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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 March 30 - April 5  > Farmers & citizens take to streets to block TPP ratification
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2016 March 30 - April 5 [POLITICS]

Farmers & citizens take to streets to block TPP ratification

March 31, 2016
In opposition to the Abe Cabinet’s move to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement during the current Diet session, farmers and citizens on March 30 staged rallies and demonstrations around the Diet building in Tokyo.

These actions were called for by an organizing committee comprised of a wide range of civic groups. The Abe administration is aiming to begin Diet deliberations on the ratification as well as TPP-related bills in early April.

The rally held at the Parliamentary Museum near the Diet building was joined by opposition and independent lawmakers. Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Hatayama Kazuya said in his speech in solidarity, “Beyond differences in party affiliation and political stance, let’s work together to prevent the ratification.”

Tokyo University Professor Emeritus Daigo Satoshi delivered a speech on behalf of the organizing committee. He condemned the TPP pact for destroying Japan’s agriculture, food safety, medical system, and even economic sovereignty so that a handful of major corporations and investors can make huge profits.

At the rally, messages expressing solidarity from activists in New Zealand and the United States were read out as well.

In front of the Dietmembers’ office building, many people including farmers and healthcare workers staged a sit-in protest.

Kubota Akitaka, chair of the Iwate prefectural chapter of the Japan Family Farmers Movement (Nouminren), gave a speech, saying, “The average age of local farmers is 65. We are now struggling to groom our successors. But if the TPP deal is ratified, we can no longer call on young people to become farmers. In order to protect Japan’s staple food, rice, I’ll continue to work in collaboration with people across the country.”

Sumie Ken’yu, president of the Japanese Medical and Dental Practitioners for Improvement of Medical Care (Hodanren) pointed out that the free trade accord will allow major American drug makers to interfere in Japan’s pharmaceutical administration and consequently the general public will be forced to pay hefty drug fees. “This is nothing but an agreement designed to help multinational corporations dramatically increase their profits,” he stressed.

A 38-year-old mother with two small children said, “I feel great anger at the Abe government which is always under Washington’s thumb and ignoring Japan’s public.”

Past related article:
> Abe gov’t puts forth TPP-related bills [March 9, 2016]
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