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08TOKYO828 2008-03-26 05:24:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tokyo
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1. LEAD STORIES: Top items on Wednesday morning include
the growing likelihood that gas prices will drop in
April, as it has now become certain that parliamentary
deliberations on the GOJ's omnibus tax bill, which
includes an extension of provisional gasoline
surcharges for road construction, will be delayed into

2. "Dialogue Rather than Strong-Armed Policy" The
conservative Sankei editorialized (3/26): "The Beijing
Olympic Committee is reportedly asking governments that
will host the Olympic torch relay that they prevent not
just direct obstruction of the event and related
ceremonies but also prevent such activities as hoisting
banners bearing anti-Chinese messages. Preventing
violent protests is a matter of course. However,
respect for freedom of expression, including opposition
to the Olympics, is also regarded as a principle of any
democratic state.... Dialogue between the Chinese
government and the Tibetan government in exile is the
only way to cast off the dark clouds hanging over the
Beijing Olympics."

3. "China Concerned about Its Image" The liberal
Mainichi's Beijing correspondent wrote (3/26):
"Demonstrations at the torch lighting ceremony in
Greece reminded China of the worldwide reverberations
of the situation in Tibet. If more demonstrations occur
around the world in the course of the four-month torch
relay, there is a possibility that the Olympics' image
would be damaged, as the torch would turn from a symbol
of peace to a symbol of constraints on human rights."