Search

 

Cablegate: Japanese Public Reaction to Wto Talks Collapse

VZCZCXRO0113
OO RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #2109/01 2130917
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 310917Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6229
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 4660
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 2700
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI IMMEDIATE 8555
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA IMMEDIATE 9143
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA IMMEDIATE 7340
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA IMMEDIATE 1517
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE IMMEDIATE 2873
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO IMMEDIATE 9726
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 3380

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 002109

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/J AND EEB/MTA
STATE PLEASE PASS USTR WCUTLER, MROHDE, MBEEMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD PREL WTRO JA
SUBJECT: JAPANESE PUBLIC REACTION TO WTO TALKS COLLAPSE

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for Internet.

1. (U) Summary: Japanese media and public reaction to the
breakdown of WTO talks in Geneva has been mixed.
Agricultural interests have expressed relief, while realizing
Japan will be pressed to go further than they would like when
talks resume. Business and the GOJ leadership, however, have
expressed concern and a commitment to continue to work toward
concluding an agreement, although skeptical a successful
conclusion is possible this year. End summary.

--------
Overview
--------

2. (SBU) Japanese print and broadcast media are giving
considerable attention to news from Geneva on the collapse of
the WTO talks and we expect debate in industry press to
continue. Several Japanese ministers have issued public
statements, including Prime Minister Fukuda, Ministry of
Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Minister Amari, Ministry
of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Minister
Wakabayashi, and Chief Cabinet Secretary (CCS) Machimura.
Overall, and not unexpectedly given longstanding Japanese
agricultural protectionist tendencies, the reactions are
mixed.

-------------------
Government Response
-------------------

3. (U) PM Fukuda said, "It is very regrettable that an accord
on modalities was not reached at the WTO ministerial meeting,
despite more than a week of all-out effort by ministers." He
also stated that, while prospects of an agreement this year
have receded, Japan "will seriously consider how to promote
talks based on achievements in previous negotiations." The
PM added that Japan "will continue to make steady efforts
toward a WTO agreement that would contribute to the healthy
development of the global economy. Japan will further
strengthen its farming sector, which was the subject of
various discussions in the latest round of negotiations."

4. (U) MAFF Minister Wakabayashi sought to moderate the
relief of the country's domestic agricultural interests by
warning that Japan would be expected, when talks resume, to
reduce the range of its sensitive products beyond what it had
sought. He also suggested that Japan should seek to increase
efficiency and food self-sufficiency through measures such as
consolidating farmland.

5. (U) METI Minister Amari said the collapse in the talks
"deals a severe blow to Japan." CCS Machimura urged China
and India to acknowledge their growing influence on, and
responsibility for, the global economy. He also reiterated
Japan's policy that it will pursue bilateral and plurilateral
agreements to supplement the WTO.

-----------------------
Private Sector Response
-----------------------

6. (U) Agricultural interests were pleased and relieved.
Some groups have issued statements, pleased that for the time
being Japan has avoided liberalization without being blamed
for the collapse of the talks. One statement stressed that
no agreement is better than a bad agreement, and another
expressed relief that Japan had escaped the "worst kind of
agreement." An editorial argued that free trade is out of
date now as countries are moving to manage commodity flows
and protect their domestic food supplies. At the same time,
two major newspapers emphasized the need for the Japanese
agricultural sector to reform and improve its competitiveness.

7. (SBU) Relief was mitigated, however, by the prospect that
Japan would be held to commitments, in particular on
sensitive sectors, going beyond what Japan had sought. The
media report Japan had hoped to hold the line at maintaining
eight percent of tariff lines as sensitive products, but the

TOKYO 00002109 002 OF 002


WTO Director General's compromise plan limits such
designations to only four percent. The press reported, even
should Japan manage to defend the ability to classify six
percent of products as sensitive, this allotment could be
entirely consumed by rice, wheat and dairy products. Other
politically sensitive products requiring tariff
liberalization would then include: starch, peanuts and
Japanese konyaku potatoes. Konyaku potatoes, for example,
are particularly sensitive to Gunma prefecture, the home
district of PM Fukuda, former prime ministers Nakasone,
Obuchi and Fukuda.

8. (U) Industry and business interests, on the other hand,
are expressing concern over the failure and the benefits
foregone, particularly in developing country markets. Nikkei
expressed concern about a resurgence of protectionism, and
there was general coverage of potentially serious
implications for Japan's and the global economy. A
representative of Japan's largest business association
Keidanren said, "we are extremely disappointed with the
result." He elaborated that even bilateral talks with the
U.S. and EU could not progress, without agricultural reforms
resulting from a WTO agreement. Keidanren has identified
high European tariffs on both automobiles and electrical
appliances as examples barriers to Japanese products.

------------------
Why and Where Next
------------------

9. (U) Without overly stressing the point, Japanese media
report the main reason for the breakdown was the inability to
resolve differences between the U.S., India and China over
special safeguard measures. Some articles relate claims and
counter-claims with some pieces specifically saying the U.S.
pressed India on its demand for looser safeguards. According
to reports, India and China then retaliated by demanding the
U.S. cut further domestic agricultural supports. In this
context, papers note the U.S. offer to limit domestic
support, but that India and China wanted still more.

10. (U) The Nikkei, noting the rise of developing members and
the fact countries like India, China and Brazil have become
more assertive, concludes that there has been a shift in the
balance of power in the trade community. One editorial
suggested that this has been an historic moment signaling a
decline in U.S. power. Another source noted, in the future,
negotiations and the conclusion of agreements will be more
difficult, and old approaches may no longer work.

11. (SBU) An additional consequence articles suggested may be
renewed efforts to pursue bilateral and plurilateral
agreements, and diminished expectations of the global trade
system. It is a concern in light of recent commodity price
volatility, and would likely hurt poor countries in
particular, but that Japan could also be disadvantaged. The
Asahi newspaper stressed the need to restart the talks no
matter how long it takes, and that bilateral FTAs should not
be seen as a substitute for strengthening the global
multilateral trading system.
SCHIEFFER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC