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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06TOKYO1842
2006-04-06 07:52:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Tokyo
Cable title:  

DAILY SUMMARY OF JAPANESE PRESS 04/06/06

Tags:   OIIP  KMDR  KPAO  PGOV  PINR  ECON  ELAB  JA 
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RUEAWJA/USDOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI
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RUAYJAA/COMPATWING ONE KAMI SEYA JA
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 8168
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 5539
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 8696
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RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 6717
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1544
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 7725
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 9658
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 11 TOKYO 001842 

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 04/06/06


INDEX:

(1) Jiji kokkoku column - contenders to succeed Koizumi voice
protest against Chinese President Hu's remarks

(2) US force realignment following a wild path (Part 3):
Supporters turned into opponents because of the government's lack
of advance consultation

(3) Foreign Minister Aso aims to create economy-oriented country;
Says he is responsible for dissolving income disparity

(4) LDP reacts against New Komeito's initiative in revising the
Basic Education Law; Description of "patriotism" unclear

(5) Light and shadow - Reality of five years of Koizumi politics;
Intergenerational gaps in pension benefits blocking mutual
assistance

(6) Use of space: Private sector at moment of truth

(7) Half of 12-member prion panel resigns

ARTICLES:

(1) Jiji kokkoku column - contenders to succeed Koizumi voice
protest against Chinese President Hu's remarks

ASAHI (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
April 5, 2006

By Shinya Minamishima; Hideto Fujiwara in Beijing

"I am willing to hold top-level talks if the Japanese leader does
not visit Yasukuni Shrine." This remark by Chinese President Hu
Jintao urging the contenders to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi not to pay homage to the shrine is causing ripples across
the country. Improving relations with China will be one of the
campaign issues in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
presidential race. Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda
has shifted his emphasis to Asia diplomacy. But the so-called
post-Koizumi candidates and other Japanese leaders are assuming a
tougher stand toward China in reaction to that country's repeated
criticism of shrine visits. At one point China appeared to be
avoiding mentioning the Yasukuni issue, so why has it now turned
around?

"It gave me the impression that he has become much more
flexible," Hidenao Nakagawa, chair of the LDP Policy Research
Council, said to an Asahi Shimbun reporter. Saying, "I can
understand his personal feeling," Nakagawa on the surface has
taken Hu's recent remarks as showing a certain level of
understanding toward the prime minister's "private visit to the
shrine."

Assuming Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe will replace Koizumi,
Nakagawa is working hard to pave the way for the successor to
Koizumi to repair relations with China. He therefore wants to
take Hu's remarks as positively as possible, but in his heart he
appears to have mixed feelings.

An aide to Nakagawa argued: "None of the so-called post-Koizumi
candidates can declare, 'I won't visit Yasukuni.' (Hu's) remarks

TOKYO 00001842 002 OF 011


will have the opposite effect. President Hu has made a mistake."

It was not long before the opposite effect emerged. Reacting to
Fu's remarks, Abe told a press conference on April 3: "I can't
accept (President Hu's assertions)." Foreign Minister Aso as well
used strong language in criticizing (China) at a press briefing
yesterday: "(China's) approach is beyond our understanding."
Finance Minister Tanigaki also stated, "It's important for us to
be able to have discussion if a dispute arises. Refusing to meet
is a problem."

How to mend fences with China will be a key campaign issue in the
presidential race. But declaring "I won't visit the shrine" in
response to Hu's statement could be viewed as giving in to
pressure from China. Workable options for improving relations
with China seem limited.

Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai)
Chairman Kakutaro Kitashiro told a press conference yesterday:
"Stopping the shrine visits would become even more difficult once
this turns into a political issue. People would question whether
the person avoided making shrine visits in response to China's
call. I think it is regrettable that President Hu made such
remarks."

One Japanese lawmaker who had been present in the meeting
(between Hu and the heads of seven Japanese groups) explained:
"President Hu would like to somehow improve relations with Japan.
But he is in a situation that requires him to mention (the
Yasukuni issue). I think it is regrettable to see the Japanese
government and influential lawmakers critically comment on his
words."

Main points from President Hu's remarks

China-Japan relations have been faced with a difficult situation
in recent years, which is something I do not want to see. Neither
China nor the Japanese people are responsible for that. The cause
lies with a few Japanese leaders who have repeatedly visited
Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Class-A war criminals. I am ready
to hold top-level talks if Japanese leaders stop visiting the
shine. I regard shrine visits by representatives of the Japanese
government as part of government policy. I can understand
personal feelings, but I hope to see the sentiments of a victim
nation respected.

China intended to highlight friendship but changed its mind after
much debate due to Koizumi's statement just before Hu's speech

"President Hu made clear the Chinese government's stance on
progress in China-Japan relations," the Chinese Foreign Ministry
Spokesperson Liu Jianchao said at a regular press briefing on
April 4 in referrence to the president's meeting with the heads
of seven Japan-China friendship organizations.

Chinese officials had continued discussions until just before the
meeting about whether to bring up the Yasukuni issue in Hu's
speech.

At the beginning, officials well-versed in relations with Japan
had been drafting Hu's speech in a way to highlight friendship
and exchange but not to mention the Yasukuni issue.


TOKYO 00001842 003 OF 011


However, the draft encountered a number of objections while being
circulated from the Foreign Ministry to influential officials,
including State Councilor for Foreign Affairs Tang Jiaxuan, with
one official arguing: "The Yasukuni issue can't be avoided, for
it is the major sticking point in China-Japan relations in the
political area. This is a fundamental principle." In addition to
this, Prime Minister Koizumi's remarks made at a press conference
on March 27, in which he said, "I can't understand why they
assert they can't hold high-level talks because of my visits to
Yasukuni Shrine," made it definite that the Yasukuni issue should
be referred to in Hu's speech.

Many working-level Chinese officials knowledgeable about Japanese
public opinion were strongly concerned that a reference to the
Yasukuni issue would incur a backlash from the Japanese side. But
this concern never reached the high-level officials. "Even in
Japan, it would be impossible for junior officials to advise
their seniors," a researcher of Japan-China relations remarked.

The Chinese leadership tried to show its people its willingness
to improve relations with Japan. The Chinese Communist Party's
paper, the People's Daily, reported on the meeting between
President Hu and the heads of seven Japanese groups top on the
front page, giving the headline "Talks wrapped up in friendly
atmosphere."

In the same meeting, Hu also stated, "The Japanese people are not
to be blamed for the worsened China-Japan relations," and "China
hopes they will help China to move forward," in signaling his
message to the Japanese public, but this message became less
noticeable owing to his mention of the Yasukuni issue, some
Chinese officials pointed out regretfully.

(2) US force realignment following a wild path (Part 3):
Supporters turned into opponents because of the government's lack
of advance consultation

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 26) (Abridged)
April 4, 2006

Foreign Minister Taro Aso toured a US base in Kanagawa Prefecture
on December 16, 2005. The foreign minister later called on Zama
Mayor Katsuji Hoshino at the municipal government office.

When the topic turned to the proposed relocation of the US Army
1st Corps headquarters to Camp Zama straddling Zama and
Sagamihara, Hoshino said, "We will consider it if we can get 1
trillion yen in return." This enormous amount of money reflected
Hoshino's determination to reject the transfer.

Hoshino is a conservative local politician. He often took part in
events to promote friendship between the US base and local
communities. He was regarded as tolerant of the relocation plan.
Camp Zama covers an area of 62 hectares. Of it, only one-seventh
goes into Zama, which has not suffered any visible damage from
the base.

But the city was turned upside down by a US force realignment
interim report that specified the transfer of the US Army 1st
Corps to Camp Zama.

On March 11, over 1,000 residents staged a protest around Camp
Zama. Hoshino became the city's first mayor to lead such a

TOKYO 00001842 004 OF 011


demonstration, according to the city's liaison division.

Protests stem from local distrust of the way the government has
handled the US force realignment issue. Hoshino had repeatedly
asked the government if a new Army command would be established
at Camp Zama more than a year before the interim report was
produced. In response, the government always said, "We haven't
discussed anything specific." Hoshino was fed up with the
government's response.

"If the government had consulted with local authorities
beforehand, things would not have been tangled to this extent," a
person close to Hoshino said. The government has offered vague
explanations to Zama since Tokyo and Washington produced the
interim report last October.

In stationing Self-Defense Force troops at Camp Zama in 1971,
Zama Town (currently Zama City) and the Yokohama District Defense
Facilities Administration Bureau chief signed a memorandum of
understanding vowing to make maximum efforts to reduce the base.
A local resident curtly said, "The relocation of the 1st Corps
command to Camp Zama runs counter to the MOU." But the government
has simply reiterated, "We will make ardent efforts based on the
spirit of the MOU."

Some city officials have begun indicating that the city should
start thinking of how to settle the issue. But Hoshimo has been
urging the government to present a concrete philosophy and vision
not to make US bases permanent fixtures in Japan.

Zama is not the only municipality that is reacting furiously to
the planned US force realignment, abandoning its receptiveness.

Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, conducted a plebiscite on March 12
in which 43,000 residents -- over 50% of all voters -- said "no"
to the transfer of a carrier-borne aircraft unit from the Atsugi
base to the air station in the city.

Reportedly, local concerns about night landing practice (NLP)
affected voting.

In September 2000, bad weather around Iwojima forced the US Navy
to conduct NLP at the Iwakuni base.

The Iwakuni municipal office received over 140 complaints about
the two days of NLP that produced deafening noise.

The government explained that when the runway is moved 1
kilometer further offshore in fiscal 2008, noise would be reduced
to one-third of the current level, adding that NLP would be
carried out on Iwojima. But local residents are still
apprehensive. Iwakuni City Assemblyman Jungen Tamura said, "If
pressed hard by the US military, the central government may allow
it to conduct NLP at the Iwakuni base."

The government's explanations to base-hosting municipalities have
clearly been insufficient. "The responsibility for national
security rests exclusively with the central government," a
Defense Agency official noted. Many agency officials also believe
that there is no need to obtain local consent. Their arrogance
has turned even those who were receptive of base issues into
opponents.


TOKYO 00001842 005 OF 011


(3) Foreign Minister Aso aims to create economy-oriented country;
Says he is responsible for dissolving income disparity

ASAHI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
April 4, 2006

Reporters asked Foreign Minister Abe about differences in the
policy stances of Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, a rival of
his in the race to succeed Prime Minister Koizumi, and himself.
Aso replied in his usual rough language: "Differences between Abe
and me? I suppose we are different in our economic policies." In
view of the fact that the remark was made shortly after he
returned home, after fulfilling a major diplomatic role in a
strategic dialogue with his US and Australian counterparts in
Sydney, Australia, this was a well-calculated reply intended to
demonstrate that he is an economic expert.

He made a speech titled "Creating a New Era" in Sapporo on April
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 11 TOKYO 001842

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 04/06/06


INDEX:

(1) Jiji kokkoku column - contenders to succeed Koizumi voice
protest against Chinese President Hu's remarks

(2) US force realignment following a wild path (Part 3):
Supporters turned into opponents because of the government's lack
of advance consultation

(3) Foreign Minister Aso aims to create economy-oriented country;
Says he is responsible for dissolving income disparity

(4) LDP reacts against New Komeito's initiative in revising the
Basic Education Law; Description of "patriotism" unclear

(5) Light and shadow - Reality of five years of Koizumi politics;
Intergenerational gaps in pension benefits blocking mutual
assistance

(6) Use of space: Private sector at moment of truth

(7) Half of 12-member prion panel resigns

ARTICLES:

(1) Jiji kokkoku column - contenders to succeed Koizumi voice
protest against Chinese President Hu's remarks

ASAHI (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
April 5, 2006

By Shinya Minamishima; Hideto Fujiwara in Beijing

"I am willing to hold top-level talks if the Japanese leader does
not visit Yasukuni Shrine." This remark by Chinese President Hu
Jintao urging the contenders to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi not to pay homage to the shrine is causing ripples across
the country. Improving relations with China will be one of the
campaign issues in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
presidential race. Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda
has shifted his emphasis to Asia diplomacy. But the so-called
post-Koizumi candidates and other Japanese leaders are assuming a

tougher stand toward China in reaction to that country's repeated
criticism of shrine visits. At one point China appeared to be
avoiding mentioning the Yasukuni issue, so why has it now turned
around?

"It gave me the impression that he has become much more
flexible," Hidenao Nakagawa, chair of the LDP Policy Research
Council, said to an Asahi Shimbun reporter. Saying, "I can
understand his personal feeling," Nakagawa on the surface has
taken Hu's recent remarks as showing a certain level of
understanding toward the prime minister's "private visit to the
shrine."

Assuming Chief Cabinet Secretary Abe will replace Koizumi,
Nakagawa is working hard to pave the way for the successor to
Koizumi to repair relations with China. He therefore wants to
take Hu's remarks as positively as possible, but in his heart he
appears to have mixed feelings.

An aide to Nakagawa argued: "None of the so-called post-Koizumi
candidates can declare, 'I won't visit Yasukuni.' (Hu's) remarks

TOKYO 00001842 002 OF 011


will have the opposite effect. President Hu has made a mistake."

It was not long before the opposite effect emerged. Reacting to
Fu's remarks, Abe told a press conference on April 3: "I can't
accept (President Hu's assertions)." Foreign Minister Aso as well
used strong language in criticizing (China) at a press briefing
yesterday: "(China's) approach is beyond our understanding."
Finance Minister Tanigaki also stated, "It's important for us to
be able to have discussion if a dispute arises. Refusing to meet
is a problem."

How to mend fences with China will be a key campaign issue in the
presidential race. But declaring "I won't visit the shrine" in
response to Hu's statement could be viewed as giving in to
pressure from China. Workable options for improving relations
with China seem limited.

Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai)
Chairman Kakutaro Kitashiro told a press conference yesterday:
"Stopping the shrine visits would become even more difficult once
this turns into a political issue. People would question whether
the person avoided making shrine visits in response to China's
call. I think it is regrettable that President Hu made such
remarks."

One Japanese lawmaker who had been present in the meeting
(between Hu and the heads of seven Japanese groups) explained:
"President Hu would like to somehow improve relations with Japan.
But he is in a situation that requires him to mention (the
Yasukuni issue). I think it is regrettable to see the Japanese
government and influential lawmakers critically comment on his
words."

Main points from President Hu's remarks

China-Japan relations have been faced with a difficult situation
in recent years, which is something I do not want to see. Neither
China nor the Japanese people are responsible for that. The cause
lies with a few Japanese leaders who have repeatedly visited
Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Class-A war criminals. I am ready
to hold top-level talks if Japanese leaders stop visiting the
shine. I regard shrine visits by representatives of the Japanese
government as part of government policy. I can understand
personal feelings, but I hope to see the sentiments of a victim
nation respected.

China intended to highlight friendship but changed its mind after
much debate due to Koizumi's statement just before Hu's speech

"President Hu made clear the Chinese government's stance on
progress in China-Japan relations," the Chinese Foreign Ministry
Spokesperson Liu Jianchao said at a regular press briefing on
April 4 in referrence to the president's meeting with the heads
of seven Japan-China friendship organizations.

Chinese officials had continued discussions until just before the
meeting about whether to bring up the Yasukuni issue in Hu's
speech.

At the beginning, officials well-versed in relations with Japan
had been drafting Hu's speech in a way to highlight friendship
and exchange but not to mention the Yasukuni issue.


TOKYO 00001842 003 OF 011


However, the draft encountered a number of objections while being
circulated from the Foreign Ministry to influential officials,
including State Councilor for Foreign Affairs Tang Jiaxuan, with
one official arguing: "The Yasukuni issue can't be avoided, for
it is the major sticking point in China-Japan relations in the
political area. This is a fundamental principle." In addition to
this, Prime Minister Koizumi's remarks made at a press conference
on March 27, in which he said, "I can't understand why they
assert they can't hold high-level talks because of my visits to
Yasukuni Shrine," made it definite that the Yasukuni issue should
be referred to in Hu's speech.

Many working-level Chinese officials knowledgeable about Japanese
public opinion were strongly concerned that a reference to the
Yasukuni issue would incur a backlash from the Japanese side. But
this concern never reached the high-level officials. "Even in
Japan, it would be impossible for junior officials to advise
their seniors," a researcher of Japan-China relations remarked.

The Chinese leadership tried to show its people its willingness
to improve relations with Japan. The Chinese Communist Party's
paper, the People's Daily, reported on the meeting between
President Hu and the heads of seven Japanese groups top on the
front page, giving the headline "Talks wrapped up in friendly
atmosphere."

In the same meeting, Hu also stated, "The Japanese people are not
to be blamed for the worsened China-Japan relations," and "China
hopes they will help China to move forward," in signaling his
message to the Japanese public, but this message became less
noticeable owing to his mention of the Yasukuni issue, some
Chinese officials pointed out regretfully.

(2) US force realignment following a wild path (Part 3):
Supporters turned into opponents because of the government's lack
of advance consultation

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 26) (Abridged)
April 4, 2006

Foreign Minister Taro Aso toured a US base in Kanagawa Prefecture
on December 16, 2005. The foreign minister later called on Zama
Mayor Katsuji Hoshino at the municipal government office.

When the topic turned to the proposed relocation of the US Army
1st Corps headquarters to Camp Zama straddling Zama and
Sagamihara, Hoshino said, "We will consider it if we can get 1
trillion yen in return." This enormous amount of money reflected
Hoshino's determination to reject the transfer.

Hoshino is a conservative local politician. He often took part in
events to promote friendship between the US base and local
communities. He was regarded as tolerant of the relocation plan.
Camp Zama covers an area of 62 hectares. Of it, only one-seventh
goes into Zama, which has not suffered any visible damage from
the base.

But the city was turned upside down by a US force realignment
interim report that specified the transfer of the US Army 1st
Corps to Camp Zama.

On March 11, over 1,000 residents staged a protest around Camp
Zama. Hoshino became the city's first mayor to lead such a

TOKYO 00001842 004 OF 011


demonstration, according to the city's liaison division.

Protests stem from local distrust of the way the government has
handled the US force realignment issue. Hoshino had repeatedly
asked the government if a new Army command would be established
at Camp Zama more than a year before the interim report was
produced. In response, the government always said, "We haven't
discussed anything specific." Hoshino was fed up with the
government's response.

"If the government had consulted with local authorities
beforehand, things would not have been tangled to this extent," a
person close to Hoshino said. The government has offered vague
explanations to Zama since Tokyo and Washington produced the
interim report last October.

In stationing Self-Defense Force troops at Camp Zama in 1971,
Zama Town (currently Zama City) and the Yokohama District Defense
Facilities Administration Bureau chief signed a memorandum of
understanding vowing to make maximum efforts to reduce the base.
A local resident curtly said, "The relocation of the 1st Corps
command to Camp Zama runs counter to the MOU." But the government
has simply reiterated, "We will make ardent efforts based on the
spirit of the MOU."

Some city officials have begun indicating that the city should
start thinking of how to settle the issue. But Hoshimo has been
urging the government to present a concrete philosophy and vision
not to make US bases permanent fixtures in Japan.

Zama is not the only municipality that is reacting furiously to
the planned US force realignment, abandoning its receptiveness.

Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, conducted a plebiscite on March 12
in which 43,000 residents -- over 50% of all voters -- said "no"
to the transfer of a carrier-borne aircraft unit from the Atsugi
base to the air station in the city.

Reportedly, local concerns about night landing practice (NLP)
affected voting.

In September 2000, bad weather around Iwojima forced the US Navy
to conduct NLP at the Iwakuni base.

The Iwakuni municipal office received over 140 complaints about
the two days of NLP that produced deafening noise.

The government explained that when the runway is moved 1
kilometer further offshore in fiscal 2008, noise would be reduced
to one-third of the current level, adding that NLP would be
carried out on Iwojima. But local residents are still
apprehensive. Iwakuni City Assemblyman Jungen Tamura said, "If
pressed hard by the US military, the central government may allow
it to conduct NLP at the Iwakuni base."

The government's explanations to base-hosting municipalities have
clearly been insufficient. "The responsibility for national
security rests exclusively with the central government," a
Defense Agency official noted. Many agency officials also believe
that there is no need to obtain local consent. Their arrogance
has turned even those who were receptive of base issues into
opponents.


TOKYO 00001842 005 OF 011


(3) Foreign Minister Aso aims to create economy-oriented country;
Says he is responsible for dissolving income disparity

ASAHI (Page 4) (Excerpts)
April 4, 2006

Reporters asked Foreign Minister Abe about differences in the
policy stances of Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, a rival of
his in the race to succeed Prime Minister Koizumi, and himself.
Aso replied in his usual rough language: "Differences between Abe
and me? I suppose we are different in our economic policies." In
view of the fact that the remark was made shortly after he
returned home, after fulfilling a major diplomatic role in a
strategic dialogue with his US and Australian counterparts in
Sydney, Australia, this was a well-calculated reply intended to
demonstrate that he is an economic expert.

He made a speech titled "Creating a New Era" in Sapporo on April

1. The speech lasted for more than an hour, and he devoted a
large part of it to economic issues.

He noted, "We must create a small but strong government." He thus
added his own view to the ongoing argument calling for a small
government in order to indicate that he is not a mere successor
to the Koizumi administration.

His slogan for the LDP presidential election is: "I will boost
Japanese companies' international competitiveness by promoting
market liberalization." He has tackled deregulation as the LDP
Policy Research Council chairman and the internal affairs
minister under the Koizumi administration. Looking back on his
efforts, Aso contributed an article to the community magazine of
Iizuka, Fukuoka Prefecture, his home constituency, in which he
wrote: "The average annual income of taxi drivers has fallen due
to deregulation. However, whether this is bad or not depends on
your attitude, because middle-aged persons have been employed as
taxi drivers because of deregulation. Actual income disparities
and a sense of income disparity sound similar but are not the
same."

As a politician, he is determined to dissolve the growing
national sentiment concerning income disparities, rather than
making an issue of the disparity itself.

Becomes corporate president at age of 32; Experiences successes
and failures

Since the Meiji era, it had been said that the Aso family was one
of three leading families in Chikuho, Fukuoka Prefecture.

In 1966, he entered Aso Industry, run by his father. Japan's
energy policy at the time was at a turning point. The company was
about to shift its mainstay product from coal to cement. Looking
back on his first day at the company, he wrote in the company's
business history book: "I thought there was a funeral that day."
Several years later, he was engaging in labor negotiations with
quick-tempered trade union members as a representative of the
company. In 1973, he assumed the company presidency. He then
launched new ventures, as his character did not allow him just to
remain a keeper of what he inherited from his father.

Foreseeing the arrival of the age of eating out, he opened a
Chinese fast-food restaurant, but this business did not go well.

TOKYO 00001842 006 OF 011


He also established a company that undertook accounting for
corporate clients. It was a unique business at the time. He also
succeeded in expanding hospitals and supermarkets. He is
confident that he managed the member firms of the group well,
while being buffeted by the nation's energy policy.

He has a strong belief that companies that did not rely on the
government have survived the long economic slump following the
bursting of the economic bubble. He advocates the importance of
deregulation, because he has confidence he obtained as a
corporate manger.

His foreign policy also different from Abe's

Aso, a determined advocate of deregulation, is aiming to create
an economy-oriented country governed by a new economic policy
that goes beyond what was done by his grandfather (the late Prime
Minister Shigeru Yoshida).

The key element in his policy is realism. He is regarded as a
hard-liner on China in terms of diplomacy, the area of his
responsibility. At the same time, he also plays up the need for
Japan to contribute to the development of that nation as an
economic power.

Regarding Yasukuni Shrine, during a commercial TV program he was
asked which he thinks has more weight - national interests or his
own sentiment. He stressed his differences with Prime Minister
Koizumi, noting, "It is only natural for any lawmaker to give
priority to national interests." During an NHK program the same
day, he was asked whether he had decided not to visit Yasukuni
Shrine if he became prime minister. He replied, "Of course not. I
will not reveal every single decision of mine."

Aso has begun clarifying his differences from Abe not only in
economic policy terms but also in foreign policy terms.

(4) LDP reacts against New Komeito's initiative in revising the
Basic Education Law; Description of "patriotism" unclear

SANKEI (Page 5) (Full)
April 5, 2006

A ruling camp study panel on a revision of the Basic Education
Law, chaired by Tadamori Oshima, will today begin discussion on
how to describe the word "patriotism" in the revised law, a main
issue in constitutional reform. The discussion in the ruling camp
will reach a crucial point. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
lawmakers are unhappy with and critical about the "closed-door
negotiations" that have been conducted under the New Komeito's
initiative.

In a joint meeting yesterday of the LDP's Education, Culture,
Sports, Science, and Technology Division and the Research
Commission on the Education System, participants made the
following comments:

"It is a problem that (the contents of discussions and what was
agreed in the ruling bloc) have yet to be revealed. We therefore
cannot conduct any debate on the issue."

"I want to see a convincing decision, not a sneaky one."


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Chairman Oshima said, "I want to work out the matter before the
cherry blossoms are scattered." However, the course of action is
unclear.

The study panel conducted discussions behind closed doors and has
not disclosed the agenda. The panel reported verbally to relevant
LDP divisions. The Basic Education Law, which the Education
Ministry characterizes as the foundation of all education laws,
will be revised for the first time since its establishment 59
years ago. However, there are few members in the ruling camp who
know about specific parts that should be revised and how
descriptions in clauses should changed.

Regarding a reference to patriotism, the LDP has proposed that it
be described as "love of country," while the New Komeito has
insisted that it be expressed "cherishing the country." The two
parties have stood their ground. As a compromise, an idea has
emerged for describing patriotism as spirit of loving and
cherishing the country. In a meeting on March 28 of its education
panel, the New Komeito confirmed its opposition to the LDP's idea
that patriotism be described as love of country. Given the
situation, it is difficult to foresee how the matter will be
resolved.

A source familiar with the LDP said, "There were many cases in
which the LDP was forced to accept the New Komeito's view" in the
discussions so far. The New Komeito's views are reflected in the
contents of an agreement. One example is that the expression
"cultivation of a religious sentiment" would not be stipulated in
a revised law.

House of Representatives member Tetsuo Saito, a study panel
member, said: "Non-denominational religious education is
impossible. Some have noted that extensive religious education is
difficult." The New Komeito's view was accepted.

In recent years, there have been cases of schools removing
temples and shrines from school outings and not having students
say "itadakimasu" prior to lunch in the view that such actions
are religious. These excessive cases would not be affected by
revisions to the law.

At the same time, it has been decided that the present clause
stipulating that "education will not be subjected to improper
control" will be retained in the new law. This clause has been
applied in lawsuits against hoisting of the national flag and
singing of the national anthem. In a House of Councillors Budget
Committee session on March 23, Social Democratic Party head
Mizuho Fukushima claimed that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's
action of sending employees to schools to check whether the
schools have students sing the anthem was "improper control." In
March last year, Ehime Gov. Moriyuki Kato, who had praised a
history textbook for junior high schools formulated by Fusosha
Publishing Company, was accused of violating the Basic Education
Law, which prohibits unjustified involvement in education.

In the LDP there remains strong criticism about the improper
control clause. This clause, however, will be retained in keeping
with the New Komeito's wishes.

Some LDP lawmakers are unhappy with the situation, with one
lawmaker saying, "We should reconsider the purpose of revising
the education law."

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(5) Light and shadow - Reality of five years of Koizumi politics;
Intergenerational gaps in pension benefits blocking mutual
assistance

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Excerpts)
March 28, 2006

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has addressed the reform of the
nation's social security system, taking up a different theme
every year. The security system includes pension, nursing, and
medical programs.

The Koizumi administration, based on the view that income earners
should pay their due burden, raised the percentage of medical
costs borne by high-income elderly patients to 30%, the same
level as that for the younger generation. The administration also
carried out systemic reforms, including a significant reduction
in the amount of deductions for public pensions. As a result, the
intergenerational gaps in pension benefits were narrowed from a
short-term perspective.

When it comes to lifetime burdens and benefits, however, wide
discrepancies remain between the elderly and younger generations.

Tokyo Gakugei University Professor Wataru Suzuki last year
released a report on intergenerational discrepancies in the ratio
of total pension, nursing, and medical insurance premiums and
benefits to lifetime earnings. The report noted that under the
current social security system, the burden imposed on subscribers
born in 1960 or after outweighs benefits. The report also
specified that the wide intergenerational gaps were attributed
mainly to the pension system.

In the case of those who earn 300 million yen over their lives,
there is a maximum differential of about 80 million yen between
subscribers born in 1940 and those born in 2005.

The pension reform in 2004 narrowed this gap by nearly 10 million
yen, but this does not help much. Although Prime Minister Koizumi
has advocated overall reform of the social security system, he
remains unable to dramatically correct such differentials in
pension burdens between different generations.

Under the social security system, premiums paid by young
subscribers are used to finance pension payments for elderly
subscribers. The spirit of mutual assistance is indispensable
here. But younger persons who will not be able to receive
benefits equivalent to the total amount of premiums they pay are
increasingly dissatisfied with the wide disparities. They
naturally distrust the current pension system.

(6) Use of space: Private sector at moment of truth

MAINICHI (Page 13) (Full)
April 5, 2006

Japan has embarked on a quasi-zenith satellite (QZS) project
without the private sector's hand for now. All eyes were on the
QZS project-a Japanese version of the global positioning system
(GPS)-as Japan's first attempt to deliver dual-purpose satellites
for governmental and commercial use. The private sector, however,
has now given up on its part in the project due to the slim

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chance of commercialization. In April, the government fully
privatized the H-2A rocket-Japan's mainstay launch vehicle-for
commercial satellite delivery missions. The private sector's
participation in space development is now at a moment of truth.

Japan plans to orbit three QZS skybirds designed to pass over its
archipelago for positioning, telecommunications, and
broadcasting. The first QZS payload delivery has now been set for
FY2008, with the other two orbiters in later fiscal years. Car
navigation systems currently use US-launched GPS satellites, and
cellphones use stationary satellites. They are easily susceptible
to interference from mountains and buildings. The QZS, however,
passes almost right over Japan and can retain its precision.

The QZS project was, first and foremost, an unprecedented joint
venture between the government and the private sector. The
private sector estimated the economic side effects at
approximately 21 trillion yen. In the areas of telecommunications
and broadcasting services, however, one segment broadcasting, or
"One Seg" for short, a new type of digital terrestrial
broadcasting for mobile phones and car navigation equipment,
there are now services using infrastructure on the ground.
Additionally, the government has yet to designate any of its
ministries or agencies for official jurisdiction over the
prospective providers of QZS-based positioning services. This
also discouraged the private sector from taking part in the QZS
project. In the end, a government panel recommended that the
government to go it alone for the time being. The government has
therefore decided to launch a satellite of lower precision in
fiscal 2009.

In the meantime, the government has transferred its H-2A delivery
of commercial satellites from Rocket System Corp. (RSC), a
national policy concern made up of space-related manufacturers,
to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). However, the H-2A is
costly. US and European rivals have successfully returned many
launch vehicles to flight. Japan, given its low rate of
successful liftoffs, can hardly expect to make it in the
international market.

In 2002, the private sector set up a new company, Advanced Space
Business Corporation (ASBC), to undertake commercial satellite
delivery services. "We had plans to participate from the stage of
developing systems," says Hisanobu Takayama, strategic planning
chief at ASBC. "But," he added, "we'd like to commercialize
satellite use now."

Atsushi Ishizuka, who oversees a division for cooperation among
industry, academia, and the government at the Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency (JAXA), is sending out information to push for
the private sector's entry into the space business. "Technology
alone is not good enough to make it in the business," Ishizuka
noted. He went on: "There are also some cases of companies
entering the market without sufficient analysis. It's important
to grasp customer needs."

(7) Half of 12-member prion panel resigns

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 24) (Slightly abridged)
April 6, 2006

Half of the 12-member prion panel has resigned amid Japan's
second ban on US beef imports following the discovery of a recent

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ineligible shipment. The research group of the Food Safety
Commission (FSC) is tasked with assessing the safety of US beef.

Tokyo Medical College Professor Kiyotoshi Kaneko is one of the
six who resigned. He explained why he left the panel.

"On the assumption that specified risk materials (SRM) have been
satisfactorily removed in the US, the panel had not conducted
full deliberations. The report presented by the US, based on this
premise, inserted this passage that 'it is difficult to evaluate
the scientific equivalency of risk between Japan and the US.' I
felt helpless, since such risks have not been assessed in a
strict manner."

Tokyo University Professor Emeritus Kazuya Yamanouchi, who was
also a panel member, commented:

"I was not asked to stay on, so it is not correct to say that I
voluntarily resigned. . . . Our panel was told to discuss
measures to ease the nation's blanket-testing system on the day
before Japan and the US set conditions for Japan to ease its
requirements at their working-level talks. There must have been
some political pressure applied in the process of discussing US
beef imports."

Regarding the resignation drama, a responsible official of the
FSC said: "No term limit had been set for panel members, but the
FSC decided in a meeting in March to reelect members for the
prion research panel on April 1. The term of office for its new
members has also been set at two years from this April. In
addition, the age limit for members is now 70. Excluding those
who had indicated a willingness to resign, the FSC asked all
other members if they intended to stay on." The official added:
"We do not take the view that "the members who quit were all
dissatisfied with the deliberations. Not all the remaining
members are supportive of the idea of resuming US beef imports.
It is wrong to think that the conclusion was set in advance
before the start of deliberations."

The FSC is an independent body set up in the Cabinet Office in
July 2003 in the wake of the outbreak of BSE with the aim of
restoring consumers' trust in food. Some observers have pointed
out that political pressure is behind panel deliberations, one
quipping: "The conclusion has already been reached."

In a press conference yesterday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo
Abe dismissed the allegation that there was political
intervention in the recent resignations of six panel members. But
Aoyama Gakuin University Professor Shinichi Fukuoka said:
"Although I do not know the reason why the members resigned, the
deliberation process at the council was quite political."

Professor Fukuoka explained:

"When a cow infected with BSE was found in the US in late 2003,
the FSC examined the nation's domestic safety measures to prevent
BSE, though it had received no request from anywhere. In such
discussions, the panel set the condition for resuming US beef
imports of allowing beef from cattle 20 months of age or younger.
It is suspected that there was political intervention by the
bureaucracy. . . . Although the panel is an independent body, its
nature is much the same as other advisory panels'. It is possible
for the government to adopt its policy measures even without

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receiving a report of recommendations from the expert panel, but
it just wants approval from experts. It is desirable to include
consumers among panel members, but consumers' views have always
been discounted."

A university professor who once served as member of a government
advisory panel commented:

"Recent councils are better than past ones owing to such
requirements as disclosing proceedings in principle. But
depending on the contents of statements, members might be pressed
to take responsibility. Some sensible members might have judged
it better to resign after saying what they should say if it is
true that a conclusion has already been set."

SCHIEFFER