Japanese morning press highlights

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March 8, 2002



(03-3224-5360, tokyoots@state.gov)


Top headlines 2

Editorials 2

Prime Minister's daily schedule 3
Pentagon, disappointed at Japan's not sending Aegis vessels, left name off contribution list 3
Japan readying relevant legislation to stop financial flows to terrorists, plans to ratify treaty 4
Economic issues:

-- Triple rise in market prices in Tokyo reflects good news about U.S. economy 5

-- Japan asks U.S. for consultations on steel import restrictions 5
The remarkable Mr. Suzuki:

-- Opposition to file censure motion against Muneo Suzuki next week, seeking his resignation from Diet 5

-- LDP to dust off ethics committee to meet and reprimand Muneo Suzuki 5

-- LDP's Suzuki even pressured police officials by phone to get them to stop tailing Russian diplomat 6

-- 11 LDP lawmakers, including cabinet rank, took political money from Muneo Suzuki 6

-- Foreign ministry official Sato, as Suzuki aide, once made pitch to in Hokkaido on money-making scheme after reversion of northern islands 7

Koichi Kato likely to quit as faction head over former secretary's tax evasion scandal 7
China connection:

-- China's deputy premier to visit Japan in May, displaying policy priority on Japan 8

-- China against Japan raising the mystery ship from its EEZ but Japan will try to do so after May 8
Another controversy for former foreign minister Tanaka: invitation to Pakistan president's dinner 8
Former Prime Minister Hashimoto sends message from hospital bed 9



U.S. economy is on rebound, FRB chairman says in his testimony before Congress; More confident about economy bottoming out

Mainichi, Sankey & Tokyo Shimbun:

Koichi Kato's ex-office representative Sato sandals: Compulsory investigations to occur even today


Suzuki found to have telephoned National Police Agency to demand that police stop putting Russian diplomats under observation

Nihon Keizai:

New rules for TSE's Mothers Section to be set; Firms that see their aggregate values of listed stocks go down below 500 million yen should leave




(1) Middle East peace: Give heed to Saudi Arabia's concept

(2) Death of intern from overwork: Phenomenon found in pre-modern age still exists?

(1) Muneo Suzuki scandal: More serious source of trouble left unattended

(2) Part-timers: Chances should be given to work as "part-time regular workers"

(1) Taxation beyond law: Just grandstanding approaches are not welcome

(2) Switzerland: A permanent neutrality country now has opted to be a UN member
Nihon Keizai:

(1) Reform of food safety administration needed from the point of view of consumers

(2) We cannot agree with Foreign Minister Tang's statement

(1) Mystery ship: Japan should hurriedly raise the ship in view of national interests

(2) Mislabeled chicken meat by Zenno: Zenno should realize its mission of supplier for "food to the people"
Tokyo Shimbun:

(1) Zenno's mislabeled chicken meat: What should be done to eliminate this sort of fraud?

(2) Switzerland's membership in UN: This should be used to reform UN

Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei)

Prime Minister's schedule, March 7

NIHON KEIZAI (Page 2) (Full)

March 8, 2002


Met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Ueno at his residential office.


Attended the Upper House Budget Committee meeting.


Met with Ueno at the Kantei.


Attended the Upper House Budget Committee meeting.


Met with Cabinet Information officer Kanemoto at the Kantei, followed by Secretary General Yamasaki.


Attended a meeting of advisors to the Legal System Reform Promotion Office.



Japan's dispatch of no Aegis ships brings about disappointment as a symbol of distrust
SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)

March 8, 2002

[Akihiko Ushhiba]
We had something to worry about, and it happened all the same... The U.S. Department of Defense recently released a list of countries that contributed to the war against terrorism, and Japan was not on the list at first. Japan once took on a huge burden of expenditures in the Gulf war, but Japan nonetheless was omitted on the Kuwaiti government's listing of countries to be thanked. Japan was later added to the list, though. And this time around, Japan's honor suffers once again.
The Pentagon backpedaled afterward with its officials explaining that the omission of Japan was due to a simple mistake, attributable to the fact that the list was created by the Central Command, which has been undertaking Afghan attacks, and that it did not come from the Pacific Command, which is Japan's counterpart. Japan, along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was added to the list. The Pentagon apologized in effect with its spokesperson expressing appreciation for Japan.
Japan was treated poorly. Judging from all the remarks that President Bush and U.S. government officials have made, it was probably due to a mistake as explained. However, what became evident now from this is that Japan's backing has given an impression that a careless mistake is about all it is worth.
Japan has dispatched a Maritime Self-Defense Force squadron to the Indian Ocean, and the MSDF has been doing well over there with fine achievements in its activities. Nevertheless, Japan's score is not very high. This is probably ascribable to the fact that the U.S. military strongly wanted Japan to dispatch Aegis ships, but the Japanese government decided in the end not to dispatch any of such MSDF vessels. There can be no other conceivable reason. "Our fleet with no Aegis ships is almost the same as the Yakult Swallows that has to play without [top baseball player] Furuta." With this, one MSDF staff officer likened an MSDF fleet and its Aegis ship to a Japan Major League professional baseball team and its top-notch player. A pro baseball team with no star player, however strong it may be, cannot attract people to its ballpark. Japanese politicians do not have such a sense at all because they always think of "adding to divide by two."
In October last year, people were arguing over whether Japan should dispatch Aegis ships or not. At that time, I noted in this column that Japan should dispatch Aegis ships because their presence is a symbol of mutual trust between Japan and the United States. In the same column, I also warned that if Japan becomes reluctant to do so, the United States would be disappointed, and it could turn into a feeling of anger and contempt. The words "anger and contempt" might be going a little too far. However, a Japan-U.S. security related source, who knows many in the U.S. military, says that the atmosphere in the U.S. forces was considerably different from the U.S. government's high appreciation for Japan. They took it for granted that Aegis ships come to join them, but none of Japan's Aegis ships came. The U.S. military was therefore disappointed, and its feeling of distrust and crisis about Japan's politics was substantively factored into its low scoring of Japan.
"If the Diet voted down the dispatch of Aegis ships after its discussions, that's civilian control. So, we can understand it in our own way. The Defense Agency director general's decision was once approved by the prime minister, but I don't know why it can be easily upset by some LDP lawmakers' unreasonable meddling." "Japan has now made a law. But why is Japan not trying to do its best?" "Japan and the United States have guidelines [for defense cooperation], but we may experience something like this time again in the event of emergencies in areas surrounding Japan…" "How far can we calculate their uncertain support?" As seen from these voices, the U.S. military feels misgivings and distrust on the front.
Politicians dragged down the Self-Defense Forces. This helplessly killed a chance for Japan to answer the United States' trust, and instead turned the symbol of trust into the symbol of distrust. This is really absurd.


Government to submit related bills in preparation for ratifying treaty to prevent providing terrorists with funds
MAINICHI (Page 3) (Full)

March 8, 2002

In preparation for ratifying the treaty to prevent providing funds linked to terrorists, the government drafted related bills. The bills include provisions to punish providers of funds to terrorists and recipients of such money, as well as to mandate financial institutions to confirm the identity of relevant customers. After having the bills approved at a Cabinet meeting on Feb. 12, the government will submit them to the Diet. The treaty was adopted at the United Nations' general meeting in December 1999, and 20 countries have already ratified it.
Under the new legislation prepared by the Justice Ministry, those who provide funds to assist acts threatening the public, domestic and foreign governments, including murders, hijacks, or bombing on public facilities, as well as those who receive such funds, would be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison or punished with a fine of up to 10 million yen. Even attempts to do such, or cases involving foreigners, would be subject to the same punishments.
The new legislation prepared by the Financial Services Agency would require financial institutions to confirm the identity of a customer who wishes to open an account or transfer more than 2 million yen, by checking his or her ID card.
The Finance Ministry intends to amend the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law to mandate financial institutions to confirm the identity of customers in the case of remittances overseas.


Will triple highs in Tokyo markets lead to Japan-buying trend, based on future expectations? Sense of alarm growing toward rapid moves in prices, with the yen's value surging to this year's highest level of 129
MAINICHI (Page 9) (Lead paragraph)

March 8, 2002

Following Japan's stocks, bonds and currency markets all rising in Tokyo yesterday, the yen also surged in value on the New York exchange market the same day to the level of 126 yen to the dollar. The surges in values of stocks and the yen in Tokyo markets are attributed to such factors as restrictions enforced on short-selling and the emergence of signs of recovery of the Japanese and American economies. Japan was worried about the Japan-selling move, having suffered a triple decline in the markets only one month ago. Although some market observers take the view that "the trend has now begun to turn around," but many see "the future of the Japanese economy as still murky," doubting the current trend will lead to a full-fledged Japan-buying trend.


Responding to imposition of steel tariffs, Japan asks U.S. for consultations

MAINICHI (Page 9) (Full)

March 8, 2002
In a press briefing yesterday, Administrative Vice Minister Katsusada Hirose of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry revealed that the ministry had asked the United States government to hold bilateral consultations on the U.S. decision to impose safeguard measures on 14 steel products. World Trade Organization (WTO) rules allow countries exporting items subject to safeguard measures to make such a request. The two countries are expected to hold talks by the end of this month.


Opposition camp next week will jointly present a censure motion against lawmaker Suzuki demanding his resignation from the Diet
YOMIURI (Page 2) (Excerpt)

March 8, 2002

The Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) yesterday firmed up its intention to present to the Diet a censure motion against Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker Muneo Suzuki, a former director general of the Hokkaido and Okinawa Development Agency, calling for his resignation from the Diet.
After taking into consideration the results of Suzuki's sworn testimony on March 11 before the Lower House Budget Committee, the Minshuto, Jiyuto (Liberal Party), Japan Communist Party and Social Democratic Party will all powwow, aiming at jointly presenting the motion next week sometimes.

LDP to set up political ethics examination panel with eye on dealing with Suzuki
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)

March 8, 2002

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will launch a political ethics examination council based on its party rules. The LDP is considering how to treat Lower House member Muneo Suzuki, who was allegedly involved in the bidding process for government-sponsored aid projects on one of the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido. With this problem in mind, the party will formally decide on the establishment of the panel at a meeting today of its General Council.
The panel will hear explanation from party members it regards as violating party rules. If necessary, it will ask the secretary general to open a Party Ethics Committee meeting. A party executive said:
"It is impossible to (hear from Suzuki) before March 11 when he is summoned to testify before the Diet. But an investigation by the party is necessary."
The panel will likely examine former secretary general Koichi Kato, whose former secretary is suspected of evading taxes.


Muneo Suzuki pressures senior police official on phone; Questions police tailing Russian diplomats
MAINICHI (Page 29) (Full)

March 8, 2002

It was learned through informed sources yesterday that Lower House lawmaker Muneo Suzuki had telephoned a senior National Police Agency (NPA) official to complain about NPA's intelligence collection activities targeting a senior diplomat at the Russian Embassy. The NPA official [who received the call] said, "We have had direct telephone calls from lawmaker Suzuki on cases other than this as well." It was thus revealed that Suzuki was applying pressure on public security offices as well.
According to the source, the NPA Public Security Bureau had been tailing the Russian diplomat in 1999 to identify persons whom he was in contact with. Lawmaker Suzuki made a phone call to the NPA senior official asking the reason for the surveillance. It appears that NPA was investigating the officer's activities, based on the information that the diplomat was a Russian intelligence officer.
The source said, "I heard that lawmaker Suzuki was on close terms with him."


Muneo Suzuki contributed political money to 11 LDP lawmakers, including those of cabinet rank; Minshuto pursuing contributions totaling 39 million yen in 1999-2000
SANKEI (Page 1) (Excerpts)

March 8, 2002

In a basic questioning and answering session yesterday in the Upper House Budget Committee, it was learned that Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) member and former Lower House Steering Committee chairman Muneo Suzuki during the two year period, 1999-2000, provided a total of 39 million yen in political contributions to 11 LDP lawmakers, including those who are now members of the Koizumi Cabinet, senior vice ministers, and parliamentary vice ministers.


Dismissed Foreign Ministry analyst Sato plays up economic opportunity at wining and dining gathering in Nemuro City -- "1 trillion yen will be passed along for consolidation of local infrastructure, if northern islands are returned"
TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 31) (Full)

March 8, 2002

It was found as of yesterday that former chief analyst Suguru Sato of the Foreign Ministry International Information Bureau, who was dismissed for his deep connection with former Lower House Steering Committee Chairman Muneo Suzuki, remarked in Nemuro City, Hokkaido: "If northern islands are returned, 1 trillion yen will move for the consolidation of infrastructure. It would be fair to recycle such money into the region (Nemuro)."
Sato made this remark at a wining and dining gathering hosted by the Nemuro Young Men's Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The gathering brought together 40 participants.
According to one participant, Sato played up the recycling of 1 trillion yen in calling for support for the phased-in return of the four northern islands, which Suzuki reportedly promoted along with Sato. Sato also reportedly said: "If there had been no territorial issue, (the region) might have had more economic opportunities. It is only natural for the state to compensate (for the lost opportunities)."
Looking back on this statement, a certain construction company executive said: "He was talking about 1 trillion yen. I was excited and thought I must support Suzuki."


Kato faction likely to undergo reorganization, members eyeing resignation of chairman Kato over alleged tax evasion by his former secretary
SANKEI (Page 3) (Excerpts)

March 8, 2002

Saburo Sato, former secretary to Koichi Kato -- former secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and former chief of the Kato Office, is suspected of having defrauded the government of tax revenues. If the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office conducts forcible investigation against Sato on suspicion of violating the Income Tax Law (tax evasion), the matter is bound to develop into an issue of whether Kato should step down or not. The rumor is already flying around over a possible reorganization of his faction after he quits the post.
Kato told reporters yesterday noon at his office, "I am not now thinking of resigning." However, he conferred on the future course of his action with senior members of his faction, including Sadatoshi Ozato and Sadakazu Tanigaki, at a Tokyo hotel on the evening of the 6th. On the evening of the 7th, most of the Kato faction members gathered at a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo and confirmed their unity in dealing with the situation.
The Kato faction is a group of lawmakers who acted with Kato in the so-called Kato revolt, in which he rose in revolt against the then Mori cabinet. For that reason, Kato's resignation could jolt the faction's very foundation.
The assumption seems to be for the acting chairman, Ozato, or Chief of Secretariat Tanigaki to replace the chairman in order to tide over the current predicament. However, since the Kato faction is a small group with 15 members, it is true that it would be difficult to steer the faction without Kato.


China's Vice Premier Wen Jiabao to visit Japan this May; Most likely candidate for premiership; China placing emphasis on Japan
ASAHI (Page 1) (Excerpts)

March 8, 2002

[Beijing, March 7, Koichi Furuya]
Coordination is underway for China's Vice Premier Wen Jiabao to visit Japan in coming May, this newspaper has learned. This information was revealed by several sources connected to Japan-China relations. Wen is the most likely successor to Premier Zhu Rongi. Wen's visit to Japan planned ahead of this fall's Chinese Communist Party Convention where a change of generations is expected to occur is a clear manifestation of China now placing emphasis on Japan.
Wen is most likely to visit Japan around May 7. Before or after his Japan visit, he is also expected to travel to the Republic of Korea. His itinerary is under coordination among the three countries. Wen once visited Japan in 1992 as director of the Communist Party's Central Committee's General Office accompanying General Secretary Jiang Zemin. But he will visit Japan as vice premier for the first time. Wen is one of the four vice premiers and is a working-level official in charge of agriculture and disaster-prevention measures. He is seen as having earned strong confidence of Premier Zhu.
According to a diplomatic source, Japan-China security dialogue by officials concerned from the two countries – which has been suspended – is expected to be resumed in Tokyo on March 18.

Meeting China's opposition to salvaging sunken mystery ship, government now troubled; MSDF making preparations to raise ship in May or afterwards
MAINICHI (Page 2) (Lead paragraph)

March 8, 2002

China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan clarified his opposition to raising the mystery ship that sank in the East China Sea last December. The ship is believed to be of North Korean nationality. This move has placed the Japanese government, which had been trying to find a way out of the issue through talks with China, in a difficult situation. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, who until recently had remained cautious in mentioning the issue, told reporters yesterday: "It is not that Foreign Minister Tang declared that [the ship] should not be salvaged." Fukuda underscored his mind to take [Foreign Minister Tang's statement] cool-headedly and indicated his intention to seek China's understanding. But the government might be torn between strong calls for raising the sunken vessel at home and relations with China.
[Takahiro Hirata]

Former foreign minister Tanaka unable to attend welcoming dinner party for Pakistani president
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)

March 8, 2002

It was learned yesterday that former foreign minister Makiko Tanaka would not be invited to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's dinner party welcoming Pakistani President Musharraf, who will visit Japan on March 12. Although Tanaka had expressed her hope for an invitation to the party, the Foreign Ministry explained that it had no ulterior motive, saying, "Since the number who can participate is limited, we have no intention of inviting former foreign ministers."
The Prime Minister's Official Residence (Kantei) and Tanaka were at odds over whether the Kantei invited her to the party held last month for U.S. President Bush. Citing the reason that she met with President Musharraf when she visited Pakistan as foreign minister, on March 6 Tanaka strongly sought an invitation to the party.


Hospitalized former prime minister Hashimoto: "My fatigue was at a peak"
MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)

March 8, 2002

At a general meeting yesterday of the Hashimoto faction in the Liberal Democratic Party, a message from former prime minister (faction head) Ryutaro Hashimoto, who is now being hospitalized for cardiac surgery, was read aloud. In his message, Hashimoto revealed that his fatigue was at a peak when he was taken ill.
Hashimoto's wife, Kumiko, handed over the message to Kanezo Muraoka, deputy faction head, when he visited the hospital on the March 6. Muraoka then read aloud the message. Hashimoto revealed in the message that he had caught a cold and his overseas trips made his condition worse. "Even though I was commuting to Nagata-cho while receiving intravenous drip injections," he said. "Before dawn on Feb. 27, I felt something wrong and I woke up my wife and we decided to call an ambulance. I think we made the right decision, so I was able to get over the critical condition."
Mrs. Hashimoto reportedly said, "We were told by the doctors that if he had gotten ill on a plane, he would have died."

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