Viewing cable 07TOKYO2306
Title: METI MINISTER'S VISIT TO CENTRAL ASIA, MIDDLE EAST

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07TOKYO23062007-05-23 07:53:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tokyo
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TOKYO 002306 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SCA DAS FEIGENBAUM. PARIS FOR OECD. DOE PLEASE 
PASS TO DPUMPHREY, JNAKANO. PACOM FOR D. VAUGN. 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/21/2017 
TAGS: PREL ECON ETRD ENRG XF EG KUNC QA SA AEMR JA
SUBJECT: METI MINISTER'S VISIT TO CENTRAL ASIA, MIDDLE EAST 
ENERGY-FOCUSED 
 
REF: TOKYO 2269 
 
Classified By: Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer for reasons 1.4 (b,d) 
 
¶1. (SBU) Summary:  Officials from the Ministry of Economy 
Trade and Industry (METI), the Agency for Natural Resources 
and Energy (ANRE) and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MOFA) 
confirmed the success of METI Minister Akira Amari's April 27 
- May 5 visit to Central Asia and the Middle East.  In 
separate discussions officials emphasized increased 
cooperation and understanding between Japan and Uzbekistan, 
Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Brunei.  The METI official 
noted economic disparities between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan 
and lamented the difficulty in helping Saudi Arabia diversify 
its economic base while an ANRE bureaucrat was especially 
pleased that Amari had the same access to top Saudi leaders 
as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe enjoyed on his recent Middle 
East trip.  Meanwhile, the MOFA official commented on the 
importance of Central Asia's uranium and highlighted Japan's 
plans to exchange its technology for the mineral.  End 
summary. 
 
Another Successful Golden Week Visit 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶2. (SBU) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Trade 
Policy Bureau Director General Masakazu Toyoda told EMIN that 
METI Minister Akira Amari's trip to Central Asia and the 
Middle East was "very successful."  Amari visited Kazakhstan, 
Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Brunei from April 27 to May 5. 
The goal for Amari's trip, according to Toyoda, was to 
increase the two-way cooperation between Japan and these four 
energy-supplying countries.  Saudi Arabia and Brunei already 
export oil and natural gas to Japan while Japan's 
relationship with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is less 
developed.  Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit 
to Central Asia in August 2006 gave the relationship a 
positive boost forward, Toyoda observed.  He added that 
 
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Central Asia is of great interest to both the United States 
and Japan and called for the two countries to cooperate in 
the region. 
 
Notable Economic Gap between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
¶3. (SBU) Toyoda commented on the economic differences between 
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, saying that both countries have 
had the continuous rule of one president for the past 16 
years but that Kazakhstan has enjoyed far greater economic 
growth.  Toyoda noted the absence of development in 
Uzbekistan in contrast to big, new flashy buildings in 
Almaty, Kazakhstan.  He asserted that Uzbekistan has now 
realized the disparity and is seeking Japanese overseas 
development assistance (ODA) to address it.  Toyoda reported 
that Amari told the Uzbekistan government it must look for 
ways to improve economic growth and Toyoda believes Tashkent 
got the message.  Toyoda also commented that Uzbekistan's 
regions are in even worse shape than its capital. 
 
Doubts About Reducing Dependence on Hydrocarbons 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
¶4. (SBU) Toyoda reported that Saudi Arabia and Brunei are 
looking to diversify away from their heavy economic 
dependence on the oil and gas industries and are hoping Japan 
will help, which Toyoda asserted is unrealistic.  He gave as 
an example automobile factories that require large numbers of 
smaller nearby companies to supply parts, something the 
Middle East lacks.  Nevertheless, Japan hopes to deepen 
cooperation within the region, he said. 
 
Number of Company Heads on Trip Grew Slowly 
------------------------------------------- 
 
¶5. (C)  Turning to PM Abe's nearly simultaneous visit to the 
Gulf region, Toyoda noted that the PM was accompanied on his 
 
TOKYO 00002306  003 OF 004 
 
 
trip by a group of over 100 businessmen, a number that was 
the result of a snowball effect.  Originally, few companies 
had been interested in going but as the number began to 
increase other companies heard about it and wanted to be 
included.  Toyoda said half the corporate executives who went 
were CEOs and sixty percent were making their first trip to 
Central Asia and the Middle East.  Separately, a Keidanren 
source told us the Japanese businessmen only met with Gulf 
government officials and struck no commercial deals. 
 
Some Progress on ASEAN EPA 
-------------------------- 
 
¶6. (SBU) Toyoda told EMIN that Amari attended the ASEAN 
economic partnership agreement (EPA) meeting in Brunei during 
which the members agreed on modalities, skirting the more 
contentious issues of product coverage and tariff levels.  He 
noted that Japan has already agreed an EPA with six of 
ASEAN's main members and hopes to complete the one with ASEAN 
in August so that the ASEAN leaders can sign it in November. 
Toyoda thought the process was moving along more quickly than 
it had earlier. 
 
Excellent Access to Saudis 
-------------------------- 
 
¶7. (C) In a separate meeting, METI Agency for Natural 
Resources (ANRE) Petroleum and Natural Gas Division Director 
Shin Hosaka told Econoff that in addition to meeting with 
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Saudi King Abdullah and Saudi 
Crown Prince Sultan also had met with Amari when he visited a 
few days later, which Hosaka said is very unusual.  In 
particular, Crown Prince Sultan spoke with Amari for over 40 
minutes, an indication of Saudi willingness to repair its 
relationship with Japan, according to Hosaka (reftel). 
 
Uranium Key Focus in Kazakhstan 
------------------------------- 
 
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¶8. (C) Ministry of Foreign Affairs Central Asia and Caucasus 
Division Director Hideki Uyama also labeled Amari's visit "a 
great success," adding that it was an important follow-up to 
Koizumi's trip in August 2006, during which Japan and 
Kazakhstan agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the 
peaceful use of nuclear energy, including joint development 
of uranium mines.  Since then, a number of private Japanese 
companies in the nuclear energy business have been actively 
negotiating with Kazakh counterparts on possible cooperation 
in the development of mines and transport of uranium ore, 
according to Uyama.  In addition, the Kazakhs are very 
interested in acquiring Japanese technology to improve their 
uranium processing industry and hope that in the future 
Japanese companies will assist them in developing a nuclear 
power plant.  This latest visit involved a package of items 
involving uranium-for-technology trade, Uyama said. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶9. (C)  Toyoda contended that Amari's trip met METI's goal of 
increasing cooperation between Japan and the countries he 
visited, but the proof of that assertion will lie in the 
follow-up.  The interest Japan has shown in Central Asia's 
uranium and its willingness to trade its technology for the 
mineral contrasts with an apparent lack of interest in 
trading nuclear know-how for oil and natural gas in the 
Middle East and indicates a far greater caution toward the 
Middle East than toward Central Asia. 
SCHIEFFER