Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09TOKYO608
2009-03-19 02:56:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tokyo
Cable title:  

JAPANESE OFFICIAL'S PERSPECTIVES ON IRAQ TRADE

Tags:  ETRD PREL JA IR IZ 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO3390
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHKO #0608/01 0780256
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 190256Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1601
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 000608 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2014
TAGS: ETRD PREL JA IR IZ
SUBJECT: JAPANESE OFFICIAL'S PERSPECTIVES ON IRAQ TRADE
MISSION, IRAN TRADE SITUATION

REF: A. TOKYO 247

B. BAGHDAD 152

C. 08 AMMAN 2459

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES JAMES ZUMWALT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b),(d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 000608

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2014
TAGS: ETRD PREL JA IR IZ
SUBJECT: JAPANESE OFFICIAL'S PERSPECTIVES ON IRAQ TRADE
MISSION, IRAN TRADE SITUATION

REF: A. TOKYO 247

B. BAGHDAD 152

C. 08 AMMAN 2459

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES JAMES ZUMWALT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b),(d)


1. (C) SUMMARY: A 16-member delegation of senior officials
from 12 Japanese companies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MOFA),and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
(METI) met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Oil
Minister Husayn al-Shahristani and several other high-level
Iraqi officials in Baghdad during a day-long trade mission
March 1. A METI official who was with the delegation reports
the Japanese side was impressed by Maliki's personal
knowledge of several projects and the Japanese official noted
a marked improvement in the security situation compared to a
previous trip in September. However, the METI official said
MOFA's continued high-threat assessment for Iraq prohibits
Japanese companies from dispatching personnel to the country
and limits broader Japanese business interest outside the oil
and gas sector. That said, other GOJ officials report
increasing interest in doing business in Iraq and in
stationing people in country. END SUMMARY.

--------------
READ-OUT OF JAPANESE BUSINESS DELEGATION
--------------


2. (C) METI Trade Bureau Iraq and Iran Desk Officer Kenichi
Shoji said the delegation, which was headed by MOFA
Ambassador in Charge of Reconstruction Assistance to Iraq
Gotaro Ogawa with METI Middle East Trade Director Mitsuhiro
Mori, included senior executives from several Japanese oil
companies and general trading companies. The mission was the
first such delegation since the declaration of a Japan-Iraq
Comprehensive Partnership during former Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe's visit to Baghdad in January 2009 (ref A). METI has not
disclosed the names of the Japanese firms, however Shoji said
the delegation included named trading companies Mitsubishi
and Toyota Tsusho. (COMMENT: Mitsubishi is reportedly in
talks with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and Royal Dutch Shell to
acquire a stake in a natural gas project near Basra. Other
Japanese trading companies with current interests in Iraq
include Marubeni and Kawasaki, which reportedly have entered
into joint ventures in the fertilizer and cement industries,

respectively (ref B). END COMMENT.) Shoji said the 12 firms
self-selected after METI sent a message to the Keidanren
(Japan Business Federation) inviting companies to join the
delegation. Shoji noted the delegation members included
executive-level company representatives in part because
Japanese labor unions prevent the dispatch of working level
employees to regions MOFA has designated at the highest
threat level; executive-level employees are not subject to
such restrictions.


3. (C) Following a briefing at the Japanese Embassy in
Baghdad, the delegation met with Iraqi Vice President Tariq
al-Hashimi and had an hour-long courtesy call with Prime
Minister Maliki. Shoji said he was surprised by Maliki's
level of knowledge of Japanese companies and their investment
potential. Shoji also said the GOJ was pleased the Iraqis
were able to arrange a meeting with Maliki, since former
Prime Minister Abe had not been able to meet him during his
visit to Baghdad in January. Maliki also called for a second
Japan-Iraq investment forum to take place at the Baghdad
International Airport in the near future. Shoji said the
date for such a forum has not been determined, but he
speculated it may occur as soon as summer 2009. (Note: the
first Japan-Iraq Investment Forum took place in Amman, Jordan
in July 2008 - ref C).


4. (C) Following the call on Maliki, the delegation had a
roundtable discussion and lunch chaired by Deputy Prime
Minister Barham Salih that included Oil Minister Shahristani,
Advisor on Oil and Energy to the Prime Minister Thamir
Ghadhban, Communications Minister Faruq Abd al-Rahman, and
Transportation Minister Amir Ismail. Shoji said the meetings
included a general exchange of views on investment
opportunities in the oil, transportation and
telecommunications sectors, however because the delegation
included several competing Japanese companies, it did not
focus on specific corporate investments. Shoji said future
business missions' itineraries may need to be expanded by at
least a few days to facilitate more specific discussion of

TOKYO 00000608 002 OF 002


potential investments. Shoji also noted the delegation did
not include representatives from major project finance
institutions, such as the Japan Bank for International
Cooperation (JBIC) or Nippon Export and Investment Insurance
(NEXI),explaining that security and logistical
considerations limited the delegation's size. (NOTE: Post
will report septel on JBIC initiatives to finance Japanese
investment in Iraq's oil sector. END NOTE.)


5. (C) Shoji said security remains the biggest impediment to
broader Japanese business engagement in Iraq. He noted
transportation and security arrangements for the delegation's
visit were handled by the U.S. military or private
contractors. Nevertheless, the security, Shoji noted, had
improved since his previous travel to Baghdad in September
2008, and he commented the Iraqi military appeared to be
performing several security functions previously handled by
the U.S. military, such as security along the road leading
from Baghdad International Airport to the international zone.
Other Japanese officials have also noted in recent meetings
that security in Iraq has significantly increased yielding a
greater interest in doing business there on the part of
Japanese companies.

--------------
BRIEF PERSPECTIVES ON IRAN
--------------


6. (C) Shoji, who had also just returned from a separate
trip to Iran, provided his impressions of Japanese business
sentiment in Iran. He described his travel as a routine
consultation with Japanese business interests. Japanese
business people he spoke to in Iran hope a less conservative
leader will assume power in the upcoming presidential
elections because this may lead to an opening of dialogue
with the U.S. and an eventual easing of U.S. sanctions.
However, he noted, Japanese firms anticipate no dramatic
change as long as Ahmedinejad continues to hold power. Shoji
was surprised by the level of commercial activity in Tehran,
where he observed abundant Chinese and Korean-made consumer
electronics. Shoji also said French and Korean-made vehicles
have recently made major inroads in the Iranian market
compared to Japanese-made vehicles.
ZUMWALT