Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 12/22/08

Published: Mon 22 Dec 2008 08:08 AM
DE RUEHKO #3483/01 3570808
P 220808Z DEC 08
E.O. 12958: N/A
(1) Anxieties and expectations of "ABB" approach (Yomiuri)
(2) Verification of SDF Iraq dispatch: Overview necessary for future
(3) Editorial: Switch to omni-directional diplomacy with SDF
withdrawal from Iraq (Asahi)
(4) Shaky alliance-5 years on the battlefield (Part 1): Thin-ice
landings on airport under attack (Yomiuri)
(5) Shaky alliance: Five years at the battlefield (Part 2):
Reversing stance, U.S. calls for civilian dispatch (Yomiuri)
(6) Nishimatsu Construction-related political organization donated
420 million yen to politicians, including Mori, Nikai and Ozawa
(7) Former Prime Minister Mori: "New Nakagawa party" is possible
(1) Anxieties and expectations of "ABB" approach
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 21, 2008
By political reporter Ayumi Tsuda
The Japanese Foreign Ministry distributed to journalists in late
November a paper titled: "Dispel five misunderstandings about the
incoming Obama administration and Japan-U.S. relations." The paper
lists five growing concerns: (1) The new administration might make
light of Japan; (2) the administration might make direct approaches
to China, bypassing Japan; (3) the administration might make
concessions to North Korea; (4) Japan-U.S. friction might be
reignited; and (5) the Japanese Foreign Ministry has few connections
with the U.S. Democratic Party members. The paper expresses ministry
views denying these negative possibilities.
The paper first questions whether the next administration would
treat Japan lightly. It argues to the contrary: "The incoming
president understands the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance as
indispensable, being based on common values and interests and he has
expressed his support for it." It also states: "The Clinton
administration signed an agreement to return the U.S. Marine Corps'
Futenma Air Station and issued the joint security declaration." In
response to concern that there are few ties with Democratic Party
members, the paper notes confidently: "In preparation for the
inauguration of a new administration, Japan has taken necessary
steps from more than a year ago."
President-election Barack Obama has named more members for his
administration in the run-up to the inauguration of his
administration in January. He has brought in many persons close to
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former President Bill Clinton, including Hillary Clinton's
appointment as Secretary of State.
The aim of the Foreign Ministry's release of the paper ahead of the
inauguration of a the first Democratic administration in eight years
was to dispel pessimistic views growing in Japan about the future of
Japan-U.S. relations. The spread of pessimism was touched off by a
China-centered Asia policy platform written by Senator Clinton last
fall. But at the root of such pessimism has been fear that the new
administration might take an approach contradictory to the policies
taken by the Bush administration.
To make a clear distinction from those of the previous Clinton
administration, Republican President Bush significantly changed
foreign and domestic policy directions. This stance was called an
"anything but Clinton (ABC) approach."
In the days of the Clinton administration, economic friction
occurred often between Japan and the U.S. In contrast, Japan-U.S.
relations under the Bush administration were in extremely good
shape, in part because of a relationship of trust established
between President Bush and then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
That is why many are now worried that the Obama administration might
take an anything but Bush (ABB) approach.
Meanwhile expectations are growing of the incoming Democratic
administration in Okinawa Prefecture, which expects the new U.S.
administration to translate the Futenma-return plan decided by
former President Clinton into practice. Governor Hirokazu Nakaima
said: "I have the impression that Mr. Clinton had sensitive feelings
toward Okinawa. I would also like to talk with Senator Hillary
It is uncertain, though, what view Clinton has about this issue. A
person close to Obama said: "It is impossible to decide what
approach the U.S. should take to the Futenma issue before a new
cabinet is formed through a general election in Japan."
In the same way as Japan concerned about moves by the incoming Obama
administration, the U.S. also seems to be nervous about Japan's
unstable political situation.
(2) Verification of SDF Iraq dispatch: Overview necessary for
ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
December 19, 2008
By Hiroshi Nakanishi, professor at Kyoto University
The dispatch of Self-Defense Force troops to Iraq was a major
turning point in Japan's postwar foreign and security policies. The
SDF has participated in UN peacekeeping operations (PKO), with
national security as its basic policy, since the end of the Cold-War
period. Global opinion was split over the propriety of the Iraq war.
The Coalition of the Willing was formed from countries that
cooperated with U.S. and British-led operations, while the rest of
the world remained opposed to the conflict. Under such a situation,
the Koizumi administration decided to support the U.S.-led war.
Waging war in Iraq might have not been the right decision for the
U.S., but Japan's decision to support the U.S. was not wrong. Japan
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was able to achieve politically and diplomatically magnificent
results by having the SDF perform considerably safe missions,
although it certainly was favored with luck.
But the approach taken by Prime Minister Koizumi created problems
for the future. His replies on the location of a noncombat zone were
illogical. It was a peculiar decision by a peculiar prime minister
under a peculiar political environment. It is dangerous for confused
replies to be accepted. Japan has sent Self-Defense Force (SDF)
troops overseas based on an unrealistic argument. If anything should
happen, how will Japanese politics take responsibility? Dispatched
SDF troops must have had such a question.
I do not think that Japanese troops must take part in multinational
forces without fail based on the Japan-U.S. security treaty. As a
strategy, it is important for Japanese troops to give priority to
international cooperation and peace building. It is important for
the SDF to join hands with nongovernmental organizations (NGO). It
is also necessary to work out a mechanism for SDF members to join UN
PKO in Africa and the Middle East in cooperation with China, South
Korea, and Southeast Asian countries.
The dispatch of SDF troops to Iraq has left major problems. The
government should responsibly overview the Iraq dispatch and hold
discussions in the Diet.
(3) Editorial: Switch to omni-directional diplomacy with SDF
withdrawal from Iraq
ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
December 19, 2008
Air Self-Defense Force transport planes, deployed to carry out
airlift activities in Iraq, have left for Japan, completing a
five-year mission.
In spite of a split in public opinion, then Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi, who backed the Iraq war, pushed through the SDF dispatch to
Iraq. SDF personnel carried out airlift activities under intense
heat in Iraq.
The ASDF airlift squadron often took evasive action as transport
planes detected danger. Bombs exploded near the vehicles of the
Ground Self-Defense Force. It was lucky that there were no SDF
personnel who suffered casualties.
Germany and France did not participate in the Iraq war. Spain and
Italy withdrew their military units due to a change in government.
But Japan's SDF continued its activities. This was a notable
achievement for the Japanese government.
Japan has intently followed the United States for about seven years,
starting from the 9/11 terrorist attack, and Afghan and Iraq wars.
The SDF dispatch to Iraq was a symbol of such one-sided diplomacy.
The Iraq war resulted in a devastating consequence. The United
States failed to justify the war, since there were no weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq. There have occurred a number of violent
incidents in Iraq after the dictator was toppled. The war on terror
has instead emboldened terrorists and spread them.
The taskforce on external affairs, an advisory panel to Prime
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Minister Koizumi, in its 2002 report released before the Iraq war
started, pointed out that the United States had begun to lose its
spirit of tolerance toward the objections and different values of
others, and that as a result, the spirit of U.S. diplomacy would
likely weaken. Unfortunately, such concern proved right.
However, the Japanese government and the leaders of the ruling
parties never looked at this fact straight on, but have only kept
Japan's postwar foreign policy is described as always following in
the U.S.' footsteps, but it was rare for Japan to resort to such
monochromatic diplomacy.
Looking at the 1990s, the Hashimoto and Obuchi administrations
actively carried out diplomacy not only with such Asian countries as
China and South Korea but also with Russia and Middle Eastern
countries. Those governments had a flexible idea of boosting
national interests by carrying out omni-directional diplomacy with
Japan-U.S. relations as the bedrock of Japan's diplomacy.
At present, diplomacy with neighboring countries that was destroyed
the Koizumi administration is now gradually being restored. It has
been decided that a summit of the leaders of Japan, China and South
Korea would be held once a year. In the United States, the Bush
administration, which has focused on unilateral action, will now
end, and Obama administration, which advocates the importance of
international cooperation, will soon be inaugurated.
Now is a good chance for Japan to restore omni-directional
diplomacy. Japan can play an active role in dealing with such
international issues as the economic crisis and global warming.
Japan could contribute on its own way to the reconstruction and
stability of Afghanistan and Iraq. Japan should revitalize its
participation in UN peace-keeping activities without being bound by
the context of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Japan should make the withdrawal of the SDF from Iraq a starting
point to break away from the diplomacy of always following in the
footsteps of the United States.
(4) Shaky alliance-5 years on the battlefield (Part 1): Thin-ice
landings on airport under attack
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 18, 2008
One day in the summer of 2007, Air Self-Defense Force Lt. Gen. Kunio
Orita's telephone rang. Orita was the commander of the ASDF Air
Support Command, which locates its headquarters in the western Tokyo
city of Fuchu, and the command was in charge of commanding the
ASDF's airlift activities in Iraq. The phone call was from the
commanding officer of an ASDF detachment based in Kuwait.
"I had a report from the captain right now," the commanding officer
said over the telephone. He went on: "Baghdad Airport is being
attacked with rockets. We need your judgment."
An ASDF C-130 cargo plane in flight was instructed by a U.S.
military air traffic controller to standby over the airport. Above
and below the ASDF transport, five planes including military
aircraft were also turning around at intervals of 200 meters. If the
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ASDF plane turned back because a battle was going on, it could run
into a midair collision with other planes flying around.
Orita turned it over in his mind. "Leave it to the captain. I will
take responsibility." So saying, Orita hung up the phone. There was
too little information to judge. An hour later, he received a report
about the C-130's safe landing. That one hour was tremendously long,
Orita recalls.
During the ASDF's five-year mission in Iraq, the Air Support Command
was asked by the ASDF detachment only once at that time for an
emergency judgment. In April 2007, U.S. forces went into operations
in full swing to mop up armed insurgents. After that, the ASDF
troops were always at the risk of their lives.
The C-130s were equipped with a missile sensor when they were sent
to Iraq. If and when the sensor were to be activated, the alarm
would sound and missile-guiding flare bombs would be fired. On the
cockpit screen is an arrow that shows the direction of an
approaching missile.
"I was frightened many times by the alarm beep sound," says Maj.
Tomoyuki Sakai, who was a C-130 captain on the airlift mission to
Iraq from April through August 2007. Sakai was extremely nervous 15
minutes before landing in Baghdad. That is because a plane in a
landing approach is within the range (about 4 kilometers) of an
armed group's antiaircraft missiles. There is no hard evidence to
show that the ASDF aircraft was ever targeted. However, the captain,
as soon as the alarm sounds, will try to make a random steep
approach (RSA) with right and left turns. Six other crewmen onboard
will look out of the windows to scout out for missiles. A missile
once flew ahead with white smoke curling, according to Sakai's
In the summer of 2006, the Ground Self-Defense Force withdrew from
its Samawah camp. After that, three ASDF C-130 cargo planes, based
in Kuwait, made flights to and from Baghdad and sometimes to and
from the northern and southern Iraqi cities of Arbil and Ali. Asked
by multinational air force headquarters, the ASDF airlifted U.S.
soldiers, foodstuffs, and supplies everyday except on Saturdays and
Sundays. The ASDF crew continued their flights over battlefields.
They flew once or twice a week. On every Wednesday, however, their
task was hard as they were on a shuttle flight to and from Arbil via
Baghdad. Their flight was seven hours long. "I lost nearly 3
kilograms in one day," Sakai said with a sour smile.
The ASDF was able to wind up its mission in Iraq without accidents.
This is greatly owing to the existence of U.S. forces. For example,
U.S. air instructors boarded the ASDF C-130s before their Iraq
mission and they often gave training and advice to the ASDF crew for
how to dodge missile attacks. When the ASDF was actually on the Iraq
mission, U.S. forces kept backing up the ASDF mission by providing
threat information and being ready to rescue the ASDF crew in the
event of emergencies. This is a result of working hard together as a
member of the multinational forces. "Alliance is not paper but is
solidarity," former U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger said. This is
a message calling Japan into question after Iraq.
Japan and the United States were said to be in a golden age, and the
Self-Defense Forces' activities in Iraq shored up the bilateral
relationship. The SDF's Iraq mission has now been completed. There
will be a change of administration in the United States, and the
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international situation is now at a turning point. Will the
Japan-U.S. alliance go ahead or retreat? This series will look into
the alliance that is now at a crossroads.
(5) Shaky alliance: Five years at the battlefield (Part 2):
Reversing stance, U.S. calls for civilian dispatch
YOMIURI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly)
December 19, 2008
Attended by Japanese trading firms and construction companies, a
Japan-Iraq economic form will be held early next year in Iraq. It
will be the first such event since the Iraq war started in 2003.
"Thanks to the Self-Defense Forces, we are now able to claim the
right to do business in Iraq," a connected source said.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will send before
year's end its personnel to the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on a
regular basis.
When the government decided in December 2003 on a Self-Defense Force
displacement basic plan, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
played up the significance of SDF activities, saying: "We have to
prove not only in word but also in action that the Japan-U.S.
alliance is compatible with international cooperation." Fruitful SDF
activities have resulted in some room for civilian activities.
The United States is likely to shift its weight from Iraq to
Afghanistan under the next Obama administration. Washington is
already turning its attention to civilian activities in place of the
SDF dispatch.
On December 9, a discussion was held by ambassadors of eight
countries that have sent troops to Afghanistan. In the session, U.S.
Ambassador to Japan J. Thomas Schieffer asked: "It is understandable
that under the Constitution, (Japan) cannot send the SDF, but what
about civilians?" In response, British Ambassador David Warren said:
"I believe it is possible to provide helicopter transport services
by civilians." In a press conference on December 15, U.S. Department
of State Japan Desk Director Daniel Russel said: "We strongly hope
that (Japan) will send specialists, such as police officers and
In reality, activities by JICA and other organizations have achieved
solid results. At the inaugural ceremony of the Kabul International
Airport Terminal Building held on November 6, JICA President Sadako
Ogata pledged that her organization would continue its activities.
Even so, there have been strong calls for the dispatch of Japanese
civilians (to Afghanistan). The calls resulted form strong
disappointment with Tokyo's failure to swiftly improve the law to
utilize the SDF overseas.
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan wrote a memoir
titled What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's
Culture of Deception. He also wrote in the preface to his
Japanese-version memoir: "Whether it was correct or not, Japan has
gained strong influence over the United States owing to Prime
Minister Koizumi's decision."
Japan has successfully deepened mutual trust, the core of any
alliance, by supporting the (Iraq) war, which was not necessarily
popular in the international community, and by dispatching the SDF
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against all odds.
Many observers think the government made the decision to pull the
SDF out of Iraq at the best timing. The reason is because seven
countries, including South Korea, have also announced to withdraw
their troops from the country by the end of the year and also
because Japan's withdrawal in this transitional period is unlikely
to draw fire either from the current or the next U.S.
Nevertheless, a review of the government's interpretation of the
right to collective self-defense has been shelved due to the
political turmoil after the Koizumi administration. The realignment
of U.S. forces in Japan centering on Okinawa is also lagging behind
schedule, and the Aso administration remains unable to decide on
greater support for Afghanistan and measures against piracy. Even
though the Democratic Party of Japan led by Ichiro Ozawa advocates
support for mainland Afghanistan, the party has insisted that the
Maritime Self-Defense Force's fueling mission in the Indian Ocean
was unconstitutional, causing the United States to become
increasingly distrustful.
Contrary to the good reputation of the SDF mission in Iraq, the
foundation of the Japan-U.S. alliance has begun to shake.
(6) Nishimatsu Construction-related political organization donated
420 million yen to politicians, including Mori, Nikai and Ozawa
SHIMBUN AKAHATA (Page 15) (Full)
December 21, 2008
Shimbun Akahata learned on December 20 through its own investigation
that a political organization established by a person associated
with the Nishimatsu Construction Co., a second-tier general
construction contractor based in Minato Ward, Tokyo, has been doling
out donations totaling more than 400 million yen to political
circles for more than a decade. A former executive of Nishimura
Construction was indicted on the 9th on charge of professional
embezzlement for allegedly misappropriating portions of a large
slush fund that this executive had accumulated through overseas
business operations. The future course of this investigation will be
in the spotlight.
The political organization in question is the New Study Group on
Political Issues. The name is the same as that of late former Prime
Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's fund management organization. The
manager of the Management and Control Department of Nishimatsu
Construction on November 1, 1995, established that organization as
soon as he retired the company and took office as its
representative. The organization was disbanded on December 15, 2006.
A former part-time auditor at Nishimatsu Construction served as the
accountant there.
According to its political funds report, the study group purchased
tickets for political fund-raising parties held by politicians and
factions of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the name of public
relations expenses for 12 years from 1995 through 2006. It also
doled out more than 420 million yen in donations to political
parties and politicians.
Since the retention period for original political funds reports is
three years, only reports for 2005 and 2006 were available for
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inspection at the Internal Affairs Ministry to find the names of
politicians who had received donations from the organization.
According the available reports, among LDP members, 4.66 million yen
was donated to the Nikai Group led by Economy, Trade and Industry
Minister Toshihiro Nikai, 200,000 yen to Nikai, 3.6 million yen to
former Transport Minister Takao Fujii, 2 million yen to former Prime
Minister Yoshiro Mori and former Finance Minister Koji Omi
respectively and 1 million yen to former National Public Safety
Commission Commissioner Mikio Hayashi.
Among DPJ members, President Ichiro Ozawa received 10 million yen
and the DPJ Iwate Prefectural Chapter received 3 million yen.
Heads of local governments also received donations from the
organization, including 500,000 yen received by Oita Prefectural
Governor Katsusaka Hirose and Shizuoka Prefectural Governor
Yoshinobu Ishikawa respectively, 300,000 by Kobe Mayor Tatsuo Yada
and 700,000 yen by Mayor Yoshio Sakaguchi of Suita City, Osaka.
Funding resources for those donations were membership fees, which
cost 30-8.2 million yen a year, and political funds-raising parties,
which the organization held three times a years in the name of the
New Century Political and Economic Round -Table meeting.
However, there is some unnatural aspect about the organization's
membership system, such as that the membership was 1,410 in 1996,
but in 2006, there were only 13 members. It reported that it gained
about 6 million yen a year from the sales of party tickets. However,
nothing is known about who purchased those party tickets.
Since Nishimatsu Construction's slush funds became an issue, this
political organization is urged to clarify its unclear funding
(7) Former Prime Minister Mori: "New Nakagawa party" is possible
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
December 20, 2008
Appearing on a TBS program yesterday, former Prime Minister Yoshiro
Mori of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) replied to a question
asking whether former Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa would make
a move to realign the political world: "He has talked about the
possibility quite a lot. I have heard about such a possibility for
some time now." He added: "The LDP and the New Komeito may fail to
win a majority in the next House of Representatives election. Some
lawmakers might take action to form a new political party under Mr.
On the possibility of Nakagawa forming a new political party, Mori
said: "He might have such an intention, unlike me and other LDP
members who have never left the party." Nakagawa has criticized
Prime Minister Taro Aso for his announcement of a plan to raise the
consumption tax three years from now. Asked about Nakagawa's
criticism, Mori complained: "It is time for all the party members to
unanimously propose policy measures."
Asahi, Sankei & Tokyo Shimbun:
Then Prime Minister Sato told U.S. in 1965 to use nuclear weapons in
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event of Japan-China war
Aso-Yosano line revived over whether to specify consumption tax hike
three years from now
Financial crisis also hits Dubai, with number of workers dismissed
Survey of 100 corporate chiefs: 86 PERCENT believe economic slump
getting worse
JCP Policy Planning Committee Chairman Koike calls in TV program for
ruling, opposition camps to devise measures to protect the
(1) Clarify how money from increased taxes will be used for social
(2) Step up efforts to rehabilitate those who abuse spouses
(1) Local governments urged to set up safety net for job security
(2) Feeling of emptiness behind a series of random street murders
(1) With bailout of U.S. automakers, bankruptcy is avoided for a
while, but crisis will persist
(2) Announcement of test results: Make efforts to improve students'
academic ability
(1) Collapse of WTO talks an emergency signal against protectionism
(2) U.S. Big-Three automakers must make painful decision
(1) Massive investment losses at universities perplex students
(2) Death of Japanese crested ibis: Returning animals to the wild
Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Let's move forward with a smile at year's end
(1) Improve nursing-care system and increase facilities
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