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Cablegate: Japan: Temporary Tariff Bill Passes Lower House

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O 250751Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2862
INFO RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 8437
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 6028
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2394
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RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0372
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/TREASURY DEPT WASHDC
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 6952
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS TOKYO 000822

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SENSITIVE
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USTR FOR AUSTR CUTLER AND DAUSTR BEEMAN
PLEASE PASS TO USDA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EAGR PGOV JA
SUBJECT: JAPAN: TEMPORARY TARIFF BILL PASSES LOWER HOUSE

1. (U) Japan's Lower House passed a bill March 25 extending
for one year temporary tariff rates -- including beef and
pork tariffs -- that would otherwise expire March 31.
Covering 417 tariffs in total, the bill to revise partially
the Customs Tariff Law would maintain the current applied
38.5 percent tariff on beef rather than allow it to rise to
50 percent. The extension is necessary to keep Japan's
tariffs in line with agreements reached in the WTO and GATT.

2. (SBU) The Upper House has to approve the bill before March
31 to ensure no disruption in current tariff arrangements.
Foreign Ministry officials told Emboffs the Upper House
Finance Committee will consider the bill on March 27,
readying it for a full Upper House vote on March 28. The
media have also reported the ranking Finance Committee
members from the ruling and main opposition parties agreed to
vote on the bill by March 28. Upper House professional
staff, however, told Emboffs the Upper House Finance
Committee vote has yet to be scheduled.

3. (U) All parties except the Japan Communist Party voted for
the bill during the March 25 Lower House plenary session.

4. (SBU) Comment: Despite its obstructionist tactics on Bank
of Japan appointments and government proposals to extend
road-related taxes and surcharges, the opposition Democratic
Party of Japan does not appear to want to derail the proposed
tariff extension. If passed, the bill will show that
cooperation is possible when the parties see no political
gain to be made from locking horns. Time is short, however,
to move the legislation through the Upper House Finance
Committee and plenary by the March 31 end of the fiscal year.

SCHIEFFER

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