Government must effectively regulate sharp increase in agricultural imports

The government has decided not to fully invoke safeguards to protect Japanese spring onions, fresh shiitake mushrooms and tatami rushes from foreign produce.

The government decision came after holding talks with the Chinese government, but it has not promised any effective measures to curb the rapidly increasing imports which are dealing a heavy blow to domestic producers.

Though the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement is based on the free trade principle, it establishes that member countries have a right to invoke safeguards as a measure against increasing imports that have affected their domestic industries or are posing such a danger.

The WTO Agreement does not allow governments to exercise restraint on exports. Japan's agricultural producers are concerned about the absence of institutional safeguards for curbing imports, and even feel that the government has abandoned the nation's agriculture and farmers for the benefit of the import sector.

Imports of farm products have increased as Japan's trading firms and large supermarket chains have increasingly used cheap labor in China to produce low-priced farm products to Japan. This strategy is exactly in line with what the Koizumi Cabinet and business circles are contemplating, which is to secure the Chinese market before defending domestic agriculture. To give them a free hand will accelerate the undermining of Japan's agriculture and the hollowing out Japan's industry.

It is the government's responsibility to effectively regulate imports, along with the effort related to production such as securing safe agricultural products and reducing production costs. That is why the Japanese Communist Party has been calling on the government to invoke safeguards. (end)