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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 July 29 - August 14  > DPJ calls for Free Trade Agreement with U.S.
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2009 July 29 - August 14 [ECONOMY]

DPJ calls for Free Trade Agreement with U.S.

August 3, 2009
The nation’s many family farmers are infuriated by the Democratic Party of Japan “manifesto” (election policy platform) that calls for a free trade agreement (FTA) to be concluded with the United States with the view of promoting free trade and investment.

Urgent statement can’t quell criticism

A free trade agreement is a system to give favorable treatment to the partner of the agreement through reduction or abolition of tariffs and other means to protect domestic producers. The inflow of U.S.-grown low-cost agricultural products into the Japanese market under the FTA would inevitably cause a slump in the prices of rice and beef in Japan, dealing a destructive blow to Japanese agriculture.

In an effort to avert the spreading doubt and criticism, the DPJ published an urgent statement that no agreement should be concluded that would victimize Japan’s forestry and fishery sectors, as well as farming and fishing villages.

However, the free trade concept set out in the present DPJ manifesto is nothing new. It is consistent with DPJ policy.

The basic policy which the DPJ set out for a DPJ government was drafted in late 2006 when Ozawa Ichiro was the party president. It stated: To promote the establishment of a true Japan-U.S. alliance, the party will soon conclude an FTA with the United States and promote liberalization in all fields. In its manifesto for the House of Councilors election in 2007, the DPJ stated that it will maintain and increase domestic agricultural production, and at the same time will promote trade liberalization consultations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and conclusion of FTA’s with its members. The 2008 version of the DPJ policy reprinted the same statement.

In the 2009 version of the DPJ policy which was drafted immediately before the latest manifesto for the upcoming general election, the relevant statement makes it clear that the party will promote an FTA with the United States and promote liberalization of trade and investment. The change from the word “promotion” in the policy statement to “conclusion” in the manifesto added to the repercussion. However, the basic position of the DPJ on this issue is common in the two documents.

Major U.S. agricultural corporations and Japan’s large corporations are demanding that an FTA be concluded as early as possible. The U.S. side wants Japan’s market for agricultural products to be opened, and Japanese corporations want tariff cuts on their export of industrial products in exchange for handing the agricultural market over to the United States.

LDP agricultural policy is most to blame

The Liberal Democratic Party took up the question to strengthen their attack on the DPJ, publishing a statement that the DPJ policy is tantamount to selling out Japanese agriculture.

However, the LDP is in no position to make such a criticism. The biggest responsibility of causing the wretched position of Japan’s agriculture, with the food self-sufficiency rate at 40 percent, lies in the LDP agricultural policy of serving the interests of the United States and Japanese large corporations. It is the LDP-Komei government that is now promoting an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Australia, mainly focusing on agricultural and livestock products and ignoring a wide range of people related to agriculture.
- Akahata, August 3, 2009
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