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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 April 18 - 24  > Gov’t should drop out of TPP talks
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2012 April 18 - 24 [ECONOMY]

Gov’t should drop out of TPP talks

April 24, 2012

Akahata editorial

It has been five months since Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko at an APEC summit meeting held in Hawaii in November last year expressed his intention to start a series of prior consultations with concerned nations on Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade pact.

Regarding Noda’s visit to the United States at the end of April, there is concern that he will inform Washington about some aspects of his plan regarding the TPP. The need now is to drastically increase public movements and opposition to urge the government to give up its intent to join the free-trade framework.

More and more negative aspects of TPP surface

Reportedly, in prior consultation meetings with each of the nine TPP nations, Japan received favorable responses to its participation in the pact from six nations other than the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Bilateral consultations between the Japanese government and each of the three governments are still underway. The on-going prior consultations clearly indicate that the TPP basically calls for “removal of tariffs without exception,” and that the U.S. government is willing to change all trade rules to pro-U.S. ones and make demands for the benefit of major multinational corporations.

As has been pointed out, U.S. demands placed in the Japan-U.S. prior consultation would undermine Japan’s food, agriculture, medical services, and public works projects. The U.S. intends to press Japan to accept further harmful demands. Asahi Shimbun of April 21 reported that in a meeting with a Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers’ group, U.S. government officials demanded that in order to ensure congressional approval for Japan’s participation in the TPP, the Japanese government must compromise with U.S. demands in the fields of insurance, automobiles, and beef.

The April 20 Yomiuri Shimbun revealed that while criticizing the Japanese postal reform bill as hampering the interests of U.S. insurance companies, the U.S. government said to the DPJ group that unless Japan takes measures to respond to U.S. demands on insurance services, Japan will not be allowed to enter into the TPP talks.

It is thus obvious that joining the TPP will require Japanese domestic laws and regulations, which exist to protect people’s lives, be changed to meet U.S. demands. Signing onto such an agreement will most certainly infringe on Japan’s sovereignty. The TPP is absolutely no good in respect both to people’s livelihoods and to the country’s economy. The government must refrain from taking part in this free-trade pact in order to protect Japan’s national interests and its people.

A number of organizations and industry groups have voiced their opposition to the TPP. Their joint efforts in holding rallies, symposiums, and street actions against the multinational tariff-free accord are increasing throughout Japan. Many associations consisting of various groups and individuals, large and small, have begun to work together to find common ground to oppose Japan’s entry into the TPP.

Japan’s largest farmers’ organization JA-Zenchu and various other consumers’ groups are organizing an anti-TPP rally at Tokyo’s Hibiya Amphitheater on April 25 before Prime Minister Noda visits the United States. After the rally, a candle-lighting event will take place with workers, farmers, consumers, citizens, and medical-related people participating.

Dramatically strengthen public opinion

Met with the increasing strength of anti-TPP popular movements and with disagreement even among the ruling parties, the Noda Cabinet will not be able to announce Japan’s participation in the TPP during Noda’s visit to the United States as previously anticipated. However, the government is still eager to participate in the free-trade pact negotiations and keeps neglecting to reveal to the public the agenda of prior negotiations with other countries involved in the negotiations for the TPP.

Taking advantage of the rapidly spreading anti-TPP movements, what is important is to raise public awareness at the grassroots level about the dangers of TPP participation, and force the pro-TPP forces of the government and business circles to abandon their attempt to accept the free-trade framework.
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