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Japan in a quandary over Mugabe

Japan was in a quandary over whether to invite President Robert Mugabe to the Tokyo International Conference on African Development or not after the United States insisted that Mugabe should not be invited while Southern African countries said they would not attend the conference if Mugabe was not welcome.

Japan’s deputy Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka told United States ambassador to Japan, J. Thomas Schieffer that Japan was in a difficult position because it had highlighted Africa as a theme for its G-8 presidency and hoped to fold the results of TICAD into its G-8 work.

According to the United States embassy, Japan also wanted to have more participating African countries than China did in its last Africa-related summit.

Asked if Mugabe’s presence would be a problem for the United States, Schieffer said it would. He told Yabunaka he hoped Japan could find a way not to involve Mugabe in the conference.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08TOKYO286, AMBASSADOR AND VFM YABUNAKA DISCUSS USS BLUE

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08TOKYO286

2008-02-04 09:30

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Tokyo

VZCZCXRO8621

RR RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNH

DE RUEHKO #0286/01 0350930

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 040930Z FEB 08

FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1481

INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1483

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 7546

RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE 0090

RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 8286

RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 9557

RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 5890

RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 6498

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 000286

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

USTR FOR AMB. SCHWAB AND AUSTR CUTLER

PLEASE PASS TO USDA FOR A/S TERPSTRA

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2018

TAGS: PREL EAGR OVIP MARR ZI JA

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND VFM YABUNAKA DISCUSS USS BLUE

RIDGE, MUGABE, SECRETARY’S VISIT, BEEF

 

Classified By: Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer for reasons 1.4 b/d.

 

Summary

——-

1. (C) In a February 1 one-on-one lunch, the Ambassador

thanked Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka for his

assistance with the USS Blue Ridge’s upcoming port call and

asked him to reconsider the presence of Zimbabwe’s President

Robert Mugabe at the fourth Tokyo International Conference on

African Development (TICAD IV). The Ambassador and Yabunaka

also discussed Secretary Rice’s February visit and the way

forward on resumption of U.S. beef exports to Japan. End

summary.

 

USS Blue Ridge’s Port Call in Otaru

———————————–

2. (C) The Ambassador thanked VFM Yabunaka for the Ministry

of Foreign Affairs’s (MOFA) assistance in getting a berth for

the USS Blue Ridge during its February 7 port call in Otaru

City, Hokkaido. Otaru’s mayor agreed February 7 to allow the

Seventh Fleet flagship to make the port call after MOFA

intervened and despite criticism from a local opposition Diet

member.

 

TICAD and Robert Mugabe

———————–

3. (C) The Ambassador told VFM Yabunaka the United States

continues to maintain that Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe

should not attend TICAD IV, which takes place May 28-30 in

Yokohama. Japan has already issued invitations to all

African countries except Somalia (with which it does not have

diplomatic relations) and Yabunaka stated several countries,

particularly those from southern Africa, had indicated they

would not attend TICAD IV if Mugabe is not welcome. That

puts Japan in a difficult position, he continued, because

Japan has highlighted Africa as a theme for its G-8

presidency and hopes to fold the results of TICAD IV into

this year’s G-8 work. (Note: Japan also wishes to have more

participating countries than China did in its last

Africa-related summit.)

 

4. (C) Asked if Mugabe’s presence would be a problem for the

United States, the Ambassador said it would. He told

Yabunaka he hopes Japan can find a way not to involve Mugabe

in the conference.

 

Secretary Rice’s Visit

 

SIPDIS

———————-

5. (C) Yabunaka said Secretary Rice’s February 26-27 visit

would coincide with the visit of Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud

Olmert, who will be in Japan February 24-28. Yabunaka also

noted a Palestinian visit to Japan will follow in March.

 

U.S. Beef Exports

—————–

6. (C) Yabunaka raised the issue of U.S. beef exports to

Japan, stating he hopes the United States would cooperate

with Japan on a proposal to admit products derived from

cattle under 30 months of age. The Ambassador replied

Washington is frustrated with the state of discussion on beef

and sees the 30-month proposal as promising little progress.

 

7. (C) The problem from the U.S. viewpoint, continued the

Ambassador, is the 30-month proposal does not resolve the

issue — it just prolongs the pain. If the 30-month proposal

were agreed to, the day after it went into effect the United

States would be asking Japan to allow exports of all cuts and

all ages of beef. Bilateral friction on the beef issue would

not be over.

 

8. (C) The Ambassador asked Yabunaka to focus on resolving

the beef issue in one shot and suggested he think along the

lines of the proposal PM Fukuda put forward in November.

Japan could think, for instance, about asking the Food Safety

Commission to consider simultaneously the questions of

30-months and under beef and the OIE standards for all cuts

and all ages at the same time. A single response that opened

the market to 30-month and under beef and set a date certain

for transition to the OIE standards (on the condition that no

BSE was detected during the specified period) might be more

amenable to Washington. But, the Ambassador stressed even

that was not certain because Washington is so frustrated over

 

TOKYO 00000286 002 OF 002

 

 

dealing with Japan on this issue.

 

9. (C) The Ambassador told Yabunaka he will be in Washington

during the week of February 4 and will discuss the beef issue

with USTR Schwab.

SCHIEFFER

 

(3 VIEWS)

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