Cablegate: Japan Economic Scope for December 29, 2008

DE RUEHKO #3543/01 3660409
R 310409Z DEC 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Japan Economic Scope for December 29, 2008


1. (U) This cable contains the Japan Economic Scope from December 17
to 29, 2008

Foreign Relations

2. (U) Nippon Oil/Nippon Mining Merger
Nippon Oil and Nippon Mining Holdings, Japan's largest and 5th
largest oil companies, announced they have reached a basic agreement
to merge under a holding company. The firms plan to sign an
"Agreement on Management Integration" by March 2009 and establish
the holding company by October 2009 and core subsidiaries by April
2010. The subsidiaries will likely be organized to cover petroleum
refining and marketing, oil and natural gas exploration, and metals.
The merged entity is estimated to have 13.15 trillion yen in
combined sales, making the new Nippon Oil the world's eighth largest
energy company. Its estimated 33 percent domestic market share will
reportedly be nearly twice that of the nearest competitor,

3. (U) GOJ Attends Bali Democracy Forum Ministerial Meeting

Masahiko Koumura, former GOJ Minister for Foreign Affairs, attended
the Bali Democracy Forum Ministerial Meeting in Bali, as Special
Envoy of Prime Minister Taro Aso in early December. This Forum,
hosted by Indonesia, sought to promote and consolidate democracy in

4. (U) Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Holds
First Meeting

The Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement recently entered
into force at the first meeting of the Joint Committee in Tokyo.
Hirofumi Nakasone, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Koichi Hirata,
Senior Vice Minister of Finance, Tetsuro Nomura, Vice-Minister for
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Masaaki Taniai,
Parliamentary Secretary for Economy, Trade and Industry, represented
the GOJ. Alberto G. Romulo, Foreign Secretary, and Ralph Gonzalez
Recto, Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning, represented the GOP.
The Joint Committee adopted operational rules for trade in
commodities, rules of origin, and mutual recognition.

5. (U) Malawi's Foreign Minister Visits Japan

Malawi's Foreign Minister Joyce Banda visited Japan December 14.
Japan established its embassy in Lilongwe in January 2008 and has
been working to strengthen bilateral relations with the country.
Foreign Minister Banda also visited Oita Prefecture, which has a
close relationship with Malawi through the "One-Village-One-Product
Campaign." Japan continues to support economic development in
Malawi through assistance measures announced at this year's Tokyo
International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV).

6. (U) Japanese NGO Recognized for Mine Removal Work in Cambodia

A Japanese non-Governmental Organization (NGO) working to remove
landmines in Cambodia for the past ten years was selected to receive
the 10th Asia Human Rights Award. The Cambodia Mines-Removal
Campaign, based in Fukuoka City, is the first Japanese organization
to receive the award given to individuals or groups that have
contributed to improving human rights issues in Asia. Past
recipients include Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Established in 1998, the Cambodia Mines-Removal Campaign has
undertaken a range of activities to help remove landmines in
Cambodia, including donating artificial limbs and medications to
mine victims, and school construction.

7. (U) JICA to Support Victims of Human Trafficking

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will begin a $3
million, five-year program in January to support victims of
trafficking in persons (TIP) in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and
Vietnam. JICA plans to rescue women and children who have fallen
victim to human trafficking and protect them temporarily in shelters
and provide technical training to prepare for the return to their
original communities.

8. (U) JICA and ASEAN Leaders Discuss Mutual Cooperation and
Regional Issues

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Sadako Ogata
and Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN, discussed future

TOKYO 00003543 002 OF 002

cooperation between the two organizations and the latest regional
developments December 8 in Tokyo. They reviewed a recent agreement
between the two organizations to accelerate further ASEAN
integration, drawing on JICA's extensive development experience in
the region. A new ASEAN charter entered into force on December 14
when The ASEAN Secretariat is expected to play a larger role in
regional integration. Now that the ASEAN Chater has come into
effect earlier this month, Dr. Surin underlined his commitment to
help newer ASEAN members such as Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam
to narrow the development gap in the region and expressed his
expectations for JICA's close cooperation in this endeavor.

9. (U) Japan and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to
Implement $92m Climate Change Program in Africa

The GOJ and UNDP agreed to implement a $92.1 million program for
climate change adaptation in 21 African countries, under the
"Japan-UNDP Joint Framework for Building Partnership to Address
Climate Change in Africa," established at the Tokyo International
Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) in May. A total of $11
million will be allocated to joint programs with the United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Preparations for implementating the program are underway through
UNDP, in coordination with the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana,
Gabon, Cameroon, Kenya, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Nigeria,
Namibia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique, Morocco, and
Lesotho -- countries that established the Cool Earth Partnership
with Japan. The group is considering expanding the Cool Earth
Partnership to include six additional countries. The Joint
Framework includes introducing long-term planning mechanisms to
manage the effects of climate change; building leadership capacities
and institutional frameworks to manage climate change risks across
ministries and at the local and national levels; implementing
climate-resilient policies and measures in high-priority sectors;
and providing guidance on a financing framework to meet national
adaptation costs. Japan hopes this effort will help African
countries overcome their vulnerability to climate change and promote
their active engagement in developing an effective post-2012 climate
change framework.

10. (U) GOJ Extends Assistance for Palestine Refugees

The GOJ extended assistance of about $2.85 million to the United
Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near
East (UNRWA) to support the general fund, a universal scholarship
program, and a project to expand implementation of a maternal and
child health handbook.

11. (U) GOJ Extends Emergency Aid to Yemen for Flood Disaster

The GOJ extended emergency grant aid of about $800,000 through the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United
Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), to support the victims of the
recent serious flooding in Yemen. The GOJ provided about $180,000
in emergency relief goods to Yemen in late October.

12. (U) Japan-China-Korea Hold Trilateral Consultation on Foreign
Policy towards Africa

Japan, China, and Korea held trilateral policy consultations on
foreign policy towards Africa in Tokyo December 12. Officials from
the three countries discussed priorities on Africa policy, as well
as their economic relations and development cooperation with Africa,
and regional issues.


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