wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07TOKYO3625 2007-08-08 01:57:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tokyo
Cable title:  

DIET OPENS; DPJ READY TO RUMBLE

Tags:   PREL PGOV JA 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO4138
OO RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #3625/01 2200157
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 080157Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6263
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8272
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2270
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1810
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 4336
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 2459
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 4885
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 6060
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 3228
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 6566
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUALSFJ/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA
RHMFISS/DISA WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEATRS/TREASURY DEPT WASHDC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 003625 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV JA
SUBJECT: DIET OPENS; DPJ READY TO RUMBLE


Classified By: AMBASSADOR J. THOMAS SCHIEFFER. REASONS 1.4 (B)/(D)



1. (C) Summary: The Diet convened August 7 for a 4-day
session, moving into uncharted waters where the ruling
coalition controls the Lower House while the Upper House is
the hands of the opposition. Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)
leader Ichiro Ozawa has begun to flex his post-Upper House
election muscle, setting up a test of strength in the
upcoming fall Diet session over Prime Minister Abe's plan to
extend the JMSDF Indian Ocean mission supporting
anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan. End summary.

Upper House Appointments


--------------------------





2. (SBU) Both houses of the Diet convened August 7 for a
four-day session devoted entirely to housekeeping chores.
New members of the House of Councillors elected on July 29
were sworn in, and the now opposition-controlled Upper House
elected DPJ member Satsuki Eda as President of the chamber.
Eda is a long-time member of the Diet, who for many years led
his own very small political party. A graduate of Tokyo
University and Oxford, he once served as Director General of
the Science and Technology Agency. In accord with Japanese
parliamentary practice, the Upper House Vice Presidency went
to the chamber's second largest party, in the person of
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) actress-turned-politician
Akiko Santo. Following tradition, both Eda and Santo
resigned from their political parties in order to maintain a
sense of non-partisanship for the duration of their terms of
office.



3. (U) For the Democrats, other appointments included
former Education Minister Takeo Nishioka as Steering
Committee Chairman, Kenji Hirata as secretary general of the
DPJ Upper House caucus, and Susumu Yanase as the party's Diet
Affairs Committee Chairman. On the other side of the aisle,
the LDP reportedly will turn to former Health, Labor and
Welfare Minister Hidehisa Otsuji as leader of its Upper House
caucus, replacing senior member Mikio Aoki, who resigned his
position to take responsibility for the July 29 election
defeat.

Ozawa Leads the Charge


--------------------------





4. (C) The real political action, at least until the fall
extraordinary Diet session, now expected to convene on August
31 and run for about 100 days, will be outside the Diet
halls. DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa has laid down the gauntlet to
the LDP, declaring his party ready to contest the ruling
coalition's legislative agenda. He has made clear that he
aims to try to force a dissolution of the Lower House and
general elections, where the DPJ might have a chance to wrest
the government from the LDP-led coalition. Ozawa's latest
pronouncement is that the DPJ would seek to win at least 150
of the 300 constituency seats to be contested in the next
general election. (Note: The DPJ currently holds 113 total
seats, i.e., constituency plus proportional seats, in the
480-seat Lower House.)



5. (C) Ozawa has chosen extension of the Anti-Terrorism
Special Measures law, which authorizes the Japan Maritime
Self-Defense Force's logistical support in the Indian Ocean,
as the first issue over which to clash with the ruling
coalition. Shortly after the Upper House election results
were in, Ozawa publicly staked out a position that the DPJ,
which had opposed the authorizing legislation previously,
would continue to do so in the fall Diet session. Within the
DPJ, that hard-line position is not shared by all. A number
of DPJ members, including Seiji Maehara, have voiced support
for extending the JMSDF mission, and others in the party are
seeking a compromise solution, such as adding a "prior Diet
approval" clause to the authorizing legislation. For its
part, the government has told us, most recently in
discussions with visiting Deputy Secretary Negroponte, that

TOKYO 00003625 002 OF 002


extending the law, which expires on November 1, will be its
first legislative priority. Many political pundits are
calling this issue a defining moment for the opposition and a
test of whether the DPJ can be counted on as a "responsible"
party, i.e., one to which the government can be entrusted.
The issue will be front and center when Ambassador Schieffer
meets with Ozawa on August 8.

And The Hits Just Keep on Coming


--------------------------





6. (C) In answer to those who wondered if it could get any
worse, the LDP learned this week that, yes, it can. New
polling has the Abe cabinet support rate at an all-time low
-- 27% in the latest Yomiuri poll -- with a record high 64%
registering disapproval of the Abe administration. Adding
insult to injury, Yomiuri's data also shows that in the age
bracket of 70 years and over -- the only segment of the
voting population that the LDP (barely) managed to win in the
Upper House elections -- the non-support rate has now crested
50%. And hardly a day goes by that someone isn't caught with
their hand in the till. On August 7, Mainichi revealed that
Justice Minister Nagase had taken half a million yen (about
$4,000) for helping arrange Japanese visas for Chinese law
trainees. The fact that the money was obtained before he was
named Minister and was subsequently returned didn't stop
Mainichi from giving this latest scandal front page,
above-the-fold play. Seemingly not to be outdone, former
Agriculture Minister Akagi was found to have double-billed
almost three million yen in 2005 campaign expenses, according
to a Yomiuri report the same day. But Akagi's money and
other problems are old news by now, and this latest
revelation was relegated to page 30.
SCHIEFFER