Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 11/12/09

Published: Thu 12 Nov 2009 11:05 PM
DE RUEHKO #2619/01 3162305
P 122305Z NOV 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
(1) Editorial: U.S. President Obama's visit to Japan - New
administration being tested over management of Japan-U.S. alliance
(2) Editorial: Obama's 1st visit to Japan should be starting point
for deepening alliance (Mainichi)
(3) Ginowan mayor to attend President Obama's speech on Nov. 14
(Okinawa Times)
(4) Editorial: The voice of Okinawa reached the Hatoyama cabinet on
Futenma relocation? (Tokyo Shimbun)
(5) Interview with Joseph Nye, professor at Harvard University:
Japan, U.S. should issue new declaration on 50th anniversary of
Security Treaty (Nikkei)
(6) Interview with Professor Kent Calder: Create a venue for
dialogue on Japan-U.S. security arrangements (Nikkei)
(7) Failure to report accident lamented at funeral of victim of
fatal hit-and-run incident in Okinawa (Okinawa Times)
(8) Editorial: Folly of check-book diplomacy, again (Nikkei)
(9) TOP HEADLINES (Nikkei)
(10) EDITORIALS (Nikkei)
(1) Editorial: U.S. President Obama's visit to Japan - New
administration being tested over management of Japan-U.S. alliance
ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
November 12, 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama will arrive in Japan tomorrow. In the
presidential election campaign just one year ago, Obama called for
change. Since he assumed office, he has demonstrated his originality
in both domestic and foreign policies. The international community
is now paying close attention to how Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama,
who also took over the reins of government (in the last House of
Representatives election), is going to deepen Japan-U.S. relations
in cooperation with President Obama.
Attaching great importance to such global challenges as global
warming and nuclear arms reduction, the Obama and Hatoyama
administrations are willing to address these issues based on
multilateral cooperation. We hope the two leaders, while reaffirming
that the bilateral alliance will remain solid also in the future,
will envision a fresh vision that is greatly different from the
approach taken in the days of the Bush administration and successive
Japanese governments led by the Liberal Democratic Party.
But there is a thorny issue that stands in the way of Japan-U.S.
relations - the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma
Air Station. Japan and the U.S. agreed three years ago to relocate
the facility to Henoko in Nago City. Although Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates pressed Japan to accept this current plan before
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President Obama visits Japan, the two countries have decided not to
spotlight the Futenma issue in the upcoming summit meeting.
Instead, they agreed to have a cabinet-level task force speed up
work to bring about a settlement to the issue at an early date. It
is surely undesirable for the two leaders will be at odds over the
Futenma issue during their meeting.
The situation, though, is becoming more and more complicated. The
Okinawa governor and the Nago mayor have expressed their approval of
the existing plan, but the change of government has boosted
expectations among Okinawa prefecture and local residents for the
Futenma facility to be moved out of the prefecture. They are also
becoming more impatient about the prime minister's indecisive
Meanwhile, the danger of the Futenma Air Station must be removed as
soon as possible. If a part of the overall plan for the realignment
of U.S. forces in Japan is halted as a result of the existing plan
being put back to square one, other measures to reduce the base
burden on Okinawa, such as the return of the site to be vacated by
the Futenma Air Station and the transfer of Marines to Guam, will
also come to a stalemate.
It might be an idea for Hatoyama to frankly speak of the difficulty
and complexity of the Futenma issue. It is important for the prime
minister to demonstrate his eagerness in the summit to exchange
views on this issue in a serious manner because the issue bears on
the base of the bilateral alliance, instead of sidestepping it.
No matter what decision the prime minister makes, he will need a
great deal of political energy to break the current impasse based on
his decision. It is necessary for the two leaders to express their
determination to resolve this issue at an early date in order to
gain enough momentum to break the impasse.
In an interview with NHK, President Obama indicated his
understanding for the reexamination of the agreement to move the
facility to Henoko by the Hatoyama administration, but also
expressed his expectation for Japan's acceptance of the plan in the
When a regime change takes place, it is possible that the new
government will change the policies of the previous government, and
this can result in friction. The new administrations are being
tested on how they will manage the Japan-U.S. alliance.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The new administrations of Japan and the
U.S. will soon begin working on considering future options for the
Japan-U.S. alliance and role-sharing for the 21st century. We hope
the coming summit will be an appropriate starting point for this
(2) Editorial: Obama's 1st visit to Japan should be starting point
for deepening alliance
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
November 11, 2009
U.S. President Obama will come to Japan on Nov. 13 for the first
time since taking office and will meet with Prime Minister Yukio
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Hatoyama. The two leaders are expected to talk about such issues as
assistance measures for Afghan reconstruction, efforts to address
climate change, and nuclear disarmament.
Ahead of the summit meeting, the Japanese government has decided to
extend 5 billion dollars (approximately 450 billion yen) in aid to
Afghanistan over a period of five years from this year. This aid
package for Afghanistan features such measures as providing
vocational training for former Taliban militants to help them
reenter society, continuing to pay half of the wages for local
police, and carrying out agricultural and medical support. The
government has shelved the option of sending the Self-Defense Forces
to Afghanistan in lieu of continuing the Maritime Self-Defense
Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean because of the
deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and out of
consideration for the Social Democratic Party, one of the ruling
Democratic Party of Japan's two coalition partners. Instead, the
government has decided to provide civilian assistance with funding.
Even so, Japan has extended a total of approximately 2 billion
dollars in its civilian assistance to Afghanistan since 2002. As it
stands, Japan's contributions will pile up in a major way. This is
apparently a consequence of having made concessions to the United
States as a price for discontinuing the MSDF's refueling mission in
the Indian Ocean and limiting Japan's personnel contributions due to
the worsening security situation in Afghanistan. Since the
government is going to spend so much of the taxpayers' money, it
should secure transparency through public accountability on such
points as how much assistance is being provided.
Meanwhile, it seems the two leaders will not delve too deeply into
the issue of relocating the U.S. military's Futenma airfield in
Okinawa Prefecture. This is to delay dealing with the problem.
However, since Futenma is a major pending issue or Japan and the
United States, it will undoubtedly be the most important issue
lurking in the background of the summit meeting.
We are, however, concerned about the Hatoyama cabinet's way of
addressing the Futenma issue. In its manifesto for this summer's
general election for the House of Representatives, the DPJ committed
itself to reviewing the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan and the
presence of U.S. military bases in Japan. During the election
campaign, DPJ President Hatoyama clarified his intention to relocate
Futenma airfield outside Okinawa Prefecture. "Futenma relocation
outside Okinawa Prefecture" is a de facto public pledge.
However, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada is giving heed to
integrating the heliport functions of Futenma airfield into the U.S.
Kadena Air Base, and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa is leaning
toward the current plan to relocate Futenma airfield to a coastal
area of Camp Schwab in line with an intergovernmental agreement
reached between Japan and the United States. The two ministers both
agree on relocation within Okinawa Prefecture. The Hatoyama cabinet
does not appear to be looking at all seriously into the possibility
of moving the Futenma base out of Okinawa Prefecture. Prime Minister
Hatoyama underscored both "the wishes of Okinawa Prefecture's local
residents" and "the gravity of the intergovernmental agreement
between Japan and the United States." However, he knew about the
bilateral agreement when he insisted on Futenma relocation outside
Okinawa Prefecture, didn't he? It is Prime Minister Hatoyama's
responsibility to pave the way toward resolving the pending issue of
Futenma relocation. We want Prime Minister Hatoyama and President
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Obama to exchange views at least to address the Futenma issue in an
earnest manner and come up with a solution to the problem.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. There has been a change of government
both in Japan and in the United States. In response to this, it
should be very significant for the two countries to start working
together to deepen their bilateral alliance. Prime Minister Hatoyama
has also played up the Japan-U.S. alliance as the foundation of
Japan's foreign policy. Next November Japan will host the
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Yokohama. On that
occasion, President Obama will visit Japan again to attend the
forum. The upcoming Hatoyama-Obama summit should be the starting
point for redefining the bilateral alliance.
(3) Ginowan mayor to attend President Obama's speech on Nov. 14
OKINAWA TIMES (Page 2) (Full)
November 12, 2009
TOKYO-Yoichi Iha, mayor of Ginowan, site of the U.S. Marine Corps'
Futenma Air Station, revealed on Nov. 11 that he has received from
the U.S. Embassy an invitation to President Barack Obama's speech to
be delivered in Tokyo on Nov. 14. The U.S. Embassy has also invited
Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, as well as the mayors of Okinawa
City, Kadena, and Chatan, which are localities surrounding the U.S.
Kadena Air Base.
The Okinawa government is now arranging the governor's schedule.
However, the three mayors will forgo attending the session on
account of their official duties.
According to Mayor Iha, the U.S. Embassy conveyed a verbal
invitation to Ginowan City on Nov. 10.
Reportedly, President Obama will speak on the U.S.'s Asia policy.
However, Iha said that there was no explanation of why the heads of
local governments in Okinawa were invited.
In March 2009 Mayor Iha sent President Obama a letter in which he
explained that the Futenma base is located in a densely populated
area, in violation of U.S. safety standards, and called for an early
removal of the risk imposed by the base.
Iha said, "I was invited probably because of the pending issue (of
Futenma base)," revealing a sense of expectancy.
"If I am given an opportunity to express my view," Iha said, "I
would like to tell the President to eliminate the risk posed by
Futenma, not only for the sake of the children who are the city's
treasures, but also for protecting Henoko Bay, where dugongs live.
(4) Editorial: The voice of Okinawa reached the Hatoyama cabinet on
Futenma relocation?
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 5) (Full)
November 11, 2009
Ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Japan on Nov. 13,
Okinawa's local residents held a rally (on Nov. 8) to protest the
planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station
within Okinawa. Hatoyama cabinet ministers have expressed their
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views, which are premised on relocating the Futenma base within the
island prefecture. Has the voice of Okinawa reached the Hatoyama
The Futenma base, located in a densely populated area of Ginowan
City, is considered the most dangerous base in the world. With
regard to the relocation of the Futenma base, Prime Minister Yukio
Hatoyama reiterated during the campaign for the House of
Representatives election that the best option would be to move the
base out of Japan or at least move it out of Okinawa Prefecture. He
referred to the possibility of reviewing the current plan to
relocate the Futenma base to a coastal area of Camp Schwab, which is
based on an agreement reached between the Japanese and U.S.
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which has advocated moving the
Futenma base's heliport functions outside Okinawa Prefecture or
outside Japan, has taken the reins of government. DPJ candidates
opposed to the idea of relocating Futenma within Okinawa won all the
four single-seat districts of Okinawa Prefecture in the general
election. Therefore, it is only natural that Okinawan people
strongly want the Futenma base at least moved out of the
Nevertheless, the rally was carried out against the relocation of
Futenma airfield within Okinawa Prefecture. Okinawa Prefecture's
local residents were driven by the necessity of crying out against
the Futenma relocation within the prefecture since some cabinet
ministers have made remarks breaking their party's promise to
"(Okinawa-based) U.S. Marines will be moved to Guam and refueling
aircraft will be transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps' Iwakuni Air
Station (in Yamaguchi Prefecture). It is a little wrong to think
that this idea does not satisfy our campaign pledges at all," said
Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa. However, Foreign Minister Katsuya
Okada has suggested the idea of looking into the possibility of
integrating the Futenma base into the U.S. Kadena Air Base (in the
town of Kadena and other municipalities in Okinawa Prefecture). He
said, "The manifesto and comments made by party officials during the
campaign are not equivalent."
The remarks made during the election campaign are pledges. If they
are not campaign pledges, what should voters believe when casting
their ballots?
Okinawa is home to approximately 75 PERCENT of U.S. military bases
in Japan. Recently, a fatal hit-and-run incident occurred in Yomitan
Village, Okinawa Prefecture. The incident is suspected of involving
a U.S. military vehicle. Needless to cite this case, Okinawa has
borne an overly heavy burden.
Prime Minister Hatoyama said, "This is not the kind of issue we can
resolve immediately after taking office." It is understandable that
it would not be easy to resolve the Futenma issue, as he said.
We hear that the U.S. government, which has called for Japan to
implement the agreement, has growing dissatisfaction with Prime
Minister Hatoyama, who has expressed his intention to put off a
conclusion on the issue. We hope, however, that the Prime Minister
will arrive at a conclusion after due consideration. If he gives up
early, Okinawa's high expectations of the Hatoyama administration
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will turn into a sense of distrust at once.
We hope that Prime Minister Hatoyama will talk with President Obama
without reserve on Nov. 13 in order to find common ground on the
Futenma issue. During the summit, he should convey the feelings of
Okinawan people to President Obama straightforwardly.
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the revision of the
U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. The bilateral alliance should be rebuilt
from a mid- to long-term perspective. It is about time for the
government to think about how to mitigate Okinawa's base-hosting
(5) Interview with Joseph Nye, professor at Harvard University:
Japan, U.S. should issue new declaration on 50th anniversary of
Security Treaty
NIKKEI (Page 1) (Full)
November 10, 2009
-- Japan-U.S. relations have been strained since the Hatoyama
administration was launched.
Nye: Since the change of government came after the Liberal
Democratic Party's (LDP) monopoly on power lasting for many years,
it is only natural for there to be some friction between the new
government and the U.S. Most of the current friction could have been
anticipated. There is no need to worry about this in the long run.
The Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements are based on common interests
such as what approaches they should take to rising China and
unpredictable North Korea.
-- What do you think of the Hatoyama administration's performance?
Nye: It is premature to make an evaluation. To put it in Navy terms,
it is better to turn your eyes to the horizon than to become seasick
while looking down the waves that are rocking the ship.
Japan-U.S. relationship is not a master-servant relationship
-- Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said in Diet replies: "The LDP
was blindly following the U.S.;" and "a review of the Japan-U.S.
relationship is necessary."
Nye: It is incorrect to liken the Japan-U.S. relationship to the
relationship between a master and servant. Japan and the U.S. are
legally on an equal footing, so if Japan does not need to ensure its
national security with the presence of U.S. military forces, it can
ask the U.S. to withdraw them. If Japan makes such a request, the
U.S. will withdraw its troops.
The Self-Defense Force's capabilities are inferior to those of the
U.S. military. But that is the consequence of the policy Japan took,
reflecting its historical and political circumstances. If Japan
hopes and tries to possess the same level of military power as that
of the U.S., it will cost Japan and its neighbors a great deal. In
new areas such as energy and climate change prevention technology,
Japan will be able take the initiative because it has technical
capabilities that are superior to those of the U.S.
-- What are your thoughts on the concept of the East Asian Community
proposed by Prime Minister Hatoyama?
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Nye: It depends on how the concept is defined. Japan's efforts to
deepen ties with its neighbors should be welcomed. It should be
possible to establish a regional community that overlaps with
existing regional frameworks, such as the ASEAN (Association of
Southeast Asian Nation) plus Japan, the U.S. and South Korea; the
East Asia Summit Conference; and the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) forum.
But it would not be at all productive to create a mechanism
excluding the U.S. -- the world's largest economic power -- in an
age of global interdependence. This point should be taken into
consideration. China probably wouldn't welcome an agreement that
would block its entry into the U.S. market, either.
-- China's gross domestic product (GDP) will soon surpass Japan's.
Has Japan become less valuable to the U.S.?
Nye: China is no match for Japan yet in terms of GDP per capita and
economic sophistication. Japan is also a partner to the U.S. because
it is a democratic state.
Kadena-Futenma integration plan difficult
-- The U.S. government has been calling on Japan to implement the
existing plan for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma
Air Station.
Nye: This problem already existed when I was working for the Defense
Department more than 10 years ago. It will not be beneficial for
both countries to spend another 10 years in pursuit of a better
plan. There is a proposal for integrating the Futenma airfield with
Kadena Air Base. But the Air Force at the Kadena base and the Marine
Corps at the Futenma air station conduct very different activities
in contingencies, so their coexistence would be difficult.
-- Prime Minister Hatoyama has said: "I want to listen to the views
of the Okinawan people." A Nago mayoral election and an Okinawa
gubernatorial election will be held next year.
Nye: It is undesirable to take much time in reaching a conclusion,
but U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell takes the view
that there is enough time to listen to the voices of concern and
understand the political issues.
-- How should the Japan-U.S. relationship be developed in the
Nye: East Asia became prosperous owing to the Japan-U.S. alliance.
It was appropriate that President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister
Ryutaro Hashimoto declared in 1996: "The Security Treaty is not a
relic from the Cold War but the foundation for regional stability in
the Cold-War period." Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Reconfirming that everything has gone
smoothly under the Security Treaty is the cleverest way (to develop
the Japan-U.S. relationship). To that end, I expect Japan and the
U.S. will issue a new declaration. It is desirable for Japan and the
U.S. to affirm their cooperation in dealing with global issues.
-- Japan plans to extend up to 5 billion dollars, or approximately
450 billion yen, in aid to Afghanistan. Will this measure be
regarded as a proper measure to replace the possible halt of the
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ongoing refueling mission in the Indian Ocean or a postponement of
the Futenma relocation issue?
Nye: Although I am not a member of the government, I think it is an
appropriate proposal.
(6) Interview with Professor Kent Calder: Create a venue for
dialogue on Japan-U.S. security arrangements
NIKKEI (Page 1) (Full)
November 12, 2009
Interview with Professor Kent Calder, director of Edwin O.
Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, Johns Hopkins University,
by editorial staff member Tsuyoshi Sunohara
Sunohara: Is the current confusion in the Japan-U.S. relationship
caused by the end of the framework of cooperation between the
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the U.S. Republican Party, and
the change of administration in both countries?
Calder: Yes, of course. Personal connections play a key role in the
Japan-U.S. relationship. The old personal networks between the two
countries built in the past no longer exist. However, delicate
issues such as the security arrangements cannot be resolved without
such personal contacts because mutual trust is indispensable for
behind-the-scenes negotiations. The lack of personal connections at
the high level in particular has complicated the problem. The
bilateral relationship relied too much on the personal friendship
between former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and former President
George Bush in the past few years. They did too many things,
including Iraq aid and missile defense, simultaneously at a time
when the political base of the Japan-U.S. alliance was limited and
personal networks inadequate.
Loss of personal connections
Sunohara: It appears that the Democratic Parties in Japan and the
U.S. do not know each other well and are suspicious of each other.
Calder: When the LDP was the ruling party, it urged the U.S. not to
have anything to do with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). The
U.S. side, particularly during the Bush administration, paid no
attention to the DPJ. While the DPJ did not have policymaking powers
at that time, it was a mistake that the U.S. side did not have
foresight and did not build any personal contacts with the DPJ.
During the Clinton administration, then U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Thomas Foley met with Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan, who were then in
the opposition, after the House of Councillors election in 1998.
That sort of relationship no longer exists today.
Sunohara: What is the Obama administration's stance toward the
Hatoyama administration?
Calder: There are two schools of thought. One is highly suspicious
and takes a tough stance, while the other school wants to wait and
see a little longer. The first school is concerned about the
(Asia-centered) regionalism advocated by the Hatoyama administration
and regards the new administration as being "cold to the United
States." From the U.S. standpoint, it is unclear whether Prime
Minister Hatoyama is willing to include the U.S. in his concept of
the East Asian community. While most people (in the Obama
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administration) belong to the wait-and-see group, there is
increasing distrust.
Sunohara: There are many pending issues relating to the Japan-U.S.
security arrangements, such as the relocation of the Futenma Air
Station and the secret agreement on bringing nuclear arms into
Japan. What are the issues on which the U.S. can compromise and what
are the ones on which it cannot?
Calder: While I do not think there is any problem with the
Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) (which prescribes the
legal status of U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ)), some changes from the
standpoint of reinforcing the alliance are possible. The question of
Futenma relocation should be discussed in the broader context of
"what is the significance of Futenma for the Japan-U.S.
I think the current plan for Futenma relocation is the best option.
However, if Japan disagrees, there is also the option of creating a
new venue for government level dialogue similar to the Japan-U.S.
Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) (which drafted the 1996
Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security). The new body can come to
a conclusion to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the bilateral
security treaty at about this time next year.
"Submersion" has begun
Sunohara: Won't advanced military technology and the loss of
confidence in the Japan-U.S. alliance cause the receding of the U.S.
defense line to the line linking the U.S. territories of Guam and
Calder: While this is possible, theoretically, I don't think the
situation will come to that. The stationing of U.S. forces in
Okinawa is directly linked to the credibility of the nuclear
umbrella provided by the U.S. to Japan. However, if Japan cuts back
its omoiyari yosan (the so-called sympathy budget; host nation
support) for the USFJ, this will lead to a reduction of U.S. troops.
The nuclear umbrella and the sympathy budget will be the pillars
supporting the bilateral alliance in the future. If Japan fails to
recognize this, it will suffer a serious blow.
Sunohara: The Japan-U.S. alliance was said to be "drifting" after
the end of the East-West Cold War. What do you think of the present
Calder: I would not say it is "sinking," but "submersion" has begun.
The alliance relationship with Japan remains an important
cornerstone of the United States' strategy for Asia. Japan and the
U.S. must build broad networks, starting with personal links, in
order to make their relationship lasting. Energy strategy and new
forms of economic cooperation should also be discussed.
(7) Failure to report accident lamented at funeral of victim of
fatal hit-and-run incident in Okinawa
OKINAWA TIMES (Page 28) (Full)
November 12, 2009
The funeral of Masakazu Hokama, 66, who died in the hit-and-run
incident by a car with a "Y" license plate in Sobe, Yomitan Village,
was held on Nov. 11 at the village's welfare center for the elderly.
TOKYO 00002619 010 OF 012
Some 350 relatives and acquaintances of the deceased attended the
funeral. They bid farewell to Mr. Hokama and lamented that "fleeing
the scene of the accident was terrible" and "if the accident had
been reported (immediately), he might have lived." Meanwhile, no one
from the U.S. forces attended the funeral service.
The ceremony was held on the afternoon of Nov. 11, and a picture of
Mr. Hokama wearing a suit was placed in the center of the altar.
Flowers adorned the entrance of the hall. Along with the classmates
and other people who knew the deceased, Prime Minister Yukio
Hatoyama and several cabinet ministers also sent flowers.
A man, 52, who was a colleague of Mr. Hokama more than 20 years ago
at an auto repair shop in Ginowan City, said with a trembling voice:
"I am deeply distressed. It is so sad. If the accident had been
reported immediately, he might have lived. He was still so
Another man, 66, who was a classmate of Mr. Hokama in elementary,
middle, and high school, said: "He was an honest and gentle person.
It is truly regrettable because he was just about to start his life
after retirement. He will not be able to rest in peace if the
American soldier guilty of this is not punished properly." According
to those who attended the funeral, the members of the bereaved
family looked devastated.
Denjitsu Ishimine, vice mayor of Yomitan, who represented the
village at the funeral, stated grimly: "It was a vicious case of
hit-and-run. The victim, Mr. Hokama, and his family will surely feel
He also emphasized, "Okinawa is under the rule of law. I ask that
the investigation be conducted rigorously and the culprit be
punished promptly."
A relative merely said, "I hope they find out the cause (of the
accident) quickly," before leaving the hall in a hurry.
(8) Editorial: Folly of check-book diplomacy, again
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
November 12, 2009
As a fresh measure to support Afghanistan, the government will
disburse up to 5 billion dollars over five years starting in 2009.
The money will be used mainly for the civilian sector, such as
vocational training for former soldiers of the anti-government
Taliban militants or the building of infrastructure. This will be
conveyed to U.S. President Obama by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
Projects implemented in the past cost no more than 10 billion yen a
year. However, they have earned international praise. The government
will spend 90 billion yen a year for projects to be launched anew.
Since it is not known whether all that money will be spent, the
government will end up dispensing it like pork-barrel largesse. How
would Government Revitalization Unit officials, who are currently
screening budget requests, categorize such a way of spending tax
When Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada announced the government
decision to end the the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling
mission in the Indian Ocean, we had doubts about the plan, saying,
"Will the government repeat check-book diplomacy again?" Extending
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assistance to the civilian sector to, basically, replace the
suspended refueling operation is check-book diplomacy itself. Will
Japan once again become a country that writes checks instead of
doing the heavy lifting?
In 2002, Japan pledged financial assistance worth 2 billion dollars,
of which approximately 1.8 billion dollars was used over eight years
as a result of aid workers running around to undertake detailed
coordination against a background of poor security. In comparison, 5
billion dollars to be spent over five years is an extraordinary
figure, according to an aid source.
Given the deteriorated security in Afghanistan, there is a
possibility the money will not be used up. In that event, the money
might be entrusted to a UN body or a non-governmental organization
to spend instead. This would be tantamount to dumping the
responsibility for implementing assistance on others.
The Government Revitalization Unit is now discussing how to squeeze
budget requests for fiscal 2010. One billion dollars is no small
amount of money for use in a year. Given the decision-making
process, the figure appears to be a foregone conclusion instead of
being decided on the basis of projects to be undertaken.
In the meantime, the cost of the refueling mission is no more than
10 billion yen. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) identified this
operation as unconstitutional. However, it did not touch on it in
its policy manifesto. The operation is still going on. Prime
Minister Hatoyama has left open other options, noting, "We will not
simply extend the mission." However, he has steered clear of going
into details.
Providing 5 billion dollars would be meaningful, if it is spent
properly. However, the refueling mission is far more meaningful in
terms of cost-effectiveness. It is also appreciated by European
countries and the U.S. It is imperative for the government to speed
up discussion on specific issues for the continuation of the
refueling operation.
Government Revitalization Unit decides to abolish seven items worth
50 billion yen in first day work
Government panel decides to cut 10 projects totaling 70 billion yen
in first day work
Government budget examination panel decides to abolish 10 projects
worth 50 billion yen on day one
FamilyMart, jointly with Itochu, to acquire am/pm convenience stores
to rival Lawson
Report on Henoko, Futenma's relocation site: People grew up with and
benefitted from U.S. bases
TOKYO 00002619 012 OF 012
Tokyo Shimbun:
Government panels decides to abolish 12 projects worth 71.9 billion
yen and to review payments to medical institutions
Poll with 2,000 unemployed: 63 PERCENT out of job for over three
months, 47 PERCENT receiving unemployment benefits; government,
large firms must fulfill their responsibilities
(1) Obama's visit to Japan: Will to manage alliance to be tested
(2) 20th anniversary of the Emperor's accession to throne -
opportunity to think about the future image of the Emperor
(1) 20th anniversary of the Emperor's accession to throne: Emperor
as symbol of the state
(2) Budget screening begins: The people are watching
(1) 20th anniversary of the Emperor's enthronement: Public reverence
for the Imperial Family is deep-seated
(2) Hisaya Morishige, renowned actor of postwar period, passes away
(1) Will JAL's revitalization plan be postponed again?
(2) Checkbook diplomacy a foolish approach
(1) 20th anniversary of the Emperor's enthronement: We wish for
prosperity of the state and Imperial Family: Start considering
imperial succession from square one
Tokyo Shimbun:
(1) Ichihashi arrested thanks to citizens' cooperation
(2) Actor Morishige dies: The sun rises and also sets
(1) Expedite efforts for enactment of new law governing services and
support for persons with disabilities
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