Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 01/26/10

Published: Tue 26 Jan 2010 10:43 PM
DE RUEHKO #0165/01 0262243
P 262243Z JAN 10
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(1) U.S. requested joint statement on 50th anniversary of security
treaty be downgraded to ministerial level due to Futenma dispute
(2) Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano indicates choice of Futenma
relocation site does not necessarily require local government's
consent (Mainichi)
(3) PM Hatoyama driven into corner over the Futenma relocation issue
(4) Futenma in turmoil; (Part 1): Okinawa distrustful of government
due to its precautionary measures (Yomiuri)
(5) Responsibility for confusion rests with Hatoyama (Yomiuri)
(6) Editorial: Government must expedite efforts to find relocation
site for Futenma base outside Okinawa (Asahi)
(7) Editorial: Nago's decision is expression of opposition to
Futenma relocation within Okinawa (Tokyo Shimbun)
(8) Japan's future course -- 50th anniversary of revision of
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty (Party 2-5, conclusion): Discussion on
nuclear policy now necessary (Yomiuri)
(9) Shockwave of President Obama's financial regulation: Japanese
banks may have to change their comprehensive business policy line
(1) U.S. requested joint statement on 50th anniversary of security
treaty be downgraded to ministerial level due to Futenma dispute
09:32, January 26, 2010
Rui Sasaki in Washington
It was learned that the U.S. government had asked the Japanese side
to "downgrade" the joint statement by the two countries to mark the
50th anniversary of the signing of the bilateral security treaty
from a document signed by the top leaders of both countries to one
issued by the ministers of foreign affairs and defense. This was due
to the U.S.'s judgment that in case Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama,
who is looking for a relocation site outside Okinawa for the U.S.
forces' Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan City, Okinawa), scraps the
current plan to relocate the Futenma base to the coastal area of
Camp Schwab (in Nago City), this might affect President Barack
Obama's management of his administration. This episode shows that
the U.S. government's distrust of the Hatoyama administration has
affected the drafting of a critical document.
According to sources on Japan-U.S. relations, the U.S. government
had been preparing to draft the joint statement to be issued in
January 2010 since spring 2009 on the assumption that it would be
signed by the leaders of the two countries.
However, since the inauguration of the Hatoyama administration, the
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Prime Minister has postponed a solution on the Futenma relocation
issue repeatedly. Therefore, White House officials told State
Department officials in charge of relations with Japan last December
"not to involve the President in this," requesting that the
statement be dealt with at the ministerial level. This message was
conveyed to the Japanese side through the State Department.
For this reason, the joint statement, originally planned to be
issued in the name of the two top leaders, was suddenly replaced by
a statement signed by the ministers of foreign affairs and defense,
and all mention of the Futenma issue was dropped.
A source on Japan-U.S. relations said that the U.S. request to
"downgrade" the document "was probably meant to avoid dragging the
row over the Futenma issue into the White House."
However, the two governments decided that the two countries needed
to underscore a strong alliance relationship both domestically and
internationally for peace and stability in Asia and the Pacific in
light of North Korea's development of nuclear arms and missiles and
the acceleration of China's military expansion. Therefore, President
Obama and Prime Minister Hatoyama both issued statements and decided
to go forward with the talks on deepening the alliance without
waiting for a solution to the Futenma issue.
This was the background of the meeting between Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Hawaii before
the joint statement was issued. Officials of the two governments
were unable to enter into concrete discussions on the drafting of
the statement soon enough due to the dispute over the Futenma
relocation issue, and so the final drafting of the document had to
take place in a rush at the State Department all night on Jan. 14.
Hatoyama hopes to meet President Obama at the G-8 Summit in Canada
in late June, but if he scraps the existing Futenma relocation plan,
there is concern that "a summit meeting will be out of the
question," according to the above source on bilateral relations.
(2) Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano indicates choice of Futenma
relocation site does not necessarily require local government's
MAINICHI (Page 1) (Full)
Evening, January 26, 2010
Ai Yokota
At a news conference on the morning of Jan. 26, Chief Cabinet
Secretary Hirofumi Hirano discussed the need for the consent of the
local government in selecting the relocation site for the U.S.
forces' Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan City, Okinawa). He said:
"While this is an issue on which we need to seek the local
government's understanding, I wonder if the issue should be kept
from moving forward if consent cannot be obtained." He thus
indicated that it cannot be helped even if the consent of the local
government cannot be obtained by late May, the deadline set by the
government for a solution to the issue.
Hirano said that the national government has to exercise leadership
in deciding "this issue affecting Japan's security." He added: "I do
think that we need to seek (the local communities') understanding,
but seeking their understanding is only an ideal. Is this an issue
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that requires the consent of every citizen?"
Regarding the local communities' strong reaction to his statement
that "there is no reason why the result of the Nago mayoral election
should be taken into consideration," Hirano said: "I have no
intention to deny that (the election result) is a manifestation of
popular will. However, this does not determine whether (the current
relocation plan) should be eliminated as an option or not," thus
reiterating his stance that the existing plan to relocate the
Futenma base to the coastal area of Camp Schwab (in Henoko, Nago
City) is not being ruled out.
(3) PM Hatoyama driven into corner over the Futenma relocation
NIKKEI (Page 3) (Full)
January 26, 2010
The issue of the relocation of the U.S. forces' Futenma Air Station
(in Ginowan City, Okinawa) has been thrown into increasing
confusion. The candidate opposed to Futenma's relocation won in the
mayoral election in Nago City, Okinawa, on Jan. 24. While Prime
Minister Yukio Hatoyama has pledged to reach a conclusion on this
issue by May, it will be extremely difficult to select a relocation
site in a short period of time. A solution is not in sight. We
looked into the possible scenarios.
Forcing through the existing relocation plan -- SDP, local
communities will protest
Hatoyama told reporters on the evening of Jan. 25: "I would like you
to understand that every proposal is included (as an option),"
indicating that the plan to relocate the Futenma base to the coastal
area of Camp Schwab, as agreed upon by Japan and the U.S., will also
be considered as an option. Earlier, he stated at the Ministerial
Committee on Basic Policies that "if we come up with a proposal that
Japan and the U.S. cannot agree on, we will be a laughing stock."
Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada also indicated on a TBS TV program
that the current relocation plan is not being ruled out, saying: "In
the end, the national government is responsible for making the
If the government decides on the current plan despite the result of
the mayoral election, it is possible that construction work cannot
take place. Reclamation of the sea requires the permission of
Governor Hirokazu Nakaima. If the governor pushes for the current
plan, there is a strong possibility that the Prefectural Assembly,
where the advocates of Futenma's relocation out of Okinawa control a
majority of seats, may pass a motion of no confidence against him.
The government's selection of the current plan would also energize
the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which advocates relocation out of
Okinawa. The SDP is poised to leave the ruling coalition if Hatoyama
insists on the current plan. There is a growing opinion in the
government that "it is pointless to grow a tree that will not bear
fruit" (Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa's words), which means that
a decision to adopt the current plan is virtually impossible.
Relocation of exercises only - no relocation site can be found
A proposal has come up in the government to retain the Futenma base,
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but transfer some exercises to other U.S. military bases or
Self-Defense Forces facilities. Within Okinawa, the islands of
Shimojishima and Iejima have been cited as possible sites, and
outside of Okinawa, the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Omura base (in
Nagasaki Prefecture) and the U.S. forces' Camp Fuji (in Shizuoka
Prefecture) have been mentioned. However, the citizens of Ginowan
City will not be satisfied with mere relocation of exercises, so the
protest movement will heat up again.
On the other hand, municipalities in Okinawa being cited as possible
relocation sites have reacted strongly. Their local assemblies have
adopted resolutions opposing relocation. Mayor Takashi Matsumoto of
Omura City in Nagasaki at a news conference on Jan. 18 also stressed
that he will "absolutely refuse to accept" the exercises. The mayors
of Gotenba City, Susono City, and the town of Oyama in Shizuoka
Prefecture, the site of Camp Fuji, also voiced opposition at a news
conference in Gotenba on Jan. 12.
Even the relocation of exercises alone will be very difficult, and
the reality is that no local government is willing to accept the
full relocation of the Futenma base along with its large number of
U.S. Marines.
Further delay - rift between Japan and the U.S. to worsen
In the end, it is possible that the government may be unable to
decide on Futenma's relocation site by May and may put off a
conclusion once again. Since the Prime Minister keeps saying a
solution will be reached by May, if he is unable to fulfill his
commitment to the U.S., the Japan-U.S. relationship will deteriorate
further. This situation may also lead to the Futenma base's
remaining permanently. Strong criticism can be expected from
Okinawa, which is demanding the early return of Futenma, and this is
certain to impact the House of Councillors election in summer.
Experts' views
Implementation of current relocation plan nearly impossible
Doshisha University Professor Koji Murata
The result of the Nago mayoral election has tipped the delicate
balance in the Nago City Assembly, so a resolution opposing
Futenma's relocation will probably be passed. Okinawa Governor
Hirokazu Nakaima will not be able to approve the start of
construction work. The Hatoyama administration may have actually
included in its calculations the further deterioration in the
Japan-U.S. relationship.
Unless Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama determines that dissolving the
coalition with the SDP is inevitable after the FY2010 budget is
passed in May, when he is supposed to make his final decision, it
will be near impossible to go back to the existing relocation plan
in the teeth of the SDP's opposition. One would think that the Prime
Minister has a miracle plan up his sleeve, but he actually has
nothing of the sort. It's the same situation as when he told U.S.
President Barack Obama "trust me."
Observe the U.S. response
Tetsuo Maeda, visiting professor at Okinawa University
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I think the U.S. government takes the outcome of the Nago mayoral
election very seriously and is making its analysis. Assistant
Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and others who have been advocating
the implementation of the current plan were the ones who drew it up.
We have not heard the opinions of President Obama and other
officials. The Japanese government needs to watch whether the U.S.'s
stance toward Japan remains the same or whether it is going to
Under Liberal Democratic Party administrations, the bilateral
relationship consisted of the U.S. making one-sided demands and
Japan accepting them. With the change of administration, a dialogue
is finally about to begin. While the relationship seems to be
strained because both sides are not familiar with how to conduct
this dialogue, I think the U.S. is trying to understand Japan and
put this dialogue onto the right track.
(4) Futenma in turmoil; (Part 1): Okinawa distrustful of government
due to its precautionary measures
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Abridged)
January 26, 2010
"There must be something wrong with a politician who does not
respect popular will," Susumu Inamine said at his office in Nago
around noon yesterday. Inamine had won the mayoral election in Nago,
Okinawa Prefecture, the previous day.
The victory of Inamine, who opposes the existing plan to relocate
the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to the Henoko district in
Nago, has now made the rejection of the existing plan the popular
will of the city. But Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Chief
Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano have expressed a plan not to
exclude the existing plan from the options, saying, "There is no
reason why we have to take the election results into account."
Advocating a review of the existing plan under a Japan-U.S.
agreement, Hatoyama has referred to the possibility of moving
Futenma out of Okinawa or even out of Japan, stirring up the
expectations of people in Okinawa, including the residents of Nago.
Hatoyama has also repeatedly made remarks that could be interpreted
as leaving the decision to the Nago mayoral election, saying, "I
will take the sentiments of the residents of Nago into
But the government and the ruling coalition have not yet been able
to come up with a new relocation plan that is acceptable to the
three parties concerned: the U.S. government, the ruling parties,
and the affected municipalities.
Hatoyama and Hirano's remarks yesterday have increased Okinawa's
distrust in the government, with one member saying, "The government
has taken precautionary measures to keep the existing plan alive."
"If the government does not recognize that relocation to Henoko is
100 percent impossible, the matter will only get more complicated,"
Yasuhiro Aragaki, secretary general of the DPJ Okinawa prefectural
chapter, expressed deep resentment yesterday. "If the government
presses us again to make a difficult decision, that will be totally
Kadena Air Base straddling Kadena and other municipalities,
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Shimojishima Airport in Miyakojima City, Iejima Auxiliary Air Base
in the village of Ie, and other places have been mentioned as
possible candidate sites. Municipalities hosting those bases and
airports are now on high alert. "Relocation within Okinawa is not
possible," Miyakojima Mayor Toshihiko Shimoji complained. "It is
wrong to begin discussing sites. There is a lack of discussion on
fundamentals, such as what is deterrence."
Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima is also in deep distress. After learning of
the results of the Nago election on the night of Jan. 24, Nakaima
vented his anger at the people around him, saying, "What is the
government doing? Why is the government constantly being tossed
about by the Futenma issue?"
Concluding that the existing plan is the best way to alleviate the
dangerous situation of Futenma Air Station, which is surrounded by
densely populated areas, Nakaima used to move in step with Yoshikazu
Shimabukuro, who lost in the Nago race. But now that Inamine has won
the election, Nakaima is likely to come under heavy pressure to
shift his policy.
(5) Responsibility for confusion rests with Hatoyama
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
January 26, 2010
By Keiko Iizuka, deputy political editor
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama put the existing plan Japan and the
U.S. agreed on in 2006 to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma
Air Station to Nago City back to square one. Our understanding is
that this decision stemmed from his stance of respecting the will of
Okinawa's people and the aim of lightening the excessive burden of
bases on their prefecture. But on Jan. 25, the day after the Nago
mayoral election in Okinawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano
made a statement at a press conference that can be taken as even
ignoring this policy stance of the prime minister.
In the recent Nago mayoral election, Susumu Inamine, who is opposed
to the current plan, was elected. Hirano referred to this election
result and said that the study committee on Okinawa base issues of
the government and the ruling parties is "considering (the
relocation site) from scratch." He also said: "There is no reason
for the assertion that (the election result) should be taken into
account. We do not think that (the current plan to relocate the
Futenma airfield to the Henoko district in Nago) should be
eliminated from the list of options."
Hirano also emphasized: "The government should determine the
relocation site," citing the reason that "if we always take into
account local governments' intentions, we will always face the
question of where to locate the alternative facility." He might
think it possible to decide on the relocation site even without the
agreement of the host community. However, doing so was impossible,
so the Futenma issue has been left unresolved for as many as 14
years and has eventually become politicized.
In his first policy speech on Oct. 26 of last year after assuming
office, Hatoyama made the following statement.
"We will thoroughly examine existing Japan-U.S. agreements and other
matters also from the viewpoint of national security. Further, while
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taking into account the burden on the people of Okinawa, as well as
their agony and sorrow, we will seriously address the planned
realignment of U.S. forces in Japan."
To be sure, it would be a disgrace to depend on the outcome of a
local mayoral election in determining the future course of the issue
of U.S. forces in Japan, which affects the very basis of the
nation's security policy.
The Futenma relocation plan was about to be implemented, but
Hatoyama decided to put the current plan back to square one. We
understand that he was aware of the need to live up to his words in
the policy speech. Hatoyama, however, indicated yesterday evening
his willingness to keep the existing plan as an option, as Hirano
If he is going to leave the existing plan as an option, why didn't
Hatoyama make an all-out effort to implement it? Since he promised
the U.S. and Okinawa to reach a conclusion by the end of May, it is
necessary for him to obtain understanding from the local government
to host the relocation facility and the ruling parties. The
responsibility for the ongoing confusion rests with Hatoyama. He
should devote himself to resolving the Futenma issue even at the
risk of his political life.
(6) Editorial: Government must expedite efforts to find relocation
site for Futenma base outside Okinawa
ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
January 25, 2010
Susumu Inamine, a new candidate opposed the existing plan to
relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to the Henoko
district in Nago City, won yesterday's Nago mayoral election.
As the relocation issue is a matter of national security, the
government should take full responsibility for its judgment on the
issue. However, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama must take the result
of the election seriously, because he has stated that he would
respect not only the significance of the Japan-U.S. agreement but
also the sentiments of the people of Okinawa.
As Hatoyama has pledged at home and abroad that he will resolve the
Futenma relocation issue by the end of May, he should now do
everything within his power to find a new relocation site.
With the aim of relocating Futenma to a location other than Henoko,
the Hatoyama administration and ruling parties have continued
looking into new relocation sites. At the same time, there is still
a possibility that the government will go back to the existing plan
to relocate Futenma to Henoko. However, Inamine's victory has made
that option extremely difficult to choose.
Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, who has expressed his position of
accepting the existing relocation plan, will likely find himself in
a difficult situation. Following the result of the mayoral election,
there are also moves within the prefectural assembly to adopt a
unanimous resolution, with the approval of members of the Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito, to call for relocating
Futenma outside Okinawa.
In the election, Nago residents were forced to make a tough
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Incumbent Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, who accepts the existing plan, took
a strategy of avoiding making the Futenma issue from becoming a
campaign issue, while stressing his accomplishments in promoting the
local economy during his four-year term. Meanwhile, Inamine
underscored his opposition to the existing plan, saying, "I will not
allow the construction of a new base in the bay of Henoko."
Considering the risk of noise and accidents, Nago residents probably
do not want to accept the existing plan. However, the high
unemployment rate and economic slump there are extremely serious. As
a result, some residents pin hopes on the construction of a base
bringing new public works projects and economic promotion measures
in return for accepting the existing plan. The residents were faced
with this dilemma during the election.
About 10 years have passed since Nago City was floated as a possible
relocation site for the Futenma base. In the past three mayoral
elections, candidates favoring the relocation plan won. This was the
first time that voters opposed to the base outnumbered those willing
to accept the base in exchange for local economic development
The inauguration of the government led by the Democratic Party of
Japan (DPJ), which advocated the relocation of the Futenma base out
of Okinawa or out of Japan, might have spurred a change in the
voters' opinions.
Consequently, Hatoyama, who has to give consideration to the
people's will, is burdened with a heavy responsibility.
The ruling parties will soon present their proposals for relocation
sites other than Henoko at the working group of the government and
ruling coalition. The names of a Self-Defense Forces (ADF) base in
the Kyushu region and isolated islands of Okinawa Prefecture are
being mentioned as relocation sites. The government should also
consider dividing up the Futenma functions instead of insisting on
keeping them all in one place.
At any rate, the Hatoyama administration must convince the U.S.
government after persuading local governments to accept the base.
Considerable efforts will be required. The Hatoyama government must
find a solution to the thorny problem of sharing the base-hosting
burden being shouldered by the residents of Okinawa among all the
Japanese people.
(7) Editorial: Nago's decision is expression of opposition to
Futenma relocation within Okinawa
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 5) (Full)
January 26, 2010
Susumu Inamine, a candidate opposed to the relocation of the U.S.
Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to the Henoko area in his city,
has won the Nago mayoral election. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
should not hesitate to give up on relocating the Futenma base within
Okinawa Prefecture and should start seriously looking into moving it
out of the prefecture or out of Japan.
Hatoyama said that the result of the election "is an expression of
the will of Nago residents." Since foreign policy and national
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security are fundamental national policies, the basic principle is
that it is the responsibility of the government to make a decision
and the decision should not be left up to a local election.
However, if the government defiantly relocates Futenma to Henoko
amid strong opposition by local residents, the stable use of the
base will be difficult. As a result, the Japan-U.S. alliance will be
Hatoyama has taken the stance of both placing importance on the
Japan-U.S. agreement to move Futenma to Henoko and respecting the
local people's will. It makes sense for him to take the election
result seriously.
Hatoyama has pledged at home and abroad to resolve the relocation
issue by the end of May. The government committee studying the
relocation issue will now expedite its efforts to search for a
specific relocation site.
Hatoyama should seriously look into moving the Futenma base out of
Okinawa and out of Japan as he pledged during the campaign for last
year's Lower House election, and come up with an alternative plan to
replace the Henoko plan.
During the election campaign, Inamine played up his opposition to
the relocation to the city, while Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, the
incumbent, who is in favor of hosting the base, stressed his
achievements in developing the local economy during his four-year
In the last three mayoral elections conducted after Henoko was
floated as a possible relocation site for the Futenma base,
candidates that approved of the relocation plan won.
Nago residents were forced to make a tough decision in the election
to choose between measures to stimulate the local economy and
opposition to hosting the Futenma base. The result of the election
is an expression of their rejection of the base. The election result
was apparently spurred by the change of government realized by the
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).
At a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano,
chair of the government committee, said, "The government will start
from scratch in looking for the best site without excluding Henoko,"
indicating that the government will not exclude the existing plan.
However, if the plan to relocate to Henoko is revived as a result of
the review, the expectations of the Okinawan people, who have
suffered from an excessive base-hosting burden imposed on them, will
be betrayed.
The return of the Futenma base, whose dangers have long been pointed
out, is a thorny issue that has not been resolved even though Japan
and the United States agreed on it in 1996.
If the Futenma base is moved to somewhere in Japan other than
Okinawa, the government will have to not only persuade residents at
the relocation site to accept the base but also win the
understanding of the U.S., which maintains that relocation to Henoko
is the best option. Failure to do so might result in the worst-case
scenario of the Futenma base remaining in its current location.
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Since Hatoyama is the one who chose to take difficult path, it is
his own responsibility to clear the way along that path.
(8) Japan's future course -- 50th anniversary of revision of
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty (Party 2-5, conclusion): Discussion on
nuclear policy now necessary
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
January 21, 2010
Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton during their meeting in Hawaii on Jan. 12: "I will keep in
close contact with you so as not to produce a negative impact on the
Japan-U.S. alliance." Okada sought understanding from Clinton for
the ongoing investigation by the Foreign Ministry's expert panel
into the issue of alleged secret pacts between Japan and the U.S.,
including accords allowing the U.S. to bring nuclear weapons into
the country. But Secretary Clinton just nodded her head.
On the day when he assumed his post last September, Okada said that
the issue of secret accords has heightened public distrust in and
weakened Japan's foreign policy." He then instructed the Foreign
Ministry to launch a thorough investigation into the matter. A
number of related documents have already been found, including
documents regarding a pact allowing the U.S. military to bring
nuclear weapons into Japan that was concluded in 1960, when the
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised; and another pact concluded
in the same year on combat action by the U.S. military in times of
emergency on the Korean Peninsula. The expert panel intends to
produce a report by the end of February.
Okada had not anticipated that Japan's investigation would a major
impact on Japan-U.S. relations, focusing on the fact that "most of
the documents have already been disclosed in the U.S," as he said.
But U.S. officials have begun to claim that the issue might not be
dismissed as a past event and that the current U.S. nuclear policy
could be adversely affected as a result. Defense Secretary Robert
Gates took up this issue when he visited Japan last October and
said: "I want Japan to be careful in handling the issue so as not to
produce an adverse effect on Japan-U.S. bilateral relations."
To keep the U.S.'s nuclear umbrella effective while giving
consideration to the strong aversion to nuclear weapons among
Japanese people in the Cold-War era, the then Japanese government
decided to conclude the secret accords as a last resort.
In the Foreign Ministry's investigation, a note written by Fumihiko
Togo, who was involved in Japan-U.S. relations after the end of the
war as ambassador to the U.S., was found. The note said, "I had no
perception of having concluded secret agreements." A former senior
Foreign Ministry official took the following view: "I guess the two
countries concluded the accords based on a tacit understanding and
without exchanging notes as a result of taking the circumstances at
the time into consideration."
Fifty years after the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was signed,
the "vagueness" of the treaty is being spotlighted. The question is:
what effect will revealing the truth of the secret accord issue have
on the security strategies of the Japan-U.S. alliance today?
Are the secret accords to allow the U.S. to bring nuclear weapons
into Japan still valid? What about their compatibility with the
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Japanese government's three nonnuclear principles (not to make or
possess nuclear weapons and not to allow their entry into Japan)? Is
there any effect on the deterrence of the U.S.'s nuclear umbrella,
which is the most certain evidence that the U.S. has been involved
in Japan's defense? In light of national security, a cautious and
tough strategy is needed for the nation's nuclear policy. But the
Hatoyama administration apparently has not properly addressed this
issue and made preparations for discussing the issue.
Last July, the Aso government and the Obama government agreed to set
up a regular discussion forum for Japan to receive detailed
explanations on how the U.S. nuclear umbrella will be operated in a
contingency and for both sides to exchange views.
On the 50th anniversary of the signing of the revised Japan-U.S.
Security Treaty on Jan. 19, U.S. President Barack Obama declared:
"The U.S.'s commitment to Japan's national security is unshakable."
How is the Hatoyama administration going to deal with the weight of
the bilateral alliance on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of
the Japan-U.S. security treaty?
(9) Shockwave of President Obama's financial regulation: Japanese
banks may have to change their comprehensive business policy line
NIKKEI (Page 7) (Page 7)
January 26, 2010
Details cannot be worked out
U.S. President Obama on Jan. 21 announced a financial regulation
plan, including a ban on commercial banks from making investment in
investment funds. The Tokyo head office of Mizuho Corporate Bank
immediately ordered its U.S. office to collect information on the
Mizuho Corporate Bank in Dec. 2006 obtained the qualification for
operating as a financial holding company in the U.S. -- a first for
a Japanese financial institution. Since it had promptly set up a
system of moving ahead with investment bank business, it is becoming
concerned about the new regulation. The person in charge at the U.S.
office could only obtain a copy of a press release with a scant
several lines explaining the specifics of the regulation. The
executive complained: "There are so many unknown matters. I cannot
work out the details."
Only a few take the position that the new U.S. regulation will
immediately have a major impact on Japan's megabanks, which have a
high ratio of interest income. A trend for Japanese banks to
undertake comprehensive financial operations involving both the
banking and securities functions appeared 10 years after the U.S.
abolished the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. Japanese banks are now in
a situation where they find it imperative to revise their future
business vision.
The impact of the U.S.'s strengthening its financial regulations was
also felt by the securities industry. President Obama on the 14
announced a special tax targeting leading financial institutions
ahead of the adoption of a new rule regulating banks. The U.S. is
the only country where Nomura Holdings did not take over the
business of Lehman Brothers. When it was about to expand business on
its own, a taxation issued surfaced.
TOKYO 00000165 012 OF 012
The special tax targets securities houses with assets worth over 50
billion dollars. At the moment, Nomura Holdings' assets are on the
verge of exceeding that figure. If the company expands trading in
U.S. stocks and securities, its assets are bound to top 50 billion
dollars. One of its executives, puzzled by the U.S. regulation,
said: "Will the U.S. government really impose a tax that will hamper
the stable consumption of its bonds?"
Japanese banks in advantageous position?
However, some are taking the strengthened U.S. financial regulation
as a good opportunity for Japan. A senior Financial Services Agency
official compared the new regulation plan to a unilateral
declaration by the U.S. to abolish its nuclear arms.
U.S. banks have been enjoying high yieldability on the strength of
know-how in derivatives and securitization. On the other hand,
Japanese banks are earning much lower profits from margins on low
interest rates on loans. The new regulation is in a way aimed at
shifting U.S. banks' business style to the low-risk-low-return model
adopted by Japanese banks. There is an observation that Japanese
banks' relative position on the international financial market will
There is a possibility of European and U.S. financial institutions
shifting their operation bases to Japan, where regulations are
relatively moderate, shying away from the U.S. or Britain, where the
financial crisis started and which are toughening financial
regulations. This could be viewed as an opportunity for the Tokyo
market to resurface as a financial center in Asia. However, there
are no indications of the government and the ruling parties
deepening discussion on this matter.
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