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Cablegate: Mofa Pushes for Asia-Pacific Statistical Network

VZCZCXRO7786
RR RUEHCHI RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHPB
DE RUEHKO #5943/01 2852244
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 122244Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7376
INFO RUEHZU/ASIAN PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 8136
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 8437
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 0976
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 1812
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 9511
RUEATRS/TREASURY DEPT WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 005943

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE PLEASE PASS TO USTR FOR MICHAEL BEEMAN
STATE PLEASE PASS TO EPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD SENV EFIN APEC JA
SUBJECT: MOFA PUSHES FOR ASIA-PACIFIC STATISTICAL NETWORK
AND HIGH LEVEL PARTICIPATION IN KICK-OFF CONFERENCE,
NOVEMBER 5-6

TOKYO 00005943 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) Please see last paragraph for possible action.

2. (SBU) Summary and Introduction: On October 6, MOFA
called in selected embassies to promote GOJ's concept of an
Asia-Pacific Economic Research Mechanism (APERM) and to
encourage high level attendance at a kick off conference in
Kyoto, November 5 - 7. While saying it would be up to the
conference to define the proposal, MOFA outlined the concept
as a network of government and private institutions in key
countries of the region to develop and harmonize statistics
relating to sustainable development. The statistics would
cover both developed and developing participants and
macro-economic statistics as well as social and environmental
statistics. In doing so, it would add value to existing
databases, MOFA believes. The data would be available to
governments, international organizations (including APEC)
academia and the private sector and APERM could become an
APEC activity over time if members wished. MOFA invited Amb.
Schieffer to the conference and listed U/S Sheeran, A/S
Sullivan and Amb. to APEC Michalack as &proposed8
participants. Separately, MOFA DG for Economic Affairs
explained to EMINS on October 10 that APERM was a modest
proposal with a big objective: helping China develop more
realistic statistics, which is essential for understanding
potential bottlenecks to development of the region. We
underlined to Ishikawa our continuing skepticism. End
Summary and Introduction.

3. (SBU) The APERM meeting was chaired by Amb. Sawako
Takeuchi, Special Advisor to the Minister (and former GOJ
candidate for Secretary General of the OECD) and Deputy DG
for Economic Affairs Kusaka. It was attended by
representatives from Australia, Canada, India, Korea,
Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, U.S. (Ecouns) and the ADB.
Indonesia,s and New Zealand,s flags were present, but they
had no representatives attending.

4. (SBU) MOFA officials explained that the purpose of the
Kyoto conference, which would be hosted by a MOFA Vice
Minister, would be to discuss mechanisms for sharing
statistical information important to governments, investors,
business, international organizations and academia. The
fifteen countries invited to the conference were chosen for
their geographical location, economic influence, and degree
of interdependence and with a view to keeping the size
manageable. MOFA has invited high-level participants from
government and the private sector and provided a conference
agenda, proposed participants list and other information
(faxed to State/EAP/J).

5. (SBU) While noting that the conference would make its own
conclusion, MOFA explained its proposal would be for the
participants to endorse a three-year pilot project to be
launched in April 2007. The project would be to create a
&platform8 for an information network among governments and
the private sector in participating countries. In this sense
it would be a "track one and a half8 endeavor. The
statistical network would be an international &public good8
open to all parties. It would be run through contact points
in each country, with some minimal maintenance work to be
preformed centrally. Participants would decide how often to
meet but some meetings would be necessary to provide
direction. The statistics would at first be macroeconomic,
but later be extended to environmental and social, including
energy and water demand/availability, to give a full picture
of the sustainability and inter-relatedness of the region,s
development. Over the longer term the project would aim at
statistical "harmonization", which would require some
governmental involvement and go beyond that currently being
done the UN framework, which is mostly macroeconomic. The
GOJ plans to present this concept at the APEC Summit, but the
level was not stated.

6. (SBU) Takeuchi and Kusaka were at pains to note that the
MOFA proposal was a GOJ proposal, and to differentiate it
from METI,s proposal for an OECD-like regional think tank.
They said METI,s proposal was for the ASEAN plus 6 region
and was meant to help the ASEAN secretariat with economic
policy issues. MOFA's proposal was aimed at creating a

TOKYO 00005943 002.2 OF 002


comprehensive and standard base of statistics that could be
used for policy formulation but could also be used by the
private sector and to foster regional integration.

7. (SBU) Asked why not house the network in APEC, Kusaka
noted that India was to be included in the statistics and it
was not an APEC member. In addition several APEC economies
did not have developed statistics or would not have a major
impact on regional statistics. However, Kusaka allowed that
after the trial period it would be possible to house the
initiative in APEC and/or to expand to other economies as the
members wanted. He also noted that in any case the
statistics gathered would be available for and useful to APEC.

8. (SBU) Canada said it welcomed the conference and planned
to attend. Other participants, except India and the ADB
representatives, asked several questions, with Australia
appearing the most forward leaning. Separately, MOFA
officials stressed the high importance they attached to
participation by the U.S.

9. (SBU) Separately, on October 10, MOFA DG for Economic
Affairs, Kaoru Ishikawa, underscored to EMIN the importance
the GOJ attaches to the initiative. He said he had hatched
the idea over lunch with Takeuchi and the mechanism would
fill a real void in the region. Responding to concerns
raised by EMIN, Ishikawa said he regretted the way APERM was
rolled out and the confusion created by what appeared to be a
similar, if not almost competing, initiative launched by METI
at about the same time. Ishikawa wanted APERM to be a "low
profile" undertaking, divorced as best as possible from
politics. The Kyoto conference and the APERM process, he
said, is intended to "awaken" countries in the region,
particularly China, to the importance of accurate,
transparent economic data to development and to help them
achieve such statistics.

10. (SBU) We understand that no one from Washington will be
attending the conference and, unless informed otherwise by
October 20, will so inform MOFA. Unless instructed
otherwise, embassy plans to keep the option of our attendance
open at this time.
SCHIEFFER

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