressed no need for
a change in the interpretation, defining the operation as
Delivering a speech at the UN General Assembly prior to the press
conference, Aso revealed Japan's plan for continued contributions to
the fight on terror in Afghanistan, virtually expressing a
determination to continue the refueling service. Later, Aso held
separate meetings with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Iraqi
President Jala Talabani, and others. In the meeting with Talabani,
Aso announced Japan's plan to withdraw Air Self-Defense Force troops
engaged in airlift activities in Iraq later this year and instead to
offer more cooperation in the economic area.
The three-day trip with no overnight stay was an extremely hard
schedule for the prime minister prior to his planned policy speech
in the Diet session today. But he was eager to attend the UN
assembly, because he was aiming at soliciting public support by
making a brilliant diplomatic debut ahead of the next House of
Representatives election. His performance seemed to have had a
positive impact, but whether there were diplomatic results is
A mid-ranking Liberal Democratic Party member said: "The prime
minister is facing a dilemma as he remains unable to develop foreign
policies as he desires," keeping in mind no prospects in sight for a
bill to extend the MSDF refueling mission to clear the divided Diet.
Aso emphasized in the UN speech: "The Japan-U.S. alliance is
constantly the bedrock (of Japan's diplomacy)." But the alliance is
beginning to waver. In actuality, Japan's international
contributions are tapering off, as shown by its decision to pull
ASDF troops out of Iraq by the end of this year.
Given this, Japan's argument for a permanent seat on the UN Security
Council has also been toned down. In his speech, Aso referred to
UNSC reform only last, significantly lowering the weight of Japan's
bid for a permanent seat than that in then Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi's speech three years ago.
Aso places importance on Japan-U.S. alliance
Prime Minister Taro Aso stressed in his UN speech the need to alter
the government's current interpretation of the Constitution in order
to enable the Self-Defense Force to use the right to collective
self-defense. This remark reflects his stance of giving priority to
the Japan-U.S. alliance. He has thus begun to demonstrate his own
foreign policy identity that is greatly different from that of
former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who seemed to have no interest
in this issue.
On the issue of collective self-defense, former Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, a friend of Aso, set up an expert panel in May of last
year and instructed the panel to look into four scenarios that
include one involving Maritime Self-Defense Force ships providing
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cover to U.S. Navy vessels under attack in international waters near
Japan. This move was aimed to strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance by
increasing bilateral responsibilities in the alliance and making
relations with U.S. more equal.
The panel changed the government's interpretation and submitted to
Fukuda a report calling on the government to allow collective
self-defense this June. But Fukuda did not take it up as a political
agenda item.
Aso is expected to promote discussion on the report. Even so, the
New Komeito has opposed a change in the government's interpretation,
and some LDP members are calling for caution, as Chief Cabinet
Secretary Takeo Kawamura said: "Japan's defense only policies are
very important." Thorny negotiations are expected on this issue from
2) Prime Minister announces continuation of refueling mission at UN
General Assembly: Key to deliver on international commitment is
domestic politics
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
September 27, 2008
Prime Minister has made his diplomatic debut. In winding up a speech
at the UN Assembly, noting, "I have many things to say," he cited
the continuation of Japan's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean as
part of participation in the war on terror and its contribution to
help resolve the turmoil in the financial markets. Leaders and
ministers of various countries are paying attention to the
implementation of those challenges by the prime minister.
Aso came to the UN General Assembly on a 10-hour schedule, even
before giving a policy speech in Japan, because there has been
widespread disenchantment with Japan in the U.S because prime
ministers are being replaced every year. The base of the Japan-US
alliance has weakened due to the successive resignations of two
prime ministers. There seem to be no key persons to tackle
international issues. The Japanese prime minister's speech given at
the UN General Assembly after a hiatus of three years indicated
Japan's stance of re-involving itself in international issues.
However, what is important are action and consequence. President
Bush, who in a speech said at the UN General Assembly two days ago,
"I guarantee that I will enact a financial stabilization package,"
is now having difficulty coordinating it with the Congress.
Continuation of Japan's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean and
the economic recovery, which Aso pledged at the UN, requires passage
of a related bill and a supplementary budget bill in the Diet,
respectively. Will the ruling and opposition camps reach an
agreement in the divided Diet or will the ruling parties win the
general election? Domestic politics holds the key to whether Aso can
deliver on his international commitments.
3) Prime Minister Aso makes his diplomatic debut, holding series of
bilateral talks
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
September 27, 2008
Prime Minister Taro Aso on the afternoon of September 25 (morning of
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the 26th, Japan time) in New York met with Australian Prime Minister
Rudd, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Iraqi President
Aso's attendance at the UN General Assembly is the first by a
Japanese prime minister since former Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi in 2005. Commenting on this, Aso emphasized to Ban, "I
thought I should come by all means." He said, "I hope the UN will
function vigorously." Since the meeting was brief, Aso did not refer
to Japan's bid to seek a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
He introduced Foreign Minister Nakasone to Ban. Ban responded, "I
know former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. He is an international
leader." It appears that Aso diplomacy using the high name
recognition of former Prime Minister Nakasone, the aim of his
appointing his son as foreign minister, turned out to be successful
for the time being.
Aso in a meeting with President Talabani conveyed a Japan's policy
of pulling out Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) troops dispatched to
Iraq before the end of the year. Talabani replied, "I understand
Japan's decision. I appreciate Japan's assistance to date."
Referring to reform of the UNSC, the prime minister in a speech
given at the UN said, "Reform of the UN, based on an increase in the
number of seats, must be realized at an early date." After making
the speech Aso pumped into U.S. Secretary of State Rice and British
Foreign Secretary Miliband. He exchanged words with them. Aso also
had a short conversation with Korean Prime Minister Han Seun Soo.
4) Nakasone vows efforts to continue refueling
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
Eve., September 27, 2008
NEW YORK-Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone met with U.S. Secretary
of State Rice at United Nations headquarters on the evening Sept. 26
(on the morning of Sept. 27 Japan time) and told her that he would
make efforts in order for Japan to continue the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean beyond
January next year when a time-limited law for the MSDF's mission
there is set to expire. Rice told Nakasone that she was well aware
of the political difficulties, but she expressed hope that Japan
would continue the refueling activities.
Concerning the current financial crisis and other issues, Nakasone
said Japan "would like to continue close cooperation on the
financial problem and other issues facing the international
community." Rice concurred.
Meanwhile, North Korea is now about to resume operations at its
nuclear facilities. Concerning this problem, Nakasone and Rice also
agreed that the unity of countries participating in the six-party
talks over North Korea's denuclearization is important. Rice
stressed the importance of specific ways to verify North Korea's
nuclear declaration in the second phase for North Korea's
abandonment of its nuclear programs.
Nakasone requested cooperation anew to make headway for a solution
to the pending issue of Japanese nationals abducted to North Korea.
Rice pledged cooperation, saying the United States' position remains
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Regarding United Nations Security Council reforms, Rice reiterated
that the United States will support Japan's bid for a permanent seat
on the UNSC. Nakasone touched on the fact that Japan has announced
its candidacy for this fall's election of nonpermanent UNSC members.
"When Japan is elected, we would like to work together with other
nonpermanent members to carry out U.N. reforms," he said.
Referring to the issue of Japan's ongoing restrictions on its U.S.
beef imports, Rice requested Japan take appropriate action. Nakasone
only said, "This is a matter of food safety, so we will hold
interdepartmental discussions based on scientific evidence."
5) No change in dialogue and pressure policy line, says chief
cabinet secretary on North Korea
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
September 29, 2008
Commenting on the government's North Korea policy, Chief Cabinet
Secretary Takeo Kawamura in an interview with the Nihon Keizai
Shimbun and other dailies stressed, "I do not think the dialogue and
pressure policy line has changed. The North Korea issue has not yet
reached the stage that allows Japan to ease sanctions against that
nation." Regarding the abductions of Japanese nationals by North
Korea, he said, "There is no change at all in the government
position that the abduction issue is Japan's most important issue."
He also expressed his intention to shortly meet with family members
of abduction victims.
He stressed a policy of maintaining in principle the government goal
of moving the primary balance of the central and local governments
into the black by fiscal 2011, saying, "We have no intention of
revising the cabinet decision." However, he at the same time
indicated a view that it would be difficult to achieve the goal,
noting, "Economic growth has slowed significantly. It would be
fairly difficult to achieve that end without economic growth."
6) Japan, U.S. reaffirm close cooperation on nuclear flattop
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
September 27, 2008
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada met with U.S. Secretary of the Navy
Winter yesterday at the Defense Ministry and confirmed that Japan
and the United States will cooperate closely to ensure the safety of
the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington,
which has arrived at the U.S. Navy's Yokosuka base for deployment.
"We have maximum confidence in safety," Winter said. "However," he
added, "we will ensure transparency and will make efforts to
exchange information closely." Hamada said, "There are also many
people who are concerned about nuclear power." With this, he sought
information disclosure.
In addition, Winter called on Japan to continue the Maritime
Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean.
Hamada said, "We'd like to make our utmost efforts."
7) U.S. Navy Secretary calls for continued refueling mission
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
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September 29, 2008
By Hiroaki Wada
U.S. Navy Secretary Donald Winter, meeting the press at the U.S.
Embassy in Tokyo on Sept. 26, strongly called for the continuation
of the Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean,
describing it as a symbol of Japan's support for (the war on
terrorism in Afghanistan). At the same time, expressing concern over
the recent buildup of the Chinese Navy, the secretary explained that
the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington has been
deployed at Yokosuka with the aim of enhancing deterrence in the
western Pacific.
Secretary Winter also indicated that the coalition forces'
activities in Afghanistan are internationally recognized and that
they must be maintained and achieve a victory, adding that Japan's
assistance carries great significance for the countries that have
sent naval vessels. Touching on the buildup of the Chinese Navy, he
also said: "Its intent is unclear and we are concerned."
8) Political turmoil casting pall over Futenma relocation issue, may
also affect Japan-U.S. talks
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
September 28, 2008
With the inauguration of the Aso administration, major players who
engaged in negotiations on the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine
Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture, have
now left the Prime Minister's Office. Officials connected to U.S. -
Japan relations are paying close attention to how this issue will
play out now. The U.S. wants to ascertain Japan position on the
relocation issue as soon as possible, out of the need to hand down
agreements with Japan from the Bush administration to the new
administration, which is to be launched in January following the
presidential election in November. A delay in negotiations on the
issue would adversely affect bilateral ties.
The governments of Japan and the U.S. agreed in 2006 to construct a
Futenma replacement facility in a coastal area of Camp Schwab in
Nago City. But local governments involved in the plan have been
calling for moving the construction site into the ocean.
Coordination between both sides has run into a road block. The
Koizumi and Abe administrations, in a drive to have the local
communities agree on the government's plan, froze economic
development plans for the northern part of Okinawa and cut state
subsidies under the lead of the Defense Ministry. These moves evoked
strong reactions from Okinawa.
The Fukuda government shifted the initiative in negotiations to the
Prime Minister's Office. Then Chief Cabinet Secretary Machimura,
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Futahashi, and Assistant Deputy Chief
Cabinet Secretary Saka mainly engaged in negotiations with the
Okinawa side in a flexible manner. This August, the central
government, the Okinawa government, and relevant local communities
set up a working-level taskforce. With Machimura, Futahashi, and
Saka leaving the Prime Minister's Office following the abrupt
resignation of former Prime Minister Fukuda, however, many are
worried that momentum for negotiations on the Futenma relocation
issue might wane.
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In Washington, the Department of Defense plans to start budgetary
explanations to Congress in February. Since huge amounts of funds
will be needed for plans to relocate the Futenma Air Station and to
transfer Marines in Okinawa to Guam, it is necessary for the U.S.
government to show its outlook for the relocation to Congress. Based
on the view that "it will be impossible to change or delay the plan
after the government does the spadework with Congress," said a
government source, the Japanese government would like to outline a
path for talks with the Okinawa side, but under the current
situation, it is impossible to address the issue in earnest in the
run-up to the dissolution of the House of Representatives for a snap
election. The government plans to complete the environment impact
assessment next spring and launch construction work in 2010. Some
voice concern that if this process is delayed due to Japan's
circumstances, it could throw ice on Japan-U.S. relations.
9) Mainstay troops to be kept in Okinawa even after Marine
relocation to Guam
AKAHATA (Page 1) (Full)
September 28, 2008
Based on a plan to realign U.S. forces in Japan, the U.S. Marine
Corps is going to construct a new base on the island of Guam for
Okinawa-based U.S. Marines. In this connection, the U.S. Department
of the Navy submitted a report to the U.S. Congress and the Guam
governor on Sept. 15-16, unveiling the breakdown of U.S. Marines to
be moved from Okinawa to Guam. The Japanese and U.S. governments
have so far explained that the U.S. Marines in Okinawa will move
8,000 troops and 9,000 family members to Guam. However, this is the
first time that the United States has revealed such a breakdown in
detail of troops to be relocated from Okinawa to Guam. According to
the report, the U.S. Marines will continue to station frontline
troops on Okinawa.
The Japanese government has agreed to disburse approximately 6.1
billion dollars (about 646 billion yen) of Japanese taxpayers' money
on the pretext of alleviating Okinawa's base-hosting burden. The
money will be used to build office and housing quarters for Marines.
However, the Japanese government has not revealed any details about
the planned construction of new facilities on Guam, saying Japan is
still consulting with the United States.
The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, or III MEF for short, is said to
deploy a total of about 18,000 troops to Okinawa at present.
Regarding their relocation to Guam, the report says III MEF will
move a total of 8,620 troops, broken down into 3,050 command troops,
1,100 ground combat troops, 1,850 air combat troops, 2,550 logistics
combat troops, and 70 others.
The report also says the U.S. military plans to prepare 3,520 family
housing units and 3,800 single rooms.
The troops to be moved from Okinawa to Guam are mostly command and
logistics personnel, with the exception of a helicopter company.
Base control troops (at Camp Butler) will also be retained in
Okinawa, thereby maintaining and consolidating necessary base
functions. In fact, the greater part of those who will be moved from
Okinawa to Guam belongs to Camp Courtney in the middle of Okinawa's
main island. However, the base will not be returned.
On the whole, the Guam relocation is not only a far cry from
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alleviating Okinawa's burden but will also strengthen the U.S.
military's strike functions in the Pacific region, along with the
planned construction of a new airfield in a coastal area of Camp
Schwab in the island prefecture's northern district.
10) Transport Minister Nakayama resigns, former Administrative
Reform Minister Kaneko succeeds him; Oct. 3 Lower House dissolution
highly likely
SANKEI (Top play) (Full)
September 29, 2008
Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Nariaki Nakayama, 65,
yesterday formally resigned to take responsibility for a series of
controversial remarks. He had only served in his post five days.
Prime Minister Taro Aso immediately appointed former Administrative
Reform Minister Kazuyoshi Kaneko, in an attempt to quickly put the
incident behind him. Nakayama's resignation has shocked and shaken
the ruling coalition, which is worried about any negative impact on
the newly inaugurated cabinet. Although Aso has looked into the
possibility of dissolving the House of Representatives after passing
the 2008 supplementary budget through the Diet, the New Komeito, the
ruling Liberal Democratic Party's junior coalition partner, has
hardened its stance toward Aso's Lower House dissolution plan, with
one senior member saying: "If deliberations are held on the budget,
we will have to suffer even more damage." Ruling coalition members
already have started to pave the way for Lower House dissolution on
Oct. 3 after the end of each party's representative interpellations
in both chambers of the Diet. It is now looking more likely that the
Lower House will be dissolved on Oct. 3.
Nakayama called on Aso at the Prime Minister's Official Residence
yesterday morning and he apologized for his remarks about local
residents opposing the expansion of Narita International Airport, as
well as about the Japan Teachers' Union. Nakayama then handed in his
resignation, telling Aso: "I don't want to cause any more trouble."
After quitting his post, Nakayama told a press conference:
"I was determined to fulfill my mission in a key cabinet post, but I
have now decided to step down from that post, since my remarks may
undermine Diet deliberations, amid the growing economic crisis."
The government and ruling coalition plan it to hold interpellations
in both chambers of the Diet Oct. 10-3 after the policy speech by
the prime minister today. They initially intended to start
deliberations on Oct. 6 on the supplementary budget with an eye on
the implementation of an emergency economic package. They hoped to
pass the budget by Oct. 10. The Democratic Party of Japan and other
opposition parties had sounded the ruling camp out on "Oct 10 Lower
House dissolution through talks."
Due to the Nakayama incident, the New Komeito began to balk at
carrying out deliberations on the supplementary budget, with one
senior member arguing:
"If deliberations on the budget are started soon, the opposition
will pursue the prime minister's responsibility for appointing him.
As a result, the cabinet support rate could drop."
The New Komeito has already ordered its lawmakers to stay around the
Diet building on the afternoon of Oct. 3. The party appears to be
preparing for Oct. 3 Lower House dissolution and the start of
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official campaign on Oct. 21 for a Nov. 2 general election.
However, Aso at present is still looking into the possibility of
passing the supplementary budget.
Asked by reporters last evening about the timing of Lower House
dissolution and a general election, Aso said: "At the present stage,
I am prioritizing passage of the supplementary budget." Asked about
the possibility of Lower House dissolution on Oct. 3 soon after
interpellations in both chambers of the Diet, he said in a strong
tone: "The government has never made such a statement." The reason
for Aso sticking to committee deliberations on the supplementary
budget is because the possibility is strong that he will be
criticized by the opposition for deserting a sinking ship.
In a meeting yesterday with Aso, New Komeito Secretary General Kazuo
Kitagawa stressed: "In order to implement our policy, we should ask
for the people's vote of confidence as early as possible." He
appears to have urged Aso to dissolve the Lower House as soon as
possible, with "Oct. 3" in mind.
Concerned about the opposition's attack on the Nakayama problem at
budget committee sessions starting on Oct. 6, some LDP members are
now calling for Lower House dissolution on Oct. 3.
Aso has repeatedly stressed the importance of passage of the
supplementary budget. However, he will likely be pressured into
making a difficult judgment.
11) The five-day minister: Construction and Transport Minister
Nakayama resigns from post in only five days; Rails the press with
his stock argument for one hour
ASAHI (Page 38) (Excerpts)
September 29, 2008
Construction and Transport Minister Nariaki Nakayama resigned on
Sept. 28, just five days after assuming the post, due to a series of
controversial remarks. In a press conference to announce his
resignation, Nakayama continued to criticize the Japan Teachers'
Union, saying, "I made the statement with firm conviction," and "I
wanted to draw public attention." His sharp tongue drew fire even
from within the LDP.
After tendering his resignation to Prime Minister Taro Aso on the
morning of Sept. 28, Nakayama held the press conference at the
ministry in which the former minister railed on with his stock
argument for about one hour.
12) LDP members indignant at Nakayama, calling his action a "suicide
terrorist bombing"
ASAHI (Page 38) (Abridged slightly)
September 29, 2008
Both disgust and anger toward Nariaki Nakayama are raging through
the Liberal Democratic Party.
Lower House member Seiji Kihara representing Tokyo Constituency No.
20 held a state affairs briefing session on the night of Sept. 28 in
which he offered an apology, saying, "I am sorry for the
construction and transport minister' series of remarks that lacked a
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any sense of tension." After the meeting, Kihara said: "The prime
minister's responsibility for appointing Nakayama might draw
attention as the Aso administration's only accomplishment. Under the
current circumstances, it is difficult to face the next Lower House
election." At the same time, Kihara highly valued Prime Minister
Aso's statement attaching importance to the supplementary budget,
saying, "I think he intends to achieve results to impress the public
even if it means postponing the dissolution of the Lower House."
Masaaki Taira representing the Tokyo No. 4 district said angrily:
"We have to fight in the election with the reins of government at
stake. (Nakayama) is unable to sense that atmosphere. Many party
members wonder whether the Lower House should even be dissolved when
our chances of winning are so slim. I don't think this is the right
timing to win."
Masakazu Kakuma, secretary general of the Toyama prefectural
chapter, said, "We are indignant because we cannot rule out an
impact on the next election." Secretary General Hideaki Takeuchi of
the Kanagawa prefectural chapter noted frustratingly: "(Mr.
Nakayama) has dampened our motivation. He has caused too much
Taimei Yamaguchi representing the Saitama No. 10 district, who is
also chairman of the Saitama prefectural chapter, offered an apology
as a guest at the New Komeito prefectural convention held on Sept.
28 in the Urawa district in Saitama City, saying: "I am afraid that
Mr. Nakayama's remarks have caused you a great deal of trouble. Some
urged Prime Minister Aso to dismiss (Mr. Nakayama) from his post
rather than accepting his resignation."
Katsuei Hirasawa of Tokyo Constituency No. 17, who has recently
offered apologies on many occasions, such as at a
respect-for-the-aged meeting, said: "What (Mr. Nakayama) did was no
more than a suicide terrorist bombing, and we have to pay for it. He
also expressed a desire for early Lower House dissolution, saying:
"The cabinet cannot do its job unless we dissolve the Lower House
and seek the views of the general public."
13) Repercussions of resignation of transport minister affect
political timetable: Calls for dissolution prior to supplementary
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
September 29, 2008
Following the resignation of Transport Minister Nariaki Nakayama,
voices calling for dissolution of the Lower House before starting
deliberations on the fiscal 2008 supplementary budget in the current
Diet session are gaining ground in the ruling camp. This is because
holding a Diet debate will give an opportunity for the opposition
camp to attack the ruling parties and adversely effect the ruling
camp's chances in the Lower House election. Instead, a plan to
incorporate a new set of economic pump-priming measures in their
manifesto (campaign promises) for the Lower House Election has
surfaced. The prime minister still insists on holding deliberations
on the supplementary budget bill, but he is now being pressed to
make a difficult decision.
The government and the ruling parties have had in mind dissolution
of the Lower House in early October and holding the national
election on either November 2 or 9. Their basic strategy has been to
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dissolve the Diet while support rates in the polls for the new prime
minister are still high.
Commenting on setting the election for November 2, which would fall
in the the middle of a holiday weekend, Secretary General Hiroyuki
Hosoda said on a Fuji TV program on September 28, "The consecutive
holidays will basically not hamper us from setting the election for
Nov. 2."
Election Committee Chairman Makoto Koga of the Liberal Democratic
Party (LDP) in a speech given in Hokkaido said, "I believe the prime
minister has determined the election schedule. He will presumably
press ahead with that schedule."
However, the resignation of Nakayama will likely affect
deliberations on the supplementary budget bill, which the prime
minister insists on holding. The ruling parties have had in mind the
tactic of holding deliberations on the supplementary budget bill but
dissolving the Lower House if the opposition camp opposes the bill.
Now that Nakayama has stepped down, a growing view is that taking
time before dissolving the Lower House would mean there would be
more opportunities for the prime minister to be pursued in the Diet
and the increased possibility of ministers' controversial statements
or scandals being revealed. A view that it would be better to remove
in advance any risk factors by dissolving the Lower House
immediately after the questioning session by each political party on
Oct. 3 has emerged in the ruling parties.
14) LDP Secretary General Hosoda: Target is to win majority
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
September 29, 2008
By Daisuke Kondo
LDP Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda gave an interview to news
companies, including the Mainichi Shimbun, at party headquarters on
Sept. 26. About the victory-or-defeat line in the next Lower House
election, he said: "There is no one who thinks the (ruling
coalition) will be able to use a two-thirds overriding vote in the
House of Representatives (after the election). Our target is for the
LDP and New Komeito to win a majority and remain in power."
He also indicated that the ruling coalition would feel out the
opposition bloc's response to the possible timing for dissolving the
Lower House by linking it to the fiscal 2008 supplementary budget,
saying: "It is natural to discuss matters with the opposition bloc,
but we have had bitter experiences since last year. We need to
closely monitor the opposition bloc's moves."
15) Upper House member Naoki Tanaka to leave LDP
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Excerpt)
September 27, 2008
House of Councillors member Naoki Tanaka yesterday submitted a
letter of departure from the Liberal Democratic Party. A spokesman
of his local office said of the reason for leaving the party in an
interview with the Mainichi Shimbun: "He made the decision from a
comprehensive point of view, because he will back former Foreign
Minister Makiko Tanaka, who will run in the next House of
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Representatives election."
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