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Farm tariffs to stay, Japan tells Pacific trading partners

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Abe third arrow is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle now Akira Amari gone and hidden the bow.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

A free trade agreement with Farming off the table??? Who would have seen that coming?

20 ( +20 / -0 )

CrickyMay. 20, 2014 - 07:23AM JST A free trade agreement with Farming off the table??? Who would have seen that coming?

U.S. negotiators already knew this was coming. Japan already imports 60 percent of its food supply from other countries and food security is a sensitive issue. Sure, Japan could import cheaper agricultural products from other countries, but what about rural farmers in Japan that will no longer will be able compete and survive on farming. In a few years, Japan goverment farm subsidies will be eliminated . Bankrupt farmers will have ask the goverment for more handouts. Japan goverment's future plans is that they are trying to maintain balance and stability of farmers in their own country first.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

The sad fact here is that Japan could totally compete with the other nations in this category.

The Japanese naysayers of farming and TPP lack the confidence (and education) to understand that their product as well as their techniques are superior in so many ways.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Farmers unite!!!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

However, Amari said, despite the progress in negotiations with the U.S., Japan will not agree to abolish tariffs on wheat, rice, dairy, sugar, beef and pork (counted as one), but he added that Japan still hoped to contribute to a high-quality pact.

Typical Japan.

They want all the benefits of a partnership without any concession on their part. Much like a 3 year-old that does not want to share toys with other kids. Japan is still in sakoku mode, clinging desperately to the protectionistic mindset with the ridiculous explanation of quality, when what it is really about is collecting votes for The Party. The Japanese agriculture industry wouldn't stand a chance if customers were free to choose between foreign, eqally qualitative, cheaper products and Japan's own, overpriced stuff. The only one choosing the domestic stuff would be old codgers out of touch with today. Hence the tariffs.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

HowardSternMay. 20, 2014 - 08:12AM JST The sad fact here is that Japan could totally compete with the other nations in this category. The Japanese naysayers of farming and TPP lack the confidence (and education) to understand that their product as well as their techniques are superior in so many ways.

Tell me, how do farmers that average less than 5 acres in Japan compete with U.S. farmers that average close to 500 acres? Superior techniques of what?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

And Japanese never ever criticize that fact of being ripped off by the agricultural farmer lobby. Techniques for productivity are those from just post war. They should rather open to specific countries with which they can gain, but show open mindedness and look for price adaptation to the world. Poor Japanese are the first victims. Personnally, I can afford...

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Am I reading this correctly? Japan's not going to subsidize farmers, but they aren't going to remove the tariffs for imports?

Sounds rather like exactly the same thing to me...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Howard,

How would they compete exactly? Japanese produce is not "superior" in any way, it's just what the locals have been force-fed to believe all their lives.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Japan has told Pacific trading partners it will not abolish tariffs in the five agricultural sectors it considers sacred, the country’s economy minister, Akira Amari, said on Monday.

Time to move forward without Japan. The U.S., namely Obama, opned the door for them, and they promptly slammed it in his face. The knew the rules, but now want to re-write them:

but he added that Japan still hoped to contribute to a high-quality pact.

In other words, to get Japan in, it must now be a "high-quality pact", but not the frre-trade one the other countries envisioned. Show them the door.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

“However, Amari said, despite the progress in negotiations with the U.S., Japan will not agree to abolish tariffs on wheat, rice, dairy, sugar, beef and pork (counted as one), but he added that Japan still hoped to contribute to a high-quality pact.”

Amari must be kidding other the ministers at the negotiation table; if every country would do the cherry-picking as Japan intends to do, then what is the point to have TPP ?

If Japan is not ready to participate in TPP, why not just tell the US and other countries in the first place, that would do everyone a big favor, saving tons of grief.

Now what ? Wait for the US and other countries to accommodate Japanese elder farmers' ransom?

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Goodbye Japan, thanks for wasting all of our time. None of us wanted you here in the first place because we all knew it would come to this. As most of the members of TPP were agricultural exporters, you knew from the beginning that farm products would be the focus of the talks, yet you pushed your way in anyway. Enjoy your terminal decline, and thanks for keeping your economy so insular that your collapse won't cause us significant harm. You will become a good example of the kind of developed country which others should avoid imitating. Your business interests and bureaucratic lobbies have won again, but everyone else in Japan has lost. You will eventually rue this day, probably sooner than later.

Once the door is shut on you, don't come back knocking to be let back in. It's a big, bad world, and you are going to have to face the consequnces of your actions on your own.

Yesterday I heard from a friend in the JDB , he told me that "Abenomics is over", now I understand why. I wonder which sock puppet will be the next prime minister...

16 ( +20 / -4 )

Farming here is a joke, and now it is going to torpedo trade agreements, these farmers have had it too easy for too long and have way to much sway with the govt. Where I come from a farm is 100's or 1,000s of acres with 100's of animals, growing large amounts of crops, not something the size of a domestic garden growing a couple of rows of cabbage and some lettuce.

Japan's domestic vegetables are often poorly looking , tasteless small and expensive in comparison, wake up you govt numpties.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Why bother even showing up?

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I see: "Free trade" but with a range of tariffs on your trading partners' biggest exports. Makes perfect sense.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

sangetsu03,

You will become a good example of the kind of developed country which others should avoid imitating.

This sounds a bit over the top, but I agree with you completely.

In today's world, you will have to be both competitive and understanding of others' needs. To just sit their on an island and try desperately to protect what you have (or once had) is probably not a good idea. All continents try to get together and overcome their differences and ultimately benefit from the cooperation but Japan just looks more and more out of touch. What are they thinking? Sure, they can fool the locals, but the outside world is not going to sit their and just take the Japanese hubris forever.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

it goes both ways. america's "sacred" sector is the auto industry. imported trucks are taxed at about 15%-20% while cars are taxed much less. other countries also have certain sectors that they will not give up. free trade benefits only rich countries, and there really is nothing free about it.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

TPP sayonara!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

" Japanese produce is not "superior" in any way, it's just what the locals have been force-fed to believe all their lives."

I disagree. By and large the fruit and vegetables are top quality. HOWEVER, and that is a very big however, they are indeed way overpriced, all that bloat going to the agriculture syndicate and their politician crooks. Fortunately, I know how to grow many of my own at a sizeable savings.

RIP Abenomics.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Japanese consumers should not have to bear the burden of farm subsidies and import tariffs that drive up foodstuff prices. Every member of the ruling party is beholden to Japanese farmers, and some admit to being "owned by them". Rural voters wield political clout in parliament far out of proportion to their numbers because postwar redistribution has not kept up with the population shift from farm to city

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"You will become a good example of the kind of developed country which others should avoid imitating." This sounds a bit over the top, but I agree with you completely.

National debt of 250% of GDP, increasing welfare costs, and a shrinking population, nothing worth imitating here. Of all the countries in TPP, no country needed it more than Japan. Trade reform should have been one of the most fundamental parts of Abe's "third arrow." Without it, there is simply no point. If the power of JA cannot be bent, there is absolutely no chance that the other vested interests can be overcome. Japan is cutting off it's nose to spite it's face.

After Abe's harping around Europe last week about the success of Abenomics, we have just seen it begin to fail. Abe should start packing his bags now. After his popularity last year, he will soon be persona non gratas in Japan.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Well, now that Japan has left the top-double secret "trade party" which has less to do with tradable foodstuffs anyway, good job Japan, runaway from this shit. Start blowing off the tops of some of these hills and replacing it with solar panels and greenhouses. Then make a deal with a resource rich country in a food for oil/coal/gas deal.

Get started now and you'll be up and running in 4 years tops.

There you go Abe, that one's for free.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Gutless cop-out from Abe's team. Not sure how they think they can keep the economy rolling along without making any necessary decisions.

But most of all, how is denying consumers the right to buy what they want to buy in a free market in Japan's national interest?

Sure food security is an issue. But hey, the average age of farmers here is 66 years old, so hows that food security looking anyway?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I'm actually in favour of this, and I hope the TPP talks collapse as a result. In a decreasing fossil fuel energy world these trade agreements are just a means to ruin industries at a time when they will need to be preserved for local use and local employment.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Throw the Japanese out. They agreed to put everything on the table as part of joining the talks, but it is clear that this was a lie.

Alternatively, if the Japanese insist on an 800% tariff on rice, allow other countries to impose 800% tariffs on Japanese goods, e.g. 800% on cars. Then sit back and enjoy the whining.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Have to agree with a few posters that Japanese products (the ones we actually see at shops, anyway) are typically of high quality.

While the quality is admirable, it is simply not competitive outside of Japan.

China and Korea might have fads that pop up now and then where they import "expensive brand-name" food, but those are certainly not reliable sources of export, given the tumultuous relationship these countries have.

The markets who might be interested in Japanese produce or grain outside of her China/Korea are limited to things like fine dining restaurants. Furthermore, the items they are interested in are those associated with Japan or Asia (so Daikon, Shitake, etc).

The thing is, many countries are simply happy to have food in general and could care less if, say, a carrot was perfectly formed or not.

The root of the problem is one that has spilled over into many of Japan's business sectors: Terrible, incredible inefficiency.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Understand all the talk, but TPP was unrealistic for Japan from the start since they have to protect local produce one way or another. Farmers in Japan really cannot compete internationally. Japan clearly does not want farmers to quit altogether, so I guess everything is back to as they were.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

free trade benefits only rich countries, and there really is nothing free about it.

I am an exporter in Japan, and I am here to tell you that poor countries charge much higher tariffs than rich countries do. My goods are taxed at about 5% in America, and between 18% to 35% in Europe. The higher European taxes are charged by the poorer EU countries. Tariffs in developing countries are 40% and up. My last shipment to Brazil was taxed at 60%. The effect of these high taxes is that many people in these countries cannot afford to buy my goods. Since they can't buy more goods from my, I make less money. Since I make less money, I can't buy more goods from my suppliers, so they in turn make less money. Since my suppliers make less money, they can't buy more materials, so their suppliers make less money, and so on.

Free trade would benefit poorer countries far more than it benefits rich countries.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

it will not abolish tariffs in the five agricultural sectors it considers sacred

What an idiot! These are the main sectors that will benefit the consumer and increase spending making the sales tax hike a positive. We all know the real reason they won't give up these tariffs is because of their price fixing and market manipulation keeping the prices high for these commodities. The Japanese economy will never recover while these stone headed old fogies run this country. Somebody really needs to explain to them what 'free trade' actually means.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Completely agree. Japan knew from the beginning that the goal of TPP was zero tariffs across the board. They want no duties on their cars and electronics but are not willing to do the same in return. Now that they wasted everyones time and are not willing to compromise its time to get out of the way. U.S. and the rest of the countries should just move on without them and be done with it. So much for Abenomics 3rd arrow, deregulation etc....all just a lot of hot air. Just dont whine as other countries bypass you on your way down Japan.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Just leave Japan out of it already! Japan ALWAYS expects concessions with the, "But we want to participate!" part. Don't allow Japan into the TPP, and let them crawl back to the table in a decade after being left in the dust and watching China and other nations grow from it.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Farmers in Japan really cannot compete internationally.

Agreed. What's needed is radical reform so that the Japanese agricultural sector can compete internationally, but I'm not sure that farmers who are not weak, dependent and feeling obligated are such a good source of votes and election campaign cash.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'm actually in favour of this, and I hope the TPP talks collapse as a result. In a decreasing fossil fuel energy world these trade agreements are just a means to ruin industries at a time when they will need to be preserved for local use and local employment.

The talks won't collapse, they will be concluded, but likely without Japan being a part.

Agriculture makes up less than 3% of the national economy, and this number has been shrinking. But this 3% has a great amount of power. The elderly and rural people's votes are each counted using a formula which actually gives them 2.3 votes per person. Those of us who live in the cities have little voice in government, and obviously, very little representation. The farmers are under the firm control of JA, which buys much of the crops which the farmers produce, and force the famers to buy fertilizer and insecticides from JA. Ironically enough, despite people's thinking that Japanese rice and food is better than that grown in America, Japanese farmers use the same fertilizers and insecticides which American farmers use. What a laugh.

The effect of food tariffs, subsidies, as well as non tariff barriers raises the cost of food in Japan to more than twice what Europeans pay, and nearly triple what Americans pay. If you have a family in Japan which you have to feed every day, you will find it quite expensive, and this is one of the reasons that the population is declining.

TPP was formed without Japan in mind. In fact, when Japan decided they wanted to join TPP, some of the other countries opposed letting Japan in. But Obama and Abe managed to get Japan's name added to the list anyway, and we find ourselves where we are now. The other parties are going to have to vote Japan out of the agreement, but they way things are looking, they have nothing to lose by doing so.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan's clinging to tariff protection is an attempt to deny the reality of geography. Have a look at this link http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/wheat-kings/article18731866/to see state of the art wheat farming in Canada. Limited land resources in Japan suggest that Japan might be better off to focus on developing and enhancing the products in which it can and has competed so successfully. There are many things that Japan does well and could trade with the world but trading is a two-way street and is based on trust. Unfortunately, here is yet another example of a lack of trust between Japan and the international community.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

They should have simply said so at the beginning as no one no one in their right mind would have even considered that Japan would fold or even bend. Japan would rather break.

Tokyo wants to become 'international' and that too, will be only for certain sectors, for a limited time, and on Japan's terms.

For this country, internationalization means 'Japan will show you how you will do things, which is our way.' The world should give it what it wants: Just leave Japan alone and let the population shrink back to 50 to 75 mil., and allow Japan to revert to a self-sustaining, closed-door country which is what most of the population wants anyway.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry Japan, you need to be tossed out, plain & simple!

Forget about the TPP for a second, Japan farming has been in dire need of change LONG before the idea of TPP & Japan has done..................................NOTHING!!

I live in the inaka, love it, BUT Japan really needs to modernize its agriculture regardless of the TPP.

I know rice farmers, they all have paddies spread out all over the place, rarely are they side by side, if they could get land ownership sorted, make larger paddies they could EASILY make real progress in production, BUT they DONT.

And its not all farmers fault, as a few in the know have mentioned JA has a strange hold on farmers BIG TIME, add in distribution etc which farmers have no control of & here we are.

Where I am I can easily buy enough veggies for 2 for a week for Y1,000 but as these veggies travel farther from source the cost skyrockets.

Bottom line is Japan has had since the 80s to start reforming it agriculture & has basically done next to nothing, its reaping what it sews literally.

Time for Japan to be tossed from the TPP & forced to make some hard be needed decisions.

Japan has got to forget the days where they expected everyone overseas to have J-car in the driveway & a houseful of J-electronics, those days are GONE!!

So Japan what are YOU going to do?? Hint Doing nothing aint helping!

4 ( +6 / -1 )

Howard Stern's right. I'd add that, most importantly, Japanese agriculture is superior to polluted Chinese food. Even Chinese consumers agree on that.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Kajima,

China has nothing to do with this article. At all.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

So the days of sharing the village tractor will continue because your farming is so backward, one farmer cannot have a farm big enough to afford or justify owning a whole tractor by himself, a couple of cabbages, a rice paddy and a chicken do not a farm make , idiots need to merge land and resources make farms large enough to be profitable and produce enough to be sustainable with out the govt subsidies.

Get young people back to the land working with the soil and animals, turn the place into a food producer to supply its own people and sell the excess to other countries, rethink the whole damn farm thing, either that or build more car factories your choice.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Japanese farmers could easily compete globally. Countries like America will pay top dollar for products with Japanese on the label. It doesn't matter if there is a real difference in quality or not. It's called advertising and using the American culture's interest in what is considered exotic, and Japan is a place Americans find exotic.

As far as free trade agreements, they are pointless. It doesn't require negotiation to end all tariffs. These agreements somehow get power or money to the political class. Note also none of these agreements allow workers and employees to freely sell their skills, Service or labor freely across borders with no interference from government. Why is the workforce off all tables?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Harrington-san, China wasn't a topic of the article granted but my comment was about food quality, raised on this forum. Japanese consumers are willing to pay a premium for food produced by Japanese farmers. They trust it as safe and of high quality. Due to several incidents of contamination, Chinese agricultural products are generally shunned. Price isn't everything in an advanced country, especially when it comes to food and many Japanese (my wife, for one) are worried (rightly or wrongly depending on the case) that implementation of TPP will result in lowered standards re pesticides, hormone use in beef (a concern shared by European consumers about US beef), etc.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

when what it is really about is collecting votes for The Party.

This is part of it, certainly, but that's not all it's about. As sfjp330 pointed out, food security is a very real concern for Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

WHAT. A. WASTE. OF. TIME!! Really?! People really want to keep spending ¥3000+ on 10kg of rice?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Take your TPP and shove it! I am glad they did it!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Japanese agriculture is superior to polluted Chinese food. Even Chinese consumers agree on that.

Except that China is not part of TPP. No one argues that Japan's produce is superior to that of some of the other countries in TPP, which have more arable land than Japan, as well as longer growing seasons.

Sure food security is an issue. But hey, the average age of farmers here is 66 years old, so hows that food security looking anyway?

In a country which pays a third party for most it's national defense needs, the issue of food security is absurd. Japan has not been food self-sufficient since the beginning of the Meiji era, when the population was a fraction of what it is today, and when a siginificant number of people died of starvation every year.

But most of all, how is denying consumers the right to buy what they want to buy in a free market in Japan's national interest?

Japanese consumers have never had the right or the ability to buy what they want, there has never been a free market in Japan. The prices of all domestic goods are manipulated to increase profits for Japanese manufacturers, and competing imports are not allowed access to the domestic market, unless the retailers price them higher than Japanese goods. Try to buy a Samsung television at any Japanese electronics store, they aren't sold here.

TPP, fully implemented, would have taken control of the economy out of the hands of the vested interests, and put it into the hands of the consumers. Removing non-tariff barriers would have increased competition from imports, lowered prices, and caused quite a ruckus in the economy. Japanese companies would have been forced to try to compete on a level playing field, and to do so they would have had to improve efficiency and innovate more. They would have to scrap the old seniority-based promotion systems, and start start promoting on performance and merit.

Companies would need to hire people with skill and knowledge, so Japanese universities would have to stop being a four-year vacations for students, and they would actually have to provide educations. We would end up with students who actually have a little knowledge after four years of study, knowledge which they could use to help their country progress.

Such a thing will never happen. The Japanese are too much under the thumbs of their cultural masters, and these masters will not lift their thumbs just because it might save their country from economic ruin.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Great post Sangetsu03

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Free trade would benefit poorer countries far more than it benefits rich countries.

for the most part, free trade allows rich countries to flood the market of poor countries with cheap mass-produced products. yes, a few small companies can benefit if they have good product, but for the most part, big corporations benefit. free trade also creates a false illusion of raising the living standards of poor countries because they can then export more goods. but in reality, the workerss are surviving on a meager existence (e.g. most of the populous of china, garment workers in bangladesh, etc). people always bring up the high cost of fruit and veggies in japan but salaries are also generally higher, and unemployment lower, in japan than elsewhere, so there is no real loss.

do you really think the US is in this to "benefit" poor countries?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Such a thing will never happen. The Japanese are too much under the thumbs of their cultural masters, and these masters will not lift their thumbs just because it might save their country from economic ruin.

Of course not. The status quo guarantees them cushy jobs, high salaries and lots of perks. They could kiss all that goodbye if the farmers didn't feel they needed subsidies, tariffs and whatever else the politicians bribe them with.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All why not? Abolishing the tariffs would cost the Japanese farmer big bucks but I would say the average consumer a lot of money. But by not abolishing the tariffs then Japan, I guess doesn't get into the agreement.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Competing with the world is nothing to do with the quantity of production and everytihng to do with quality and selling out your stock at a price that fetches a profit. Who cares if the americans are producing XX% more product. Who is buying it? Are they selling it all? Are they making a profit?

Japan's rice is unique in that the taste has not been duplicated in other countries. Have you ever tried the junk they grow in California? Japanese style rice is a niche market. As is wagyu. Japan's wagyu is also a superior product or at worst on par with usda premium grade A. Japan should strive to achieve UN label status for Japanese wagyu (Kobe, Matsuzaka, Omi etc) much like champagne has done in from France. Again, it is niche market. Comparing Aussie beef and Japanese wagyu is apples and oranges.

Japan is allegedly GMO free and should sell itself as such. This issue worries more than the thought of farmers not surviving. People will pay a little more for a superior, healthier, better tasting product. They already do now.

Success on the world stage doesnt mean producing tons of poor quality food and flooding the market with it. Of course Japan can compete.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Abes san LDP is financially tethered to Japans farming and agricultural lobby, a group that employs a reputed 150,000 that control significant sectors of the livestock, agriculture and farming industry. So some 95,000 'households' where over half of the farmers are over 65 have the political clout to control and subsequently inflate food pricing for the other 46m households.

Conflicting messages about TPP policy are stark in a March 2013 statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. An example of this contradiction is present in the press conference.

Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe..... Friday, March 15, 2013

"This is why I had a meeting with President Obama, from which I confirmed that a prior commitment to eliminate tariffs with no sanctuary is not a requirement for participating in the TPP negotiations. I am determined to firmly secure the other five criteria in the negotiations. Making the most of our negotiating power, we will secure what we should secure and gain what we should gain. We will pursue the best path to suit our national interests"

"Now is our last chance. Losing this opportunity would simply leave Japan out from the rule-making in the world. Future historians will no doubt see that "the TPP was the opening of the Asia-Pacific Century." Japan has to be at the heart of the Asia Pacific Century. I believe that participation in the negotiations for the TPP will be a provident masterstroke"

http://japan.kantei.go.jp/96_abe/statement/201303/15kaiken_e.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who are you people? Do you all live on US Army bases, never leave Roppongi, or just want to see Japan destroyed?

Nothing short of excavating the Japanese alps and turning them into level prairies is going to allow Japanese agriculture to complete against US or Chinese, and protecting Japanese agriculture ... beyond sustaining the countryside as a whole ... is an investment into sustaining Japan's food security.

The USA wants to destroy Japan's rice producers in order to create additional profits for US rice growers making Japan even more dependents on the USA.

Yes, Japanese products generally are of a higher quality and, yes, this really is an exceptional aspect where it is absolutely correct to refuse to adopt free market principles. If there was a crisis, which there will be at some point, Japan has to be able to produce enough food to feed itself.

WIthout farming communities, there would be nothing in Japan between concrete and knotweed covered bamboo. Put a price on that.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Japan's rice is unique...

Yah.

I can't help but laugh at people who say things like this. Unique how? The myth of the unique, Japanese uniqueness that the islanders have cultivated through centuries of insularity is really ridiculous. If Japanese consumer got the chance to try other countries' produce, they'd be able to choose for themselves. But the don't get that chance, because they are deceived into believeng Japanese agricultural products are somehow special and 'unique' , motivating a higher price.

The prices of all domestic goods are manipulated to increase profits for Japanese manufacturers...

Slightly off-topic, but check out Amazon Japan and Blu-ray discs being distributed (or produced, even worse) by Japanese companies. As a 'normal' disc would be something in the range of ¥1500-2000, as soon as a Japanese company gets its hands in the process, prices always rise considerably. Usually to something like ¥3500-5000? Why is that? Because of the incredibly added value of being distributed by a Japanese company? Subtitling? Come on...

0 ( +5 / -5 )

However, Amari said, despite the progress in negotiations with the U.S., Japan will not agree to abolish tariffs on wheat, rice, dairy, sugar, beef and pork (counted as one), but he added that Japan still hoped to contribute to a high-quality pact.

Amari yokunai né !

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Knox Harrington

Perhaps people saying stuff like that are actually foreigners who have already tasted other rices?

Know, try comparing production costs, and the cost of life in Japan which even farmers have to pay, to understand why the price is high.

Personally, I am comfortable with that. If you compares the amount one spends on rice to, say, some spend on beer ... it's really quite little.

And I'd rather eat local food that was produced by a neighbor, rather than some exploited peasants in a distant nation shipped at a great cost and pollution.

You needed to look at total costs.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Youre fighting the wrong battle here Knox. Perhaps unique was not the best word for me to use even though it does fit the description. Nevertheless I totally get what youre saying and feel the same way with regards to "ware ware nihonjin" type comments.

However if you dont think Japanese rice is different in terms of taste and texture from the rest of the world's rice then with all due respect you have either never tried it, have silent taste buds or are trolling. You really dont think Japanese rice tastes different (in a better sense of the word) than the rice from other countries?

Why cant people accept that Japanese have mastered the technique of producing some foods that taste better than the same product of another country (specifically the countries in the TPP) . Fruits, meats (specifically beef) and rice are all better in Japan.

I dont want GMOs in Japan and if that means tank the TPP then Im fine with scrapping it. However with regards to competing agriculturally with the countries of the TPP - specifically with rice, dairy, sugar, beef and pork - I am confident Japan can compete because I think their beef as well as their rice superior in taste.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Howard stern You sound as naive as the Japanese.Monsanto has been in Japan for 30 years.In fact their HQ is in Ginza.Have you ever wondered about the popular,,no wash type rice.This decision was about protectionism and anti Ameriicanism

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It is certainly prudent for the Abe sans government to present a tough negotiate stance for a multi-lateral Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. The LDP have based so much of their economic and political strategy promoting TPP, intellectual-property ownership, agreement on copyrighted creative products and trademarked manufactured goods. The impetus must now focus on bilateral trade pacts and agreements. A whole process to restructuring the agriculture and farming sector must begin to preserve the economic future of the whole industry. It would be utter pointless to join any TPP pact with out clear and idefinable evidence of it's economic advantages.

To quote Abe san further:

The average age of the primary farming population is now sixty-six. It grew older by ten years during the last twenty years. I regret that our agriculture today is not winning the hearts of the young. Abandoned farming fields approximately doubled over the last twenty years. Now they are almost as large as the entirety of Saitama prefecture. If we leave it as it is, we will not be able to secure our farm villages and beautiful home. This is the reality already happening in front of us now; we have not participated in the TPP yet, though. We have to bring back strong and affluent agriculture and farm villages where the young will have a dream in the future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Re the quality of Japanese produce - much of it appears to be of high quality, but then we are being constantly told so.

However the common folk are really being hoodwinked when they are told it's the safest. By what scientific comparison with which countries? Only comparing to China is of little value. Millions of tons of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibacterial agents etc etc are in use every year - as they are in many other countries - but if JA says it's ok, then everyone thinks it's OK.

And I laugh when folks try to tell me how superior wagyu is. Superior in what way to what? Superior in creating the most artificial meat on the market. Fed lots of unnatural ingredients (for cows), kept inside in doctored environments with a minimum of exercise and that's meant to be natural.

The TPP has many problems esp in the financial, property. insurance and service sectors to mention a few - but a reformation of Japan's antiquated and vested interest agriculture sector brought on by the TPP is a neccessary reality. Over 80% of the "farmers" are not farmers but weekend hobbyists with full time jobs. Their acreages, lifestyles and incomes are being subsidised by the willing(or unwilling) masses and this duplicity needs to be addressed.

Japanese agriculture will not disappear because of the TPP, but it may well disappear if changes to the current situation don't occur. Now 100,000's of hecatares of farmland are idle because of aged farmers or the benefits of not farming the land outweigh the use.

There are young enterprising farmers with vision who are relishing the challenge of the new era, but the valuable votes of the cronies and the staid policies of the powers to be are hampering their spirits.

Bring on the revolution.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Quite frankly, I see a lot of comments here are negative. Now, I don't doubt that Japanese agriculture could be more efficient, that due to land and labor cost constraints even if they are at the most efficient possible they may still find it hard to compete on a cost basis ... but I don't see the rationale of blasting them just because they hold out for some tariffs.

While TPP's tatemae is to head for zero tariffs, all countries have their "pet industries" and even if tariffs have to go, they would want their "pet industry" to be the last to lose it, and only after extracting the maximum cost out of everyone else. Japan is proceeding to do just that. Maybe they'll get it, maybe they won't, and maybe they'll prefer to quit the pact entirely or get thrown out. But to make the try is not wrong.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I laugh when folks try to tell me how superior wagyu is. Superior in what way to what?

For one, it tastes really wonderful!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

...much of it appears to be of high quality, but then we are being constantly told so.

And there we have it. On a little plate (or in a bowl, if you will).

Any ody mentioning the so called food safety of Japanese produce should consider the (still) lingering effects of Fukushima Daiichi. Nobody in their right mind can believe that problem went away just because Shinzo said so in Buenos Aires. Before that, we had Minamata... When it comes to meat, big meat producing countries Brazil and Argentina are nowhere to be found in Japan. Why? Because of the inferior quality of animals roaming in open enviroment? Or because Japan is about business only?

Japan should stop pretending it is part of the developed world, close its borders once again and feel good about being superior to every other peoples. See how well that will work.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Amari is just doing the math:

No more small farmers = No more LDP support base

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's high time to move on without the feet-dragging Japanese. They always want to be at the table, to pretend to be leading when in this case they're holding up everything...and then, as expected, they offer exactly nothing of substance. The other motivated members of the TPP, ready to push on to new and even deeper agreements, have been anxious for months over Japan's ceaselessly duplicitous behavior at the negotiating table.

Japan thinks every country in the world should keep their markets wide open for Japanese products, yet the Japanese market should remain closed in return. They can always hide behind their "concerns" for "food security" (as if lower prices on food would be to the detriment of a country that already imports more than 60% of its food from abroad and will NEVER, EVER be self-sufficient), "cultural stability," "safety," you name it~it's just a smokescreen for more protectionism, more unfair trade practices, and more subsidizing of uncompetitive Japanese businesses who would surely be beaten into oblivion were they ever forced to actually face even modest levels of competition here at home on a level playing field.

Move on, TPP, throw Japan overboard and let the people of this country realize that for all his bluster and "New Country Blah-Blah-Blah", Abe was elected by an antiquated and unfair "democratic" system that counts farm votes as being proportionally worth up to four times as much as urban dwellers' ones-you know, the people who actually form the REAL economic "backbone" of this country?!

Everyone who cries about "the farmers" in Japan should understand that Japan's vaunted agricultural sector accounts for just 1.1% of its total GDP. Millions of poor Japanese are daily being fleeced by "beloved farmers" when they're forced to pay ridiculously high prices for the most basic of staples-and with zero alternatives. You heard right, all those poor "mom and pop cooperatives" being ceaselessly sobbed over in Japan's mass media...represent the exact same proportion of the country's GDP as does America's "multinational agribusiness behemoths"...and yet, all we here on the AHK is how some poor 10-hectare-Taro is going to lose his shirt if the government stops hyper-subsidizing his "traditional way of life" and actually puts to the test the rather specious claim that "Japanese food/products are the best in the world!" Smh!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

funny how high end hotels and the like have recently admitted falsely labeling processed beef as wagyu etc. Must be a unique kind of uniqueness, that's undetectable by supposed gourmets for DECADES. pesticides,hormones and fraud, the secret to J ags success.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

BN ... have you had a look at what that 60% of food is? You could almost cut it all out and make not a grain of difference to the population's health. In fact, it and the environment would benefit from doing so.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Mister Ed May. 21, 2014 - 05:37AM JST BN ... have you had a look at what that 60% of food is? You could almost cut it all out and make not a grain of difference to the population's health.

It will make significant difference. Japan does not produce much meat. Meats are the largest component of Japan's agricultural imports, about 20 percent. Japan imports large quantities of pork, beef, and poultry meat, mostly from Australia and U.S. and Japan is the largest meat importing country in the world. Yes, import barriers benefit Japanese farmers, especially those producing rice, milk for manufacturing, sugar beets and sugarcane, and wheat. There are strict government control over wheat, rice, dairy, and sugar products and they encourage processing of foods made from those commodities in Japan. Despite the protection of flour milling, sugar refining, and butter and milk powder production, Japan's imports of processed foods and beverages are over $7 billion.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Honey, you may be correct in that i am naive with respect to Japanese farmers and the source of the seeds they buy (87% of all seeds planted in Japan come from foreign countries). There is a fine line between hybrid seeds and GMO seeds. GMO products do enter Japan now, however they have to be labelled so. TPP will likely cause this labeling to disappear.

However "no wash rice" has nothing to do with genetic modification and all to do with curing and polishing process.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

HowardStern, I stand corrected on the rice,but what has Monsanto been doing in Japan for so many years and why do Japanese feel that all imported food is GM? Anyway,much of California is now in extreme drought and probably won't be producing much agriculture any time soon.Again,I really don't think this is about agriculture anyway.Japan just signed a trade agreement with Australia.which already has the lion share of imported beef in this country.It is about America!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan just signed a trade agreement with Australia.which already has the lion share of imported beef in this country. It is about America!

Did you read the details of the "free trade" agreement between Japan and Australia? In the deal, Japan got 0% tariffs on Japanese vehicles, and Australia will have the tariffs reduced on their beef from 38% to 29%, and eventually down to 23.5% over 15 years. Do you think Australia got a good deal? Or did they get bent over? In Japan, free trade is acceptable only if Japan gets everything it wants, and the other parties get nothing from Japan.

Of course TPP is primarily about America. America has allowed nearly every one of it's trading partners free access to the American market, and now America would like the same thing in return. America remains the world's largest market, partly because low tariffs allow imported goods to be cheap, which makes them more affordable, which in turn allows more to be sold. America would like other countries in TPP to provide the same access which America allows, and most of these countries have agreed to these terms, at least until Japan decided it wanted to jump in and screw up things for everyone.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Kick Japan out of the TPP talks. Should never invited Japan in the first place. Japanese farmers got the politicians by the short hair. The Japanese people will not be able to enjoy great rice and meats from the US. Japan farmers and ranchers produces small amount of quality products for the very rich to enjoy. The common people can only taste it on special occasions.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And I laugh when folks try to tell me how superior wagyu is. Superior in what way to what? Superior in creating the most artificial meat on the market. Fed lots of unnatural ingredients (for cows), kept inside in doctored environments with a minimum of exercise and that's meant to be natural.

Spot on. I don't get it either.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@sfjp330M

Japan does not need any of the meat it imports. Indeed, from the beginning of Western influence on Japan, it has been pushed to develop as a market for Western meat ridiculously increasing the environmental burden the meat industry produces everywhere it exists.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Fed lots of unnatural ingredients (for cows)

Ive worked on wagyu farms in Japan. Nothing unnatural about what they are fed at all in my experience. What are you talking about? Corn and grass are unnatural for cows? Seriously? Wagyu is way superior in quality and taste. The closest i have come to it in terms of quality and taste is usda prime grade A.

Are you sure you are not confusing real wagyu with the fake "wagyu" they produce in Canada and the USA? The N.American market is flooded with home Canada/USA grown "Kobe beef" and "wagyu" etc.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I don't get it either.

Different strokes, I guess. I find it extremely tender and tasty.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Corn and grass are unnatural for cows?

You what?! Grass is natural, yes, but corn isn't!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Grass is natural, yes, but corn isn't!

Sorry to be so blunt. But, so what? Beer is not a naturally occuring phenomenon, but it sure tastes nice. Corn fed beef tastes nice. What is wrong with that? There is nothing natural about the way beef is produced anyway. It is a product to be consumed. Do you think the cows are living there because they like it?

Personally, I find beef from Australia, for example to be rather tough and not as tasty as Japanese beef. I will readily admit this is a personal taste.

Anyway, I think a cow out in the wild that ran into some corn that had fallen on the ground would eat it. Cows are not wild. There are no wild cows, but they do eat a wide variety of grains and their diets are most certainly not restricted to grass.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My original statement was re the notion of how people believe certain foods are superior (eg wagyu) without knowing much about the product at all and esp the misconstrued idea of what is "natural". Similar to how people believe golf courses are "Nature". Yes well they have elemnts of nature - grass & trees, but it could be easily argued that they are not natural but artificial. And a key point was "superior in what way - to what"

"..And I laugh when folks try to tell me how superior wagyu is. Superior in what way to what? Superior in creating the most artificial meat on the market. Fed lots of unnatural ingredients (for cows), kept inside in doctored environments with a minimum of exercise and that's meant to be natural.."

As a non-meat eater I don't care what meat people eat, but if I was, I'd rather choose a free range variety - whether that be cows, chickens, sheep or whatever - for reasons other than just spiked-with-what flesh, but as someone concerned with the quality of life of animals (and I don't mean the right to listen to Bach while being pandered in their stalls and fed tid-bits).

In addition, as I stated, One +-ive aspect of TPP would be the start of solid questioning of current agricultural practices and the role of agriculture over the next century. Sustainability, environmental & resource imprints, land degradation, human resources are just a few of the issues needing to be discussed in depth by people at large.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

What is the most important? A state-of-the-art expensive army or a basic autarkic food supply?

This does not mean total agri-products blockage and refusal of modernisation, but no big nations would compromise on that and especially USA.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ans: Food supply.

Old truism ... even an army marches on its stomach.

It's not a question of modernisation. It's a question of not enough big flat bits of land ... and the screwed up state of land ownership that happened during MacArthur's post-war reforms (too many ex-land workers owning too many too small pieces of land).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

`Howard...Superior techniques LOL 5 acres in Japan compare to 500 in the US and 3000 in Australia. also noting that Australia has virtually no diseases for pork, poultry, beef. and it wheat dairy and fruits have minimal outbreaks. farmers are funded $50Billion year that a lot of PR to brainwash the masses. If Japan isnt willing to budge of farming then there should be tarriffs kept on its exports to member countries, or they should just leave the TPP altogether. cant have it one way

0 ( +1 / -1 )

sangetsu03

Did you read the details of the "free trade" agreement between Japan and Australia? In the deal, Japan got 0% tariffs on Japanese vehicles, and Australia will have the tariffs reduced on their beef from 38% to 29%, and eventually down to 23.5% over 15 years. Do you think Australia got a good deal? Or did they get bent over? In Japan, free trade is acceptable only if Japan gets everything it wants, and the other parties get nothing from Japan.

Augh since Australia's auto industry had collapsed, I would say Australia had a better deal. What would the Australian people gain by placing a tariff to a product that has zero contribution to domestic workforce?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well done. A country needs to protect its farmers.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Augh since Australia's auto industry had collapsed, I would say Australia had a better deal. What would the Australian people gain by placing a tariff to a product that has zero contribution to domestic workforce?

How much is Australia's beef industry worth? One-third of all beef imported to Japan comes from Australia, right? Supposedly, this reductions in tariffs is supposed to be worth up to $5.5 billion over 20 years. So if there were a real reduction in tariffs, sales of beef would increase. Sounds good, except that the agreement seemed to skirt around non-tariff barriers in the Japanese marketplace. I have yet to see the prices of Australian beef go down 9% at the supermarket. In Japan, McDonald's uses Australian beef in their hamburgers. But the prices for burgers have not decreased 9% have they? If prices don't go down, demand doesn't go up, right? If demand does not go up, then Austraian farmers won't sell more beef, right!? And if sales don't go up, the deal certainly isn't worth the touted $5.5 billion, is it?

The Japanese distributors will get a break on what they are paying for beef, but the consumers won't. But this is how things have always been done in Japan. A 40% strengthening of the yen in recent years did not reduce the cost of imported goods by 40% did it? Prices stayed the same, and in some cases, increased. Unless a trade agreement deals with the corrupt Japanese distribution and retail systems, it isn't worth the paper it is written on. Abbot got his pants pulled down, and he didn't even notice.

Unlike the Japan/Australia agreement, TPP specifically addresses non-tariff barriers, and provides legal recourse if parties find a way to keep prices high after tariffs are eliminated. This, more than anything else, is why Japan cannot reduce it's tariffs, because there is no backdoor option available to them. In the past agreements with America, these non-tariff barriers have kept American goods out of the Japanese market, or priced very high, even when no tariffs exist on these goods.

Why Abe ever bothered to put Japan's name in the TPP is a mystery to me, unless he is trying to sabotage the entire treaty, and so prevent other members for sharing trade advantages.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I laugh when folks try to tell me how superior wagyu is. Superior in what way to what?

For one, it tastes really wonderful!

So does cup noodle...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

sangetsu03

Even if lower the tariff to single digit or down to zero import to Japan is not going expand in double digit since the amount people consume is not going to expand. Japan also needs to maintain food security.

Tell you what Japan would probably go further in lowering tariffs if commercial whaling is ensured.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan also needs to maintain food security

Japan imports 60% of it's food, so Japan has no "food security" to maintain, does it?

TPP deals not only with overpriced food, but the other barriers which make many other things much more expensive in Japan. TPP addresses price-fixing, market manipulation, and other tricks commonly practiced in Japan to keep the cost of imports higher than the price of domestic goods. Even if tariffs were eliminated only on food items, and this change made it to the consumers, they would have up to 10% more disposable income to spend on other things, and this would help the manufacturers who make these things.

If the cost of living in Japan were reduced to a reasonable level, families might be able to afford to raise children, and the population might stop falling.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Let them "reap what they sow". Inequities and unfair practices have a way of biting back.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Once again denying the people the right to eat rice and fruits without all the chemicals Japanese farmers are obliged to lace them with.

JA is a monopoly and should be broken up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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