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Cablegate: Charge Talks Beef, Self Sufficiency and Wto With

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKO #2361 2410654
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280654Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6859
INFO RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1071
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3395

UNCLAS TOKYO 002361

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

SECSTATE PASS TO USDA/FAS/ONA, OSTA
SECSTATE PASS TO USTR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD ECON JA
SUBJECT: CHARGE TALKS BEEF, SELF SUFFICIENCY AND WTO WITH
SENIOR DIET MEMBER

1. (U) Summary: Charge D'Affaires Zumwalt met on August 27
with Mr. Yoshio Yatsu, a senior Diet Member in the House of
Representatives and key member of the agricultural caucus.
Mr. Yatsu reiterated the GOJ position on beef and conveyed
his view that the WTO discussions must resume quickly in
order to reach an agreement. He also revealed that
agricultural policy is going to incorporate new measures to
encourage domestic production. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Mr. Yatsu said that it is up the United States to
make the next move on the beef discussions. Japan's position
of moving first to a less-than-30 months (LTTM) protocol
remains firm, even more so following the outcome in South
Korea. He noted that the GOJ and he himself followed those
events well and see the result as a precedent. He was
confident that Japanese consumers would accept a LTTM
agreement and that it would also be accepted by the Food
Safety Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture.

3. (SBU) Regarding the Food Safety Commission (FSC), Yatsu
confirmed that he intervened to make a strong case to the
Prime Minister's Office to keep the FSC outside of the new
Consumer Agency. As one of the founders of the FSC, Yatsu
firmly believes that it needs to remain as independent as
possible.

4. (SBU) Turning to preparations of the JFY09 budget, Yatsu
said that that the GOJ is placing its emphasis on increasing
Japan's food self sufficiency and the budget will be there to
support it. While Yatsu acknowledged the important role the
United States plays as Japan's key supplier, there is concern
about the future availability of non-biotech crops, soybeans
in particular. Despite the GOJ's efforts, the Japanese
people are still skeptical of biotech foods. Regardless of
whether that is right, the Diet must respond. In addition,
rising feed prices have hit Japanese livestock producers
hard. The GOJ is looking for ways to encourage the use of
domestically grown feeds, primarily rice and/or rice straw,
as feed. (Comment: No doubt this will take considerable
government intervention to be price competitive. End Comment.)

5. (SBU) Reflecting his role as one of the GOJ's top WTO
agriculture negotiators at the last round of meetings, Yatsu
lamented that the last two points on agriculture, special
safeguards and sensitive items, could not be resolved among
the key countries. Yatsu explained the strategic and
economic importance of the sugar industry to Japan and the
fear that under the proposed Doha round text that Japan would
lose its protection for sugar. He will travel to Geneva for
a meeting with WTO Commissioner Falconer on September 1 in an
effort to ensure that the talks will resume imminently and to
clarify what the starting point of a new round of
negotiations would be.
End.
ZUMWALT

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