[Wikileaks] DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS 03/15/06

Viewing cable 06TOKYO1363, DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS 03/15/06

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06TOKYO1363 2006-03-15 07:45 2011-03-15 21:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tokyo

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PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 150745Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9766
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/USDOT WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J5//
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
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RHMFIUU/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA//J5/JO21//
RUYNAAC/COMNAVFORJAPAN YOKOSUKA JA
RUAYJAA/COMPATWING ONE KAMI SEYA JA
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 7769
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 5142
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 8266
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 5158
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 6319
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1141
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 7332
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 9312

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 09 TOKYO 001363

SIPDIS
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR E, P, EB, EAP/J, EAP/P, EAP/PD, PA WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION; TREASURY/OASIA/IMI/JAPAN; DEPT PASS USTR/PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE; SECDEF FOR JCS-J-5/JAPAN, DASD/ISA/EAPR/JAPAN; DEPT PASS ELECTRONICALLY TO USDA FAS/ITP FOR SCHROETER; PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR; CINCPAC FLT/PA/ COMNAVFORJAPAN/PA.
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA

SUBJECT: DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS 03/15/06
INDEX:
(1) Poll on Koizumi cabinet, political parties, social divide
(2) Koizumi aiming to end up with high popularity
(3) Prime Minister Koizumi denies expansion of current Diet session, coordinates plan to visit US in June with eye on last hurrah
(4) Series of problems exposed on US beef: Stricter safety inspections called for
(5) Unannounced inspection eyed
(6) US eager to put end to heated beef talks prior to off-year elections this fall
(7) Unannounced inspection eyed
(8) Editorial: Pluthermal power-generation project; Haste creates danger
ARTICLES:
(1) Poll on Koizumi cabinet, political parties, social divide
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full) March 14, 2006
Questions & Answers (Figures shown in percentage. Parentheses denote the results of a survey conducted in February.)
Q: Do you support the Koizumi cabinet?
Yes 54.9 (53.5)
No 35.9 (36.2)
Other answers (O/A) 3.0 (2.9)
No answer (N/A) 6.2 (7.5)
Q: Give up to two reasons for your approval of the Koizumi cabinet.
I can appreciate its political stance 32.2
I can appreciate its policy measures 14.5
It’s stable 16.2
The prime minister is trustworthy 18.7
It’s achieved actual results 35.9
It’s a coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito 6.8
It’s better than its predecessors 37.3
O/A 1.5
N/A 0.9
Q: Give up to two reasons for your disapproval of the Koizumi cabinet.
I can’t appreciate its political stance 36.9
I can’t appreciate its policy measures 43.9
It’s unstable 14.1
The prime minister is untrustworthy 29.5
It’s failed to achieve noticeable results 19.5
TOKYO 00001363 002 OF 009
It’s a coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito 13.7
It’s worse than its predecessors 4.3
O/A 2.8
N/A 0.5
Q: What issues do you want the Koizumi cabinet to pursue on a priority basis? Pick as many as you like from among those listed below.
Economic stimulus measures 52.5
Employment measures 27.7
Fiscal reconstruction 20.4
Tax reform 29.9
Social security reform, including pensions 54.9
Measures to counter low birthrate, including childcare support 28.3
Educational reform 21.1
Political reform, political ethics 9.2
Public service personnel system reform 18.0
Public security, crime prevention 27.4
Foreign policy 18.7
Defense, security 12.0
North Korea issues 26.6
Environmental protection 14.8
Crisis management, including disaster prevention 10.5
Constitutional revision 6.7
Food safety 18.4
O/A + nothing in particular + N/A 2.7
Q: Which political party do you support?
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 42.3 (39.3)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto) 11.1 (13.3)
New Komeito (NK) 3.0 (3.1)
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 1.3 (1.4)
Social Democratic Party (SDP or Shaminto) 1.9 (1.5)
People’s New Party (PNP or Kokumin Shinto) 0.2 (0.1)
New Party Nippon (NPN or Shinto Nippon) 0.1 (0.1)
Other political parties 0.1 (—)
None 39.2 (40.2)
N/A 0.8 (0.9)
Q: Do you think income and other economic disparities are expanding in Japan today?
Yes 55.2
Yes to a certain degree 26.2
No to a certain degree 8.9
No 6.7
N/A 3.0
Q: (Only for those who answered “yes” to the foregoing question) Do you think the expansion of economic disparities has resulted from Prime Minister Koizumi’s drive to push for structural reforms over the past five years since coming into office?
Yes, very much 19.5
Yes, somewhat 36.9
No, not very much 25.4
No, not at all 14.1
N/A 4.1
TOKYO 00001363 003 OF 009
Q: Do you think there is a problem about the widening of such a social divide?
Yes 49.2
Yes to a certain degree 29.5
No to a certain degree 9.5
No 8.9
N/A 2.9
Q: Do you think Japan today is a society where anyone can overcome such a social divide if you work hard?
Yes 16.7
Yes to a certain degree 22.1
No to a certain degree 22.6
No 35.9
N/A 2.7
Polling methodology Date of survey: March 11-12. Subjects of survey: 3,000 persons chosen from among all eligible voters throughout the country (at 250 locations on a stratified two-stage random sampling basis). Method of implementation: Door-to-door visits for face-to-face interviews. Number of valid respondents: 1,812 persons (60.4%). Breakdown of respondents: Male-50 %,female-50 %.
(2) Koizumi aiming to end up with high popularity
YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full) March 14, 2006
In the Yomiuri Shimbun’s latest public opinion survey, the Koizumi cabinet kept up its approval rating over 50%. However, its high popularity is undeniably owing in part to the recent email fiasco and other errors involving the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshuto). Prime Minister Koizumi has clarified his intent to step down along with his ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election slated for this September. Yet, his cabinet’s approval rating-depending on its turns over the next six months-may have subtle repercussions on the post-Koizumi race.
“It’s pretty high,” Koizumi told reporters yesterday evening at his office when asked about his cabinet’s support rate. “It will go down again in time,” he added.
The Koizumi cabinet’s approval rating hovered around 60% for a while after last September’s election for the House of Representatives. However, its support rate was on the decline in last December and afterward. This time, it was 54.9%, up 1.4 percentage points from this February’s survey, and seemed to have stopped dropping. “The DPJ sustained a blow from the email problem, so I guess that’s probably why the cabinet support rate went up.” This analysis came from an LDP executive in the House of Councillors.
If Koizumi sustains his cabinet’s high popularity in the months ahead, it then will be possible to have post-Koizumi candidates struggle within the scope of his structural reform initiatives. That is because it will be difficult for them to negate Koizumi’s highly reputed restructuring approach.
TOKYO 00001363 004 OF 009

One LDP executive says Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe is the very best candidate in the prime minister’s heart of hearts. “Public opinion will greatly help push ahead with structural reforms,” Abe said yesterday.
However, the Koizumi cabinet, should its support rate go down, would become a lame duck. If that is the case, the LDP race in September this year could focus on whether to review his restructuring policy course. High popularity is indispensable for the premier to uphold his policy.
There are also many uncertainties for Koizumi to keep up his cabinet’s high rating.
The government has now introduced a package of legislative measures for administrative reform to the Diet at the current session. The government wants to play up its restructuring stance with the legislation’s early passage through the Diet. However, Koizumi will step down in a half year. As it stands, he will have no time to set forth new policy measures at home. On the diplomatic front, it is hard to foresee what is up ahead of the pending issues, such as the planned realignment of US forces in Japan and the pullout of Ground Self-Defense Force troops from Iraq.
DPJ seriously takes decline in support
In the survey this time, the DPJ support rate also dropped 2.0 points. The DPJ takes it as a consequence of having lost public confidence due to the ‘fake email’ incident, and the party has a strong sense of crisis. “We’re now in a difficult time (due to the email fiasco), so we must take the public criticism,” DPJ Secretary General Hatoyama said. “I’m really feeling (the
SIPDIS criticism),” he added.
(3) Prime Minister Koizumi denies expansion of current Diet session, coordinates plan to visit US in June with eye on last hurrah
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Slightly abridged) March 15, 2006
In a meeting on March 13 of the government and the ruling parties, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi threw out a proposal by Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Hiroyuki Hosoda that the ongoing regular Diet session be extended, saying, “I want you to pass all necessary bills through the Diet without considering extending the current session.”
A government source commented that the prime minister had talked about a basic view in order to bring a sense of urgency to the management of Diet affairs. Speculation has been rife that Koizumi may not extend the session but instead try to give priority to his diplomatic schedule after the session closes.
In the background, Koizumi has only one chance in late June to make a state visit to the US, having been invited by President George W. Bush.
It will be the first state visit to the US by a Japanese prime minister since then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi made one in May 1999. Koizumi declined the invitation last year. Visiting the US
TOKYO 00001363 005 OF 009
while he is still in office is the top diplomatic issue for Koizumi in order to summarize the results of the five-year honeymoon period of Japan-US relations.
However, it would be impossible for Bush to invite Koizumi after July because: July 4 is the US Independence Day; the Group of Eight summit will start on July 15 in St. Petersburg; and Bush will leave Washington for vacation in August.
In September, Koizumi will have a tightly packed diplomatic schedule: Attendance at the summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Finland and at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Therefore, it is impossible for him to visit Washington in September.
After the current Diet session ends, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, and Foreign Minister Taro Aso will be freed from their Diet business to reply questions. The three, who are post-Koizumi contenders, will move their campaigns for the LDP presidential election into full gear soon after the end of the Diet session. The expectation is that Koizumi’s grip on the party, as well as his political identity would decline at once since many LDP members will grow their interest in the party leadership race.
However, the prime minister and his aides have taken the offensive, assuming that the Koizumi reform drive will be maintained if a budget request framework for fiscal 2007 is drafted based on “big-boned reform policy guidelines,” which the government will decide in June.
A person closed to the prime minister said:
“Under the cabinet of Prime Minister Hosokawa, even Mr. Ichiro Ozawa, a strong-armed politician, failed to drastically change the budgetary request guidelines drafted by the government-led by the LDP. No one can alter the reform policy line. The post- Koizumi contenders have no choice but to follow the Koizumi reform program as they approved it.”
Bureaucrats, who scheme to secure vested interests, have started making a resistance against the government, aiming to water down the reform measures to be included in the “big-bone policy guidelines.” It is certain that public support for Koizumi will decrease if his reform drive will hit a roadblock.
Whether Koizumi will be able to maintain his influence until he steps down from the prime minister’s post depends on whether he can overcome bureaucratic resistance.
(4) Series of problems exposed on US beef: Stricter safety inspections called for
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 5) (Full) March 15, 2006
A series of problems concerning US beef, including violations in shipments and sloppy anti-BSE procedures, have been exposed recently. It was announced yesterday that three of the meat- processing plants authorized to export beef to Japan had been singled out in a report of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for improper processing. On March 13, a third case of BSE was confirmed in the US. The Japanese government is likely to be
TOKYO 00001363 006 OF 009
pressed now to carry out tighter safety inspections in order to remove consumers’ distrust in US beef. Recent developments have made it more difficult for Japan to reach a decision to lift its ban on US beef imports.
Improper processing at three plants in US pointed out in USDA report
Japan reinstated its ban on US beef imports in January after vertebral columns prohibited under a bilateral accord due to the risk of BSE were found in a veal shipment to Japan. Prohibited parts were also found in a shipment to Hong Kong on March 13.
The Japanese government was greatly shocked by the incident in Hong Kong, because the meat-processing facility in question had cleared a Japanese government inspection. In addition, the plant had demonstrated the safety of its anti-BSE processing before the press through the US government. In its inspection last December, the Japanese government judged the procedures at the plant as “having no problem.” There is the possibility that the Japanese government also failed to find safety problems.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Shoichi Nakagawa expressed strong apprehension about the disclosure of US plants that have not taken proper safety procedures, saying: “With the discovery of another US beef shipment containing banned parts, the coefficient of friction has become bigger.”
Yesterday, it was also revealed that USDA had pointed out in its report that they had not kept proper records on the removal of specified risk materials (SRM) from 2004 through 2005, despite an USDA order that SRMs be thoroughly removed. The Japanese government was not even informed of this fact.
(5) Unannounced inspection eyed
NIHON KEZAI (Page 5) (Full) March 15, 2006
Following the disclosure of a series of incidents involving US meat-processing facilities, the Japanese government has stepped up efforts to obtain accurate information on the incidents. The government will be pressed to carry out stricter safety measures before determining whether to reopen its market to US beef.
One of such measures is the strengthening of inspections. Late last year, the Japanese government inspected meat-processing plants in the US to see whether the removal of specified risk materials (SRM) has been properly removed. In addition to this measure, the Japanese government may study the possibility of checking to if whether US inspectors are properly examining facilities and making unannounced inspections of US plants.
Consumers Union of Japan Vice President Yasuaki Yamaura commented: “The key to resuming imports lies in how to ensure the safety of beef.” Tokyo has also made the recovery of public trust in US beef as a precondition for resuming imports. Given this, the government intends to listen to explanations from the US, taking time, about the details of the Hong Kong case and its additional inquiries. It may take several months to complete this process. Many observers anticipate that an early resumption of imports will be difficult.
TOKYO 00001363 007 OF 009
(6) US eager to put end to heated beef talks prior to off-year elections this fall
NIHON KEIZAI (Page 5) (Full) March 15, 2006
The US government plans to submit this week its second report responding to inquiries from Japan regarding an incident in which vertebral columns, a prohibited part, were found in a US veal shipment to Japan. The US presented Japan with a report on the incident in February. In response, Japan submitted a list of uncertain points in the report to the US.
Observers expect the US to reply: “We did everything that we should do,” based on its usual assertion that “the incident of vertebral columns included in a shipment is a unique case and not a structural problem.”
In a press conference on March 13, Agriculture Department chief

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