[Wikileaks]Japan: AMBASSADOR’S DECEMBER 21 LUNCH MEETING WITH VICE

Viewing cable 09TOKYO2946, AMBASSADOR’S DECEMBER 21 LUNCH MEETING WITH VICE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TOKYO2946 2009-12-30 07:35 2011-05-04 00:00 SECRET Embassy Tokyo
VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKO #2946/01 3640735
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 300735Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8458
INFO RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 9121
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHKO/USDAO TOKYO JA PRIORITY
RHMFISS/USFJ  PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY

S E C R E T TOKYO 002946

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/J, DOD FOR OSD/APSA, PACOM FOR J00/J01/J5,
USFJ FOR J00/J01/J5

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/29/2019
TAGS: MARR PGOV PREL PINR JA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S DECEMBER 21 LUNCH MEETING WITH VICE
FOREIGN MINISTER YABUNAKA

Classified By: DCM James P. Zumwalt per reasons 1.5(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: The ROKG sees hints of movement from the
DPRK but that it will not offer any inducements to the DPRK
without meaningful action from the North Vice Foreign
Minister Mitoji Yabunaka told the Ambassador on December 21.
Foreign Minister Okada’s upcoming travel abroad will include
stops in Russia, Turkey, and Burma as well as a possible
January Washington trip. Yabunaka himself would plan to
travel to Washington in advance of an Okada visit. On Futenma
replacement and alliance management, Prime Minister Hatoyama
confirmed to Secretary Clinton in Copenhagen that the current
Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) plan would be the fallback
if no other alternatives are found. Yabunaka also expressed
his view that informal U.S.-Japan dialogue would be
preferable to a more formal structure during this time of
political transition and uncertainty. Yabunaka opined that
Prime Minister Hatoyama keeps his own counsel on some issues
and that reticence to express his own views with advisors can
create false impressions. Nonetheless, Yabunaka is optimistic
regarding the U.S.-Japan alliance, noting that public support
remains strong, adding that media outreach could be effective
in persuading and informing both the media and public.
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Chairman Ichiro Ozawa,s role
in policy formation remains unclear but Ozawa is well aware
of the impression that he wields great influence. Yabunaka
confirmed that Japan would deliver a strong message to Iran
during the visit of Supreme Council for National Security
Secretary General Seed Jalili. End Summary.

Yabunaka Travel to Korea
————————
¶2. (C) Yabunaka reported on his weekend trip to South Korea’s
Cheju Island for meetings with his ROKG counterpart. The
ROKG believes that there are hints of movement by the DPRK
but will not respond absent meaningful action from the DPRK
to address the nuclear issue. Yabunaka noted that this
stance was a change from the government of former President
Roh Moo-hyun, which Yabunaka suggested would have been more
forward-leaning in responding to hints of a thaw in progress
with the DPRK.

¶3. (C) Yabunaka said he had been frank with his ROK
counterpart in discussing the broader aspects of the
U.S.-Japan alliance, including the current domestic political
situation in Japan surrounding the new DPJ-led government,
political dynamics, and the debate over Futenma replacement
and the realignment road map. Yabunaka added that the ROK had
undergone similar domestic political turmoil in 2003 in the
transition from President Kim Dae-jung,s administration to
that of Roh. Yabunaka said the ROKG understood the
“”seriousness and the urgency”” presently surrounding
U.S.-Japan alliance management but stopped short of saying
the ROKG was “”concerned.””

Foreign Minister Travel
———————–
¶4. (C) Foreign Minister Okada will be traveling extensively
in late December and early January. He will travel to Russia,
Turkey, and Burma. He would like to meet with the Secretary
in January. Yabunaka proposed that he travel to Washington
himself the first week of January to meet with the Deputy
Secretary and prepare for Okada,s trip.

Hatoyama Confirms FRF as Fallback
———————————
¶5. (C) Yabunaka said Prime Minister Hatoyama confirmed to the
Secretary in Copenhagen that if the GOJ review of FRF
alternatives to Henoko did not yield viable proposals, the
GOJ would return to the 2006 FRF agreement. Recent newspaper
reports characterizing Hatoyama,s discussion with the
Secretary had been inaccurate, he stressed.

Informal Dialogue Preferable
—————————-
¶6. (C) Regarding the shape of U.S.-Japan consultations on
alliance issues over the coming months, Yabunaka suggested

that an informal dialogue would likely be preferable to a
more formal structure such as a two-plus-two. He noted that
informal meetings could allow political leaders on both sides
to reach basic understandings on key issues, review overall
security strategy in East Asia, and demonstrate the new
government,s seriousness on security matters. Given a
sometimes steep learning curve faced by some DPJ leaders on
the details and rationale behind U.S.-Japan security policy,
a formal structure could be more risky as the Hatoyama
administration and/or ruling coalition political leaders
could take positions based on incomplete or erroneous
understandings of alliance issues and options. An informal
process could be an opportunity to educate leaders over the
course of the next year, with an eye toward the President,s
November 2010 visit to Japan. The President,s visit would
be a opportunity to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the
alliance in a more positive atmosphere, having laid the
groundwork through close consultations during the course of
the year.

Assessing Hatoyama on Security Issues
————————————-
¶7. (C) Yabunaka noted that the Prime Minister,s advisors had
a variety of views but that their private advice to him
remained private. Hatoyama,s own views are sometimes
difficult to read. With the Prime Minister often offering
little in the way of comments that challenge a policy view or
analysis, Hatoyama advisors are sometimes left with the
impression that he has agreed or accepted a particular
position when, in fact, he has not. This tendency toward
reticence contributes to some ambiguity and confusion
regarding the Prime Minister,s views. Yabunaka said it
would be beneficial for the U.S. to go through the basic
fundamentals of security issues with the Prime Minister,
noting that engagement with China and others has its place,
but that the U.S. and Japan had to provide a foundation for
security as well. He added that it was important to impress
upon Hatoyama that strong U.S.-Japan relations did not have
an indefinite “”shelf life”” and that the Hatoyama
administration could not simply set the alliance aside in
favor of domestic politics without consequences. The
alliance needs continued care and nurturing.

Cause For Optimism
——————
¶8. (C) In terms of educating DPJ policymakers regarding the
importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, Yabunaka said that he
was optimistic, citing Foreign Minister Okada,s deeper
understanding of security issues since assuming office.
Moreover, recent public opinion polls indicated that 65
percent of the Japanese public supports the U.S.-Japan
alliance. Message and messenger were also important as well,
he added. For example, Secretary Gates, direct style in
addressing Futenma during his October visit had not played
well in Japan. On the other hand, President Obama is very
popular among Japanese, and that popularity could be
leveraged in promoting the alliance.

Media and Public Outreach
————————-
¶9. (C) Despite public support for the alliance in principle,
Yabunaka said that neither the general public nor some in the
media understand security issues very well. He added that
newspaper editorialists and the business community have a
reasonably good understanding of the issues but that
television commentators and politicians did not have as
strong a grasp of security issues. Efforts to educate the
latter group could be worthwhile, he added. In particular,
he cited the examples of several influential and popular
television commentators who might respond well to outreach.

Ozawa Role
———-
¶10. (C) Although DPJ Chairman Ozawa,s role in
decision-making by the Hatoyama government remains somewhat
unclear, Yabunaka said that Ozawa,s worldview is clear and
well-defined. The notion that Japan only obeyed the wishes

of the United States was deeply ingrained in Ozawa,s mind
Yabunaka said. Noting Ozawa,s recent trip to China along
with some 650 DPJ members, he said that Ozawa had been
disturbed that the trip had been cast as if he had been
“”paying tribute to China.”” Yabunaka said Ozawa,s inability
to foresee how such a trip would be portrayed in the media
reflected Ozawa,s occasional shortcomings in managing his
message. That said, Ozawa is aware of his perceived role as
the hidden power in the DPJ, reportedly telling PM Hatoyama
that if he were to become involved in the Futenma issue, the
media would portray Ozawa as dictating the DPJ position.

Iran
—-
¶11. (S) In response to a query from the DCM, Yabunaka
confirmed that Japan would deliver a strong message to
visiting Iranian Supreme Council for National Security
Secretary General Saeed Jalili that Iran should return to
negotiations and respond positively to the P5 plus 1
proposal. Yabunaka noted that Deputy Foreign Minister
Kenichiro Sasae had breakfast with Jalili that morning and
that he and Foreign Minister Okada would be delivering a
consistent, clear message to Iran that it must meet its
obligations. Yabunaka also said Japan would express its
willingness to host P5 plus 1 discussions with Iran if that
would facilitate progress.
ROOS

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