Cablegate: Visa Waiver Program: Electronic System for Travel
RR RUEHAT RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHLA RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #1711/01 1742253
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 222253Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5296
RHEFDHS/DIA DHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAORC/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHAT/AMCONSUL AMSTERDAM 0018
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 2235
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 6764
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 0884
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 8506
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 9091
RUEHLJ/AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA 0097
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0660
RUEHAT/AMCONSUL AMSTERDAM 0019
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 0013
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 2269
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2678
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0553
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 0137
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 6168
RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI 0304
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2128
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 1194
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0243
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7181
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 1817
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2097
RUEHBD/AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 0923
RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN 0533
RUEHLE/AMEMBASSY LUXEMBOURG 0114
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1033
RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT 0503
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TOKYO 001711
DEPARTMENT FOR CA for CA/VO/F/P:JBrennan for CA/P Steve Royster AND
FOR EAP/J Marc Jackson and Ted Bryan
DHS for Office of International Affairs, ICE Office of International
Affairs and CBP Office of International Affairs
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CMGT PREL PGOV EUN JA
SUBJECT: VISA WAIVER PROGRAM: ELECTRONIC SYSTEM FOR TRAVEL
AUTHORIZATION (ESTA) ANNOUNCEMENT AND OUTREACH IN JAPAN
This cable is sensitive but unclassified, not for internet
1. SUMMARY: This is an ACTION CABLE, please see PARA 4. On June 3,
DHS Secretary Chertoff introduced the ESTA program. Since then,
post has conducted numerous outreach activities to inform the
Japanese Government and public of this initiative. This cable also
contains information on future outreach plans. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Embassy consular and DHS representatives met with Ministry
of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Director General for Consular Affairs
Tanizaki on June 2 to pre-brief him on the launch of ESTA. Tanizaki
said he generally knew ESTA was coming, but was surprised at the
imminent launch date. He expected Japanese travelers would accept
ESTA, but indicated MOFA's Treaty Bureau would look into the
question of whether ESTA effectively spelled the end of the Visa
Waiver Program (VWP). Embassy representatives emphasized to
Tanizaki that this was not the case and the electronically requested
information would be the same as what travelers now provide on the
I-94W arrival/departure form.
3. (SBU) Embassy consular and DHS representatives delivered the same
message on June 4 to MOFA Consular Affairs Bureau, Foreign National
Affairs Division Director Kazuyoshi Matsunaga. He asked if there
would be an exchange of diplomatic notes as there was at the
inception of the Visa Waiver Pilot Program in 1988. We replied we
did not believe a dip note would be necessary as ESTA does not
fundamentally change the VWP. He then inquired about the EU's
reaction to ESTA and if ESTA could be accessed/data entered from a
cell phone. Finally, he asked if the 72 hour before boarding ESTA
registration deadline precluded last minute requests or emergency
travel. We said we believed ESTA allowed for last minute requests
and we were not sure if data entry could be done through a cell
phone, but that we would raise these questions with the Department.
4. (SBU) Action request: Post requests Department provides answers
we can share to MOFA's questions on the EU reaction to ESTA and if
ESTA could be accessed/processed via a cell phone.
5. (SBU) DHS and Consular representatives also delivered the ESTA
message on June 4 to Mr. Kazuhiko Kanazashi, International Tourism
Division, Policy Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport
and Tourism (MLIT). MLIT had many of the same questions as posed in
the other meetings. Their main concern is how the information would
get to the airports and airlines. The DHS representative informed
that in addition to the support provided to the carriers through the
Carrier Liaison Program, the IAP team at Narita would be conducting
briefings on ESTA. The consular representative added that the
embassy and consulates would be contacting airport officials in
their respective locations.
6. Post's efforts to inform the general public include many
outreach standards such as sending the press release information to
the American Chamber of Commerce, Keidanren, JETRO, APEC, and the
Japanese Association of Travel Agents (JATA), sending diplomatic
notes containing ESTA information to VWP embassies, putting links to
the information on the Mission Japan website, and sending the
information to Military Liaison contacts and through our newsletters
to American residents in Japan. Beyond this we are in contact with
Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, United, Continental and
Northwest to place a news article in their in-flight magazines. We
are handing out the DHS press release, which we have translated into
Japanese to visa applicants and we will be holding a briefing with
interested embassy officers so they can answer contacts' questions.
7. June 5, the Consul General and DHS Attache held a press
conference to brief the press on the salient points of ESTA.
Consulates in Japan participated through DVC. The following papers
and TV stations were represented at the event: Yomiuri Shimbun,
Asaha Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkei Shimbun,
Tokyo Shimbun, Fukuoka Nishi Nippon news, Kyodo news, Jiji press,
NHK, TV-Asahi, Fuji-TV, TV-Tokyo, TBS, Fukuoka-Asahi Television,
Travel Vision, and Stars and Stripes. The CG and DHS Attache
emphasized ESTA is not a visa; it will be good for multiple visits
over two years; it is free of charge; it allows for applications by
third parties; it will be required of every passenger regardless of
age; questions will be provided in multiple languages by Oct 15.
They explained that the overwhelming number of applicants will
receive ESTA approval. The following questions were asked by the
attendees at the press event:
-- Will you use the same criteria currently used to authorize entry
into the U.S. under ESTA?
-- How does the traveler carry the information regarding ESTA
approval? Is it stamped into the passport?
-- How will you maintain the data, and what measures will you
employ to make sure no outsiders will use the information?
-- Could you please explain the 72 hour rule?
-- How is the traveler notified of the approval?
-- What are the similarities to the Australian model.
-- Will travelers be unable to board a plane without ESTA as of
-- Will you work with the carriers to have a system in place so
that the carrier can check ESTA at check in?
-- With the Australian system, the airline can ask for
authorization at check in. Will yours be the same?
-- Can an I-94 be used instead of ESTA?
-- You said ESTA is valid for 2 years, but if you forget you have
it, what happens if you apply again?
-- What kind of effect will ESTA have on travelers from Japan?
-- You said a travel agent could apply. Isn't it a problem for the
travel agents to have personal information of the traveler?
-- I don't have a plan to go to the U.S., but could I try ESTA
-- If I got ESTA approval but put in the wrong name and DOB and I
get to the POE and the inspector sees that the info doesn't match
the info in my passport, will my inspection take longer? Will I be
taken to secondary?
-- The DHS fact sheet talked about information sharing, including
with foreign governments. Do you envision any possible problems?
-- Are you planning to charge for ESTA?
The press briefing resulted in positive, factual reporting.
8. (SBU) Comment: The embassy will continue to aggressively reach
out throughout Japan to all stakeholders to minimize the amount of
erroneous information on ESTA. In some instances, we envision
briefing some of the same parties to answer the many questions that
are likely to evolve as January 12 looms closer and closer. We will
continue to keep Washington apprised of developments through front