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Cablegate: Responding to Japanese Inquiries About

VZCZCXRO8187
PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHC #2714 0092301
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 092300Z JAN 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2296
INFO RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 0743
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA PRIORITY 0324
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 0863
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE PRIORITY 3159
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 0684

UNCLAS STATE 002714

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS PREL JA
SUBJECT: RESPONDING TO JAPANESE INQUIRIES ABOUT
MODERNIZATION OF THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM

REF: 07 TOKYO 5398

1. (SBU) As detailed in reftel, the Government of Japan (GOJ)
recently submitted to Embassy Tokyo a range of questions
about the upcoming Modernization of the Visa Waiver Program
(VWP). After consulting with the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) about the GOJ's requests, we have drafted and
cleared the following points for dissemination to GOJ
interlocutors.

BEGIN TALKING POINTS:

-- The "Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission
Act of 2007" -- the 9/11 Act -- introduces security
enhancements for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) that will
apply immediately to new VWP countries and will be phased in
for current VWP members. These enhancements will provide a
more secure international travel environment and help
facilitate the movement of legitimate travelers.

-- An Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system will
collect basic passenger biographic information which the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will use to assess
potential threats and determine passengers' eligibility to
travel under the VWP.

-- This ETA system will be based on a similar model that is
in place in Australia.

-- DHS is in the process of finalizing the data elements that
will be required under the ETA system.

-- Before traveling, passengers will submit ETA applications
via Internet, and in most cases, will be told quickly whether
their application has been approved. Passengers who are
refused an ETA will be referred to a U.S. consulate to apply
for a visa.

-- We understand that DHS will recommend that travelers
submit their information no later than 72 hours in advance of
their travel, but that there will be a mechanism in place to
process last-minute submissions.

-- DHS will set the duration of the ETA approval, up to a
maximum validity of three years, and its cost is expected to
be nominal.

-- I understand your concern that large numbers of travelers
could be refused an ETA under the system and required to
apply for visas in person. I will communicate your concerns
back to DHS.

-- However, we understand that DHS is working to implement
the system in such a way that limits, to the maximum extent
possible, the number of travelers who will be required to
apply for visas.

-- DHS remains engaged in an ongoing process to determine how
to implement this initiative, so I would like to emphasize to
you that the details I have told you today are subject to
change.

2. (SBU) It is important to note that DHS is in charge of
this program and will control its development. Although these
points have been cleared by DHS for dissemination to GOJ
officials, it is critical that you emphasize in your
interactions with GOJ officials that details of the program's
implentation have not been officially announced, and as a
result this information remains subject to change. No further
information on the details of the program will be made
available until development of the program is completed.
RICE

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