politics

Japan to make decision on TPP next week

36 Comments

The Japanese government will make a decision on whether to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks by next week.

Both Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura and Trade Minister Yukio Edano told separate news conferences that Japan has been quite late in making a decision but will do so by the Nov 12-13 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Honolulu.

Fujimura also said that even if Japan signals its willingness to take party in the talks, the framework for the multilateral talks is not likely to be decided until well into next year, Jiji Press reported.

The TPP is a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to further liberalize the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The original agreement between the countries of Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore was signed on June 3, 2005, and entered into force on May 28, 2006. Five additional countries – Australia, Malaysia, Peru, United States, and Vietnam – are negotiating to join the group.

On the last day of the 2010 APEC summit, Nov 14, leaders of the nine negotiating countries endorsed the proposal advanced by U.S. President Barack Obama that set a target for settlement of negotiations by the next APEC summit in November 2011.

However, with the APEC summit in sight, Fujimura told a news conference, "Negotiations are likely to take a year. It's not going to happen next week. So we have five Diet sessions dedicated to discussion of our participation in the TPP."

The issue has become a highly dvisive one in Japan.

Japanese farmers are vehemently opposed to joining out of fear that food imports would ruin them. The Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, backed by 161 ruling party and opposition lawmakers, have denounced the TPP, accusing the government of abandoning the agricultural sector and ignoring their opinions.

Meanwhile, supporters of Japan’s participation in the TPP said delaying the decision to join the talks will widen the gap between Japan and its competitors in the global market.

© Japan Today

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36 Comments
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Japanese farmers are vehemently opposed to joining out of fear that food imports would ruin them.

Inefficient selfish farmers should retire.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

it'll will destroy japan's manufacturing economic base. japan doesn't have resources to exploit for money like say china. japan has to produce things for its captial. TPP will ruin the economy, and not just the farmers.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Let me predict the future! Ok we all put our heads together and we decided to post pone!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Don't join, why compete when everything is just dandy! Last thing Japan needs is having to lift it's game. Maintain the bubble, outside is full of scary Gaijin. They have better products cheeper, really who on earth wants that. The farmers have a point they get subsidized to grow stuff, money for nothing this tradition should be maintained. It's all about tradition not global or local economics, why improve when you are paid to stay the same...fantastic. 40% self sufficient, let's try for 20% that will show everybody the spirit of Japan.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

During the 3 day conference in Waikiki the beach area will be out of bounds, no surfing there! No one will be allowed within 800 yards of the Waikiki with tight security during President Obama's visit-guess he might be allowed to go surfing?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's only a decision to take part in talks? Why am I not surprised? and wasn't the decision (to look at a decision) supposed to be made LAST week?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I am Cornholio! I need TPP for my bunghole!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hope Japan has learned something from Euro mess. I am totally against TPP.

Euro was a scam and so is TPP. Japan has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Forgone conclusion... They are a at point where they don't have much choice anymore.. Holding out any longer will only continue to further erode J firms competitiveness against the likes of South Korea who are signing FTA, s left right and centre and improving their competitiveness at J companies expense.. Farmers will be compensated from our taxes don't worry about that... On this issue Keidanren,s weight will roll the JA..not doing so would be too costly for Japan, s industry as a whole

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Quite often, I really like Cricky's comments. This time, for sure.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why! thank you Ranger...you will receive a Christmas card. You made my day.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

How about deciding to form a diet-sub-committee to investigate the possibility of joining these talks. They can report their findings in 2014, with a view to making a final decision by 2018. Sounds like the perfect solution to me.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

BurakuminDes: You forgot the panel that sub-committe would have to refer to.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

it'll will destroy japan's manufacturing economic base. japan doesn't have resources to exploit for money like say china. japan has to produce things for its captial. TPP will ruin the economy, and not just the farmers

sunhawk -- nonsense. Every major business group in Japan supports joining TPP because they know that not joining will destroy what is left of Japan's manufacturing base. Because, unlike you, they recognize that Japan's cost base is higher then most of its competitors, and, if Japan is subject to import tariffs on top of that, they will be completely uncompetitive. Joining TPP is one of the steps Japan must take to end its near three-decade long economic slide.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

After only four months of implementing the FTA between Korea/EU, Korea exports fell 5.5% while her imports grew 22%. And this is occuring despite the fact that Korean currency was hovering near the levels after the Lehman shock. Also, let's not undermine what is going to transpire in the EU in the near future.

This is an example of "taking up the XXX"

There is absolutely no reason for Japan to get suckered into this TPP when there is trade surplus with U.S. despite record level high yen along with the fact that there are significant Japanese manufacturing base within the TPP nations.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

nigelboy: "There is absolutely no reason for Japan to get suckered into this TPP..."

They're being given a chance to better themselves, not being suckered. The only suckering is by the morons with the silver spoons in their mouths, like Hatoyama and the other lawmakers, claim it will hurt the Japanese farmers, who have been price-gouging for ages and doing nothing besides. Healthy competition will benefit the nation as a whole, and the government can and SHOULD help up and coming farmers build their land and get going instead of screwing them then pretending to stick up for them for political points.

And as has been said a dozen times, consumers who believe Japanese goods are top (when they're not, but that's another argument) will still buy Japanese, and it will improve exports despite the stats of other nations who have joined similar agreements.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Nigelboy, has it ever occurred to you that maybe Korean consumers are pleased to have access to a greater availability of products from EU countries? And are trade surpluses really the be-all and end-all of existence for nations? Will the "trading states" of Asia ever get beyond this mentality?

Your opinion is a variation on the tired statement that says "The way Japan has done things up to now has served the country well, so there's no reason to change anything."

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan doesnt really have a choice. simple fact is if they dont manufacturers wont have a choice in moving more production to cheaper countries, this means more Japanese job loses which means less income & corporate taxes for a government that already runs $400billion revenue shortfall every year. Time for the farmers to stop leaching from the Japanese tax payer ($50billion/year) and become competitive like other Japanese corporations have to do.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Nigelboy, has it ever occurred to you that maybe Korean consumers are pleased to have access to a greater availability of products from EU countries? And are trade surpluses really the be-all and end-all of existence for nations? Will the "trading states" of Asia ever get beyond this mentality?

For a country like Korea whose exports to GDP ratio is high, surpluses is definitely their goal. That's basically what the Korean government has been touting to get public approval.

Your opinion is a variation on the tired statement that says "The way Japan has done things up to now has served the country well, so there's no reason to change anything."

Not really. If I may add, one of the major factors with Japan's sluggish exports is the high yen. Hence, the exports will continue to suffer tarriffs or non-tariffs. Secondly, Japan's economic slump is also due to their deflationary spiral so bringing cheaper foreign goods (agricultural foods) will only contribute to this. Sorry man. I just don't see that much of a positive to outweight the negative.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I do not care to pay 3500 yen in a package of rice. I've worked in agriculture and I know how hard and heavy is these people's lives. A few weeks of APEC The FBI arrested and fined at 200 million dollars three Japanese executives of furukawa,accused of Price-Fixing and Bid-Rigging Conspiracy.

It will be a message from obama politicians to of the dpj???

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The FTA between the U.S. And Korea did not destroy Korea's overall finical base, and a lot of the TPP will look just like that between Japan and the U.S. And the other nations. These phantom fears must come to an end so that Japan can move forward. Yet Jpan may dictate it's own future, that's what a sovereign nations purpose is from being sovereign in the first place, I only hope Japan makes the correct decision. And does what's best for the future generations and it's future economy prospectus.Peace.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is an unhealthy focus on farmers (especially rice farmers), while the TPP is a global agreement that would benefit the economy as a whole (easier exports for Japanese industries). Concerning agricultural products, the TPP, combined with the abolishment of JA monopolies and price control, while bring the Japanese agriculture to the modern world through healthy competition. Farmers will have to consolidate their farms by freely associating with their peers (as it has been done in developed countries in the 50's but has never been done in Japan). Not only Japanese agriculture will survive (at least those who adapt), but it will be more armed to compete on a global scale. Knowing that Japanese products are increasingly popular in China (and the price is not a problem for the rich Chinese) and other countries (except for Fukushima products, of course), there are some potential new markets opening to the intelligent Japanese farmers. It will also benefit the average Japanese families, who would definitely appreciate a sharp decrease in food products, especially rice (domestic rice might be 40 to 50% cheaper if price control is removed, foreign rice might be sold 80 to 90% cheaper than current price).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agree with a lot of the above comments. At the end of the day it boils down to a simple choice - do you risk a few thousand farming jobs by joining or a few million manufacturing jobs by not joining.?..Which is the more managable option for the J govt ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I agree Piglet. There appears to be an unhealthy focus on the farmers.

Let's get back to basics. Who are the participants to TPP?

Singapore, New Zealand, Brunei, Chili, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, and U.S. Excluding the U.S, the combined 8 nations' GDP is about 40% of that of Japan. The trade balance between those combined 8 nations and Japan is about $17 billion deficit for Japan. (2010 stats) However, Japan has over $60 billion in trade surplus with the U.S.

Hence, this is all about whether Japan is going to cooperate with Obama's desperate plan to double exports. If I was Noda, I would give Obama a Japanese way of saying " #### you" which miokurimasu. But, this is DPJ at the helm here. I'm guessing they will decide to participate in the discussion on TPP. (De facto membership into TPP)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nigelboy, there you go again, writing about Japan as if it's some garden-variety "trading state" of Asia that needs to maintain large trade surpluses because of a very high exports-to-GDP ratio. But you know Japan doesn't fit that profile, and has not since probably the 1970s. All the talk about Japan's "export-dependent" economy is overstated. A lower trade surplus with the US (if that's what results from approval of TPP) will hardly pose a threat to Japan's well-being. Unless, of course, you think Japan is such a weak and fragile country that it needs to treat trade surpluses as a matter of national security.

I'm sure there was huge opposition in Japan at one time to revision of the Large Store Law, which protected the small mom-and-shop stores once characteristic of Tokyo and elsewhere. But I'm sure today many Japanese are pleased to shop at Costco, Ikea, Carrefour, and the other big-box foreign outlets that were able to move in after reform (in addition to the large Japanese outlets too). Same scenario is likely to play out with TPP.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Masswipe

If you read my previous comments relating to Japan's economy, I have already indicated that they are not export dependent.

http://archive.japantoday.com/category/commentary/view/how-japan-can-turn-the-tables-on-its-economic-decline#comment_822828

And if you actually understood the figures on my previous post, what this TPP, in essence, is a FTA agreement between US-Japan from the Japanese/US perspective disguised as some trans pacific kumbaya. Well. Japan already has significant trade surplus despite the rising yen with U.S. So what is the incentive for Japan? Cheap goods? Then what is the merit of bringing in more cheap stuff when Japan's in a deflationary spiral?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nigelboy, you're making absolutely no sense, because of course you want Japan to have it both ways. Trade surpluses are of the greatest importance to countries with highly export-dependent economies. Japan is not such a country anymore, and hasn't been since at least the 1970s, so why are you so obsessed with maintaining Japan's trade surplus vis-a-vis the USA, as if the year is still 1965? Is it just a matter of disliking the USA? If so, just say so. Then I'll know your opinion is not motivated by what's best for Japan.

And as for your odd argument that Japan can't afford an influx of cheap imported goods because of deflation, try telling that to Japan's consumers, especially the housewives who control household budgets.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Masswipe

What are you not comprehending? My whole argument is "what's best for Japan" because that's the EXACT question that the Japanese are weighing at this moment, is it not????

Housewives are not spending because of stagnant economy. How do you stimulate economy? By bringing in more cheaper stuff? Is that your answer? What part of deflationary spiral do you not comprehend?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nigelboy, you're being evasive as usual. What I'm not comprehending is very simple: Why you are seemingly obsessed with Japan's trade surplus vis-a-vis the USA (you bring it up over and over again) when Japan has an advanced, mature national economy that is FAR past the point of more export-dependent economies like the ones in South Korea and Taiwan. You sound more interested in sticking it to the USA than in supporting a policy that's in Japan's best interest. Is that the case?

Or maybe you just equate Japan's acting like a d**k with acting in Japan's best interest. This appears to lie at the root of all your frustrations with Japan's (or the DPJ's) attempts at meeting others halfway rather than extending a middle finger each time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Masswipe,

Not evasive at all my friend. Although Japan is not export dependent, a trade surplus is an added figure to the GDP which there is no point in losing it just to appease the current U.S. president who is living on borrowed time. Other than trying to desparately turn my post as though it's "anti-U.S.", why don't you just address the questions I raised on my previous two posts? The reason you yourself "evade" this is because you can't.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nigelboy, again you write like somebody who cares far less about alleviating deflation in Japan than you do about seeing Japan act like a d**k on the world stage, so there's no point in answering your questions. You wrote that if you were PM Noda, you'd use a 4-letter word when speaking to President Obama about the TPP. Very classy and an example of why it's a good thing that nobody with real power in Tokyo takes your advice (I would hope).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

no point in answering your questions

Those are simple questions that if you believe there is a merit to Japan's entrance to TPP, you can answer them. But you can't. Hence, I could very well accuse you of being just those simple minded stars and stripes waving pro American interested in sticking to Japan. However, the difference between you and me is that I explained my reasons why Japan should not enter while you have not. The obvious reason for this is that you are thinking the positive aspect of U.S.,only which you know is not beneficial to Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But have no fear Masswipe.

If I were to predict, with the current leadership Japan has, they'll agree to enter into the negotiations(de facto entrance into TPP) during APEC but will assure the opponents that they will try their best to protect their interests. (⊹^◡^)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Readers, please stop sniping at each other. Focus your comments on the story and not at each other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nigelboy, I can't take seriously somebody who not only wishes to see Japan extend a middle finger to the entire world, but somebody who also draws an online smiley face in response to the prospect of the Japanese PM groveling on his knees before Japan's agricultural lobby and capitulating to their narrow interests. You really call that acting in Japan's best interests? I call that pathetic for a supposedly strong nation.

And by the way, I'm far from being a fan of the American agricultural lobby, which has played a crucial role in helping to decimate the livelihoods of farmers in Mexico and elsewhere. So no, I don't wish to see Iowa farmers reap the benefits of exporting genetically modified corn to Japan at subsidized prices. The agricultural lobby in the US needs to be dismantled as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Masswipe,

Again, you failed to provide any answers to my questions I raised before.

Read my first post on this article. I stated there is an unhealthy focus on the farmers.

On the contrary, I admire the farming industry of the U.S. with their innovations in yield improvement, disease resistance crops to specialty quality crops. I admire their changing management style with their implementation of forwad marketing, price hedging, rotation schedules, disease and weed management. Despite rising input costs from gasoline, fertilizer, labor and monopoly Monsanto seed costs, they are making an effort to keep the industry going.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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