Monday, May 31, 2010

English May 31

Governors Cool To Hatoyama RequestGovernors have reacted coolly to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's request that all prefectures share the burden of hosting U.S. forces with Okinawa Prefecture during a recent meeting.
Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto was the only attendee who expressed willingness to take over some U.S. base functions or training sites from Okinawa, while 18 of the 47 governors did not even attend the meeting.
The National Governors' Association (NGA) held the meeting in Tokyo at the request of Hatoyama. In the meeting, the prime minister asked governors to accept the relocation of U.S. military drills currently being held in Okinawa to reduce the burden on the southernmost prefecture.
Chiba Gov. Kensaku Morita questioned the timing of the meeting. "Why did you call this conference now?"
In response, Hatoyama admitted that he hoped to use the NGA to smoothly implement the government's plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture.
"If you express your willingness to accept drills in the future, it will help facilitate the relocation to the Henoko district of Okinawa," he said.
Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima strongly requested that a large portion of the U.S. forces based in his prefecture be moved out. "The current situation far surpasses the burden that Okinawa residents should be expected to shoulder as Japanese citizens."
Many governors expressed sympathy with Nakaima, with Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa saying, "U.S. bases should be dispersed."
However, governors appeared amazed by Hatoyama's request that they voluntarily offer to host training sites. "It's impossible for prefectures to raise their hands. The national government should propose specific sites," Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi said.
Prefectures that already host U.S. military facilities or training sites refused to bear further burdens. "I can't persuade local residents to accept further relocation to our prefecture since we've already fulfilled our responsibility for hosting U.S. military facilities," said Ishikawa Gov. Masanori Tanimoto.
"We can't accept any more base functions," said Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura.
Of 11 governors who made statements during the meeting, Osaka Gov. Hashimoto was the only one who expressed understanding of Hatoyama's request.
"We haven't hosted any U.S. bases, so we should take the lead in shouldering some of the burden. We'd like to do the best we can," he said.
Bulls Culled In Miyazaki
The prefectural government here has decided to slaughter 49 Miyazaki-brand beef seed bulls after two of them developed symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease.
Two of the 49 seed bulls kept by the Miyazaki Livestock Improvement Association showed symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease, and it is most likely that the remaining 47 cows have also been infected with the virus, Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru revealed Friday during a prefectural assembly session on a supplementary budget for foot-and-mouth control.
"Broken blisters have been spotted in the nasal cavity of one of the seed bulls, and it's been drooling. It developed a fever two days ago, and another bull has fever, too. They are the typical symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease," Higashikokubaru explained during the assembly session, adding, "We will slaughter all the bulls in a few days."
On May 14, one of the commercial cattle kept by the association developed foot-and-mouth symptoms, prompting the national government to decide that all the 49 seed bulls should be slaughtered, including one legendary stud bull dubbed Yasuhira.
Following that decision, the prefecture asked that the 49 seed bulls not be slaughtered on condition that they be closely observed for signs of infection; however, Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture Masahiko Yamada dismissed the request for such an exceptional measure. Higashikokubaru first indicated his intention to approve the slaughter of the animals on Thursday evening.
Fukushima Fired
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama dismissed consumer affairs minister Mizuho Fukushima on Friday over her opposition to the government's plan for the relocation of a key U.S. military base within Okinawa Prefecture that was agreed on by Japan and the United States earlier in the day, government sources said.
Fukushima, head of the Social Democratic Party, one of two small coalition partners of Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan, is insisting that the government should move the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station outside of the island prefecture or Japan in order to reduce the heavy burden on the people of Okinawa from hosting bases.
The decision by Hatoyama could deal a serious blow to his governing coalition before the House of Councillors election expected in July. Some SDP lawmakers have insisted that the party should leave the three-party alliance unless Hatoyama changes his position.
The SDP opposes the plan to relocate the Futenma base to the Henoko area in Okinawa, citing possible damage to the environment as well as the prime minister's failure to make good on his earlier pledge not to do so.
Some government officials said Hatoyama had no option but to fire Fukushima, state minister in charge of consumer affairs, food safety, declining birthrate and gender equality, because she continued to oppose the Japan-U.S. decision despite the prime minister's efforts to persuade her to accept it.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano will handle Fukushima's portfolio for the time being, according to people familiar with the matter.
"It's very disappointing," Fukushima told reporters Friday morning after the Japanese and U.S. governments announced that the base will be moved to the coastal area.
In an executive meeting Thursday, the SDP decided that Fukushima would not sign any Cabinet resolution as long as Hatoyama presumed the relocation site to be in the Henoko coastal area near the Marines' Camp Schwab.
Opposition parties, meanwhile, are increasing pressure on Hatoyama to stand down following the release of the Japan-U.S. statement, which came despite his earlier pledge to significantly reduce the burden on Okinawa by relocating the Futenma base outside the prefecture.
"I'm disgusted," said Toshimitsu Motegi, acting secretary general of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, criticizing Hatoyama for the "confusion" the government has created since it was launched last September.
"There's a gap between what his government has said and done. What was the confusion we saw in the last eight months for?" Motegi said, while calling for the SDP to leave the coalition over the policy difference.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the New Komeito party, said the government is trying to bring about a "fabricated settlement" to the base fiasco, referring to reported attempts within the government to maintain the coalition by manipulating the wording of a Cabinet resolution.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Japan Week: May 24

Hatoyama Breaks Promise On Okinawa
On his second visit to Okinawa Prefecture since becoming prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama on Sunday repeatedly made it clear that the Henoko coastal area of Nago was the candidate site for the transfer of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
During a meeting with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, Hatoyama apologized for failing to live up to his promise made while campaigning for the Lower House election last year of moving Futenma functions, at the very least, outside of Okinawa.
"I express my heartfelt apology for not being able to stand by my words," he said.
The first public acknowledgement by Hatoyama of the Henoko site as the candidate for the Futenma transfer set off heated opposition from many different quarters.
Nakaima called the choice "extremely regrettable."
More importantly for Hatoyama, the Social Democratic Party, a junior coalition partner, is dead set against any move that does not involve transferring Futenma functions outside of Okinawa Prefecture.
SDP head Mizuho Fukushima said her party would clearly oppose the proposal.
The opposition by Okinawa prefectural government officials and the SDP makes impossible reaching a decision on Futenma by Hatoyama's self-imposed deadline of the end of May with agreement from the local governments, the ruling coalition and the United States.
The opposition parties will question Hatoyama's political responsibility for failing to meet his deadline.
Officials of Japan and the United States intend to include in a joint statement to be approved by the foreign and defense ministers of the two nations by the end of May wording that designates the Henoko area as the candidate for the Futenma relocation.
At that time, SDP lawmakers may decide they can no longer remain in the coalition government.
During his meeting with Nakaima, Hatoyama said, "If we split up the helicopter units in relocating the functions, we would seriously damage the functioning of the Marines."
With the comment, Hatoyama indicated that all Futenma functions would be moved to Henoko, rather than a proposal considered earlier to move some helicopter units outside of Okinawa.
While details of the construction method to be used at Henoko as well as the exact location of the base still have to be worked out, the Hatoyama government's decision means a return in principle to the 2006 agreement reached when the Liberal Democratic Party was still in control of government.
If construction cannot begin due to opposition by Nago, the Marines may have to continue using Futenma, which is located amid a heavily populated urban area.
Hatoyama said he would make further efforts to reduce the burden on Okinawa.
Hatoyama explained that the deterrent force of the U.S. military presence in Japan, including the Marines in Okinawa, could not be lowered at the present time.
"The recent conditions on the Korean Peninsula show there is still a considerable element of uncertainty in the security environment of East Asia," Hatoyama said.
Hatoyama also explained he would seek to move exercises outside of Okinawa to reduce the base burden. However, Hatoyama stopped short of giving specific locations where the exercises would be moved to.
The prime minister also explained that the United States had shown willingness to implement some measures to reduce the base burden on Okinawa by returning some land now used by the U.S. military.
Hatoyama also met with Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine.
Inamine said, "An agreement between Japan and the United States that ignores the local community is a betrayal of the people of Okinawa and Nago. We resolutely oppose the construction of a base in Nago."
Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa will visit the United States and meet Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Tuesday to work out details of the joint statement by the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries.
If the two governments formally agree on the joint statement, Hatoyama will make an announcement at a news conference as early as Friday.
China Refuses North Korea Aid Pleas
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao declined a request from North Korean leader Kim Jong Il for large-scale aid to his country during his visit to China early this month, a South Korean daily quoted diplomatic sources in Beijing as saying.
At a luncheon with Kim in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on May 6, Wen said China would be unable to give the reclusive state assistance that would exceed the framework of sanctions imposed on North Korea under a U.N. Security Council resolution, the JoonAng Ilbo reported Monday.
Kim was expected to watch "Dream of the Red Chamber" performed by the North Korean Sea of Blood Opera Company in Beijing with the Chinese leadership after the meeting. But Kim canceled his plans to watch it after China declined his request and left for North Korea earlier than initially scheduled.
North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in May last year. The Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1874 in June in response to the North Korea's second nuclear test. China also voted in support of the resolution.
More Woes For Miyazaki
Apparently the explosive spread and contagion of the FMD outbreak has surprised Japanese authorities.
Faced with this situation the government has plans to purchase all the animals at farms within a 10- to 20-kilometer radius. The measures will be made effective as soon as approval from local governments and affected farmers has been obtained the Agriculture Ministry announced late Saturday.
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and the Miyazaki Prefecture government have been culling cows and pigs at livestock farms where the animals contracted the disease, and are banning the transportation of all livestock at farms within a 10-kilometer radius.
However the Japanese government has decided to expand measures because it is becoming increasingly difficult to stop the disease's explosive outbreak by simply banning the transportation of livestock. Under new rules, animals at farms where no FMD outbreak has been confirmed will also be culled.
As of Saturday an estimated 118,000 cows and pigs at 131 farms from different counties of the prefecture have been culled and under the new rules an additional 200,000 will be put down.
At farms where no animals have been found to be infected, livestock will be vaccinated against the disease to delay the infection. Animals will be destroyed once authorities have secured land to bury their carcasses, said Japanese officials.
Animals at farms within a 10- to 20-kilometer radius from the outbreak centre will be processed into meat, which will be purchased by the central government.