Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/12/08TOKYO3360.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TOKYO3360
2008-12-10 22:42
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tokyo

VZCZCXRO3156
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DE RUEHKO #3360/01 3452242
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 102242Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9331
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZU/ASIAN PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION PRIORITY
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 4551
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 6757
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2917
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI PRIORITY 0015
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 1105
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA PRIORITY 4399
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR PRIORITY 1914
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA PRIORITY 1300
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 8638
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH PRIORITY 0718
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY PRIORITY 0142
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON PRIORITY 2358
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE PRIORITY 7280
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE PRIORITY 1698
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 0197
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 1348
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH PRIORITY 0125
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG PRIORITY 6647
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 3706
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE PRIORITY 5139
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 1916
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TOKYO 003360

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2018
TAGS: PREL PHUM ECIN EAID AORC XC BM TH CB RP VM
LA, JA
SUBJECT: JAPANESE VIEWS: ASEAN, BURMA, THAILAND, CAMBODIA, THE PHILIPPINES

TOKYO 00003360 001.2 OF 004

Classified By: Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer; reasons 1.4 (b/d)

¶1. (C) Summary: In meetings with DAS Scot Marciel, senior
MOFA officials reaffirmed that ASEAN remains an important
focus for Japan in terms of development assistance, business
expansion, and political engagement. In regards to other
issues Japan believes that: despite recent events engagement
with the regime in Burma still might be useful; deep rooted
societal and cultural issues will cause Thailand’s problems
to persist for some time; direct talks between the UN and
Cambodia are needed to prevent a breakdown of the Tribunal
process; and the U.S. and Japan should both work to maintain
a geostrategic balance in mainland Southeast Asia. End
Summary.

ASEAN: Engage Regionally to Strengthen Bilateral Ties
——————————————— ——–
¶2. (C) At a dinner meeting December 1 (the same day that a
new EPA (Economic Policy Agreement) between Japan and ASEAN
went into effect), Yoshinori Katori, Japan,s ASEAN
Ambassador told DAS Scot Marciel that Japan supports the
long-term ASEAN goal of an economic Common Market as a way of
strengthening stability in the region. While this process is
moving at a slow pace, in hindsight much had been achieved
since 1967. The Ambassador felt it is remarkable that such a
diverse group of nations is on the path to forging a sense of
common identity.
¶3. (C) One of the major goals of Japanese policy is to try
and strengthen cooperation and linkages between projects at
the regional and sub-regional level within ASEAN, Katori
continued. He said his country supports ASEAN attempts to
fill the gap between its less developed and more developed
members. Japanese companies, he added, are very interested
in investing in the ASEAN region; as a result, it is a major
target for Japanese ODA, with Indonesia and the Philippines
being the largest recipients.
¶4. (C) Ambassador Katori and DAS Marciel agreed that it is
important not to put ASEAN countries into a position of
having to choose sides among the various powers involved in
the region. It is more important to emphasize areas where
cooperation is possible. Katori underlined the need to show
interest in ASEAN-related events, such as the ASEAN Regional
Forum (ARF), as a means of staying engaged and strengthening
bilateral ties.
Burma: 2010 Elections Present an Opportunity
———————————————

¶5. (C) At separate meetings on December 2 with MOFA Southeast
and Southwest Asia Bureau Director General Hiroshi Inomata,
Deputy Director General Kazuhide Ishikawa, and SE Asia
Division Director Keiichi Ono, Inomata asserted that the
current international approach to Burma, including U.S. and
EU sanctions, will &never work8 as long as India and China
continue to trade with the regime and refuse to utter &tough
words.8 Japan, &knowing what the regime in Burma has done
to better the situation,8 tried to amend the Burma
Resolution at the Third Committee in UNGA to make it more
neutral. The regime subsequently instituted long sentences
for activists, &and I gave up,8 Inomata said. He added
that he is more optimistic about the 2010 elections and hopes
to convince the opposition National League for Democracy
(NLD) about the need to participate. “One election won’t
solve everything,8 he conceded, &but the situation will
improve if people can be convinced to accept the results,
even grudgingly.8 At this point, he admitted, the regime is

TOKYO 00003360 002.2 OF 004

clearly not interested in working with either the UN or the
NLD, &but we need to keep trying.8

¶6. (C) SE Asia Division Director Keiichi Ono added that,
“2010 elections are crucial for Japan-Burma relations. As
long as there is a chance of success, we should target those
elections.” Inomata also emphasized the need to continue to
build trust with Burma by keeping an open dialogue with
“reasonable leaders, such as Deputy Foreign Minister Chat
Too.” He noted the limitations of any processes that fail to
include Burma in the discussions, such as the Friends Group
and Trilateral Core Group. Ono agreed with the need to “send
a strong message to China” if the United States really wants
Burma to participate. Inomata reminded DAS Marciel of
Japan’s “shock” over bilateral U.S.-Burma discussions in
Beijing in 2007 and hoped that Japan would be consulted if
the incoming U.S. administration decides to favor increased
dialogue.

¶7. (C ) Marciel questioned Japan,s support for the 2010
elections, saying all evidence and experience suggested the
elections would be a farce. He acknowledged that outside
pressure alone would probably not bring about change, but
argued that it was important that Japan and other countries
speak out when the regime flouted human rights, such as by
meting out long prison sentences to peaceful demonstrators.
Marciel and Inomata agreed that it would be useful to
encourage some sort of regional diplomatic forum to discuss
how best to promote &new thinking8 on Burma.

Thailand: Stability Important to Japan
—————————————

¶7. (C) DG Inomata and DDG Ishikawa noted the negative impact
on Thailand’s image and economy of the standoff between the
People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and the government.
Tourism constitutes approximately seven percent of the Thai
economy, Ishikawa stated, and is projected to fall by as much
as 50 percent due to the current instability. He estimated
that over 10,000 Japanese tourists were stranded in Thailand
when the PAD shut down the airports. Closure of the airports
also jeopardized the shipment of goods, a particular concern
for the many Japanese companies that source parts from
Thailand, and for neighboring countries that rely on Bangkok
as a hub for shipping, communications, and trade.

¶8. (C) Attributing the crisis to deep-rooted societal and
structural issues, Inomata predicted that the problems would
continue for some time, whether or not Parliament was
dissolved. Careful to preface his views as personal,
Ishikawa stated his belief that former Prime Minister Thaksin
had tried to do “too much.” Worse still, his “not very
Thai-like” way of doing things had exacerbated existing
tensions over regional economic and income disparities. The
situation is complicated by the fact that the government was
democratically elected and that at least some of the actions
of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrators
appear to be less than democratic, Ishikawa said.
Ascertaining the exact nature of the forces behind the PAD
and determining the role of the business community and the
Royal Family is also problematic, he added. Both Inomata and
Ishikawa appreciated efforts by the military to remain
neutral, but expressed concern that a near-term solution
could be difficult to find since the PAD seems unwilling to
compromise. Ishikawa also pondered the future shape of the

TOKYO 00003360 003.2 OF 004

government if the Constitutional Court ruled against the
People’s Power Party (PPP), conjecturing that the remnants of
the ruling party might need to form a coalition to maintain a
majority over the Democratic Party.

KRT: UN Pressure Forcing Cambodia to Lose Face
——————————————— —————–

¶9. (C) Regarding allegations of corruption in the War Crimes
Tribunal, Inomata and Ishikawa encouraged the United States
to consider the Cambodian argument that the UN has yet to
provide enough evidence, while Ono criticized the propensity
of the UN “to just keep pushing, without showing any
willingness to compromise.” “Pressure alone will not work,”
Ono added, and threats by the UN to withdraw are “absurd.”
Moreover, Ishikawa stressed, Japan has contributed a great
deal financially to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts
of Cambodia (ECCC) and should have a say. Cambodia seems
determined to let the UN withdraw completely and turn the
Tribunal into a domestic court, hoping to control
prosecutions and keep them from delving too deep into
complicity for Cambodia’s troubled past. Japan is supporting
more direct talks to remedy the complete breakdown in
communication between Cambodia and the UN, but there is no
easy fix. Of equal importance, Ishikawa stated, is to narrow
the gap between the dialogue taking place among the
Ambassadors at the UN and the parallel dialogue taking place
among Ambassadors in Phnom Penh. Japan has also floated the
idea of a new third-party or joint investigation that both
sides could accept, Ono noted. A secondary concern is to
come up with a new mechanism for dealing with corruption
problems that is not slanted toward either side. One
solution, Ishikawa offered, could be to look for some &Asian
way8 to solve the problem, by easing Executive Secretary
Sean Visoth into another position and replacing the UN
representative at the same time. &Brinkmanship diplomacy
does not work in Southeast Asia,8 he averred.

¶10. (C) Furthermore, Inomata noted that Hun Sen has evolved a
bit since the last election to the point where he is allowing
a reasonable amount of space for the opposition. Civil
society and the economy are both showing potential. Ono
attributed this change to the fact that Hun Sen had widened
his base in the election and pushed the royalists further
toward the margins. Recounting a meeting with Hun Sen in the
early 1990s in Thailand, Inomata said he remembered him as
quite confident, and viewed him today as a more capable
politician than his rivals.

¶11. (C ) Marciel agreed that Cambodia has moved in a positive
direction in recent years, and that Hun Sen,s behavior has
evolved. He highlighted recent improvements in
U.S.-Cambodian relations, and emphasized Washington’s
commitment to continue to expand those relations. He agreed
to consult with Embassy Phnom Penh and with relevant players
in Washington on how best to encourage progress in the KRT,
arguing that creative diplomacy should enable the
international community to support the Tribunal while also
pressing the Cambodians to address the corruption
allegations. Marciel and Inomata agreed to consult closely
on the way ahead.

The Philippines
—————

TOKYO 00003360 004.2 OF 004

¶11. (C) Amidst concerns about the instability in the
Philippines and renewed fighting in the wake of the breakdown
of a peace deal in Mindanao, Inomata said that Japan is
interested in working with the United States to salvage the
talks. He said his government had in August encouraged the
Malaysians to keep their troops for an additional three
months. He noted that the Malaysians have assured Japan that
they are willing to come back once the Philippines is ready
to get serious.

The Mekong Region
—————–

¶12. (C) Ishikawa noted that Japan is very interested in
addressing development and income disparities in the Mekong
region as a way of deepening ties with the individual
nations. Japan has designated 2009 as the Year of
Japan-Mekong relations. However, Japan has to be careful not
to appear to be in favoring one region over another. The
government in Laos is opening steadily to Japan and contacts
are increasing. Like Cambodia, the Laotians are seeking
Japanese assistance with education. Ono cautioned that the
United States needs to engage more with Laos to counter the
influence of China.

¶13. (C) Ishikawa warned that China was exerting an increasing
gravitational pull on the countries of mainland Southeast
Asia, with the exception of Vietnam. He urged the U.S. to
ramp up engagement with Laos and Cambodia, in particular, and
to be mindful of the geostrategic importance of Burma.
Marciel responded that, while the U.S. did not see the region
as a battleground between the West and China, it was in our
interest to ensure that no country had undue influence over
the Southeast Asian nations.

14 (C ) On a closing note, Ishikawa noted Japan,s interest
in preparing some sort of contribution for the East Asia
Summit (EAS), despite indications that the December meeting
would be postponed. (NOTE: The December EAS and ASEAN plus
3 Summits were postponed the next day. END NOTE). Details
are still being hammered out, but he promised to keep the
U.S. informed when a decision has been reached.

¶14. (U) DAS Marciel has cleared this cable.
SCHIEFFER

   

 

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