Farmers indignant at Koizumi's remarks

Japanese farmers and their organizations expressed anger at Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's statement that "Japan can't continue to be a country that is isolated agriculturally. We can't stop the import of foreign agricultural products."

At a press conference on October 21 in Bangkok, Thailand. the prime minister said,"Japan has no choice but to promote the import of agricultural products from abroad."

Commenting on the Koizumi remarks, Akahata of October 24 said, "The government is trying to open the Japanese agricultural market to more foreign products on the grounds that agriculture is a stumbling block to WTO free trade negotiations and even to the Free Trade Agreement talks with Mexico."

With 60 percent of food consumed in Japan coming from abroad, Japan is the world's largest food importer. The prime minister does not seems to be concerned about this serious state of Japanese agriculture. He is only too willing to sacrifice the nation's food and agriculture system for the profits of multinational corporations.

Apparently, Koizumi had the FTA talks with Mexico in mind. The Liberal Democratic Party intends to get Japan's import tariffs reduced on Mexican pork and other farm products in order to make it easier for Japanese electronics and auto makers to increase their exports to Mexico, establish their plants in Mexico, and export their products to Japan.

The WTO talks in Cancun, Mexico, ended without any agreement reached due to developing countries' strong opposition to the U.S.-led talks that gave priority to the interests of multinational corporations.

This shows that the world is moving towards establishing equal rules for international trade, including the establishment of "food sovereignty".

Regarding agriculture as a major industry, the Japanese Communist Party calls for an end to the LDP agricultural policy that calls for more food imports. It demands that Japan's agriculture be revitalized and the food self-sufficiency rate be increased.

* * *

Koizumi's remarks hinting at the need to further liberalize agricultural trade has met with strong protests from the National Federation of Farmers Movement (Nominren) and many other related organizations. Nominren officials visited the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry on October 22 demanding that Japan refuse to accept an increase in imports of agricultural products.

Nominren issued a protest statement saying, "The Prime Minister knows nothing about Japan's agriculture. He must retract the outrageous statement".

In Ehime Prefecture, a Mandarin orange farmer, who is one of those particularly interested in Japan-Mexico free trade talks, said angrily that growers were "forced to cut down 1.5 million orange trees because Japan opened its orange market to foreign products. A further liberalization will force us to close down our farms." (end)

Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved.