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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06OSAKAKOBE633 2006-11-07 07:38:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Consulate Osaka Kobe
Cable title:  

WAKAYAMA GOVERNOR RESIGNS OVER BID RIGGING

Tags:   ETRD ECON PGOV JA 
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VZCZCXRO1513
OO RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHOK #0633 3110738
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 070738Z NOV 06
FM AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0616
INFO RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 7786
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 0161
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA PRIORITY 2268
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 0149
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 0172
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0400
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1097
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0018
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0023
					  UNCLAS OSAKA KOBE 000633 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR E, EB, EAP/J
STATE PASS USTR FOR AUSTR CUTLER AND MBEEMAN
STATE PASS FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION FOR GENERAL
COUNSEL BLUMENTHAL
FTC ALSO FOR INTL ANTITRUST - TRITELL/SHANAHAN
JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION
NSC FOR TONG
USDOC FOR ITA/OFFICE OF JAPAN MELCHER
PARIS FOR USOECD

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON PGOV JA
SUBJECT: WAKAYAMA GOVERNOR RESIGNS OVER BID RIGGING

REF:
1) Osaka Kobe 00588



1. (U) On November 6, the unfolding public works bid
rigging case in Wakayama finally claimed the political
career of its most prominent target: Governor Yoshiki
Kimura. The final straw for Governor Kimura, who until
his surprise announcement insisted he would not step
down over the widening probe into his administration,
appears to have been when ruling party LDP lawmakers
threatened to submit a no-confidence motion in the
Prefectural Assembly. Kimura's close advisor, Wakayama
Treasurer Satoaki Mizutani, is already under arrest for
his involvement in the case. Kimura will remain in
office until December 2. The by-election will be held
on December 17, ahead of a 50-day clock set by statute.



2. (SBU) Halfway through his second four-year
gubernatorial term, Kimura has consistently emphasized
the need for strong ties to the U.S., capitalizing on
the Wakayama-Florida sister state relationship to forge
personal ties with Governor Jeb Bush while his outgoing
and English-fluent wife conducted two "first lady
exchanges" with Mrs. Bush. Mrs. Kimura most recently
traveled with Mrs. Bush to Rome in July. He personally
greeted commanding officers of U.S. Navy ships making
port calls on Wakayama, and this year he established
the Japan-America Society of Wakayama.



3. (SBU) The 54-year old Osaka native is an outsider to
Wakayama, where political interlocutors say his reforms
of Wakayama's important forestry industry and other
measures ran into opposition by vested interests in
this politically and socially conservative corner of
the Kansai district. Wakayama, although relatively
poor, is home to two influential LDP politicians: ex-
METI Minister Toshihiro Nikai, and Prime Minister Abe's
Public Relations Special Advisor Hiroshige Seko. Media
contacts assert to poloff that Kimura's troubles really
started after he fell out of grace with Nikai, sometime
prior to his first reelection bid. Insiders claim the
LDP's tardy support for the incumbent governor's
campaign is evidence of Nikai's displeasure with
Kimura, possibly over the extent of his reforms.
(Nikai's brother and personal secretary once related to
poloff that the politician would rather keep
mountainous and isolated Wakayama's road system
primitive than allow outsiders to shake up the
electoral politics of the prefecture.)



4. (SBU) Once the LDP came around for his reelection,
Kimura ran with the broad support of all mainstream
parties, winning handily. Although it is still too
early to identify candidates, it is almost certain that
a conservative successor close to either Nikai or Seko
will soon emerge. We do not expect this scandal or the
by-election to affect national politics.

RUSSEL