Search

 

Cablegate: Boj Fukuoka Branch Manager Says Kyushu Also Hurt by Rising

VZCZCXRO2620
RR RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHFK #0042/01 2310453
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180453Z AUG 08
FM AMCONSUL FUKUOKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0379
INFO RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0374
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0014
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0016
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0004
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0006
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 0149
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 0167
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 0156
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 0150
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 0408

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 FUKUOKA 000042

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/J, EEB/OIA, AND EEB/BTA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV ENRG PREL JA
SUBJECT: BOJ FUKUOKA BRANCH MANAGER SAYS KYUSHU ALSO HURT BY RISING
OIL PRICES AND LABOR SHORTAGE

Sensitive but Unclassified - Not for Internet Distribution

SUMMARY

1. (U) Bank of Japan Fukuoka Branch Manager Keiji Kono told
EMIN August 12 that because of its long standing ties to Korea
and China, Kyushu increasingly looks to elsewhere in Asia rather
than to Tokyo for business opportunities. However, rising
energy costs are hurting Kyushu's economy, particularly since it
has become the secondary center in Japan for automobile
production. Kono opined the region's industry will be forced to
become more energy efficient and may look to nuclear energy.
That does not mean constructing new nuclear power plants is
straightforward, however, as Kyushu's Electric Power's President
noted in a follow-on meeting. In addition, Kyushu, like other
parts of Japan, Kono noted, continues to wrestle with labor
shortages and that further steps are needed; the current
generation of temporary workers, for example, who receive little
or no training, have limited career options. Agreeing on the
need to increase women's role in the job market, Kono described
measures the BOJ is taking to retain its female workforce. End
Summary.

BUSINESS OUTLOOK IN KYUSHU

2. (SBU) Kono began his meeting with EMIN noting that while
Japanese are generally pessimistic, in his view, the Japanese
economy as a whole, and specifically that of Kyushu, is in
relatively good shape. He noted the area's historical ties to
Korea and China and said people in the region are confident
Kyushu will continue to develop closer links to the rest of Asia
and will look there rather than to Tokyo for business investment
and opportunities. In fact, he stressed that the ratio of
Kyushu's trade with Asia is larger than with Tokyo. As a
result, Kyushu businesses see interaction with Asia as the
primary engine of growth and development.

3) (SBU) Kono emphasized while this strategy of capitalizing on
historical links with Asia has been successful, there are still
problems that need to be addressed. While many Kyushu-based
businesses invest in Asia, there is still little foreign
investment into Kyushu. He added that while people in Kyushu
are more open than in other parts of Japan, they remain cautious
regarding foreign investment. That said, he thinks if Korean
businesses invested more heavily in Kyushu, other foreign
investors would likely follow suit. Kyushu has become a tourist
destination for many Asians, mostly from Korea and Taiwan.
Because of this strong dependence on Korea, he is increasingly
concerned about the impact of a declining Won.

KYUSHU AS A SECONDARY INDUSTRIAL BASE

4) (SBU) Kono said Japanese investment in Kyushu focuses on the
region as a secondary industrial base. With Nagoya facing a
labor shortage, Kyushu and Tohoku are potential areas for new
facilities related to auto production. He said Kyushu has the
advantage of a strong pool of labor and so Toyota, Nissan and
others have established a growing presence here. He added other
industries, such as Canon, have also invested in Kyushu.
However, given that 60 percent of the cars produced in Kyushu
are bound for the U.S. market, anxiety has grown in the local
business community. Declining sales of its Lexus and Highlander
models assembled in Kyushu in the face of rising fuel costs led
Toyota Kyushu to cut 600 jobs, roughly 10 percent of its
workforce. (Note: Toyota expects to rehire about 500 workers
later this year as it begins production on two new hybrid
models. End note.) Kono also said rising prices would affect
businesses and would force them to develop more energy efficient
technologies as well as boost the attractiveness of other
sources of energy, e.g., nuclear power.

BUILDING NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN JAPAN IS STILL A CHALLENGE

6) (SBU) In a separate meeting, Kyushu Electric Power's
(Kyuden) president Toshio Manabe told EMIN Kyuden will begin
operation of Japan's first Pluthermal nuclear power plant in
Genkai, in Saga Prefecture in 2010. Manabe said most Japanese
oppose the project and this sentiment intensified since the
earthquake in Miyagi prefecture earlier this year, which
occurred just as public support for nuclear energy was beginning

FUKUOKA 00000042 002 OF 002


to increase. He said concerns focus primarily on technical
matters rather than the fundamental issue of the use of nuclear
power. Overcoming public sentiment is difficult and will
require convincing local government, academics, fishermen and
others of the importance of the project. Building support,
Manabe said, now centers on providing subsidies and economic
support. The central government provides subsidies to the
governments of the locality where the plant will be situated
and, in the Genaki case, to the local fishing industry.
Moreover, Kyuden encourages its employees to shop at merchants
who support the project. Manabe also emphasized Kyuden makes
sure to maintain transparency and publicize the power plant's
safe operation. Manabe said that these may seem like small
measures, but they go a long way in showing the positive impact
on local business and avoiding the spread of rumors.

SHRINKING LABOR FORCE REMAINS A CHALLENGE

5) (SBU) Bank of Japan Manager Kono also discussed the
challenges of Japan's shrinking labor force. The proportion of
part-time workers is currently very high. Because they don't
get the training full-time workers receive, they lack the skills
necessary for upward mobility. If the situation continues, it
will constrain their future opportunities and productivity. To
address the problem, Kono agreed with EMIN that women should
play a larger role in Japan's economy. He stressed the BOJ is
trying to improve working conditions for women and is
encouraging them to stay on after they have children. Recently
adopted flex-time and extended maternity leave policies are just
a few of the measures the Bank is implementing even though the
Bank has traditionally been considered a very "conservative"
work environment.

However, such solutions remain elusive in the agriculture and
fishing industries. The average age for workers in both
industries is over 60 years and there are few incentives for
younger workers to become farmers or fishermen. Kono said this
leads to three important questions: 1) will more groups come to
the government for assistance? 2) How will the government
respond to these requests? 3) once industries begin to receive
subsidies, how will the government wean them off the subsidies?
Moreover, because of the small share of the GDP these two
industries comprise (less than two percent for agriculture and
less than one percent for fishing), providing such subsidies
will have no impact on Japan's overall economy.
CARRINGTON

© 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