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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 February 8 - 14  > New framework for bilateral talks will pave way for US interference in Japanese economy
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2017 February 8 - 14 [ECONOMY]

New framework for bilateral talks will pave way for US interference in Japanese economy

February 14, 2017
Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and U.S. President Donald Trump in their first official meeting on February 10 at the White House agreed in the security field to strengthen bilateral defense ties and expand Japan’s role. In the field of economy, they decided to start an economic dialogue involving their deputies, Aso Taro and Mike Pence, which evidently responds to Trump’s call for making “America First” and increasing more American jobs. It is highly likely that this new negotiation framework will allow for U.S. interference in the Japanese economy as was the case in the past bilateral structure for trade talks.

At the joint press conference after the summit meeting, Abe said, “The mutually beneficial economic relations have been built by Japan and the United States.” However, this remark totally ignores the historical facts behind past trade negotiations.

When looking at the past talks, Japan as always took a compromising and submissive attitude toward the United States. Japan’s attitude comes from Article 2 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty which states that the two nations will “seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between them.” For Japan, however, the elimination of conflict translates to accepting every U.S. demand.

In a round of trade negotiations which started in 1977, the two nations agreed on the liberalization of beef and orange imports. The agreement caused tragedies, including suicides of Japanese family farmers driven to despair. Regarding the Japan-U.S. automobile trade issue, under the U.S. pressure which was intensified in the 1970s, the Japanese government in 1981 called on domestic automakers to limit their exports to America.

In 1989, a bilateral framework for discussing economic issues, the so-called Japan-U.S. Structural Impediments Initiative (SII), was established. Using this framework, Washington pushed Tokyo to work out a public investment project spending a total of 430 trillion yen (later revised to 630 trillion yen ) in taxpayers’ money over 10 years. This project became a primary factor in the increase in the wasteful use of tax revenues to promote large-scale public investments, leading to a growth in the budget deficit. At that time, even a government official in charge of the SII negotiations criticized the framework for putting Japan under the control of a U.S. occupation again.

PM Abe and President Trump said that a new economic dialogue will focus on three pillars: economic policies; infrastructure investments; and trade and investment. However, it is understood that bilateral discussions will cover a much wider range of issues in line with President Trump’s policy to bulldoze U.S. demands through by means of one-on-one negotiations.

The Abe government should build relations with the U.S. government based on an equal footing and protect the national interests as well as the Japanese citizens’ interests, and not work to help promote the interests of the Trump administration.

Past related articles:
> Economy in subordination to US - III: Destruction of local economies [October 12, 2012]
> Agriculture in subordination to US - II: beef and citrus imports liberalized [September 5, 2012]
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