Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 01/13/10

Published: Thu 14 Jan 2010 01:29 AM
DE RUEHKO #0078/01 0140129
P 140129Z JAN 10
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(1) Japan-U.S. foreign ministers' talks prevent rift in bilateral
alliance; U.S. distrust not dispelled (Sankei)
(2) Secretary Clinton says current Futenma relocation plan best
option at talks with FM Okada, both agree on talks to deepen
security alliance (Asahi)
(3) PM Hatoyama tells senior SDF officers to be "grateful" for
Japan-U.S. security alliance (Sankei)
(4) Government mulls setting up Kantei branch office in Okinawa to
deal with Futenma issue (Sankei)
(5) Nago mayoral election report (Part 2 - Conclusion): Ginowan
residents closely watching upcoming election (Sankei)
(6) Editorial: Suffrage for foreigners - give priority to
sovereignty over diplomatic considerations (Sankei)
(7) Editorial: Take advantage of Asia's vitality through trade
liberalization (Nikkei)
(8) Child abduction and international divorce (Part 2): 10 years in
a lonely battle between Japan and China - non-signatories to Hague
Convention (Tokyo Shimbun)
(1) Japan-U.S. foreign ministers' talks prevent rift in bilateral
alliance; U.S. distrust not dispelled
SANKEI ONLINE (Slightly abridged)
10:51, January 13, 2010
Hiroyuki Kano in Honolulu
The agreement reached at the Japan-U.S. foreign ministerial talks to
kick off discussions to deepen the bilateral security alliance and
to hold a meeting of the Security Consultative Committee (two plus
two) of the cabinet ministers in charge of foreign affairs and
defense is meant to contain the growing rift in the bilateral
alliance resulting from the delay in reaching a solution on the
issue of the relocation of the U.S. forces' Futenma Air Station.
However, the U.S. side's distrust of the Hatoyama administration may
become irreversible depending on the conclusion the government and
ruling parties reach on the relocation issue by May.
Okada told Clinton at the meeting: "While it is important to work
seriously on the Futenma relocation issue, there are many issues
that the two countries need to tackle. We need to deal with them
properly." He also referred to the possibility of redefining the
Japan-U.S. security alliance to replace the 1996 Joint Declaration
on Security signed by Secretary Clinton's husband, President Bill
Clinton, and Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, demonstrating his
strong desire to deepen the bilateral alliance.
However, for the U.S. side, progress made by the Japanese government
on the relocation issue based on the Japan-U.S. agreement remains a
prerequisite for deepening the alliance, and it has merely agreed
with reluctance to shelve this issue until the government and the
ruling parties come up with a decision by May. The Social Democratic
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Party strongly advocates Futenma's relocation out of Okinawa. It is
possible that the conclusion reached in May may undermine the
alliance once again.
(2) Secretary Clinton says current Futenma relocation plan best
option at talks with FM Okada, both agree on talks to deepen
security alliance
ASAHI (Page 1) (Slightly abridged)
Evening, January 13, 2010
Akira Uchida, Hiroshi Ito in Honolulu
Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met with U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton in Honolulu, Hawaii, on the morning of Jan. 12
(before dawn on Jan. 13, Japan time). With regard to the issue of
the relocation of the U.S. forces' Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan
City, Okinawa), Clinton reiterated that the current relocation plan
is the best option, but indicated her understanding of the Japanese
government's position on settling this issue by May.
According to Okada, Clinton was the one who brought up the Futenma
issue at the meeting, and she reiterated that the current plan
agreed upon under the Liberal Democratic Party administration to
relocate the base to Henoko, Nago City, is the best option. Okada
explained once again the Japanese government's policy to reach a
conclusion on the relocation site by May, seeking her understanding
by saying, "This is Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's promise."
At a joint news conference held after the meeting, Clinton
emphasized again the U.S.'s position and added: "We hope our
Japanese friends will keep their promises, including that on the
Futenma issue." On the other hand, she also said: "We understand
that there are various concerns in the coalition government (in
Japan)" and "We hope to see a solution by May."
Okada and Clinton also effectively started off discussions to deepen
the Japan-U.S. security alliance on the occasion of the 50th
anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. security treaty this
year. For now, talks will be held at the working level between
foreign affairs and defense officials to analyze the current state
of the security environment in Asia and the Pacific and discuss
other issues. Okada and Clinton agreed to hold interim talks at the
Security Consultative Committee of the ministers of foreign affairs
and defense (two plus two) in the first half of this year.
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and President Bill Clinton signed a
Joint Declaration on Security in 1996, which redefined the bilateral
alliance in the post-Cold War era. Okada proposed at the meeting the
drafting of a new declaration to replace the 1996 document. He plans
to complete this process by November, before President Barack
Obama's expected visit to Japan.
There have been concerns in the U.S. that the Futenma relocation
issue may affect the Japan-U.S. relationship as a whole. For this
reason, Clinton stressed the importance of the alliance at the joint
news conference, stating that "the Japan-U.S. alliance is the
cornerstone of the United States' involvement in Asia." She said
that while the Futenma issue is "very important, it is only part of
a comprehensive partnership," showing her consideration for Japan
throughout the news conference.
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(3) PM Hatoyama tells senior SDF officers to be "grateful" for
Japan-U.S. security alliance
12:42, January 13, 2010
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama talked about the Japan-U.S. security
treaty at a meeting of senior Self-Defense Forces (SDF) officers at
the Ministry of Defense on the morning of Jan. 13. He stated: "We
should be grateful for the Japan-U.S. alliance and the security
treaty, which protect our country." Hatoyama also mentioned that
this year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the treaty
and said: "It is important to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance
further. Therefore, this year is a very important year."
With regard to the refueling mission of the Maritime Self-Defense
Force (MSDF) in the Indian Ocean, which will be terminated on Jan.
15, Hatoyama said: "Our thinking on policy is different from the
previous administration's, so the MSDF will return home."
Some 170 senior officers of the Ground, Maritime, and Air Staff
Office and the various SDF units attended the meeting. Defense
Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, who delivered a message after the Prime
Minister, touched on the issue of the relocation of the U.S. forces'
Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan City, Okinawa), stating that: "The
government and the ruling parties are engaged in an examination
process. We will decide on an appropriate relocation site that is
acceptable both to the United States and the people of Okinawa."
(4) Government mulls setting up Kantei branch office in Okinawa to
deal with Futenma issue
00:50, January 13, 2010
The government has begun considering setting up a branch office of
the Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) in Naha City to be
staffed by officials of the Cabinet Secretariat in order to keep in
close contact with the local authorities with regard to the issue of
the relocation of the U.S. forces' Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan
City, Okinawa). This was revealed by a senior government official on
the evening of Jan. 12.
At a meeting between Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano and Governor
Hirokazu Nakaima during Hirano's recent visit to Okinawa, Nakaima
asked to be able to communicate better with the Kantei, and Hirano
indicated that he would think of concrete measures.
The above senior government official said: "Cooperation in listening
to the local communities' views is indispensable for resolving the
Futenma issue. (Hirano) ordered bureaucrats to look for ways for
doing so."
(5) Nago mayoral election report (Part 2 - Conclusion): Ginowan
residents closely watching upcoming election
SANKEI (Page 3) (Full)
January 12, 2010
Masashi Miyamoto
Residents of Ginowan City, which hosts U.S. Marine Corps Air Station
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Futenma, are now paying attention to how the Jan. 24 mayoral
election of Nago City will turn out. This is because the election
result could cause the issue of relocating the Futenma base to the
Henoko district in Nago City to be left hanging in the air, forcing
Ginowan to continue hosting the base. "We can't wait for a long
time," said a Ginowan resident. Anguished cries are being heard from
Ginowan residents, who have been suffering from the noise of U.S.
military airplanes and live in constant fear of an aircraft crashing
in their city.
Japan and the United States reached an agreement 13 years ago to
return the Futenma airfield to Okinawa. Patience has worn thin in
Ginowan because the Hatoyama administration has blundered in its
handling of the relocation issue.
Ginowan residents have been increasingly concerned that the Futenma
relocation plan, which was informally decided on immediately after
the reversion of Futenma, might have reached a dead end and,
consequently, not be implemented.
A 50-year-old restaurant owner living near the Futenma base located
in a densely populated area said, "Although the reversion plan had
made some progress, it has now returned to the drawing board. I want
the base to be relocated to Henoko as early as possible. So I'm
closely watching how the Nago mayoral election will turn out." His
voice was nearly drowned out by the roar of U.S. military aircraft.
In August 2004, the fear of residents living with the Futenma base
in Ginowan became a reality as a large U.S. military helicopter
crashed onto the campus of Okinawa International University and
burst into flames.
A 64-year-old man, who has lived in an area near the Futenma base
for 45 years, cannot erase the memory of dark smoke hanging in the
air that day. He said, "I have believed for 10 years that the
heliport facility will be moved to Henoko. I want the government to
make a decision on the issue no matter if it is retained in Ginowan
or relocated to Henoko. I can't put up with politicians making a
fool of us. If the incumbent Nago mayor is re-elected in the
upcoming election, then the people will have spoken and we can
anticipate the relocation will be realized."
A 65-year-old man, who has rented out his land to U.S. military,
said, "As an Okinawa resident, I believe that the Futenma base
should first be moved to Henoko and then concrete plans should be
drawn up for the reduction of bases. The situation has not improved,
because the Hatoyama government cannot make any decision. Ginowan
residents are troubled most by the delay in the government's
decision. The mayoral election is of great significance in calling
on the Hatoyama government to make a quick decision."
However, a former school teacher said: "The base should be moved out
of Japan; it would be meaningless to relocate it to Henoko."
Osamu Ashitomi, 53, a former Lower House member, said: "Okinawa's
goal is to develop an independent economy. To that end, the
political situation must be stabilized. Based on the Japan-U.S.
agreement, the Futenma base should be relocated to Henoko; after
that, discussions should be held to build a new Okinawa. Unless the
first step is taken, nothing will be resolved.
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Okinawan opinion is now "all or nothing." The basic thinking was
that U.S. bases on the island prefecture would be gradually scaled
down and integrated. However, the people of Okinawa have become
radical and appear to be forgetting that. Many residents in Ginowan
City now expect that the outcome of the Nago mayoral election will
become the first step in reducing U.S. bases.
The previously mentioned restaurant owner living near the Futenma
base feels uneasy about Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha's hopeless
insistence on relocation of Futenma out of Okinawa. He said, "I
wonder why the mayor does not press for the existing relocation plan
to rid Futenma of danger. I cannot fathom the mayor's true
intention, because Nago City has accepted the plan. I wonder if he
is serious about the Futenma relocation issue."
(6) Editorial: Suffrage for foreigners - give priority to
sovereignty over diplomatic considerations
SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
January 13, 2010
Leaders of the government and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)
met and agreed to submit to the upcoming ordinary Diet session a
bill to give the right to vote in local elections to permanent
foreign residents in Japan. Moves for giving suffrage to foreigners
are gathering speed.
DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, who is eager about the suffrage
issue, said in the meeting: "In light of Japan-South Korea
relations, the government should sponsor the suffrage bill," urging
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi
Hirano to take action. DPJ Upper House caucus chairman Azuma
Koshiishi reportedly also said: "The government is not taking
Japan-South Korea relations are surely important. Against the
backdrop of China's military expansion and North Korea's growing
nuclear threat, it is essential for Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.
to strengthen relations on the security front. In order to resolve
the issue of past abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean
agents as well, cooperation among the three countries is
Even so, it is unreasonable for the Japanese government, to that
end, to move to allow permanent foreign residents, including South
Korean residents in Japan, to vote in local elections in response to
Seoul's request. In bilateral relations, there are issues on which
concessions can be made, but on the issues of the Takeshima islands
and suffrage for foreigners, Japan should not make any concessions
because they affect the nation's sovereignty.
Ozawa visited South Korea in December of last year and said in a
speech at a university in Seoul that the granting of suffrage to
foreigners "might become a reality at the ordinary Diet session." He
unofficially met President Lee Myung-bak as well. Ozawa has cited
Japan-Korea relations as the main reason for his willingness to
submit a foreign suffrage bill to the Diet. His eagerness might be
linked to his recent visit to South Korea, and the possibility of
dual-track diplomacy cannot be ruled out.
Some persons take the view that Japan can allow foreign residents to
vote only in local elections because the outcome of local elections
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has little impact on national politics. But there are local
communities faced with problems that could influence national
politics. These problems include the transfer of U.S. military bases
and construction of nuclear power plants. In addition, there are
problems related to police and education administration. There could
be a case in which foreigners hold the decisive vote in a mayoral
election and have an impact on national politics.
Foreigners even with permanent residence status in Japan have a
sense of loyalty not toward Japan but toward their homeland. All
members in a state share the same political destiny. In this
context, foreigners cannot take responsibility as members of the
Addressing objections to suffrage for foreigners raised by some
members in the government and the ruling bloc, Hatoyama said: "I
believe we can obtain their understanding. Since this year marks the
100th anniversary of Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula, we
have thoroughly studied the matter." He indicated eagerness to
submit a bill granting foreigners suffrage, but his posture of
trying to connect the suffrage issue to Japan's past military
aggression is also a problem.
We expect discussants in the DPJ and the cabinet will become more
cool-headed and cautious regarding the issue of granting foreigners
(7) Editorial: Take advantage of Asia's vitality through trade
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
January 12, 2010
The year 2010 will become a milestone for East Asia's trade system.
Six major members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) mutually abolished trade tariffs, starting on Jan. 1. Free
trade agreements (FTA) have also come into effect among various
combinations of nations including China, South Korea, India, and
Australia. East Asia is an economic zone with a population of 3.2
billion. It is connected by ocean trade routes, such as the South
China Sea and the East China Sea. A framework for the free exchange
of people, goods and money is in the process of being set up in this
Close attention being paid to ASEAN
Japan must not miss this wave of major reform. It needs to consider
ways to take advantage of the vitality of Asia, which offers hope as
a growth center in the world, for the expansion of its domestic
The most important issue is how to respond to the moves of the Obama
administration, which is deepening its involvement in Asia. The U.S.
government is trying to build a free trade framework between the
Americas and East Asia, based on the Trans-Pacific Strategic
Economic Partnership Agreement (PTT) formed in 2006.
The TPP has never been a highly visible pact amid the global trend
of trade liberalization. The original members were only Singapore,
Brunei, New Zealand and Chile. However, the U.S. focused on this
tiny agreement and announced its participation in it.
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The U.S. intention is clear. It signed the agreement because markets
in the ASEAN region are in the process of becoming unified. If the
U.S. becomes a member of the TPP, which has Singapore and Brunei -
ASEAN members - as members, the U.S. market and the ASEAN market
will become directly connected.
ASEAN has already concluded FTAs with Japan, China and South Korea.
Its agreements with India, Australia and New Zealand came into
effect on Jan. 1, 2010. The focal point of the free trade system in
the Asia region is ASEAN. The U.S. is trying to take advantage of
the vitality of the Asian economies by driving a wedge into it.
Interest in Asia is growing in the European Union as well. Since
Myanmar, which is faced with a democratization issue, is a member of
ASEAN, the EU is cautious about strengthening its direct diplomatic
relations with ASEAN. However, it is eager to sign FTAs with
individual Southeast Asian nations.
For the Japanese economy, ASEAN has been like its own backyard.
Japanese companies have made inroads into each ASEAN member nation
and built many production bases in the region. They have established
massive production and distribution networks. Their presence was
apparently overwhelming for U.S., European, and Chinese companies.
Japan's official development assistance (ODA) has also played a
major role in the economic development of the region. Expectations
for Japan in terms of building industrial and social infrastructure
and technological cooperation are high. It is true that Japan has
had a tacit influence on ASEAN nations.
However, we should probably realize that the relationship between
Japan and ASEAN in which Japan has had ASEAN all to itself is over
due to the rise of China and the global financial crunch. With
demand in industrialized countries shrinking, the U.S. and Europe
are becoming more interested in Asia. There has been a surge of
activity in entry into the markets of ASEAN member nations. The
region is no longer the exclusive territory of Japan.
Barriers between ASEAN members will disappear due to the mutual
elimination of tariffs. The U.S., European countries, and China are
now able to make strategic investments by looking at the region as a
whole instead of building plants in each country. There is no
guarantee that Japanese companies that made inroads into ASEAN ahead
of others will continue to have the upper hand in terms of costs.
The Obama administration is expected to strengthen its trade
strategy toward Asia. It is bound to call on Japan to take part in
the TPP. If Japan joins the free trade pact, to which the U.S.
belongs, the markets of Japan and the U.S. will basically become
unified. This would produce the same type of effect that would be
produced if both countries were to sign an FTA.
Signing of FTAs with U.S. and European countries imperative
The diplomatic relationship between Japan and the U.S. has become
strained over the Futenma airfield relocation issue. Under such a
situation, will Japan be able to accept proposals on trade policy
that the U.S. will present? We are worried, because it appears that
the appropriate preparations have yet to be made.
FTAs under the leadership of the U.S. have higher targets for market
opening than agreements which Japan has concluded with Asian
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countries. Japan will be required to meet strict demands, such as
scrapping tariffs on agricultural goods in principle. As such, many
Japanese government officials hesitate to form a tie-up with the
Japan's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) advocated the promotion of
an FTA with the U.S. in its policy manifesto for the Lower House
election. However, the initiative has lost steam rapidly. The target
for establishing an Asia-Pacific free trade zone in the Hatoyama
administration's new growth strategy is 2020. This is too late.
If the U.S. and European countries press ahead in forming economic
ties with ASEAN members, the exchange of people, goods and money
between Asia on one hand and the U.S. and Europe on the other will
gain momentum, bypassing Japan. In order to take advantage of Asia's
vitality, Japan must strengthen its economic ties with the U.S. and
Europe as well.
In order to do that, it is necessary for Japan to speed up efforts
in market-opening in the agricultural area. Japan's time is running
(8) Child abduction and international divorce (Part 2): 10 years in
a lonely battle between Japan and China - non-signatories to Hague
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 23) (Full)
January 11, 2010
In June 1999, while her divorce proceedings were underway, her
Chinese former husband took her two daughters, aged eight and seven,
away to China when they were on their way to their elementary
school, saying, "I'll be with you today." That was the start of the
lonely, border-spanning battle of Nana Sugimoto, 43, who resides in
Tokyo's Tama area.
Her marriage to her husband from Shanghai ended in divorce after
just 10 years because of his violence. Sugimoto left the house with
her two daughters in 1998. She fought for the custody of her
daughters during divorce proceedings while staying at a shelter. But
her ex-husband abruptly boycotted the talks, waited for her
daughters, and took them away to China. He reportedly entered China
via Hong Kong where no visas are required.
Sugimoto's search for her daughters was an agonizing experience.
Neither Japan nor China is a signatory to the Hague Convention on
the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for cooperation
and discussion between governments so that one parent will not take
a child out of the country after an international marriage ends in
divorce. Law-enforcement officials did not take her complaint
seriously, saying, "After all, they have been taken away by their
father, haven't they?"
The divorce finally came through in October 2000, a little over one
year after Sugimoto's daughters had been taken away. She had no
other option but to continue rushing about to rescue her daughters
even after winning their custody from a Japanese court. She asked
for the support of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Chinese
government, Diet members, and others.
She was told, "We cannot do anything," by the Japanese consulate in
Shanghai where her ex-husband's parents' house is located. "I have
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the custody of my daughters. Why can't I reclaim them?" Sugimoto
tried to search for her daughters independently by learning the
Chinese language and visiting China, but that too ended in vain. At
long last in 2004 the Metropolitan Police Department put her
ex-husband on the wanted persons list on charges of kidnapping and
transporting the children to another country, but she knew the
chances of him being caught were slim.
A turning point came in January 2009. Her daughters, who had been
living in China as Japanese nationals, returned to Japan for the
first time in 10 years to renew their passports which required the
signature of their legal guardian. Sugimoto had missed the chance to
be reunited with her daughters at the time of the renewal of their
passports five years before because of a mistake committed by the
Japanese consulate. That is why she was particularly overjoyed this
time around. Because her ex-husband did not accompany his daughters
to Japan for fear of being arrested, Sugimoto was able to spend time
alone with her daughters, now aged 18 and 17.
Her daughters' expressions were stiff at first. But they gradually
opened up, and the eldest daughter said to Sugimoto toward the end
of her three-month stay in Japan, "We have been told that you are
suffering from a mental illness. But that is not true."
Her two daughters then returned to China to pursue their studies.
But two months later, her eldest daughter returned to Japan alone to
escape from her abusive father. Last September, her father showed up
at Haneda Airport to take her back to China and he was arrested on
the spot.
Late last year, Sugimoto confronted her former husband, now a
defendant, at the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court. The
court sentenced him to two years in prison with probation of three
years. The court gave consideration to the fact that he was not
legally divorced and had the custody of his daughters when he
committed the abduction and that the younger daughter, now in China,
had hoped to live with her father. He was released immediately after
the court handed down its decision. The results were not acceptable
to Sugimoto, who has suffered violence and whose daughters have been
taken away.
Sugimoto, who has experienced the tragedy of her children being
abducted and transported out of the country, has urged the Japanese
government to accede to the Hague Convention. "If Japan and China
were signatories to the convention, my daughters and I would have
spent the last ten years differently." Sugimoto does not want anyone
to repeat the same tragedy she has gone through.
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