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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09TOKYO984 2009-04-29 00:11:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tokyo
Cable title:  

JAPAN-CHINA: BROADENING ENGAGEMENT ON EVE OF PM

Tags:   PREL ECON JA CH 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TOKYO 000984 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/J

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2019
TAGS: PREL ECON JA CH
SUBJECT: JAPAN-CHINA: BROADENING ENGAGEMENT ON EVE OF PM
ASO'S BEIJING VISIT

TOKYO 00000984 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: CDA James P. Zumwalt for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) SUMMARY: Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso's scheduled
April 29 trip to Beijing represents the culmination of
engagement efforts during the past year aimed at promoting
confidence in bilateral ties, addressing mutual concerns, and
exploring areas of potential cooperation. Aso's meeting with
Chinese President Hu Jintao will be his third with Chinese
leaders this month and comes at the end of a series of
significant visits, such as Japanese Foreign Minister
Hirofumi Nakasone's and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada's
trips to Beijing in March. The high-level exchanges,
however, have not addressed adequately longstanding issues
that continue to plague the relationship, such as Japanese
concerns about the lack of transparency of Chinese military
modernization and intentions, as well as longstanding
territorial and maritime disputes. END SUMMARY



2. (C) Japanse Government officials have been busy preparing
for PM Taro Aso's scheduled trip to Beijing on April 29.
They point to the legwork that has already been done in
expanding bilateral ties and maintaining the "mutually
beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests"
initiated last May during Chinese President Hu's visit to
Japan. The summit in Beijing will touch on key issues such
as the global financial crisis, climate change, and regional
affairs, including political stability in Afghanistan and
human rights in Sudan, noted officials from MOFA's China and
Mongolia Division during recent discussions with Embassy
Tokyo.



3. (C) Embassy contacts view the summit as further evidence
of "improving" and "thawing" bilateral relations. Ties are
"back on track" following the tension-filled years of Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi, former Japanese Ambassador to
China Sakutaro Tanino explained. He noted that Prime
Minister Aso has met the minimal requirements to sustain the
goodwill generated from his immediate predecessors, former
Prime Ministers Yasuo Fukuda and Shinzo Abe. Aso's role is
to cultivate mutual trust, added Tanino. In this vein, Aso
has built an active schedule centered on high-level summits,
as evidenced by the Prime Minister's meetings with Chinese
leadership last year at the Asia-Europe Meeting, APEC, and
the Japan-China-South Korea trilateral in Fukuoka Prefecture
in December, according to MOFA China Division officials. Aso
met President Hu again this April at the G-20 Economic
Leaders Summit in London and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao one
week later during the disrupted ASEAN Summit in Thailand.
MOFA officials also highlight the importance of recent
legislative exchanges, including recent visits by Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee International Liaison
Department Chief Wang Jiarui, National People's Congress Vice
Chairman Li Jiangguo, and CCP member Li Changchun.



--------------------------


Military Ties


--------------------------





4. (C) Military exchanges are also accelerating, stressed
Japanese diplomats and defense officials. They note that
Chinese leadership seems to be more comfortable than in the
past in holding such meetings and in discussing
"China-focused" issues. They specifically highlight Defense
Minister Yasukazu Hamada's March trip to China, where he met
National Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and National
People's Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo. The last time Japan's
top defense official visited China was in 2003, when Beijing
hosted then-Defense Chief Shigeru Ishiba for five days.
Although Hamada spent only two days in China, the visit was
"very successful," said MOD International Policy Division

TOKYO 00000984 002.2 OF 003


Principal Deputy Director Mitsuko Hayashi. Both sides
discussed potential cooperation in areas of peacekeeping
operations, natural disaster recovery, and anti-piracy.
Later this year, Liang will make a reciprocal visit to Japan,
the chiefs of staff of Japan's three Self-Defense Force
branches will visit China, and a Chinese naval vessel will
make a reciprocal Japanese port visit. Tokyo and Beijing
also plan to conduct exchanges between military colleges and
between field grade and junior grade officers.



5. (C) Embassy contacts also stressed the significance of the
eleventh China-Japan vice-ministerial security dialogue
between Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs
Kenichiro Sasae and Defense Councilor Yoshiyuki Suzuki and
their Chinese counterparts, held on March 29 after a roughly
two-year hiatus. The discussions were admittedly "light on
substance," but both sides used the dialogue to expound on
their respective security and defense policies and to
exchange views on mutual concerns about weapons proliferation
and North Korea, for example, said MOFA's China Division.



--------------------------


Economic Ties


--------------------------





6. (C) Economic ties are strong despite ongoing concerns
about Chinese food safety, noted MOFA's China Division.
Tainted Chinese food products are still on the mind of
Japanese consumers, said Tanino separately. Chinese
President Hu told Prime Minister Aso in London that Beijing
continues to take the dumplings case seriously, reported MOFA
China-Japan Economic Affairs Division Director Masashi Ogawa.
Tokyo and Beijing are also aiming to restart the
long-stalled high-level economic dialogue some time in June.
Chinese economic prospects are relatively positive --
evidenced by 6 percent first-quarter growth -- and China can
be considered an economic bright spot, Ogawa observed.



--------------------------



--------------------------


Still Looking for Opportunities for Frank Discussion


--------------------------



--------------------------





7. (C) Japan-China relations are complex and still rife with
problem areas, Ambassador Tanino explained. While China is
exuding great confidence, particularly after hosting the 2008
Olympics, the Japanese are "uneasy" about China's growing
regional influence, military modernization, and human rights
situation. Bilateral ties still have "a long way to go,"
Tanino concluded.



8. (C) Despite a number of high-level engagements, Japan
continues to search for the appropriate venue for frank
discussions on key concerns such as Chinese military
modernization and longstanding maritime and territorial
disputes. China must take a more "sophisticated approach" to
explaining its regional and international security policies,
Tanino stressed. For their part, MOD officials want to
establish regular working-level defense exchanges. Right now
both sides are only engaging in high-level and low-level
talks with "nothing in between," lamented Hayashi. For
example, Hamada raised China's recent announcement about its
planned aircraft carrier production program as well as
Japanese concerns over the East China Sea with National
Defense Minister Liang, but Liang spent considerable time
explaining the defensive posture of Chinese military
activities and the transparent nature of China's Defense
White Paper. MOD officials reported Liang to have said that,
like India, China needs an aircraft carrier program to
protect its interests and that China's recent activities in
the East China Sea are normal responses to behaviors that

TOKYO 00000984 003.2 OF 003


violate such interests. MOD and MOFA contacts confirmed that
Chinese interlocutors adopted the same attitude during the
vice-ministerial dialogue and could only engage Japanese
concerns in a "light-hearted matter." The East China Sea and
disputes over the Senkaku Islands remain a "big problem,"
MOFA's China Division noted.



9. (C) Gaps also remain on North Korea. National People's
Congress Chair Wu replied "flatly" to Hamada's plea for
greater cooperation on issues related to Pyongyang's missile
launch and, while emphasizing peace and stability and the
maintenance of Six-Party Talks, Wu encouraged concerned
parties to stay "cool." China may say it understands
Japanese concerns, but Chinese officials are not providing
direct answers on how to persuade North Korea to act in a
constructive, positive manner, MOD officials stated.
ZUMWALT