Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 02/19/10

Published: Sun 21 Feb 2010 11:03 PM
DE RUEHKO #0332/01 0522303
P 212303Z FEB 10
E.O. 12958: N/A
(1) DM Kitazawa positive on Futenma relocation to land area of Camp
Schwab; other ministers also make comments (Asahi)
(2) Nago municipal assembly fails to pass resolution against current
Futenma relocation plan (Ryukyu Shimpo)
(3) Survey: 15 governors say Okinawa's base-hosting burden should be
lessened, but no governors are willing to host bases (Asahi)
(4) Editorial: Confusion over Futenma issue serious (Mainichi)
(5) Interview with U.S.-Japan Foundation President George Packard:
There had been even more serious crises in Japan-U.S. relations in
the past (Asahi)
(6) Discussion on "money and politics" scandals gets nowhere in
Hatoyama's first debate with opposition leaders (Nikkei)
(1) DM Kitazawa positive on Futenma relocation to land area of Camp
Schwab; other ministers also make comments
ASAHI (Page 9) (Full)
Evening, February 19, 2010
Cabinet ministers gave their comments on the Hatoyama cabinet's
beginning to study a proposal to relocate the U.S. forces' Futenma
Air Station (in Ginowan City, Okinawa) to the land area of Camp
Schwab (in Nago City) at their news conferences held after the
cabinet meeting on Feb. 19.
Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said: "(The land relocation plan)
consists of relocation within bases. In the past, when the Sobe
Communication Facility (in Yomitan Village, Okinawa) was moved to
Camp Hansen (in Kin Town, Okinawa), there was no serious protest. We
can learn something from history," indicating a positive attitude.
He also stated: "If (the Okinawa base issues examination committee
of the government and the ruling parties studying the relocation
sites) decides on it, I will consider it seriously."
Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Seiji
Maehara (concurrently Okinawa affairs minister) gave the following
comments: "The land proposal had been investigated a long time ago.
The problem was that the flight route would pass over civilian
housing. It is a possible option if such issues can be resolved,"
stressing that issues standing in the way of realizing the
relocation should be tackled one by one.
Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said, "We are
starting from scratch," while State Minister for Financial Affairs
and Postal Reform Shizuka Kamei (leader of People's New Party)
stated: "Now is the time for all of us to contribute our ideas and
look at the options. This is not a time for each party to say this
or that," reiterating his oft-repeated position on this issue.
State Minister for Consumer Affairs and Declining Birthrate Mizuho
Fukushima (leader of Social Democratic Party) questioned the land
relocation proposal, stressing that "of course, the closure and
return of the Futenma base is important, but I seriously doubt if
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the construction (of a new base) in Camp Schwab will reduce the
burden on the Okinawan people."
(2) Nago municipal assembly fails to pass resolution against current
Futenma relocation plan
RYUKYU SHIMBUN (Page 3) (Abridged)
February 19, 2010
Yoshihiro Kinjo
Nago - Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, who was elected on a
platform opposing the relocation of the U.S. forces' Futenma Air
Station to the city, is having difficulty passing a resolution
asking (the government) to drop the plan to relocate the Futenma
base to Henoko, which he has been asking the municipal assembly to
act on. The ruling parties in Nago had originally planned to submit
the motion to an ad hoc session of the assembly on Feb. 23, but this
was met by negative views from the opposition parties, which claim
that the move is "premature" and that "it is necessary to study
further the impact of opposition to the relocation plan." Thus, the
drafting process could not even start, and efforts to pass the
resolution have hit a snag.
The municipal assembly had also planned to pass a resolution
demanding the relocation of the Futenma base out of Okinawa or out
of Japan during its regular session last December. However,
coordination between the ruling and opposition parties on the draft
of the resolution failed, resulting in the plan being dropped.
(3) Survey: 15 governors say Okinawa's base-hosting burden should be
lessened, but no governors are willing to host bases
ASAHI (Page 34) (Abridged)
February 12, 2010
In connection with the pending issue of relocating the U.S.
military's Futenma airfield facility from its current location in
Okinawa Prefecture's central city of Ginowan, the Asahi Shimbun
conducted a questionnaire survey of the governors of the nation's 46
prefectures, excluding Okinawa Prefecture, to probe their thoughts
about the current state of Okinawa Prefecture, which is home to 74
PERCENT of all U.S. military facilities in Japan. In the survey, a
total of 15 governors answered that Okinawa's base-hosting burden
should be mitigated. However, none of the governors who responded to
the survey said that they are willing to host a new U.S. military
base. Furthermore, 29 governors, or more than 60 PERCENT of the
surveyed governors, did not answer any questions, maintaining that
diplomacy and defense are state affairs.
The survey was started on Feb. 1 after Susumu Inamine won the recent
mayoral election in Okinawa Prefecture's northern coastal city of
Nago based on his opposition to the planned relocation of Futenma
airfield to his city. Answers were obtained orally or in written
form by Feb. 8.
In addition to the 15 governors who insisted on the necessity of
alleviating Okinawa's base-hosting burden, there were also some
governors who indicated their understanding of the necessity to do
so. The governor of Nagasaki Prefecture said, "I'm concerned about
the heavy presence of (U.S. military) bases concentrated in
Okinawa." The governor of Ibaraki Prefecture said, "I understand the
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necessity of lightening the burden on Okinawa." The governor of
Kyoto Prefecture said, "Japan, as a whole, must seriously consider
this issue."
Asked whether they were willing to host a new base, nine governors
gave definite negative answers. The governors of Tokyo, Kanagawa
Prefecture, and Shizuoka Prefecture, where U.S. military facilities
are already located, answered that it would be difficult for them to
accept an additional base since their burden is heavy already. In
the breakdown of reasons given by the governors of prefectures
hosting no U.S. military bases for their refusal to host a base, the
governors of Toyama Prefecture, Tottori Prefecture, and Tokushima
Prefecture said that is because "there is no appropriate place" in
their prefectures, and the governor of Hyogo Prefecture noted that
it would not be possible to obtain the local population's
understanding for hosting a base. The governor of Saitama Prefecture
gave no answer to the question of whether or not it would be willing
to accept a new base but instead wrote that if and when there is a
request from the government, the governor will handle it in a steady
manner from the standpoint of protecting the security and safety of
local people.
Okinawa governor: It's not a matter of concern to only one locality
Okinawa Prefecture's Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, in a written comment
on the results of the questionnaire survey, expressed his
understanding to a certain extent for the responses of governors,
saying, "It's difficult for the governor of each prefecture to come
up with an idea when the government is discussing how to mitigate
Okinawa's base-hosting burden." He added: "The issue of hosting U.S.
military bases is not a matter of concern for only one locality like
Okinawa but is really a national problem from the perspective of how
to think about our nation's diplomacy and security and the like. I
would like each governor to take an interest in the problem of bases
in Okinawa." In reference to the fact that many of the governors did
not respond to the survey, Nago City's Mayor Inamine commented:
"We're facing base issues around the clock, so there is a huge
perception gap."
Prefectures whose governors answered that Okinawa Prefecture's
burden of hosting U.S. military bases should be lessened:
Hokkaido, Aomori, Miyagi, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Ishikawa, Shizuoka,
Hyogo, Tottori, Yamaguchi, Kagawa, Ehime, Kochi, Oita, and
Main points from the comments of governors
Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi: It's necessary to realign and reduce
the presence of bases in Japan, including Okinawa Prefecture, and
also necessary to take such steps as expediting the return of base
land and revising the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.
Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara: There are many bases in Okinawa
because of its geographic conditions and historic circumstances, and
the burden on Okinawa should be lightened.
Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa: The heavy presence of military
bases in a specific locality is a big problem. The government should
take every possible measure to relocate bases, return the land of
unused bases, and scale back on the functions of bases.
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Aichi Gov. Masaaki Kanda: As far as Japan's national security is
concerned, the people benefit equally from the presence of U.S.
military bases in Okinawa. The government, of course, and all of us
in Japan should think of the base issue as our own problem.
Osaka Gov. Tohru Hashimoto: The issue of realigning U.S. forces in
Japan is a matter under the cabinet's exclusive jurisdiction. But
when considering Okinawa's history and its difficult situation, I
wonder if it's all right for us to remain indifferent.
Nagasaki Gov. Genjiro Kaneko: Sasebo City already hosts a U.S. naval
base. We have yet to hear anything from the government, so I'd like
to reserve my answer. But I think it would be difficult (to take on
a further burden), judging from the sensitivity of local people in
my prefecture, which is an atomic-bombed city.
(4) Editorial: Confusion over Futenma issue serious
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
February 18, 2010
How long will the confusion in the government over Futenma
relocation go on? The government committee examining a relocation
site for the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan
City, Okinawa Prefecture) has postponed the planned submission of
proposals for the relocation site of the Futenma base. Chief Cabinet
Secretary Hirofumi Hirano chairs the committee. Can the Hatoyama
administration really reach a conclusion by the end of May as Prime
Minister Yukio Hatoyama has repeatedly said?
In the Social Democratic Party (SDP), one of the ruling Democratic
Party of Japan's coalition partners, there are calls for moving the
Futenma base to the U.S. territory of Guam, Tinian in the U.S.
territory of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, or the
Kyushu region including the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Omura Air
Base (in Omura City, Nagasaki Prefecture). The People's New Party
(PNP), the other member of the DPJ-led ruling coalition, intends to
propose relocation to the inland area of Camp Schwab (in Nago City,
Okinawa), as well as the integration of Futenma with the U.S. Kadena
Air Base (in Kadena Town, Okinawa). However, the scheduled
submission of proposals was suddenly postponed.
The reason for the postponement was apparently that the three
parties were concerned that disarray in the ruling coalition would
be questioned by the opposition camp, resulting in a negative impact
on Diet deliberations on the budget for fiscal 2010. However, this
reason lacks logic. It had already been assumed that the three
parties would come up with different proposals in the process of
narrowing down the options for possible relocation sites.
The ruling coalition also postponed the submission of proposals from
the end of January to mid-February, so this is the second time they
have put it off. After consultations in the committee, might
problems arise as the three ruling-coalition party heads try to
reach an agreement through discussions? For fear of debate at the
Diet, they are apparently waiting to submit their proposals until
the budget clears the House of Representatives. In other words, they
are just killing time.
The SDP proposed postponing the submission of Futenma relocation
plans. One of the reasons for the SDP proposing the postponement was
apparently discord in the party over whether to stipulate in its
TOKYO 00000332 005 OF 010
proposal "relocation out of Okinawa," to which strong reactions from
possible relocation sites are expected. However, since more than one
and a half months have passed since the examination committee was
established, it is too late to put it off. Some people believe that
another reason for the SDP's proposal for the postponement is that
the SDP is becoming increasingly doubtful and suspicious about
whether the Kantei and the PNP are trying to reach an agreement on
the plan to relocate Futenma to the inland area of Camp Schwab. This
is just political maneuvering in the ruling coalition and lacks
An agreement with the U.S. government will be absolutely necessary
for the conclusion the prime minister has promised. If Futenma is
moved to somewhere else in Japan, coordination with the relocation
site will be indispensable. It will be difficult to find a
relocation site that satisfies both requirements. This is because
the U.S. government has called for moving Futenma to the Henoko
district in Nago City as Tokyo and Washington agreed, but the
Japanese municipalities that have been named as possible relocation
sites are against hosting the Futenma base. There is little time
left for the government to make a decision by the end of May, so the
ruling parties must not waste time.
Meanwhile, Hirano has finally announced his intention to submit the
DPJ's relocation plan to the examination committee at the request of
the SDP and PNP. This is only natural.
The government and ruling parties have revealed their faulty
decision-making process through this series of recent events. We
have doubts about the political sense of the ruling coalition, which
has postponed the submission of the parties' relocation proposals.
This is serious confusion.
(5) Interview with U.S.-Japan Foundation President George Packard:
There had been even more serious crises in Japan-U.S. relations in
the past
ASAHI (Page 15) (Full)
February 17, 2010
Toshihiro Yamanaka in New York
What is the ideal form of the Japan-U.S. relationship, which is
currently strained over the issue of the relocation of the Futenma
Air Station? U.S.-Japan Foundation President George Packard, 77, who
served under former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin Reischauer for
many years, says: "Compared with the many serious crises faced by
the Japan-U.S. alliance in the past 50 years, the Futenma issue is
minor." We interviewed Mr. Packard on his thoughts as we also looked
for clues from his recent book "Raishawa no Showa Shi (Edwin O.
Reischauer and the American Discovery of Japan)."
Overreacting to the Futenma issue is undesirable
Q: The Japan-U.S. relationship is in disarray over the Futenma
Packard: There has been too much unnecessary controversy over the
Futenma issue; it has been disproportionate to the actual problem.
Futenma is nothing compared to the serious crises in the Japan-U.S.
alliance in the past, such as (the protests against) the security
treaty in 1960 and the Vietnam War. While this is an urgent issue
TOKYO 00000332 006 OF 010
for U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ), it is a minor problem in the overall
Japan-U.S. alliance. Yet the two governments have made mistakes in
handling this issue, blowing it up into a big problem.
Q: What went wrong?
Packard: The Obama administration sent Secretary of Defense Robert
Gates to Tokyo last autumn. That was clearly a mistake. He pressed
for relocation to waters off Henoko in accordance with the existing
agreement and demanded immediate relocation. Such high-handed
behavior is very harmful to the Japan-U.S. alliance. The U.S.
government should respect the outcome of the Nago mayoral election
as the popular will expressed in a democratic election. For now, the
U.S. should patiently wait for Japan to make a decision by May.
Q: What do you think of Japan's response?
Packard: Japanese people outside Okinawa are still unable to grasp
the problem in its entirety. Japanese on the mainland should engage
in further discussions on what is to be done about the military
bases in Okinawa if Japan wants to continue to enjoy prosperity as
an economic power under the Japan-U.S. security arrangements. Is it
necessary to have that many bases in Okinawa right now? Who is the
hypothetical enemy? How is North Korea predicted to behave? What
about China? The problem will never be solved by simply citing
alternative relocation sites, whether they are remote islands or
existing bases; in-depth discussions are necessary.
Q: According to the book you published, Mr. Reischauer was deeply
involved with Okinawa. "Even after the end of the occupation, the
U.S. forces regarded the Japanese archipelago as an unsinkable
aircraft carrier for the containment of the Soviet Union and
Communist China, and Okinawa was the anchor for this carrier.
Reischauer single-handedly challenged the U.S. forces that continued
to rule Okinawa with such a mindset. He even began to persuade
senior U.S. military officers to return Okinawa." (summarized from
Raishawa no Showa Shi) If he were the ambassador to Japan today, how
would he deal with the Futenma issue?
Packard: If he were alive today, he would probably say without
hesitation: I can understand that U.S. forces need an operational
base in the Far East, but is it necessary to maintain such huge
military bases in Japan? This was his longstanding position. After
he took up his post in Tokyo in 1961, he realized immediately that
the U.S. Army lieutenant general ruling Okinawa at the time behaved
like a feudal lord and imposed an abnormal dictatorial regime. He
was convinced that if the U.S. forces continued to rule with such an
attitude, Okinawa would unmistakably trigger a crisis that would
shake the Japan-U.S. relationship. The rape incident by U.S.
soldiers in 1995 undoubtedly proved that he was right.
Q: At that time what did the ambassador do to prevent the eruption
of anti-base protests?
Packard: He went to Okinawa even though the U.S. forces did not
welcome him, built personal relationships with the USFJ commanders,
and made the Department of Defense soften its demands on Japan. He
convinced them that changes in USFJ troop deployment required prior
notification to the Japanese side. This was because he believed that
a Japan-U.S. alliance that forced Japan into subservience to the
U.S. would eventually fall apart.
TOKYO 00000332 007 OF 010
The Japanese should drop the theory of their uniqueness
Q: Your book talks about the inequality Mr. Reischauer felt before
he became ambassador. "The ambassador's main goal was to eliminate
racial discrimination and wartime hatred from the Japan-U.S.
relationship and purge the sense of inequality between the two
countries. Considering the position of the two countries at that
time, that was a remarkable idea. Toward that goal, he strove to
eradicate the occupation force mentality among Americans in Japan."
What did you mean by occupation force mentality?
Packard: I first came to live in Tokyo in 1956, and I came back in
1963. At that time, the occupation force mentality was quite strong
not only among American soldiers, but even among expats working for
U.S. companies and American newspaper reporters. They hired Japanese
as maids and indulged in luxuries like hotels and golf, which they
had not experienced in America, thanks to the fixed exchange rate of
360 yen to the dollar. None of them had any intention to make
friends with the local people in Japan. I wondered how long this
inequality would continue.
Q: Perhaps this could not be helped due to the difference in
military and economic power.
Packard: Both Mr. Reischauer and I felt that this inequality went
too far. Personally, I think that even today some Americans still
look at Japan from the standpoint of an occupier. In a way, the
Japanese still have the mindset of a people under occupation. When
Japan talks about its alliance with the U.S., its posture is always
passive and weak. Why was Japan unable to voice its opposition to
the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq like France and Germany?
Why did it send as many as 600 Self-Defense Force troops to support
Bush's war?
Q: Probably the problem was with the political leadership at that
Packard: No, I think it was a problem with the Japanese people as a
whole. It is a fact that there have not been any capable political
leaders - and I am not only talking about recent prime ministers -
and there have been no consistent goals in Japan's foreign policy. I
think Japan is at risk if it does not become a country with a large
number of leaders in various sectors who can with confidence hold
discussions in English on the global stage.
Q: You also wrote about the lack of English proficiency in Japan in
your book: "One of the main regrets of Mr. Reischauer after he
resigned as ambassador was his plan to send American English
teachers to every corner of Japan was not implemented owing to the
opposition of the Japanese government." Did he see that as such a
serious problem?
Packard: In the books that he wrote after he retired as ambassador,
he clearly stated that while the Japanese had a high level of
technical skill in many fields, they were remarkably poor at
learning foreign languages. Since they lived within the walls of the
Japanese language, other people were unable to learn about what they
were thinking. Therefore, it would be impossible for Japan to become
a world leader. I agree with him completely on this point. We are
not forcing English on Japan just because it is America's official
language. We want Japan to use English, the common language of the
world, as a tool.
TOKYO 00000332 008 OF 010
Q: Apparently, Mr. Reischauer kept saying the Japanese people should
begin to graduate from theories of their uniqueness (Nihonjinron).
Packard: Apart from the issue of English, Mr. Reischauer often said
that the Japanese had to an abnormal degree the misconception that
their country is unique. The Japanese people were no better or worse
than any other nationality. Yet, the Japanese were obsessed with the
preconceived notion that Japan is a unique country. That is why Mr.
Reischauer wrote that he wished the Japanese would discard theories
of their uniqueness.
Thoughts on the future of East Asia
Q: Mr. Reischauer was also a scholar of China.
Packard: Originally, he was not a scholar of Japan, but an expert on
the Tang and Song dynasties. He did not withdraw into the scrutiny
of ancient documents, but started to voice strong criticism of the
U.S. government's policy toward China in the 1950s. He urged the
U.S. government to recognize Communist China as a state at an early
Q: How did he look at Japan and China?
Packard: He did not look at the Japan-U.S.-China relationship as a
triangular relationship in which close relations between any two
countries would mean the isolation of the other one. He regarded all
of East Asia as a whole including Japan, China, and South Korea. No
westerner at that time had such a profound understanding of the
Chinese cultural sphere. He looked at East Asia from a broad
perspective and thought about the U.S.'s national interest as an
American. I think he clearly foresaw the present day
Japan-U.S.-China relationship.
Q: How will the rise of China today impact the Japan-U.S.
Packard: Closer relations between Japan and China are in the U.S.'s
interest, and a closer China-U.S. relationship is in Japan's
interest. This is because drawing China, which has so far been a
distant country because of its different political regime, closer to
the side of Japan and the U.S. in various areas, including trade,
markets, human rights, and intellectual property rights, will have a
positive effect on both countries.
Q: How will China's rise affect the presence of U.S. military bases
in Okinawa?
Packard: In the first place, one reason why the U.S. built military
bases in Okinawa was to defend Taiwan from Communist China. However,
in reality, China has not launched any armed invasion and Taiwan has
not rushed to become independent. In the future, if the distance
between Japan and the U.S. on the one hand and China on the other is
reduced, and they fall in step on policy toward North Korea, tension
in the Far East might quickly ease. In that case the USFJ would no
longer have any need to maintain the present large military bases in
Q: The investigation of the experts' panel of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs into the secret agreements is in its final stage.
The secret agreement on the introduction of nuclear weapons, which
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Mr. Reischauer was involved with, will be made public.
Packard: Mr. Reischauer would have been dismayed if he knew that the
secret agreement he left behind is still treated as secret. He died
with the belief that the secret agreement between the Japanese and
U.S. governments on port calls by U.S. vessels carrying nuclear arms
was no longer secret and was public knowledge.
Q: Your book related that "in April 1963, Reischauer invited Foreign
Minister Masayoshi Ohira to the embassy in secret. He explained the
U.S.'s concerns about the Japanese government's posture (of
responding in the Diet that vessels with nuclear arms on board had
not entered Japanese ports, which was different from the U.S. side's
Packard: Shortly before that, Mr. Reischauer had planned to expose
the introduction of nuclear weapons in Japan since the U.S. forces
would not have offloaded such weapons each time a U.S. vessel
entered a Japanese port, and it would have been impossible to do so.
He thought that keeping the introduction of nuclear arms secret from
the Japanese people was dangerous. Therefore, he asked permission
from the State Department to make this public before his meeting
with Mr. Ohira. However, permission was not granted. The State
Department was worried about a repeat of the violent anti-U.S.
protests against the security treaty in 1960.
Q: Mr. Reischauer held a news conference in 1981 and disclosed the
secret agreement personally. Why did he do that?
Packard: As a historian, he did not want to die with a lie on his
conscience. He wanted to set the record straight in diplomatic
history. I arranged that news conference. He was ill and spoke in a
soft voice, but he tried very hard to articulate his convictions. He
appeared to be relieved by revealing the truth. He would not have
expected that the Japanese government would continue to conceal the
secret agreement even after that. He is probably relieved now that
20 years after he passed away, history is finally going to be
rewritten correctly.
(6) Discussion on "money and politics" scandals gets nowhere in
Hatoyama's first debate with opposition leaders
NIKKEI (Page 2) (Full)
February 18, 2010
In the first Diet debate, held yesterday, between Prime Minister
Yukio Hatoyama and opposition leaders since the launch of the
Hatoyama administration, the largest share of time was devoted to
"money and politics" scandals. The leaders of the Liberal Democratic
Party and the New Komeito focused their attack on Hatoyama's alleged
false donation scandal, while the prime minister merely repeated
with contrition his previous explanation. The discussion got
Hatoyama shies away from lenient approach
LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki started with questioning about
Hatoyama's funding scandal. Upon saying that tax offices began
receiving income tax returns on Feb. 16, he criticized Hatoyama, who
filed revised tax forms and paid a gift tax, saying: "It is a
tragicomedy for 'the king of tax dodgers in the Heisei era' to ask
the people to pay taxes."
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Usual replies
In response to the criticism, Hatoyama said with a meek look on his
face: "I feel really sorry." But asked about the funds in question
from his mother, he gave his pet reply: "I swear by the gods of
heaven and earth that I did not know" (my mother had provided my
office with money). On the other hand, Tanigaki quoted a lot of
expressions that former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano had used in an
earlier House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting. Tanigaki
also stressed that three persons involved in the case, including the
first of Hatoyama's former state-funded secretary, should be
summoned as witnesses before the Diet, but he did not obtain a
pledge from Hatoyama, showing that he failed to follow through.
In the debate, Tanigaki touched on the consumption tax, fiscal, and
other issues as well, but Hatoyama's replies consisted of nothing
but criticism of the previous LDP governments. Hatoyama claimed:
"The previous governments spent too much money wastefully;" and "we
urged the previous government to work out emergency economic
measures, but it ignored our advice, so tax revenues decreased."
After the party head talks, Tanigaki grumbled: "He gushed illogical
Meanwhile, Hatoyama went to a Japanese-style pub in Tokyo with
first-time-elected House of Councillors members last night and told
them: "I was prepared to answer questions about our policies, but
such questions were not asked." Regarding the donation scandal,
Hatoyama said: "I could avoid the issue, but based on the judgment
if I do so I will be criticized later for having tried to avoid it,
I responded."
Consideration for New Komeito
Hatoyama, however, responded to questions by New Komeito President
Natsuo Yamaguchi in a different manner. The prime minister expressed
for the first time his support for the party's proposal for setting
up a panel of the ruling and opposition parties tasked with
discussing a revision of the Political Funds Control Law. Yamaguchi
welcomed the prime minister's support, remarking: "The people were
waiting for you to show courage." The prime minister thus indicated
his consideration for the New Komeito, which for a change could hold
a casting vote in the political situation depending on the outcome
of the House of Councillors election this summer.
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