Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 08/28/09

Published: Sun 30 Aug 2009 09:31 PM
DE RUEHKO #1986/01 2422131
P 302131Z AUG 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
(1) DPJ eyes building equal Japan-U.S. alliance; Ways to achieve it
are unclear (Yomiuri)
(2) Editorial: 2009 Lower House election 2009 - Ways to build
Japan-U.S.-China relations must be discussed (Tokyo Shimbun)
(3) Editorial: Action needed to turn goal of world free of nuclear
weapons into concrete arrangement (Nikkei)
(4) DPJ to launch transition team as early as Aug. 31: Key cabinet
members to be nominated ahead of schedule (Tokyo Shimbun)
(5) If LDP loses Lower House election, LDP factions will collapse
(Shukan Bunshun)
(6) Post-election special Diet session likely to be held on Sept. 14
at the earliest; LDP to elect new president, preparing to go into
opposition (Asahi)
(7) TV reporting on election reduced by half, reflecting lesson
learned from two much fanfare over the Koizumi election in 2005
(8) Comparison of the LDP's and DPJ's manifestos; fiscal deficit of
816 trillion yen to continue to expand (Tokyo Shimbun)
(9) Japan's greenhouse gas emissions reduction target mere
sloganeering? (Tokyo Shimbun)
(10) Interview with Sadako Ogata, president of Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA) - Japan must not become frustrated with
reconstruction of Afghanistan and must focus on civilian assistance
in which it excels (Asahi)
(11) Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, International Christian
University to form academic zone (Sankei)
(12) Pre-election poll on public trends (Tokyo Shimbun)
(13) Sankei-FNN poll on Aso cabinet, political parties, general
election (Nikkei)
(14) Poll on Aso cabinet, political parties (Mainichi)
(15) DPJ's proposal for system of compensating farm households'
income will ruin Japan's agriculture (Shukan Bunshun)
(1) DPJ eyes building equal Japan-U.S. alliance; Ways to achieve it
are unclear
YOMIURI (Page 3) (Abridged)
August 27, 2009
Hiroaki Matsunaga, Toshimitsu Miyai, political news department
The alliance with the United States has been the foundation of
Japan's foreign policy throughout the postwar period. The manifesto
produced by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) for the upcoming
House of Representatives election reveals a plan to build an equal
TOKYO 00001986 002 OF 023
relationship with the United States. The major opposition party
appears to be set to review the existing Japan-U.S. relationship.
Concrete picture of an equal relationship
"Until now, Japan's diplomacy has been based on suiting the
convenience of the U.S. We must now build an equal relationship in
which we can strongly assert our wishes." This is an explanation of
the DPJ's goal of an equal Japan-U.S. alliance, offered by President
Yukio Hatoyama during a television program on Aug. 23.
The DPJ manifesto says that the party will aim at building an equal
Japan-U.S. alliance and Japan will fulfill its responsibilities by
sharing roles with the United States. But specifically how Japan
will fulfill its responsibilities remains unclear. This is because
former Japan Socialist Party members are included in its ranks, so
the party has not been able to come up with unified foreign and
security policies.
Strong influence of Ozawa's policy imprint
Under such circumstances, the thinking of Deputy President Ichiro
Ozawa, who still wields significant influence in the party,
particularly stands out.
"The U.S. 7th Fleet is sufficient in terms of American presence in
the Far East," Ozawa said in February this year, shortly after the
Obama administration was launched, stunning the U.S. government.
There are some 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan. Ozawa thinks Japan
should attach greater importance to the authority of the United
Nations than to that of the U.S. military. Ozawa is an advocate of a
standby force for UN peacekeeping missions, as a separate
organization from the Self-Defense Forces.
He has been keeping a low profile since resigning as DPJ president
in May. In late July, the DPJ's liberal and conservative mid-level
members jointly produced a policy report evidently reflecting
Ozawa's views. It was presented to President Hatoyama.
The report says that Japan must use strategic thinking to achieve
peace rather than war, while underscoring the need to break away
from its old nature and thinking that rely too heavily on the United
States. It also calls for the establishment of what is temporarily
called an international emergency police force that is allowed to
use weapons - an idea carrying an Ozawa stamp. The report also urges
Tokyo to drastically review the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces
Agreement, while advocating a policy of completely abolishing
Japan's host-nation support for the costs of stationing U.S. forces
in Japan as a "relic of the previous era."
Diversified views on security
Hatoyama once said, "I have no intention of following the idea of
doing whatever the United Nations has decided." He is an advocate of
"fraternal diplomacy," which means indiscriminately associating even
with countries with different values. Given the high likelihood that
it will take the helm of government, the DPJ has acknowledged the
importance of continuity of foreign and security policies. However,
the party's stance on the alliance (with the United States) remains
TOKYO 00001986 003 OF 023
At the same time, Vice President Seiji Maehara and many other DPJ
executives attach importance to relations with the United States.
"There is a strong likelihood that the DPJ will keep a distance from
with the United States and aim at "omni-directional diplomacy,"
predicted Takashi Kawakami, a professor of security issues at
Takushoku University.
SDP's influence
Even if the DPJ wins the Lower House election, the party still does
not hold a majority in the House of Councillors. As a result, the
DPJ intends to form a coalition with the Social Democratic Party
(SDP) and other opposition parties. The coalition with the SDP,
which advocates the protection of the Constitution and peace, might
affect the DPJ's foreign and security policies as well.
Hatoyama has already flip-flopped on the handling of the three
non-nuclear principles, of which the SDP is calling for legislation.
Initially Hatoyama had been dismissive of the legislation of the
three principles. But on Aug. 9, he indicated that the DPJ would
consider (legislation) in compliance with the SDP's call.
DPJ manifesto
The conclusion of a purported secret Japan-U.S. pact allowing U.S.
warships to introduce nuclear weapons into Japan is one of the
points at issue in the ongoing election campaigning.
DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada indicated that if his party
takes power and discovers the documents, a DPJ administration will
disclose all the documents. Going a step further, President Hatoyama
announced that of the three principles, he will press President
Obama to clarify the principle of not permitting the introduction of
nuclear weapons into Japan.
The government and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have
consistently indicated that the secret agreement does not exist. But
at a press conference on Aug. 24, Vice-Foreign Minister Mitoji
Yabunaka admitted the fact that Japan held talks with the United
States on the introduction of nuclear weapons, while indicating that
there might have been a difference in interpretations of that
concept between the two countries. (The Foreign Ministry) has begun
seeking a common ground on the matter in anticipation of the
establishment of a DPJ administration.
The secret pact is believed to have been a desperate measure for
Japan, a country pursuing the elimination of nuclear weapons, to
maintain the United States' "nuclear umbrella" in dealing with the
threat from the Soviet Union during the Cold War. What is (the
DPJ's) view on the United States' nuclear deterrence in the face of
China's nuclear buildup and North Korea's nuclear development? The
party's vagueness about the secret agreement is directly linked to
the foundation of Japan's security policy.
There is no mention of nuclear deterrence in the DPJ manifesto,
although it plays up its plan to pursue nuclear disarmament.
(2) Editorial: 2009 Lower House election 2009 - Ways to build
Japan-U.S.-China relations must be discussed
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 5) (Full)
TOKYO 00001986 004 OF 023
August 27, 2009
It goes without saying that Japan's relationship with the United
States is important. Therefore, Japan should discuss with the U.S.
about how the two nations should deal with China, which is
experiencing rapid economic growth. Building a balanced
Japan-U.S.-China relationship will become a major challenge for the
new Japanese government, as well.
Due to the effects of the Iraq war and the global financial crisis,
there have also been significant changes in the foreign policy of
the United States, on which Japan is reliant. U.S. President Barack
Obama is advocating a world free of nuclear weapons and has begun to
tackle the global warming issue.
The Obama administration has stepped up cooperation not only with
its allies but also with developing countries on such immediate
issues as economic reconstruction, terrorism, and nuclear
China's economy is growing dramatically and will likely overtake
Japan's before the end of the year. China is the largest importer to
Japan, surpassing the United States.
However, a worrying factor is that China has boosted its defense
spending over ten percent for 21 years in a row. Beijing has
supported North Korea, which has brought about the abduction issue
and nuclear and missile threats, in the form of providing the North
with energy and food.
Regarding China, the two major Japanese parties only stipulate in
their manifestos (sets of campaign pledges for the Aug. 30 House of
Representatives election) that (the Liberal Democratic Party) will
improve bilateral relations and that (the Democratic Party of Japan)
will build relations of trust with China.
Although Washington wishes to strengthen ties with Beijing, it is
wary of China's arms buildup. With an eye on the moves of not only
North Korea but also China, the United States wants to enhance the
Japan-U.S. alliance and implement the realignment of U.S. forces in
Since the LDP says that it will improve the reliability of the
Japan-U.S. alliance and the DPJ says that it will build a close and
equal Japan-U.S. alliance, they should also speak about their views
of China. All the more because the DPJ aims to establish an East
Asia Community, it must have its own policy toward China. Otherwise,
the DPJ's idea is nothing more than talk.
The Obama administration initiated in late July a strategic and
economic dialogue of cabinet-level officials with China.
Washington's strategy is to convince Beijing to come over to its
side regarding measures for economic reconstruction as well as
measures to prevent global warming.
In the past, Japan had its own policy toward China that was
different from the U.S.'s. It urged the West not to isolate China
when the Tiananmen Square incident occurred (in 1989), supporting
China's reform and door-opening policies. In order to have China
join the World Trade Organization (WTO), Japan concluded
negotiations with China prior to the U.S. and Europe.
TOKYO 00001986 005 OF 023
However, in recent years Japan has viewed China as a rival and
conducted foreign policy in opposition to China.
Frustrations are spreading among Japanese people that their country
will be overtaken by China. The reason for Japan's frustration is
probably because it has yet to find ways to formulate diplomacy with
which Japan assert its presence in between the U.S. and China.
Because of this, Japanese people offer applause for criticism of
China. The new Japanese government is urged to devise diplomacy that
prevents China from becoming a threat, taking China's rapid economic
growth in stride and utilizing that vitality for its own economic
(3) Editorial: Action needed to turn goal of world free of nuclear
weapons into concrete arrangement
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
August 28, 2009
At the venue of the 21st UN Conference on Disarmament Issues in
Niigata City, the sound of approaching nuclear-disarmament footsteps
could be heard from a distance. A discussion was conducted on ways
to turn visions of a world free of nuclear weapons into concrete
Since the first disarmament conference was held in Kyoto in 1989 in
the last days of the Cold War, it has been held in Japan every
This year, the conference opened on Aug. 26 amid momentum for
nuclear disarmament gearing up in the wake of U.S. President Barack
Obama's speech in Prague in April. The meeting brought together
about 80 people from about 20 countries, including government
officials and experts.
On Sept. 24, President Obama will chair a summit meeting of 15 UN
Security Council member countries in New York to discuss nuclear
disarmament and nonproliferation issues. The new Japanese prime
minister, who will be selected after the upcoming general election,
will also attend the summit. On Sept. 24-25, the Conference on
Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test
Ban Treaty (CTBT) will be held in New York.
The International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and
Disarmament, co-chaired by Japan and Australia, will next meet in
Hiroshima in October and will present a roadmap for nuclear
disarmament. An agreement is also expected to be reached on a treaty
to be adopted after the expiration at the end of this year of the
Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START1) concluded between the U.S.
and Russia.
A summit meeting on nuclear security as advocated by Obama and a
global nuclear disarmament conference to be sponsored by Japan are
scheduled for March 2010.
These meetings will be arenas to give momentum to the international
trend toward nuclear disarmament, with an eye toward the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in May 2010. From
the Japanese point of view, Niigata is the starting point for such
TOKYO 00001986 006 OF 023
At the Niigata conference, Kazakhstan State Secretary Kanat
Saudabayev, who persuaded the former Soviet Union to abolish its
nuclear weapons, delivered a keynote speech. Former foreign minister
Yoriko Kawaguchi and former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans
spelled out ways to promote nuclear disarmament for the mid-term
until 2012 and for the long-term until 2025. The co-chairs included
such tasks as persuading North Korea and Iran to suspend their
nuclear development programs and putting the CTBT into effect in the
category of short-term challenges.
The venue is not far from the site at which Megumi Yokota was
abducted by North Korean agents. Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida
said: "It is an unfortunate fact that the abduction issue will not
move forward as long as North Korea's denuclearization process
remains stalled." In the Niigata conference, a perception gap
between participants from Japan and China was evident on North
Korea's denuclearization issue, making it difficult to resolve even
short-term tasks.
It is necessary to take action in an effort to turn the goal of a
world without nuclear weapons into a concrete arrangement. There
seems to be no effective means to that end, but the Niigata
Conference was significant in promoting the campaign to eliminate
nuclear weapons.
(4) DPJ to launch transition team as early as Aug. 31: Key cabinet
members to be nominated ahead of schedule
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Top Play) (Excerpts)
August 28, 2009
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has decided to launch a
transition team responsible for effectively forming a cabinet, based
on the premise that it will win the Lower House election on August
30. DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama, a prime ministerial candidate,
will nominate candidates for key cabinet posts, including chief
cabinet secretary, and senior party officials, such as deputy
president, secretary general and Diet affairs committee chairman. As
members of the transition team, these nominees will press ahead with
adjustments for launching a new cabinet.
Cabinet member to preside over new administrative reform council
It has also been decided that a cabinet member will be assigned to
head the new administrative reform council tasked with identifying
wasteful spending of tax revenues.
The special Diet session, in which an election to nominate the prime
minister after the Lower House election is to be held, will likely
be convened in the week starting on September 14. The transition
team headed by Hatoyama will finalize the line-up of a new cabinet
and aim to form the cabinet by September 18. The team will also move
forward with the selection of members of the national strategy
bureau, which is responsible for drafting a budget outline and mid-
to long-term foreign policy and security strategy, and members of
the new administrative reform council.
Prior to the establishment of the transition team, Hatoyama will
pick new party executives, after securing a free hand for the
selection of personnel for the new administration from the present
party executives. At the same time, he intends to informally appoint
key cabinet members, such as chief cabinet secretary, finance
TOKYO 00001986 007 OF 023
minister, and foreign minister, and staffers of the Kantei,
including deputy chief cabinet secretary.
The DPJ policy research council chairman will double as a minister
in charge of the national strategy bureau. The membership of the
bureau will likely consist of lawmakers, experts from the private
sector, party staffers, and bureaucrats, as well as the minister
responsible for the bureau, totaling 30. The administration will
tentatively set up the bureau by amending the relevant government
ordinance at its first cabinet meeting. It will give the bureau a
legal status by enacting an establishment law at the extraordinary
Diet session, which is expected to be convened in October.
The first issue the bureau will face is to create frameworks for the
second extra budget draft for the recompilation of the already
approved fiscal 2009 extra budget and the fiscal 2010 budget.
Concurrently with the work by the transition team, the DPJ will also
press ahead with coalition talks mainly involving the secretaries
general of the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party.
(5) If LDP loses Lower House election, LDP factions will collapse
SHUKAN BUNSHUN (Page 50) (Full)
September 3, 2009
What will happen to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) if it suffers
a crushing defeat in the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election?
There is a pessimistic view. "If the LDP falls into a mid-size
political party of several dozen Lower House members," says a former
cabinet member, "it will eventually have to be dissolved." What will
first happen after the Lower House election is the collapse of the
LDP's faction system, which has existed more than 50 years in
reality and in name.
According to opinion polls by media outlets, heads of five of the
eight factions could lose the election. What will the five factions
do in a party leadership race to elect a successor to Taro Aso,
which the LDP must do soon after the general election?
Because the Machimura, former Tsushima, and Koga factions count
respectively 27, 20, and 9 House of Councillor parliamentarians as
members, these three major factions will survive. Since most of
these Upper House members will face an election next summer, they
have to bond together. The factions will exist, but members have
different motives.
In the Machimura faction, even if its head, former Foreign Minister
Nobutaka Machimura is elected, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will
strengthen his influence over it. It is ironical that the person
once regarded as the cause of a major defeat for the LDP will use an
election setback as a springboard to boost his influence. However, a
senior faction member said, "Since a group led by former Secretary
General Hidenao Nakagawa will not be obedient to Abe, there are
(only) a small number of members whom Abe can control." So it will
be difficult for Abe to replace Machimura.
In the former Shimazu faction, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Ministry Shigeru Ishiba, who is now very popular, is expected to run
in the upcoming LDP presidential race as he did so when the party
held the presidential election to choose the replacement of then
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. However, since he is not on good terms
TOKYO 00001986 008 OF 023
with Mikio Aoki, who actually controls the LDP Upper House, it is
certain that the faction will split.
As for the Koga faction, "A new leader is unlikely to emerge because
Chairman Makoto Koga will control the faction behind the scenes even
if he loses the election," says one of its senior members."
In the Yamasaki faction, the fourth largest, it is certain Senior
Deputy Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara will file his candidacy
in the presidential election. However, if State Minister for
Administrative Reform Akira Amari wins the general election, the
faction will split into two groups.
In the Ibuki faction, the fifth largest, there is a possibility that
Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura will be top in years of
service. "(But) he won't be able to manage the faction," says one of
its senior members. "He's a caretaker (rather than a leader.)"
Therefore, there are many openings in the LDP. Former Internal
Affairs and Communication Minister Kunio Hatoyama would like to fill
one. He hinted he might withdraw from the LDP, but he is eager to
become its savior. If he becomes LDP president, the Hatoyama
brothers will hold the presidential posts of two major parties ....
(6) Post-election special Diet session likely to be held on Sept. 14
at the earliest; LDP to elect new president, preparing to go into
ASAHI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
August 28, 2009
Amid predictions that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will win a
landslide victory in the general election, the government and the
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have already begun drawing up a
political schedule factoring in a change of administration. If the
party loses the general election, the most likely scenario is that
it will hold an election to choose a new president and coordinate
with the DPJ on holding the special Diet session, which will elect
the new prime minister some time between September 14 and 18.
The Constitution stipulates that the special Diet session will have
to be convened not later than 30 days after the general election.
After the speaker and vice speaker of the House of Representatives
are named, the election of the prime minister will be held. Although
incumbent Prime Minister Taro Aso can decide when to hold this Diet
session, details are decided by a conference of Lower House floor
groups consisting of representatives of ruling and opposition
parties after the election, which will be held on September 4 at the
earliest. This meeting will also decide the assignment of offices in
the Diet building.
There has been talk in the LDP about delaying the special Diet
session to late September if it loses the election, in order to
delay the inauguration of the new administration. However, DPJ
President Yukio Hatoyama appears to be keen on delivering a speech
at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and attending the G-20 financial
summit in late September after taking over the administration. Many
LDP members now believe that if the DPJ wins a landslide victory,
convening the Diet before the UNGA will be inevitable.
Aso's term as LDP president expires by the end of September. If the
LDP loses the election, the party will elect a new president before
TOKYO 00001986 009 OF 023
going into the special Diet session. About two weeks' time is needed
to hold a presidential election with voting by party members from
the regional chapters. Even for this reason alone, convening the
special Diet session during the week of September 14 would be
In reality, many senior LDP officials are out on the hustings and
unable to focus on managing the party or the Diet after the general
election. An Asahi Shimbun survey shows that while Secretary General
Hiroyuki Hosoda is leading somewhat in his constituency, Diet
Affairs Committee Chairman Tadamori Oshima, who is responsible for
setting the Diet schedule, is one step behind his DPJ opponent. Many
senior officials of the Machimura, Tsushima, Ibuki, and Koga
factions who exercise influence on party management are fighting an
uphill battle in their home constituencies.
The LDP will manage the party and conduct Diet affairs with leaders
who survive the election, but if it suffers a crushing defeat as
predicted by many, one senior official may have to do several jobs
simultaneously, and it is very likely that party management will
undergo review to reflect the balance of power among the factions.
However, the immediate issue will be whether the party can unite
under a new president.
With the defeat of many powerful Diet members becoming a real
possibility, there is growing panic in the LDP. There is no telling
who will survive the election and who among the elected will run for
party president. The outcome of the post-election presidential race
is totally unpredictable.
Amid the uncertainty surrounding the election of LDP heavyweights to
the Lower House, Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Yoichi
Masuzoe, a House of Councillors member, tops the list of possible
successors to Aso.
"The presidential election should be held before the special Diet
session is convened," remarked former Secretary General Taku
Yamasaki in a speech on August 25. "The LDP will disintegrate if we
don't elect a new president before the election of a prime
minister." He urged Aso to resign immediately after the election and
hold the presidential election, citing Masuzoe as Aso's successor.
Since the prime minister is so unpopular, Masuzoe has been swamped
with requests to campaign for LDP candidates. He himself has stated
openly that "Yoichi Masuzoe will play the central role in changing
Japan." He focuses his campaign efforts on the younger candidates
rather than on the veterans, showing great enthusiasm to become the
leader of the party's regeneration.
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other LDP conservatives
calculate that with a liberal (as party president) the LDP will not
be able to differentiate itself from the DPJ." They strongly
advocate a conservative revival and actually have a plan to support
the very popular Masuzoe.
However, Masuzoe is an Upper House member who has a weak political
base in the party. It is uncertain whether he will be acceptable to
the veterans who survive the general election.
Former Secretary General Koichi Kato indicated in a speech in his
constituency on August 27 that "in the worst case the LDP may win
less than 100 seats." He said, "I would like to unite the LDP Diet
TOKYO 00001986 010 OF 023
members and work hard as a leader. I will build a new LDP." His
words imply an interest in running as president.
Kato believes that under the control of the largest faction, the
Machimura faction, the LDP has been leaning to the right. He wants
to unite the liberal forces. Former Finance Minister Sadakazu
Tanigaki and former Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa are also
poised to run in the presidential election. Some party members also
support a presidential run by Deputy Secretary General Nobuteru
Ishihara or Agriculture Minister Shigeru Ishiba. Kunio Hatoyama, who
resigned as minister of internal affairs and communications over the
appointment of the president of Japan Post and who has been critical
of Aso, said at a meeting in Nagoya on August 27, "I am thinking of
playing the role of the savior who will resuscitate and revive the
LDP after this election."
Meanwhile, the prime minister says that his goal is to win a
majority of seats, but he has not mentioned taking responsibility
for defeat. Most people in the LDP are cool to his candidacy. "No
one will support the prime minister in the presidential election,"
said a former secretary general." However, there is a persistent
view that Aso himself has not completely given up running.
(7) TV reporting on election reduced by half, reflecting lesson
learned from two much fanfare over the Koizumi election in 2005
ASAHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
August 26, 2009
Masahiro Yuchi, Asako Mihashi
Air time for the TV programs of the various broadcasting stations on
the House of Representatives election is half of that in the 2005
election. This reflects lessons learned from covering the "assassin
candidates" in the "Koizumi theater" during the last election. The
TV stations are trying to put more effort into reporting the policy
debate but they are in a dilemma because the debate has been
uninteresting. So the political parties are turning to the Internet.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito are waging
a negative campaign online.
The TV stations are devoting less time to reporting on the Lower
House election in their programs. According to the survey company M
Data, in the week from July 21, when the Lower House was dissolved,
a survey on all the news programs, talk shows, and variety shows
disclosed that a total of 49 hours and 34 minutes of programming
were related to the Lower House election, half of the 89 hours and
42 minutes recorded in the week after the dissolution of the Diet in
2005. The figures for Nippon TV and Fuji TV were one-third of what
they were (in 2005).
A TBS official responsible for election programs looked back on the
2005 experience. "In 2005, we were not fully successful in
presenting to the viewers the differences between the various
policies," he said. "There is no denying that we focused on the
constituencies of the 'assassin candidates.' "
For the 2007 House of Councillors election, the TV stations aired
discussions of the pension issue and the question of money and
politics. This time, the political parties' manifestos are in the
limelight, fomenting a further transformation in TV election
TOKYO 00001986 011 OF 023
However, policy debates don't easily lend themselves to (gripping)
TV shows. "All the parties have a limited number of politicians
appearing on TV," notes one media analyst, "so all the programs have
the same people discussing the same issues. There is nothing new."
Upper House member Makoto Nishida, New Komeito public relations
chief, observes that, "They (the TV stations) all strive to produce
programs that examine policies, but the points of contention have
not been clarified."
Rikkyo University Professor Iwao Osaka believes that "the ability to
ask incisive questions on policies is inadequate, so they end up
giving the impression of going through things in a rush." For this
reason, they fail to attract viewers, so air time has been cut.
Chizu Okawa, assistant professor of political science at Tokyo
University, says, "The relation between media and elections
underwent dramatic change after Prime Minister Koizumi entered the
scene. Politicians other than the prime minister have also been
frequent guests on the talk shows. Politicians and the stations made
mutual use of one another. However, subsequent prime ministers have
not been as popular, so this (reciprocal) relationship has
"The upcoming election is said to be an election to choose an
administration. The people are very unsure about whom to choose, and
there is a lot of interest in election issues. TV and media should
find their niche by comparing policies. A post-election assessment
of how well the issues were covered should be made."
(8) Comparison of the LDP's and DPJ's manifestos; fiscal deficit of
816 trillion yen to continue to expand
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Abridged)
August 27, 2009
The cumulative debt of the Japanese central and local governments
was 600 trillion yen 10 years ago, but total debt at the end of
fiscal 2009 is estimated to reach 816 trillion yen.
Japan has the largest budget deficit among industrialized countries.
The figure of 816 trillion yen is 1.7 times the size of Japan's
gross domestic product (GDP).
Despite the financial crisis, the government has strayed from the
path of fiscal reconstruction. In June the government abandoned its
goal of achieving a surplus in the primary balance by fiscal 2011.
The government has also shelved efforts to cut social security
costs, a measure advocated by the Koizumi administration. With an
eye to the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election the government
came up with economic stimulus measures on the order of a record
15.4 trillion yen. Critics accuse the government of using the
economic crisis as a pretext for dispensing pork.
Tax revenues have been on the decline from a peak in 1992, but
social security costs will certainly continue to soar. Against this
background, the government is pondering a boost in the consumption
tax. If the tax is not raised, the accumulative debt in fiscal 2023
is projected to reach 1,244 trillion yen. This estimate by the
Cabinet Office bespeaks the seriousness of the nation's fiscal
TOKYO 00001986 012 OF 023
Even so, tax increases alone will not be enough to restore fiscal
soundness. According to another estimate, even if the consumption
tax is raised to 10 PERCENT , it will be impossible to balance the
budget in the next decade. It is also necessary to drastically cut
The bill for the growing debt will be passed on to future
generations, depriving them of the use of their tax money for their
own benefit. How does each party plan to tackle this fiscal problem
creating an intergenerational disparity?
The Liberal Democratic Party stresses that it will secure the fiscal
resources to cover rising social security costs by boosting the
consumption tax on the premise of economic recovery. The Democratic
Party of Japan does not mention a consumption tax hike and
emphasizes that it will eliminate wasteful spending by revising the
(9) Japan's greenhouse gas emissions reduction target mere
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Full)
August 25, 2009
The present state of Japan's global warming prevention measures
amounts to "mere sloganeering." The Kyoto Protocol stipulates the
reduction of CO2 and other greenhouse gases by 5 percent from the
base year 1990 from 2008-2012. There are country-specific targets to
be met, and Japan is supposed to make 6 percent reductions.
However, according to the latest data released by the National
Institute for Environmental Studies, an independent administrative
agency, emissions in FY2007 represented a 9 percent increase from
the base year, and CO2 emissions alone saw an increase of as much as
14 percent. The emissions reduction was supposed to be 13.7 percent
in FY2007 if Japan is to meet its target in 2012. Even if the amount
of emissions absorbed by the forests is subtracted from Japan's
emission target, it will still be very difficult to meet the
reduction target.
The government announced in June a mid-term target of reducing
greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent from the 2005 level by 2020.
The target emissions volume is just a bit lower than that of the
Kyoto Protocol, so this is merely an extension of the deadline to
meet the Kyoto target. Europe and the developing countries and
environmental groups have expressed their disappointment with the
government's posture.
The reason why a higher target could not be set easily is because of
the enormous cost involved in emissions reduction. The Ministry of
Economy, Trade, and Industry estimates that the 15 percent emissions
reduction will require new policy measures including the
popularization of solar power generation, which will cost around 60
trillion yen, and this will inevitably impact household finances.
On the other hand, if emissions reduction is not taken seriously,
the earth's temperature will continue to rise and this will have a
serious effect on the ecological system and climate change. How will
the political parties strike a balance between the environment and
household expenditures?
TOKYO 00001986 013 OF 023
While the Liberal Democratic Party stands by the government's
mid-term target, the Democratic Party of Japan advocates a reduction
of 25 percent from the 1990 level (or a reduction of 30 percent from
the 2005 level).
(10) Interview with Sadako Ogata, president of Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA) - Japan must not become frustrated with
reconstruction of Afghanistan and must focus on civilian assistance
in which it excels
ASAHI (Page 8) (Full)
August 28, 2009
-- You have been involved in the Afghan issue for many years. What
do you think of the latest Afghan presidential election? Votes are
still being counted.
Ogata: There are some problems, but the fact that the Afghan people
carried out the election on their own is a great accomplishment. We
cannot expect a high voter turnout like the 70 percent that marked
the previous election (2004). There has been some progress
evidenced, for instance, by the fact that women ran in the race. The
establishment of an administration representing all people that
transcends the boundaries of ethnic groups, such as the Pashtuns and
Tajik, is a prerequisite for restoring civil order and assisting
-- The Taliban, the fundamentalist Muslim group, is gathering
Ogata: The Taliban's resurgence is regrettable. The Taliban which is
mostly composed of indigenous people is different from the
international terrorist group, Al Qaeda, which includes many people
from other countries, such as Arab nations. It was the Al Qaeda that
carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and the
United States attacked Afghanistan because there were their bases
there. The Taliban is safeguarding people's livelihoods in some
areas. The circumstances are complex.
-- There seems to be strong discontent with what has been
accomplished by the Karzai administration.
Ogata: Engaged in nation-building from scratch, it has functioned in
some way like a ministry responsible for the reconstruction and
development of rural areas. Nevertheless, aid has not reached local
regions. Achievements must be made in a way that is visible to all
farmers. The centralization of power is not possible in the country,
so local administrative organizations must be revamped first in
order to rebuild the country. The national army, which holds a key
to bringing stability to the country, has 68,000 troops, and the
police force has 80,000 officers. But the country still heavily
relies on the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF), for the country has no power to maintain public order
-- Discontent is growing in the United States and European countries
saying there is no way out.
Ogata: The U.S. military is in a dilemma because its airstrikes have
claimed many civilian lives. Mr. Karzai has repeatedly lodged
protests with Washington. Speaking of my experience of providing
relief to refugees in the former Yugoslavia, humanitarian assistance
TOKYO 00001986 014 OF 023
must be withdrawn once airstrikes start. One way to absolutely
reduce civilian casualties is to provide infantry units.
Calls for a way out probably come from fatigue from extending
assistance and from a reaction to expectations on the U.S. Obama
administration. In rebuilding failed states like Afghanistan, we
cannot expect quick results. Rebuilding a nation requires a long
period of time. Even if results are not produced in five years, that
is not a failure.
It is important that the Obama administration has come up with a
policy to deal with Afghanistan and Pakistan simultaneously. The
Taliban is a movement that occurred in Pakistan's border area, and
the Al Qaeda, too, seems to have a base there. The deteriorated
relationship between the Karzai administration and Pakistan has
contributed to the resurgence of the Taliban.
-- How should Japan assist (Afghanistan)?
Ogata: Japan had provided assistance for the stability and
reconstruction of Afghanistan even before 9/11 and achieved results.
When I visited the United States this spring, Richard Holbrooke, the
U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other
high-level officials said to me to work hard in areas in which Japan
In the months ahead, the focus will be on the improvement of the
growing Kabul Metropolitan Area and agricultural support for local
regions. Disarmed soldiers will also return to rural areas, and
unless they can make a living on agriculture, they might resort to
drug cultivation.
(Interview by Takaaki Mizuno and Erika Fuji)
(11) Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, International Christian
University to form academic zone
SANKEI (Page 1) (Abridged)
August 27, 2009
The Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) and the International
Christian University (ICU), which have begun collaborating from this
school year, will also implement interchangeable academic credits
from the next school year. These two universities are well known for
their foreign language education. A university official says:
"Combining the TUFS's education in 26 languages and the ICU's
liberal arts education will make an ideal education system." The
campuses of the two universities are also close to each other. They
aim to form an "international academic zone" where the local
community is closely linked with the university, like the Oxford
University in the UK.
TUFS President Ikuo Kameyama proposed the collaboration scheme to
ICU President Norihiko Suzuki in March 2008. Exchanges began with
giving access to their libraries to the students and faculty members
of both universities. They now plan to introduce interchangeable
academic units for undergraduate students from School Year 2010.
While the TUFS is a national university while ICU is a private one,
they have many things in common apart from excellence in language
education. For example, they both have a similar number of students
at around 3,000. The two campuses are only 10 minutes away by
TOKYO 00001986 015 OF 023
bicycle, so President Kameyama thought ICU would be an ideal
partner. The goal is reportedly to cultivate a "regional brand" for
an international university by building close links between the
university and the local community.
President Kameyama says: "While both universities are well known,
they are small in scale. Amid the trend of universities moving back
to the city center, it is necessary to cultivate an appealing brand
so that talented students will come to this place away from the city
(12) Pre-election poll on public trends
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
August 18, 2009
Questions & Answers
(Figures shown are percentages. Figures in parentheses are
percentages in the last survey, conducted Aug. 15-16.)
Q: To what extent are you interested in the upcoming general
election for the House of Representatives?
Very interested 51.6 (47.1)
Somewhat interested 38.9 (40.2)
Not very interested 7.5 (9.9)
Not interested at all 1.9 (2.9)
Don't know (D/K) + no answer (N/A) 0.1 (0.4)
Q: Which political party's candidate are you going to vote for in
your single-seat constituency in the general election?
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 22.6 (18.8)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 36.0 (34.1)
New Komeito (NK) 2.3 (3.0)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 2.6 (2.4)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 0.9 (0.5)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0.4 (0.5)
Your Party (YP or Minna no To) 1.4 (0.3)
Reform Club (RC or Kaikaku Kurabu) --- (---)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) --- (---)
Other political parties, groups 0.1 (0.4)
Independent candidate 0.8 (0.3)
None 2.6 (3.2)
Undecided 28.8 (34.2)
D/K+N/A 1.5 (2.3)
Q: Which political party are you going to vote for in your
proportional representation bloc?
LDP 17.9 (16.5)
DPJ 35.9 (32.6)
NK 5.2 (4.9)
JCP 3.9 (3.8)
SDP 2.2 (1.1)
PNP 0.3 (0.9)
YP 1.0 (0.7)
RC 0.1 (---)
NPN 0.1 (0.2)
Other political parties, groups 0.1 (0.2)
None 1.1 (1.7)
Undecided 30.9 (35.1)
TOKYO 00001986 016 OF 023
D/K+N/A 1.3 (2.3)
Q: What do you regard as most important when you vote in the general
Social security, such as pension and healthcare 41.4 (40.5)
Economy, job security 27.3 (32.1)
Taxation, such as consumption tax 8.7 (8.2)
Decentralization, administrative reform 7.3 (6.0)
Constitutional reform 0.9 (0.6)
Foreign relations, national security 3.4 (2.5)
Politics and money 4.0 (4.0)
Political pedigree 0.9 (0.5)
Other answers 2.8 (1.9)
D/K+N/A 3.3 (3.7)
Q: Are you going to vote in the upcoming election?
Yes, for sure (including early voting) 84.0 (77.5)
Yes, if possible 14.1 (17.6)
No 1.4 (4.5)
D/K+N/A 0.5 (0.4)
Q: What form of government would you like to see after the next
general election?
LDP-led coalition government 20.2 (18.2)
DPJ-led coalition government 40.9 (40.8)
LDP-DPJ grand coalition 14.3 (11.9)
New framework through political realignment 13.8 (17.3)
D/K+N/A 10.8 (11.8)
Q: When comparing Prime Minister Taro Aso and DPJ President Yukio
Hatoyama, who do you think is more appropriate for prime minister?
Taro Aso 22.7 (19.5)
Yukio Hatoyama 48.7 (48.6)
D/K+N/A 28.6 (31.9)
Q: Is there a political party you usually support?
Yes 34.3 (30.7)
No 65.2 (68.3)
D/K+N/A 0.5 (1.0)
Q: (Only for those who answered "yes" to the foregoing question)
Then, which political party do you support?
LDP 50.4 (46.9)
DPJ 30.1 (29.0)
NK 10.4 (9.9)
JCP 4.9 (8.4)
SDP 2.2 (2.3)
PNP 0.4 (1.7)
YP --- (---)
RC --- (---)
NPN 0.1 (---)
Other political parties, groups 0.2 (---)
D/K+N/A 1.3 (1.8)
Q: (Only for those who answered "no" to the foregoing question) If
you were to support a political party, which political party would
TOKYO 00001986 017 OF 023
you like to choose?
LDP 15.9 (18.0)
DPJ 32.6 (36.6)
NK 2.4 (2.2)
JCP 2.6 (2.1)
SDP 2.1 (0.6)
PNP 0.1 (0.4)
YP 0.7 (0.7)
RC --- (0.1)
NPN 0.4 (0.1)
Other political parties, groups --- (0.2)
Still none 41.6 (37.8)
D/K+N/A 1.6 (1.2)
Q: Do you support the Aso cabinet?
Yes 23.6 (18.5)
No 66.8 (71.2)
D/K+N/A 9.6 (10.3)
Polling methodology: This survey was conducted across the nation on
Aug. 26-27 by Kyodo News Service on a computer-aided random digit
dialing (RDD) basis. Among randomly generated telephone numbers,
those actually for household use with one or more eligible voters
totaled 1,773. Answers were obtained from 1,229 people.
(13) Sankei-FNN poll on Aso cabinet, political parties, general
SANKEI (Page 5) (Abridged)
August 25, 2009
Questions & Answers
(Note) Figures are percentages. Figures in parentheses are
percentages in the previous Sankei-FNN survey, conducted Aug. 8-9.
Q: Do you support the Aso cabinet?
Yes 22.2 (20.5)
No 67.9 (66.6)
Don't know (D/K), etc. 9.9 (12.9)
Q: Which political party do you support?
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 26.1 (22.0)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 36.0 (31.1)
New Komeito (NK) 4.9 (5.0)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 2.4 (3.7)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 1.5 (1.5)
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0.4 (0.7)
Your Party (YP or Minna no To) 1.9 (---)
Reform Club (RC or Kaikaku Kurabu) 0.1 (0.0)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0.1 (0.2)
Other political parties 0.8 (2.1)
None 24.4 (31.4)
D/K, etc. 1.4 (2.3)
Q: What do you regard as most important in the election for the
House of Representatives?
TOKYO 00001986 018 OF 023
A change of government 18.6 (15.0)
Childcare, education 13.2 (10.7)
Social security, such as healthcare and pension 30.5 (30.8)
National security, such as North Korea problem 3.0 (2.4)
Ways and means, such as consumption tax 5.6 (6.6)
Economic policy measures 15.6 (20.1)
Administrative reform 3.6 (4.1)
Agricultural policy 2.5 (2.9)
Policy feasibility 6.5 (6.9)
D/K, etc. 0.9 (0.5)
Q: When comparing Prime Minister Aso and DPJ President Hatoyama,
which one do you think is more trusworthy?
Prime Minister Aso 27.8 (27.9)
DPJ President Hatoyama 57.5 (54.5)
D/K, etc. 14.7 (17.6)
Q: When comparing Prime Minister Aso and DPJ President Hatoyama,
which one do you think is more convincing?
Prime Minister Aso 28.0 (20.7)
DPJ President Hatoyama 53.0 (56.3)
D/K, etc. 19.0 (23.0)
Q: When comparing Prime Minister Aso and DPJ President Hatoyama, who
do you think is more appropriate as prime minister?
Prime Minister Aso 22.6 (20.5)
DPJ President Hatoyama 45.5 (44.8)
D/K, etc. 31.9 (34.7)
Q: Who do you think is most appropriate now as Japan's prime
minister among the following politicians in the ruling and
opposition parties?
Taro Aso 4.5 (4.1)
Shigeru Ishiba 3.1 (4.5)
Nobuteru Ishihara 4.9 (5.0)
Yuriko Koike 2.4 (3.3)
Junichiro Koizumi 5.1 (7.8)
Yoichi Masuzoe 16.5 (16.9)
Kaoru Yosano 3.6 (3.1)
Other ruling party lawmakers 3.7 (0.8)
Katsuya Okada 7.9 (10.8)
Ichiro Ozawa 5.5 (3.7)
Naoto Kan 3.9 (3.1)
Yukio Hatoyama 13.3 (12.8)
Other opposition party lawmakers 4.4 (2.5)
None 17.7 (15.5)
D/K, etc. 3.5 (2.2)
Q: What do you regard as most important when voting in your
electoral districts?
Candidate 35.1 (31.9)
Political party policies 44.4 (49.7)
Political party heads 4.3 (4.9)
Whether the candidate is with the ruling or opposition party 13.9
D/K, etc. 2.3 (2.7)
TOKYO 00001986 019 OF 023
Q: Which political party would you like to vote for in the next
election for the House of Representatives in your proportional
representation bloc?
LDP 24.4 (25.4)
DPJ 45.8 (44.6)
NK 6.6 (5.8)
JCP 4.2 (4.4)
SDP 2.1 (2.2)
PNP 1.0 (1.8)
YP 2.8 (---)
RC 0.0 (0.0)
NPN 0.5 (0.2)
Other political parties 2.9 (3.6)
D/K, etc. 9.7 (11.6)
Q: What form of government would you like to see after the next
general election?
LDP-led coalition government 18.1 (17.3)
DPJ-led coalition government 39.1 (38.4)
LDP-DPJ grand coalition 38.7 (39.4)
D/K, etc. 4.1 (4.9)
Q: Would you like to see a change of government through the election
for the House of Representatives?
Yes 66.5
No 28.0
D/K, etc. 5.5
Polling methodology: The survey was conducted Aug. 20-23 by the
Sankei Shimbun and Fuji News Network (FNN) over the telephone on a
computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis. For the survey, a
total of 1,000 persons were sampled from among men and women, aged
20 and over, across the nation.
(14) Poll on Aso cabinet, political parties
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Abridged)
August 28, 2009
Questions & Answers
(T = total; P = previous; M = male; F = female)
Q: Do you support the Aso cabinet?
Yes 20 (17) 20 19
No 60 (67) 64 58
Not interested 18 (16) 15 20
Q: (Only for those who answered "yes" to the above question) Why?
Because the prime minister is from the Liberal Democratic Party 39
(34) 34 42
Because the prime minister's leadership holds promise 6 (12) 5 7
Because there's something familiar about the prime minister 16 (24)
16 16
Because the prime minister's policy measures hold promise 33 (25)
TOKYO 00001986 020 OF 023
40 29
Q: (Only for those who answered "no" to the above question) Why?
Because the prime minister is from the Liberal Democratic Party 7
(8) 10 5
Because nothing can be expected of the prime minister's leadership
36 (39) 32 38
Because there's something imprudent about the prime minister 18 (15)
20 16
Because nothing can be expected of the prime minister's policy
measures 39 (36) 37 40
Q: Which political party do you support?
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 20 (18) 22 18
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 39 (36) 42 37
New Komeito (NK) 5 (5) 4 6
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 4 (4) 4 3
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 1 (1) 1 1
People's New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0 (1) 0 0
Your Party (YP or Minna no To) 2 1 2
Reform Club (RC or Kaikaku Kurabu) 0 (---) --- 1
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0 (0) 0 0
Other political parties 1 (2) 1 1
None 26 (32) 24 28
Q: Who do you think is more appropriate for prime minister, Prime
Minister Aso or DPJ President Hatoyama?
Prime Minister Aso 15 (11) 15 15
DPJ President Hatoyama 31 (28) 39 27
Neither 51 (57) 44 54
Q: Which party, the LDP or the DPJ, would you like to see win in the
next election for the House of Representatives?
LDP 25 (23) 25 25
DPJ 55 (56) 59 52
Other political parties 15 (16) 12 16
Q: Which political party's candidate are you going to vote for in
your single-seat constituency?
LDP 23 23 23
DPJ 46 50 43
NK 5 4 5
JCP 4 4 3
SDP 2 2 2
PNP 0 1 0
YP 2 2 2
RC 0 -- 0
NPN 0 0 0
Other political parties, independent 9 8 9
Q: Which political party are you going to vote for in your
proportional representation bloc?
TOKYO 00001986 021 OF 023
LDP 21 (18) 22 20
DPJ 44 (45) 48 42
NK 7 (6) 5 8
JCP 5 (4) 5 5
SDP 1 (1) 2 1
PNP 1 (0) 1 1
YP 2 2 2
RC 0 (0) -- 0
NPN 1 (0) 2 1
Other political parties, independent 7 (2) 5 9
Q: Are you going to vote in the upcoming election for the House of
Yes, definitely 75 77 73
Probably 18 14 20
Probably not 2 3 2
No 2 3 2
(Note) Figures are percentages, rounded off. "0" indicates that the
figure was below 0.5 PERCENT . "--" denotes that none of those
surveyed answered. Figures in parentheses are for the last survey,
conducted July 18-19.
Polling methodology: The survey was conducted Aug. 26-27 over the
telephone across the nation on a computer-aided random digit
sampling (RDS) basis. A total of 1,713 households with one or more
eligible voters were sampled. Answers were obtained from 1,026
persons (60 PERCENT ).
(15) DPJ's proposal for system of compensating farm households'
income will ruin Japan's agriculture
August 28, 2009
Yoshihiro Asakawa, deputy editor of monthly "Agricultural Business
It is believed that Masahiko Yamada, who once served as agriculture
minister of the Next Cabinet, Takashi Shinohara and Nobutaka Tsutsui
are responsible for drafting the Democratic Party of Japan's (DPJ)
agricultural policy. They will become members of a new agricultural
policy clique in the Diet after a change in administration. What
sort of politicians are they?
Yamada became a politician, after his beef cattle ranch incurred
major losses of several hundred million yen. He, the author of a
book titled "Novel - Japan-U.S. food war," is hard-liner against the
Shinohara's, a former agriculture ministry official, policy slogan
is "local production for local consumption." He is basically known
for his stance of being negative toward imports of any goods.
Tsutsui, the incumbent agriculture minister of the Next Cabinet, is
affiliated with the former Socialist Party. Zennorin, a labor union
for officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
(MAFF), is his power base. He openly says that what farm households
TOKYO 00001986 022 OF 023
need is not industrial policy but social security policy.
The major and worst problem about the income compensation system for
farm households is that it is intended to cover losses incurred by
farmers due to gaps between the cost of the cultivation of rice and
the sales prices of such, that is to say, compensating deficits
incurred by farmers.
Under the system, the more farmers incur losses, the more they
receive money from the government. If even lazy farmers can get
general compensation from the government, a sound competition
principle would not work. Japan will be full of deficit-ridden
The DPJ noted that such a system should be introduced in Japan, too,
because farmers' income is compensated by direct payment in the EU.
However, the EU's compensation system and that of Japan are two
different systems.
According to the DPJ plan, compensation is paid to cover the cost of
production. The average cost of producing wheat in Japan is
approximately 600,000 yen per hectare. The international price for
wheat produced from 1 hectare of field is only about 60,000 yen.
Under the DPJ's compensation plan, this gap - 540,000 yen per
hectare will be compensated. This is extraordinarily generous
treatment in comparison with the EU's compensation system, based on
labor quantity.
In addition, the DPJ says that it would pay money only to farmers
who grew the state-designated amounts of state-designated crops. Why
does the DPJ want to have farmers grow crops that do not sell at the
expenses of tax money? Behind its policy is the notion of food
security. Its stance is that Japan's food self-sufficiency rate is
so low that 60 percent of foods it consumes are imported from
abroad. Japan would face a food shortage, unless it raises such a
rate. In order to prevent the nation falling into such a situation,
farm households must be protected with income compensation.
It is true that securing foods is a key issue for the state.
However, the basic concept on food security is different between the
world and Japan.
There are three notions regarding food security common to the
international community. First, the nation should be equipped with
foods that can provide minimum nutrition to the people so that they
can lead healthy livelihood. Second, the nation should be able to
supply foods at prices that can be afforded even by poor people.
Third, the nation should be able to supply safe foods even in the
event of an unexpected natural disaster.
Among industrialized countries, Japan is the only country that is
discussing food security, premised on vague anxieties, such as what
should be done, if a food shortage occurs in the future.
Fallacy of food self-sufficiency rate
The words "food self-sufficiency," which has been given into common
parlance now, is also phony. The self-sufficiency rate is the index
indicating to what extent domestically-produced foods can cover the
total food supply in the nation, which MAFF has defined. It is not
known that it is only Japan that adopts this index.
TOKYO 00001986 023 OF 023
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and MAFF have stated food
self-sufficiency campaign using an enormous amount of budget in
order to raise this calorie-based self-sufficiency rate, which has
various inconsistencies, by 1 percent.
The author has continued to point out this issue. Now even the
special MAFF team says that the self-sufficiency rate is meaningless
as an index. However, people are persistently calling on the
government to raise the food self-sufficiency rate because it would
be troublesome if a food shortage occurs. This is presumably the
result of both the ruling and opposition camps setting off anxieties
about a food shortage in order to secure votes of farming villages.
All political parties have incorporated food security and a pledge
to raise the food self-sufficiency rate in their manifestos.
The DPJ maintains that it will raise the food self-sufficiency rate
by 50 percent in 10 years and eventually aim for a full
self-sufficiency. This stance can be called a calorie
self-sufficiency fundamentalism.
Real food security means laying down a policy of increasing
independent farmers. In fact, only about 7 percent of independent
farmers produce 60 percent of domestic output. These farmers are
proactively making investment and pressing ahead with technical
innovation and the development of commercial products.
The author wants to propose a preferential treatment system to help
individual farmer achieve a surplus.
Those eligible for this scheme are famers who want to achieve a
surplus. They can grow whatever crops they want. Farmers - the
producers -- are responsible for creating demand. Loans would be
provided for a period of five years, for instance, to those who have
submitted a management plan. If they post earning, they would be
exempt from the payment of all loans they received as well as the
payment of interest. In the meantime, farmers who suffered losses
would have to pay loans they received.
Farmers should compile a profit-earning program and aim to produce
surplus, while making efforts to achieve their goals. If such a very
ordinary way of doing business takes roots, the number of farmers
who can engaging in farming in a sustainable way will increase.
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media