News From Japan

News of the testimony of Dennis Blair, U.S. Navy Commander-in-chief in Japan, before the U.S. Congress Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, February 27, that Japan had signed the U.S. draft war plan for the Pacific has just reached Japan.  Japanese Communist Party Dietmember, Koizumi Chikashi, demanded of Japan Defense Agency director Nakatani to know if it was true and Nakatani admitted it.  The news had been kept from the Japanese people.

Called a "Guidelines" defense plan, the measure calls for Japan's participation in whatever war engaged in by the U.S., which has just added Russia and China to its list of targets for possible nuclear attack. JCP daily Akahata here states the bare facts of the situation.

Japan signed a Japan-U.S. draft war plan

Japan's Self-Defense Forces has agreed with a draft of the Japan-U.S. defense planning and mutual cooperation in preparation for Japan's participation in U.S. wars in the Asia-Pacific region.

Nakatani Gen, Defense Agency director general, admitted this in an answer to Japanese Communist Party Koizumi Chikashi's question on March 19 at the House of Councilors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting.

Koizumi's question was about a February 27 congressional testimony by Dennis C. Blair, U.S. Navy commander in chief that Japan and the U.S. had signed the first bilateral defense plan under the 1997 Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation.

Koizumi criticized the Japanese government for endorsing such a war participation plan without making it known to the Japanese public.

The JCP Dietmember said that the concept of the draft defense planning was already put into practice when Japan and the United States held joint command post exercises in February, pointing out that not only Defense Agency officials but also those from the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry, Land and Transportation Ministry, and other government agencies attended the exercises.

He said these exercises were for the practical application of Japan's military support, including the use of harbors and airports, including the mobilization of medical workers in the event of war in areas surrounding Japan.

Those seeking to unravel the U.S. political situation should pay some attention to the developing situation in Japan, where a minority people's political party, even bearing the name communist,, can influence the situation against monopoly power backed by the Bush-Pentagon administration.

Fighting above all against the moves to hook Japan into the U.S. war, the JCP still conducts a 'full court press' for people's needs and against corruption.  It brought down the last administration with proof of corruption and it looks now as though corruption is the only way capitalism can function.

Those who cling to the"lesser evil" theory should consider what a resolute minority party, with 20 or so seats in Parliament (or Congress) can do to upset the applecart for those who rob the public till.  Like the previous cases, one thing leades to another..  Suzuki Muneo's working the Foreign Office for a few million yen leads to much more.

Following is the note on the first "Diet" (Congress) appearance on the case.  Later it was shown that he distributed 22 billion yen to 58 Diet members during 1998-2000.

Parliament summons LDP Suzuki as sworn witness

The House of Representatives Budget Committee summoned Liberal Democratic Party Dietmember Suzuki Muneo over the allegations that he interfered with foreign ministry affairs, including assistance to the Russian-held four northern islands.

On behalf of the Japanese Communist Party, Sasaki Kensho questioned the Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, focusing on the Suzuki Muneo-Foreign Ministry scandal, particularly in relation to the bidding for the construction of an accommodation facility which was later called "Muneo House" on Kunashiri Island off Hokkaido.

Sasaki pointed out that from 1995 to 1999, all 36 government and municipal office contracts were awarded to Watanabe Construction Co. of the Nemuro district, including Nemuro City, Suzuki's constituency which is situated close to the four northern islands. (The JCP maintains that the whole of Chishima Islands are Japanese territory.-ed.)

Also, Sasaki pointed out that the company, which constructed the "Muneo House" is an influential member of Suzuki's supporters' organization, and that in 1999, just after the successful "bidding," it doubled or even tripled its political donations to Suzuki.

These donations meant nothing but a payment of gratitude for his efforts to help the company receive the order, Sasaki insisted. In 2000, the company received an additional payment of 23.74 million yen (180,000 dollars) from the government, Sasaki added.

Sasaki then pointed out that Suzuki must have known that Watanabe Construction was the only company qualified to be a successful bidder in this case and pressed the Foreign Ministry to limit applicants to companies within the Nemuro region.

In his testimony, witness Suzuki stated that he was not certain if Foreign Ministry officials referred to a specific company by name in talks with him on the project of Kunashiri's "friendship house" (Muneo House). The witness tried to justify his interference in Foreign Ministry affairs and repeated that he does not remember details.

Later in the day, Sasaki said that Suzuki's statement was full of contradictions. Suzuki gave false evidence in the Diet and could be charged with perjury, Sasaki stressed.

'The return of northern islands won't benefit national interest': Suzuki

In 1995, LDP Suzuki stated that "even if the northern islands are returned to Japan, it will not be in the interest of Japan." A Democratic Party of Japan member of the Lower House revealed this during his questioning based on a classified Foreign Ministry document.

The document, dated June 13, 1995, says that Suzuki, House of Representatives Special Committee on Okinawa and Northern Problems chair at the time, said this in talks with the counselor of the Foreign Ministry's Europe-Oceania Bureau, stressing the need to increase "economic exchanges" between the four northern islands and Japan.

Suzuki was quoted as saying, "To begin with, the northern territorial question has been taken up as Japan's face-saving matter. The return of these islands will not benefit Japan at all." A senior Foreign Ministry official confirmed the existence of the document at an Upper House Budget Committee meeting. (end)

Suzuki Muneo gave 58 LDP and Komei Party Dietmembers 238 million yen

Liberal Democratic Party Dietmember Suzuki Muneo has given a total of about 238 million yen (1.85 million dollars) during 1998-2000 to 58 Dietmembers of the LDP and the Komei Party, including some unsuccessful candidates, according to Akahata of March 10.

The paper says this will add impetus to pubic criticism of Suzuki, who is under fire for his interference with foreign ministry affairs, especially its "supporting northern islands."

Though he was not an LDP faction leader, Suzuki has collected as much political funds as those for an LDP faction. In 2000, he collected a total of 444 million yen (3.4 million dollars) in donations, an amount second only to Kato Koichi, the Kato group's leader and former LDP secretary general.

His money was delivered not only to Dietmembers of the Hashimoto faction, to which he belongs, but also to members of almost all LDP factions.

The money also went to the agriculture minister of the Koizumi cabinet, vice ministers, and parliamentary secretaries, eleven in all.

In 2000, he also donated a total of one million yen to Komei Party Dietmember Endo Kazuyoshi.

With pledges of a new look in politics, Japan Prime Minister Jun'ichiro Koizumi entered office on a wave of confidence when he was elected to the position by the ruling LDP two years ago, but the policy he brought was the same old thing.  His popularity lasted through the elections, in which the JCP suffered a setback, and through U.S.president Bush's first year, including the start of the U.S. attack on Afghanistan.

However his continued anti-people measures and complete servility to Bush seem to have brought this to an end and that P.M.Koizumi (Japanese put last names first) will end running for cover, like all the other LDP prime ministers preceding him. Akahata discusses the polls and the facts behind them.

People's awareness is behind falling approval rates of Koizumi Cabinet -- Akahata editorial, March 8 (Excerpts)

An Asahi Shimbun poll published on March 3 shows the approval rate for the cabinet of Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro dropped to 44 percent, while the disapproval rate jumped to 40 percent. Clearly, public support for the Koizumi Cabinet is on the wane.

The previous substantial fall in support rates for the Koizumi Cabinet was in the wake of the dismissal of Tanaka Makiko as foreign minister in late January. Ruling party officials at the time tried hard to describe the fall as no more than a transient phenomenon.

That was not so. What may be called "estrangement from Koizumi" reflects the public anger at the Koizumi Cabinet's "structural reform" that has exacerbated the economic recession and increased job insecurity.

In the Asahi poll, 61 percent of the respondents said priority should be given to efforts to boost the economy and increase employment, but not to the "structural reform." That a majority called for a policy change means that many people have realized that the Koizumi "reform" is to blame for worsening living conditions and putting the national economy in a spiral of difficulty.

Developments in the last one month in the wake of the foreign minister's dismissal show that the Koizumi government is the same as past Liberal Democratic Party governments and that Koizumi is the most obstinate in rejecting any change away from the LDP's political principle of submission to the United States and defense of the interests of Japanese large corporations.

The prime minister has failed to criticize U.S President Bush for using the "axis of evil" threat against Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. On the contrary, he praised Bush for his "resolute determination" to keep the war on terrorism going.

The prime minister promised the U.S. president that the Japanese government will accelerate write-offs of non-performing loans held by Japan's major banks.

It has been revealed that the U.S. president in preparation for the Japan-U.S. summit had sent a letter to the Japanese prime minister, demanding that non-performing loans be put to markets soon as possible.

The more Prime Minister Koizumi is committed to submission to the United States and continuing his misgovernment, the more clearly his government will reveal itself as having nothing to do with true reform. The contradiction between the government and the people will grow sharper.