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Cablegate: Dasd Wilkes Delivers Afghan Options to Japan


DE RUEHKO #1983/01 1990415
O 170415Z JUL 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L TOKYO 001983



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2018

Classified By: CDA James Zumwalt; Reasons: 1.4 (b/d)

1. (C/NF) Summary: Japanese officials and politicians
indicated a willingness to consider substantial new financial
and personnel contributions to Afghanistan in response to an
updated set of Afghan options presented on July 15-16 by DASD
for Central Asia Bobby Wilkes. DASD Wilkes' Japanese
interlocutors said that Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda would
make the final decision on the proposed package of Afghan
contributions, which included aerial logistics, a medical
network, and support for Afghan security forces, but
cautioned that prospects for a new Self-Defense Force (SDF)
mission appear increasingly dim given domestic political
turmoil. Ministry of Defense (MOD) Defense Policy Bureau
Director General Nobushige Takamizawa urged the U.S. to take
a longer view of possible Japanese military roles, suggesting
that Japanese forces should begin preparations for a more
robust operation in the 2010-2011 timeframe. Off-line, MOFA
officials expressed frustration over the political
leadership's equivocations over dispatching SDF personnel and
urged the President to call the Prime Minister to reinforce
the importance of Japan making a ""substantial"" contribution
to coalition efforts in Afghanistan. Representatives from
ISAF Embassies offered to support follow-on engagement with
the Japanese government, noting that bilateral approaches on
Afghanistan had thus far not been effective. End Summary.

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2. (C/REL ISAF) DASD for Central Asia Bobby Wilkes met July
15-16 with senior officials from Japan's Cabinet Secretariat,
MOFA, MOD, and ruling and opposition parties to press Japan
to implement a package of measures to support coalition
stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
Wilkes noted that the package of initiatives was compiled in
response to Prime Minister Fukuda's assertion to the
President on July 6 that the dispatch of CH-47s or a full PRT
would be impossible in the current political environment.
While the U.S. judged that these two missions would qualify
as ""substantive"" in terms of their benefits to ISAF and the
Afghan people, the U.S. would also accept a package of
smaller contributions that would, taken together, offer
similar benefits.

Option B

3. (C/NF) In each of his meetings, Wilkes outlined what the
U.S. would expect in terms of a package of new Afghan
contributions: 1) dedicated airlift by C-130s, and possibly
1-2 CH-47s, for country-wide logistics or direct support to
the Lithuanian PRT in RC-West; 2) dispatch of civilian or
military experts to PRTs run by a third country 3) a medical
a network consisting of a 40-45 bed hospital and set of 10-15
bed satellite clinics; 4) USD 200 million contribution for
Afghan elections in 2009 and 2010; and 5) USD 20 billion for
the expansion of Afghan security forces and judicial
structures. In addition to these specific contributions,
Wilkes noted the importance of Japan's leaders committing
themselves and the Japanese people to the mission of aiding
Afghanistan and its people.

4. (C/NF) Deputy Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai told DASD
Wilkes that Japan clearly understood from the President's
July 6 conversation with Prime Minister Fukuda that Japan
needs to do more in Afghanistan. He asserted that, in the
near term, Japan faces significant operational, legal, and
political hurdles to undertaking a military operation. Kawai
thanked the U.S. government for compiling a new package and
offered Japan's ""best efforts"" to provide a positive
response. He noted, however, that time was short given the
need to submit new legislation to authorize the dispatch of
SDF personnel. Since the government intends to submit
legislation to extend Japan's maritime refueling mission by
the end of August, Tokyo will need to decide within the
coming week whether it will need to expand the current draft
bill to include a ground mission in Afghanistan. MOFA
officials said that Japan will try to formally respond to the
U.S. proposal in 1-3 weeks.

SDF Role: Getting Cold Feet?

5. (C/NF) Off-line, MOFA Foreign Policy Bureau Deputy
Director General Kazuyoshi Umemoto told the Embassy that the
Prime Minister has been briefed on the C-130 operations
proposed by DASD Wilkes but has not yet indicated the
direction of his thinking on the matter. Umemoto assessed,
however, that short of a strong personal appeal from the
President early in the week of July 21, it is likely that the
Prime Minister will decide against taking the domestic
political risk that the mission would entail. Umemoto
bemoaned that Japan's political leaders badly miscalculated
by signaling to the United States that they would send SDF
forces without adequately preparing themselves to sell the
concept to coalition leaders focused almost exclusively on
upcoming elections.

6. (C/REL ISAF) Umemoto's negative assessment over a
near-term SDF deployment was echoed in virtually all of DASD
Wilkes' meetings. MOD Defense Policy Bureau DG Takamizawa
urged the U.S. to take a longer view of Japan's potential
military contributions. Takamizawa claimed that he was
surprised by how unprepared for performing expeditionary the
SDF is, citing a range of upgrades needed for Japan's C-130s
and CH-47s to be fully capable of operating in Afghanistan.
Rather than pressing for a near-term small-scale SDF dispatch
in the current difficult political environment, Takamizawa
said that it would be better to prepare the SDF for a more
robust mission in the 2010-2011 timeframe. Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP) Acting Security Affairs Council
Chairman Yasukazu Hamada told Wilkes that he ""hates giving
excuses why Japan can not do what it should do in the world,""
but stated that it is more practical to prepare for a major
mission in the medium term rather than expecting the ruling
coalition to risk a showdown with the opposition over a new
ground mission in the coming 12 months.

Interest in Other Options

7. (C/REL ISAF) Most of DASD Wilkes' interlocutors suggested
that the U.S. and Japan shift their focus to those elements
of the package that do not require new legislative authority,
such as sending civilian experts to PRTs or providing
additional economic assistance. MOFA Aid Policy Division
Director Naoki Ito noted that Japan has long experience in
assisting in the development of health care structures along
the lines of what was proposed in the latest U.S. package.
LDP Acting Foreign Affairs Council Chairman Seishiro Eto
suggested that Japan go further than simply building one set
of medical facilities and take complete responsibility for
standing-up Afghanistan's health care system nation-wide.
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Vice President Seiji Maehara
said that Japan should also consider sending irrigation
experts to PRTs around Afghanistan to assist
crop-substitution efforts in support of ISAF's
counter-narcotics mission.

8. (C/REL ISAF) During a July 16 inter-agency session to
review the latest U.S. proposal, Japanese officials sought
specific details on what role Japanese experts could play in
various PRTs around Afghanistan beyond the work already being
done by 70 Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
personnel working in the Kabul region. MOD's Takamizawa
noted that the SDF may be able to send subject matter experts
to PRTs without legislation, if they were seconded to MOFA
and dispatched under diplomatic status. MOFA National
Security Division Deputy Director Shingo Miyamoto suggested
the possibility of Japan chartering private airlift assets to
support third-country PRT operations or nation-wide air
support if Tokyo is unable to send its own C-130s for
political reasons.

9. (C/NF) Japanese officials also expressed interest in the
details of the proposed five-year USD 20 billion Japanese
contribution to support Afghan stability operations. MOFA
International Cooperation Bureau officials noted that Japan
has self-imposed limits on its ability to provide financial
assistance to foreign militaries, although they are able to
provide non-lethal support to police activities. MOFA North
American Affairs DG Shunichi Nishimiya was more positive,
noting that Japan has gradually expanded its interpretation
of what can be providing to support security operations. ""If
there is anywhere in the world where we will be able to find
creative ways to go even further,"" he added, ""it is
Afghanistan."" The LDP's Eto said he fully understood
Washington's request for a major new funding commitment to
Afghanistan. He added that since Japan is unable to provide
financial support to the Six-Party Process on North Korea due
to the abduction issue, it is only natural for it to make
significant additional contributions to Afghanistan.

Coalition Support

10. (C/NF) During a set of meetings with diplomats and
attaches from ISAF member embassies, there was general
agreement that a coordinated approach to Japan on Afghanistan
will have a greater chance of success than previous bilateral
interventions. New Zealand Defense Attache Capt. John
Campbell said that his country has offered Japan training for
participating in PRT operations. This could help Japan
respond to the U.S. request for a Japanese presence on the
ground. Canadian Political Counselor Karen MacArthur
commented that a U.S. briefing for Washington-based ISAF
diplomats would help the Tokyo-based diplomatic corps raise
the profile of Japan's potential as an Afghan partner back in
their capitals. DASD Wilkes suggested follow-on meetings
with ISAF diplomats in both Washington and Tokyo to
coordinate coalition messages to the Japanese government and

Comment: Avoiding Risk has its Price

11. (C/NF) Prime Minister Fukuda has yet to show his hand,
but the clear message conveyed during DASD Wilkes visit was
that the political will to risk a new military operation in
Afghanistan is waning. That said, Japanese officials and
politicians seem fully aware that they cannot simply walk
away from Afghanistan after raising U.S. expectations at such
high levels without seriously damaging the Alliance. This
sense of obligation offers important leverage for gaining
near-term commitments to major new financial and civilian
contributions for Afghan development and security programs.
In addition, the U.S. should keep up pressure on Japan to
immediately enhance the expeditionary capabilities of the SDF
so that there will be more options on the table when the
domestic political environment improves. Enlisting ISAF
coalition partners will also be helpful in pushing the
Japanese government towards more robust contributions and
raising awareness of the situation in Afghanistan among the
Japanese public and political leadership.

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