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Cablegate: Ldp Interest in Aid to India Surprisingly High,

VZCZCXRO5086
RR RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #6839/01 3380851
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040851Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8852
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5087
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0627
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0647
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1931
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0558
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 8202
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 5150
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1185
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 9067
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 8631
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 1553
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 2497
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 0104

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 006839

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AID FOR AID/PPC/MENARCHIK AND AID/ANE/WARD
PARIS FOR USOECD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON JA PGOV IN
SUBJECT: LDP INTEREST IN AID TO INDIA SURPRISINGLY HIGH,
SAYS ACADEMIC

REF: A. TOKYO 5574

B. TOKYO 6271

Summary
-------
1. (SBU) After a recent lecture on trends in Overseas
Development Assistance (ODA), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
lawmakers peppered Takushoku University President Toshio
Watanabe with questions about how to use aid to turn India
into a counterweight to China, Watanabe told Econoff in a
November 28 meeting. Watanabe said the level of interest
caught him by surprise given ODA's limited domestic
constituency; he attributed the change to China's continuing
rise and increased worries about North Korea. He also
indicated that reform to the GOJ's ODA structure have
"paused" pending decisions on new structures from PM Abe.
Biographical notes on Watanabe, an advisor on ODA to the
foreign minister, follow. End summary.

LDP Interest in ODA, India, and China
-------------------------------------
2. (SBU) Members of a Liberal Democratic Party committee on
ODA are showing surprisingly high interest in Japan and
India's aid relationship, Takushoku University President
Toshio Watanabe told Econoff November 28. Watanabe, who sits
on a committee that advises Foreign Minister Taro Aso on
development aid affairs and ODA restructuring, lectured to
the LDP group during the week of November 20.

3. (SBU) Japanese politicians have traditionally had little
interest in ODA as an issue because it does not resonate with
the average voter, according to Watanabe. That lack of a
domestic constituency, combined with a multi-year trend of
declining support for ODA among the public, is why he counts
only three LDP politicians among those who have made ODA one
of their special interests.

4. (SBU) Watanabe stated that he was therefore surprised
when, at the end of his 40-minute lecture, he was peppered
with questions about Japan's aid relationship with India.
Specifically, he said, lawmakers stated that Japan "must find
a way to cooperate with India" and asked him how aid could be
used in the effort to turn India into a counterweight to
China. Watanabe speculated that China's continued rise,
along with recent events in North Korea, were behind the
increased interest in relations with India. (Comment: It is
worth noting that Watanabe did not list India's status as the
largest bilateral recipient of Japanese foreign aid since
2003 -- this year consisting of about $1.3 billion in soft
loans -- as a reason, nor has that apparently been sufficient
for the lawmakers to show this level of interest in the past.
See ref A for more detail.)

Pause in ODA Re-Structuring with Government Change
--------------------------------------------- -----
5. (SBU) With the regard to the aid restructuring effort
occurring in the GOJ (ref B), Watanabe stated that the
changes started during the Koizumi administration have
"paused" since Shinzo Abe became prime minister, pending some
decisions by PM Abe. He identified internal disagreements
over the creation of a new ODA advisory panel (primarily over
whether the group would report to the ministerial-level
coordinating council or sit in the Ministry of Foreign
Affair's new International Cooperation Bureau) as the root of
the problem. He downplayed the importance of the
disagreements, however, stating he believed they would be
resolved in the near future.

Biographical Notes
------------------
6. (SBU) Watanabe is President of Takushoku University and
an academic expert on Japanese ODA. He has participated for
the past three to four years on a committee advising the
foreign minister on restructuring Japanese ODA and serves as
the committee's chairman in the foreign minister's absence.

TOKYO 00006839 002 OF 002


He described many of the current changes in Japanese ODA
structure as initiatives he has been advocating for years.
Open and engaging, he is originally from Yamanashi
prefecture. He has travelled to the United States, but
stated that his generation (he was born in 1939) did not have
the opportunity the current generation does to study in
America. He looks young for his age, dresses casually, and
does not appear protocol conscious. He keeps English
language materials in his office and uses English words
liberally, but preferred to conduct this meeting in Japanese.

SCHIEFFER

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