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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06TOKYO6445
2006-11-09 04:10:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Tokyo
Cable title:  

MEDIA REACTION - US MIDTERM ELECTIONS/RUMSFELD

Tags:   OIIP  KMDR  KPAO  JA 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 006445 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR I/RF, PA/PR/FPC/W, IIP/G/EA, EAP/PD, R/MR,
EAP/J, EAP/P, PM;
USTR FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
TREASURY FOR OASIA/IMI;
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA;
CP BUTLER OKINAWA FOR AREA FIELD OFFICE;
PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO JA
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION - US MIDTERM ELECTIONS/RUMSFELD
RESIGNATION - TOKYO


LEAD STORIES: All six Thursday morning papers front-paged
the Democratic takeover of the US House of
Representatives for the first time in 12 years in
Tuesday's midterm elections. Most broadcasters gave top
play to President Bush's press conference Wednesday
announcing the resignation of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.



1. "Midterm Elections: Bush Administration Must Keep
Diplomacy Moving" The top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri
editorialized (11/9): "...The outcome of the US midterm
elections is a severe setback for President Bush and his
Republican administration.... Will the changed US
political situation lead to a weakening of the Bush
administration and affect its diplomatic policies? This
is something Japan should monitor closely.... The Bush
administration has said that it will not withdraw from
Iraq until the country is stable, and it will likely
continue to position its involvement in Iraq as its top
foreign policy priority. What is extremely important for
Japan is how the US deals with North Korea. If the US
devotes all its attention to Iraq and loses interest in
North Korea, it is possible that Pyongyang will take
advantage of the situation and accelerate its nuclear
program. It is critical to press North Korea to abandon
its nuclear program through the six-party talks. Without
active US involvement, the talks will go nowhere."



2. "Midterm Elections Expose Iraq Dilemma" An editorial
in the business-oriented Nihon Keizai commented (11/9):
"The party of the incumbent president ordinarily loses
congressional seats in the midterm elections. In this
sense, the outcome is not surprising, but the Democratic
Party's takeover of the House for the first time in 12
years and its pickups in the Senate indicate that the US
public has become dissatisfied with the Bush
administration's handling of Iraq. The administration has
yet to find a way out from the Iraq dilemma.... For
America at present, Iraq is not a faraway country.... For
ordinary Americans, it is an issue that relates to the
lives of their sons, daughters, and neighbors.... It will
not be possible to restore security by substantially
increasing US troop levels in Iraq, as such a move would
not win a political consensus in the US or the consent of
the Iraqi government."



3. "Midterm Elections: President Bush Should Admit Error
of Iraq War" The liberal Asahi editorialized (11/9):
"...What is the purpose of the war in Iraq? President
Bush was not able to give the American people a
convincing answer to this basic question on which they
harbor doubts. Given the outcome of the midterm
elections, the president will be forced to make a
decision on how to change his Iraq policy. The Democratic
Party, which won control of the House, is expected to
hold the Bush administration to task on its Iraq
policy.... In addition, US presidents quickly lose power
after their last midterm election and become a 'lame
duck.' It will not be easy for the administration to
regain its footing. The first thing President Bush should
do is to frankly admit that the Iraq war was a mistake
and change his policy."



4. "Rumsfeld's departure signals change in US Iraq
policy" Quasi-governmental NHK-TV's Washington
correspondent Kono commented (11/9): "One day after the
Democratic Party's victory in the midterm elections, the
embattled President Bush fired Defense Secretary Rumsfeld

TOKYO 00006445 002 OF 002


to demonstrate to the American people that he was willing
to review his Iraq policy. The security situation in Iraq
has not improved, and the number of US fatalities is now
well over 2,800. However, for the president, whose
priority is the war on terrorism, a withdrawal from Iraq
at this stage is not a practical choice. The president is
likely to use the expected report from the Iraq Study
Group, to which Rumsfeld's successor Robert Gates
belongs, as a blueprint for a US exit strategy. It
remains unknown, however, whether the president can lay
the groundwork for an honorable withdrawal of US troops.
"



5. "Rumsfeld's resignation unlikely to affect US-Japan
ties" TBS-TV Washington correspondent Hino said (11/9):
"The departure of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who
spearheaded US force transformation worldwide, is
unlikely to have a major impact on US-Japan relations.
However, it remains unknown what position his successor,
former CIA Director Gates, will have on realignment.
Rumsfeld, along with Vice President Cheney, was a
hardliner on North Korea. His resignation could prompt a
change in US policy toward Pyongyang, as the Democrats
have repeatedly called for direct talks with the DPRK to
resolve the current nuclear crisis."

SCHIEFFER