Cablegate: Frf: Senior Dpj Leader Says ""No Deal"" This Year

DE RUEHKO #2815/01 3430856
O 090856Z DEC 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TOKYO 002815


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/09/2019

Classified By: DCM James P. Zumwalt per 1.4 (b/d)

1. (C) Summary: DPJ Diet Affairs Chair Kenji Yamaoka (a
close confidante of DPJ Secretary General Ozawa) told Embassy
Tokyo December 8 that the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF)
decision was ""all about managing the Diet."" Until two weeks
ago, he thought the Japanese government would agree to an FRF
deal by the end of the year. However the PM moved too slowly
and now a decision within the year is no longer possible due
to coalition partner intransigence. He said that after the
Upper House elections next summer, the Socialist Democratic
Party (SDP) and People's New Party (PNP) would no longer be
needed in the coalition, and at that point the government
would implement the deal. Yamaoka advised the United States
to be patient. In the meantime, he promised he would pass
the necessary FRF-related budget items so that Japan could
reserve its position on realignment. The DCM pressed for an
expeditious decision, but Yamaoka dismissed our arguments on
the need to move forward this year saying that the decision
had already been made and ""only FM Okada"" was still arguing
for an agreement this year. He acknowledged that this would
present difficulties for PM Hatoyama's relationship with
President Obama and criticized the PM as a ""poor
communicator."" When asked about Okinawa politics, Yamaoka
said that Governor Nakaima would go ahead and sign the
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but that he could not
win the governor's race next year. In summer 2010, the
Japanese Government would move forward with the FRF plan, and
the new Okinawa governor would have to accept the ""done deal""
of the realignment package. End Summary.

2. (C) In a December 8 meeting with DCM Zumwalt and Poloff,
DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Yamaoka frankly shared
his views on Japan's political situation and issues
surrounding FRF. Yamaoka explained that there were
precedents that PMs had to resign in order to pass the
budget. If the DPJ's coalition partners left the government
over the FRF issue, then the DPJ would lose its Upper House
majority and be unable to pass budget-related bills; Hatoyama
might thus have to resign. Hatoyama's political donation
problem is likely to reach a critical point from the end of
this year to early next year, and Hatoyama is likely to be
attacked in the ordinary Diet session. As the Diet Affairs
Committee Chair, Yamaoka said he would try to delay the
opening of the session as long as possible in order to
deprive the LDP of time to attack Hatoyama's scandals. That
means deliberation of key Diet bills, including the
supplementary budget and regular budget, will be pushed back
and the DPJ will be pressed to handle them all quickly. To
manage this process, the party needs its coalition partners
in the Upper House. Since the UH election will be held in
July, the session cannot be extended. The supplementary
budget and the regular budget have to pass before the UH
election, and key budget items, such as child allowances and
agricultural subsidies must be implemented as well.
Therefore Diet management in the next session was critical to
Hatoyama's success, Yamaoka explained.

3. (C) If the SDP continues to threaten to leave the
coalition, the PNP may threaten to do the same to ""increase
its profile,"" Yamaoka continued. The PNP hopes to hold the
casting vote once the SDP is gone, and that means the PNP
will become increasingly vocal about the FRF issue. Yamaoka
explained that the most important issue for the SDP was
Okinawa, for the PNP was the postal issue, and for DPJ SecGen
Ozawa was Diet reform. In order to position themselves
favorably, all three parties will use whatever political
cards they have. If the United States continues to pressure
Hatoyama on the Futenma issue, the Hatoyama Cabinet could
possibly collapse. If the SDP leaves the coalition, Diet
management for the DPJ would be extremely difficult. FM
Okada and MLIT Minister Maehara have no experience in Diet
management, and they cannot be where they are now without
being supported by the ""ship called a coalition."" They do
not understand the politics of the Diet affairs. If they
could put themselves in the PM's position, their judgment
would be different, said Yamaoka. In his view, it is better
for the United States to wait for the political situation to
calm down until after the budget passes and the DPJ's victory
in the July 2010 UH election. If the United States continues
to apply pressure, reiterated Yamaoka, the situation could
further deteriorate. Yamaoka said that haste makes waste,

TOKYO 00002815 002 OF 003

and stated that waiting, in the end, is the best way to
ensure the plan's implantation. Once the DPJ wins the UH
election, the FRF issue can be solved said Yamaoka. Yamaoka
has been discussing the FRF issue with the PM and Chief
Cabinet Secretary Hirano and advising them on the Diet
situation. Yamaoka told the PM if he could meet with the
President in Copenhagen, he should fully explain the current
political/Diet situation and gain his understanding.

4. (C) The DCM underlined the need for an expeditious
decision, particularly in light of local Okinawan politics
and our own budget process. Yamaoka said that a decision had
already been made; the only issue that remained was how to
explain to the United States that, by earmarking FRF-related
funds in the budget, Japan was making a de facto commitment
to move forward with the FRF plan as currently envisioned.
Yamaoka made it clear that Hatoyama was not planning to
commit political suicide in order to implement the FRF this
year. FM Okada may think it's okay for Hatoyama to quit if
the FRF deal could be pushed forward, but Hatoyama does not
think so. The more that Okada -- who may think he can
replace Hatoyama -- presses the PM, the more Hatoyama will
consider the political situation and how best to protect his
position. He will not give up the prime ministership for
Futenma, Yamaoka said.

5. (C) That said, Yamaoka repeated that he told Defense
Minister Kitazawa to make sure to earmark the FRF and Guam
expenses in the regular budget. Yamaoka said that as the
manager of the Diet business, he would make sure these
government requests passed. Yamaoka hoped that the United
States would implicitly understand that earmarking meant that
the plan would be implemented eventually. Yamaoka also
stated that relevant Cabinet members were being called to the
Kantei not to be told that a decision on the implementation
of the current plan would be made in December, but to be told
that the implementation would not be announced before the end
of the year, although the budget would be earmarked.
According to Yamaoka, PM told this to Okinawa Governor
Nakaima as well; for his part, Nakaima has been pressuring
the PM to move forward with the current plan for the sake of
his own political position, Yamaoka said.

6. (C) On Okinawa politics, Yamaoka said that Okinawa would
oppose base issues whenever they are discussed. ""It's all
about opposing for its own sake,"" Yamaoka stated. The
Okinawa gubernatorial election will be held next fall and
incumbent governor Nakaima will lose for sure. Once the new
governor is elected, the FRF issue could hit a real wall, so
the GOJ needed to resolve it before then. If the base
decision were a fait accompli, then the new governor would be
forced to accept that decision. Nakaima knows that he has to
stick the current plan and that's the only way for him to
have a chance to survive politically. As for the Nago
mayoral election, regardless of the outcome, the government
must stick to its plan to implement the realignment
agreement. If Okinawa's will is respected, ""nothing will
ever happen."" The issue of Okinawa politics, therefore, is
not a big deal as long as the government's decision is made
before the gubernatorial race.

7. (C) On PM Hatoyama's ""trust me"" statement, Yamaoka
explained that PM meant to say that he would surely move
forward with FRF ""at some point."" Yamaoka expressed his
understanding that the United States took this to mean that
the PM would make a decision within this year, and that
President Obama had ""lost face."" Yamaoka believed that
Hatoyama exercised the wrong political judgment. In
Yamaoka's view, Hatoyama should have clearly promised
President Obama when they met that his government would
implement the current plan. Yamaoka revealed that around
that time, the SDP was under a great deal of political
pressure, as Yamaoka had told them that once out of the
coalition, the SDP would vanish as a political party in the
upcoming election. SDP president Fukushima seriously
considered accepting the DPJ's position; however, when PM and
others moved slowly on FRF, the SDP took the initiative by
holding an anti-base rally in Okinawa. This created the
political momentum for the anti-base elements in the SDP to
oppose the Futenma relocation even if it meant putting the
coalition at risk. Yamaoka critically said that the PM's
lack of leadership and determination led to the current mess.

TOKYO 00002815 003 OF 003

He lost the opportunity to make a political decision by
moving too slowly, Yamaoka said.

8. (C) In Yamaoka's view, the best way to break through the
current stalemate is for Washington to understand the current
political situation in Japan and to tell Japan what it would
like to do in search of mutually acceptable ""next best way.""
If PM Hatoyama cannot meet President Obama on the matter,
Yamaoka thought that Japan should send a special envoy to
deliver the message and seek U.S. understanding. He thought
a phone conversation between PM Hatoyama and President Obama
would not be sufficient, as their ""true feelings"" would not
be adequately communicated by telephone.

9. (C) Yamaoka added that even if the current plan were
implemented, the Japanese public would not necessarily be
favorable towards U.S.-Japan relations, as the media and
other ""agitators"" would focus on the issue of the coral reef
and environmental destruction caused by the landfill. The
negative image could shake the DPJ government.
Implementation of the current plan meant reduction of the
burden on Okinawa, but politically it could be viewed
negatively. In order to avoid such a situation, Yamaoka said
it was critical to discuss the future direction of the
alliance and make the FRF/Henoko issue as but one of many
issues in the alliance. In doing so, it is also important to
explain to the Japanese public that it is the time for Japan
to reduce its dependence on the United States and try to
assume a greater defense burden.

10. (C) On the DPJ's position on the future of the alliance,
Yamaoka explained it had three stages. First, the DPJ should
make it clear to the United States that it intends to bear
much more responsibility in the alliance. Second, the United
States should explain what kind of roles it expected from
Japan within its global strategy. Third, Japan should then
decide its direction and what it can do. The process may
take some time, but Yamaoka said that was what Ozawa wanted
to do. Japan needed to continue to stay under the U.S.
nuclear umbrella and needs to bear more of a burden. The
current public feeling between Japan and the United States is
that while Americans feel overburdened, the Japanese public
feels negative about foreign military forces stationed in
Japan. Yamaoka understood that Japan was very ""spoiled"" and
dependent on the United States and was taking U.S. protection
for granted. Some Japanese think that Japan's security is
none of their business, and therefore, no bases were needed.
Once the UH election is over, Yamaoka thinks the DPJ can
remove the SDP and the PNP from the coalition. The DPJ will
have three years before another national election, and within
the three years, the DPJ should be able to step up
discussions on how to advance the alliance from the post-war
relationship to future-oriented relationship without any

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