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Cablegate: Ambassador's February 16 Meeting with Komeito

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OO RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #0708/01 0510415
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200415Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0795
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 5840
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 1995
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 1921
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 9918
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 2374
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE PRIORITY 3397
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 0896
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/COMUSJAPAN YOKOTA AB JA PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DISA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/TREASURY DEPT WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI PRIORITY 6323

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TOKYO 000708

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV JA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S FEBRUARY 16 MEETING WITH KOMEITO
CHIEF OTA


1. (SBU) Summary. During a February 16 courtesy call with
the Ambassador, Komeito Chief Representative Ota:
-- stated his firm belief in the U.S.-Japan alliance;
-- expressed appreciation for U.S. efforts to keep abductions
on the front burner in dealings with the DPRK;
-- said he strongly supports the relocation of Futenma;
-- predicted that Taiwan would occupy a prominent place in
upcoming meetings between Prime Minister Abe and Premier Wen;
-- urged the U.S. to work to improve the everyday lives of
Iraqis.
End summary.

2. (SBU) The Ambassador called on Komeito Chief
Representative Akihiro Ota at his Diet offices on February
16, their first meeting since Ota was elected leader of
junior coalition partner Komeito in September 2006. Ota told
the Ambassador that his recent travels to China and Russia,
as well as a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Li the day
before, had made him realize how quickly Asia was moving.
This had affirmed his belief that it is urgent for Japan to
further strengthen its ties with the United States. In
addition to the economic relationship, which he described as
Japan's most important, he stressed the need for continued
cooperation on North Korea, Iraq, and U.S. force realignment.
He also mentioned the importance of continuing to build
stronger ties with Australia. The Ambassador acknowledged
the important role played by Komeito in Japanese politics.

DPRK
----

3. (SBU) Ota told the Ambassador he was very pleased with
the agreement reached in the just concluded round of
Six-Party Talks in Beijing, and attributed that success to
the relationship of trust between the United States and
Japan. He thanked the Ambassador for his own personal
support on abductions, as well as for U.S. efforts more
generally to keep the world focused on the issue. He noted
that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had worked hard to gain
support from Europe during his multi-country trip there in
January, just before the bilateral U.S.-DPRK talks in Berlin.
Strong U.S. support had dispelled any concerns that Japan
would be left behind in any additional agreements with the
DPRK, although he said he still worries about DPRK commitment
to implementing the current agreement.

4. (SBU) The Six-Party Talks had made progress on the
abduction issue, in addition to denuclearization, the
Ambassador assured Ota, and the agreement reached in Beijing
was just the beginning. Getting the DPRK to recognize that
they have to deal with Japan on the abduction issue was a big
step, he added. By reaffirming the September 2005 agreement,
the DPRK was bound to deal with both the nuclear issue and
humanitarian issues, including abductions, he noted. The
Ambassador gave credit to the family of abductee Megumi
Yokota for focusing attention on the issue, citing her
emotional meeting with President Bush in Washington in 2006.
In response to Ota's interest in the future of financial
sanctions, the Ambassador explained that the United States
was prepared to look at individual financial transactions,
but would only consider lifting sanctions on those funds not
tainted by illegal transactions.

DPRI
----

5, (SBU) Distancing himself from Defense Minister Fumio
Kyuma's recent call for flexibility in implementing the
agreed-upon plan to relocate Futenma, Ota stressed his belief
in the need to implement the original agreement as quickly as
possible. He agreed with the Ambassador that the agreement
should have been implemented long ago, and should not be
renegotiated simply because a new governor has been elected

TOKYO 00000708 002 OF 003


in Okinawa. That is why Komeito worked so hard to elect
ruling coalition candidate Hirokazu Nakaima to the post last
November, he stated. He told the Ambassador that he speaks
with Nakaima often and thinks the issue will be resolved
favorably. Saying that the people of Okinawa feel closer to
Komeito than to any other political party, he promised to
"coordinate" his views with residents.

6. (SBU) The Ambassador praised the participation of Komeito
members Masao Akamatsu and Shigeki Sato in a recent
Embassy-organized trip to Guam for Diet members, saying it
was good for them to see the role Guam can play in
strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance. The Ambassador
stressed that the value of Guam is that it can ease the
burden on Okinawa, while still keeping U.S. forces in the
theater as a stabilizing factor. At the same time, the two
agreed, Okinawa will not lose its strategic importance, as
Guam will complement the remaining U.S. forces on Okinawa,
not replace them.

China
-----

7. (SBU) Touching on his meetings with President Hu Jintao
and State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan in Beijing in January, and
with Foreign Minister Li in Tokyo on February 15, Ota said
there was no mention of Yasukuni, but much discussion of
Taiwan. He expects Taiwan to be a central focus of
discussion during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Tokyo in
April. Komeito International Bureau Director Hiroshi Takano
added that what China fears most before the Beijing Summer
Olympics is Taiwan revising its constitution and declaring
independence. Takano interpreted China's recent
anti-satellite missile test as a stern message to the United
States and Japan on Taiwan independence.

8. (SBU) The Ambassador reaffirmed the U.S. policy opposing
any change to the status quo between China and Taiwan by
violent means, adding that the U.S. does not support efforts
by either side to change the status quo unilaterally. He
noted that even as U.S. relations with China improve, as
demonstrated by cooperation during the Six-Party Talks,
China's ascending power leads to troubling issues, such as an
accelerated military buildup and the missile tests.
U.S.-China relations work much better when U.S.-Japan
relations are strong, he said, and emphasized that improving
relations with China does not mean lessening the importance
of relations with Japan. The Ambassador applauded Prime
Minister Abe's October 2006 summits in Beijing and Seoul, and
remarked favorably on Ota's 20-year relationship with
President Hu, which dates back to when both were leader of
youth organizations in their respective parties.

Iraq
----

9. (SBU) Reflecting on his visit to Iraq shortly before the
outbreak of hostilities in 2003, Ota emphasized the need for
stability in the daily lives of the Iraqi people. The
Ambassador pointed out that it is impossible to achieve
social progress when violence is a part of everyday life. He
explained that plans for a stronger U.S. presence in Iraq are
intended to regain control of the streets and establish a
presence in communities. He expressed his deep appreciation
for Japan's continued contributions, both through Air
Self-Defense Forces support and Maritime Self-Defense Forces
refueling operations in the Indian Ocean. He acknowledged
the difficulties Japan's ruling coalition must face in
gaining support for these activities domestically.

Domestic Politics
-----------------


TOKYO 00000708 003 OF 003


10. (SBU) Toward the end of the meeting, Ota remarked
briefly on Prime Minister Abe's goal of achieving a
"beautiful Japan," saying an American friend had told him
recently that what he finds beautiful about Japan are things
like employment policies that view layoffs as a last resort,
universal health insurance, and a community spirit that
values people. He said he had passed this story on to Abe at
dinner the previous evening, and that Abe had jokingly said
he would use these points from now on to explain his policies.
SCHIEFFER

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