politics

U.S. encouraged by progress with Japan on TPP, but tough issues remain

25 Comments
By Elaine Lies

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“Our hope is that ... Japanese negotiators will be bold.”

Ya, right. Good luck with that. Japan has been stuck in the same negotiating style for decades, and it isn't "bold".

0 ( +9 / -9 )

As I've said before, if Japan keeps playing around with the agreement just shut them out. Japan needs the TPP more than the rest of the countries need Japan in the pact. Their persistence in protecting the agricultural and auto industries is only because of the subsidies the government gives to these industries. If they drop the subsidies for the agricultural industry it means the farmers they pay not to work will all be one unemployed skyrocketing Japan's unemployment rate.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Maybe it’s a good time for Japan to plot an exit contingent plan now to save its face.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It has been a tradition for farmers to allow a certain proportion of their crop to run to seed, and collect the seed to plant next year. Monsanto, with a team of detectives and a legal arm is making this impossible. The farmer has to pay the Monsanto tax, shelling out money each year for new seeds.

http://survivingthemiddleclasscrash.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/the-multiple-ways-monsanto-is-putting-normal-seeds-out-of-reach/

A smallholder operates on a very small margin anyway, so that, with the high price of seeds, and many other accumulating expenses, it is very difficult for him to make a living. He sells the farm at a giveaway price to a large farming corporation. He is then out of work and has no prospects.

This is what happened in Oklahoma, as is well documented in the Grapes of Wrath.

This is one example of what we have to look forward to if TPP happened.

Food prices would be cheap at first, but those connected with local food production would be out of a job. Farmers, farm workers, merchants, people running local farmer's markets. Following this, the prices would start to go up. They would have to - to feed the fat cats and investors who are the only ones to make a profit.

I don't know if anyone remembers this, but supermarkets USED to be cheap. They put local farmer's markets and small shops out of business and now they are EXPENSIVE.

These are some of the reasons that TPP is not going through.

Certainly the Japanese food production chain needs an overhaul, but TPP will not do it. It will destroy it.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

BertieWooster : I don't know if anyone remembers this, but supermarkets USED to be cheap.

Sometimes I think that, but then I realize I'm comparing current prices with 20-30 years of price data, like when bread cost 50 cents or so, milk a dollar, etc. Also comparing really high prices where I am now with really low prices where I used to be.

Also, seems like prices went up during the recent (within last decade) oil crises. Manufactured or not.

Seems like farmers could go back to heirloom seeds and/or smaller seed growers, if they don't want to pay for seedlines Monsanto paid big research monies to develop. I don't like Monsanto (chemicals in the environment) shouldn't they protect proprietary technology?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@bertiewooster I normally disagree with the majority of your posts but this one hits the nail right on the head. You got it right on the money. It's unfortunate that the world is full of people who can only see what's exactly in front of them and have no foresight to see what's coming up ahead. People are too blinded with the cheap price tag today and chase the savings of pennies only to lose out the whole farm down the road. Monsanto has no interest in feeding the world. It's a corporation that cares only about bottom line dollars and profits. Current TPP structure will ruin Japan's agriculture industry and spread America's obesity epidemic to Japanese citizens. It's bad enough that tainted Chinese McDonald's chicken has already infiltrated into everyday life; let's stop this before it gets out of hand.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

BertieWoosterOct. 16, 2014 - 08:25AM JST It has been a tradition for farmers to allow a certain proportion of their crop to run to seed, and collect the seed to plant next year. Monsanto, with a team of detectives and a legal arm is making this impossible. The farmer has to pay the Monsanto tax, shelling out money each year for new seeds.

Bertie, a good point, but the system goes deeper than simply producing seed. Leaving fields for a year and then plowing the plants back into the ground also has an important soil enrichment function.

It is a little complex, but the short version is that the Japanese farming system strips the soil of nutrients and minerals. Compost can replace some of these on a surface level, but compost alone cannot completely renew the soil's mineral content.

I can already see evidence of lower mineral content in Japanese fruits and vegetables (when was the last time you saw a bright red domestically produced tomato in Japan? Most have a washed out pink look to them), and this has serious health implications for the Japanese public.

The protectionist approach to the Japanese agricultural industry is not only selfish and short-sighted, but also positively dangerous. Japanese people already eat far too little fruit and vegetables. Most people should be eating at least one full-sized piece of fruit a day (e.g. large banana or large apple), plus a large serving of vegetables (two carrots, half a head of broccoli, etc.), but they're simply too expensive ... and even if people did this in Japan they still wouldn't be getting enough trace minerals since the vegetables are so mineral-poor.

And no, vitamin tablets cannot make up the difference.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want the TPP. I think that the copyright and intellectual property clauses are pure poison, however something does need to be done about the state of nutrition in Japan, particularly in terms of fruit and vegetables. It is pathetic that Japan is surrounded by nations like China, India, Thailand, and the Philippines where fruit and vegetables are so cheap that they're going to waste while in Japan people are actually getting sick because of insane tariffs that don't allow the import of cheap and plentiful fruit and vegetables.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

BertieWooster:you got this one right , here are a couple more links http://youtu.be/U3hCR_yCvkk ----http://youtu.be/eUd9rRSLY4A, these are some factual reporting exposing not just Monsannto but also the media corporations power.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

supermarkets USED to be cheap

Exactly. But the UK's Tesco, for example, recently ordered a fifth addition to its fleet of jets.

Sure, supermarkets have lots of cheap food, but look at the appalling quality of the bulk of the processed garbage foisted pin us as value, the same nutritional sleight of hand that brings us the 100 yen menu at McNastys.

Governments do nothing to upset Big Pharma, that thrives on alleviating the symptoms (but NEVER addressing the causes of) lifestyle diseases that hardly existed a generation ago. It's all a con.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So the US has or will remove its tariffs on cars, parts and trucks from Japan then ?

Until it does that why should japan pander to US big business demands over farming ?

Monsanto will kill all agriculture but its own, mark my words.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

As I've said before, if Japan keeps playing around with the agreement just shut them out.

As I said before, what part of "progress" don't you understand? The U.S. is eager to hurry Japan into making an agreement that is unfavorable for them. This is obvious by their tone. Yet they still admit there has been progress made, so just leave it at that. Its not like they were getting anywhere without Japan, anyway.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It has been a tradition for farmers to allow a certain proportion of their crop to run to seed, and collect the seed to plant next year. Monsanto, with a team of detectives and a legal arm is making this impossible. The farmer has to pay the Monsanto tax, shelling out money each year for new seeds.

Any what are they using Monsanto seeds? Oh yeah, because it's better. Don't want to play by Monsanto's rules, don't buy Monsanto.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

What progress??

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What progress??

If it was simple enough to explain in this article I'm sure it would be written.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese farmeres use Monsanto seed?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A smallholder operates on a very small margin anyway, so that, with the high price of seeds, and many other accumulating expenses, it is very difficult for him to make a living. He sells the farm at a giveaway price to a large farming corporation. He is then out of work and has no prospects

Thanks a lot for Bertie who made the crystal clear about cut throat competition of market. Big and strong survive for swallowing small operators. In the real world, there is no free market. All markets has some form of protection and barriers. For US and Au, some produces and products are exempted for TPP due to political clouts and fat cats ideology.

Australia is small market. If they signed TPP with US, they are hopeful for sharing the larger slice of US market. In fact US produces are more competitive in the Aussie Grocery stores. US grapes and berries are cheaper than Aussie counter parts even they have to travel with cargo. For dominating the market, new competitor will have to cut the price. In the long run, Aussie will lose more due to the lack of fairness and justice for signing stupid deal due.

Japanese farming sector is already struggling. Back in 1980s, Japanese products were very competitive because of no political intervention. If Japan open the food market, Japan will be the loser in the long term.

Imagine eating Sushi made with US rice will be same as eating living Crocoaches with Wasabi.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japanese farmers do not use Monsanto seeds.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Lots of seeds are imported, don't believe me, next time your at the garden centre have a look, fair amount is imported seeds

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Imagine eating Sushi made with US rice will be same as eating living Crocoaches with Wasabi.

Actually, Californian, (or Spanish or Italian) Japanese-style rice isn't bad. And plenty of Japanese importers have discovered that they can pass Chinese product off in Japan as Japanese rice.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As I've said before, if Japan keeps playing around with the agreement just shut them out.

Disillusioned,

Your country basically got bush whacked by the Japanese counterparts when your beloved officials agreed to a gradual decrease in tariffs which begs the question "how desperate is Australia"?? The EPA between Japan and Australia is basically finalized which results in Japan already concluding EPA with 8 out of 11 TPP participants. But that's not the highlight of this pact. As your beloved country agreeing to this 'gradual tariff' decrease, the said agreement set a precedent where the same counteroffer is given to U.S. by Japan and have used this argument to counter the powerless incompetent USTR rep in From an.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I have some empathy for farming families in Japan. They work hard with small areas of land to earn a reasonable living. What's wrong with that?

The US model of massive, corporate farms using slave, uh, illegal alien, uh, itinerant poor families to pick vegetables that go to market where more than half of the food gets thrown away anyway and is still expensive probably won't work in Japan.

Look, Japan should look out for Japanese just as vigorously as the US looks out for Americans. Japanese farmers will certainly suffer a drop in living standard under TPP.

If you're a fan off TPP, then I'm sure you'd be fine with doing something "bold" like accepting a massive pay cut from the already profitable company you work for so it can make even more money while you barely hover above poverty, becoming homeless and bankrupt within a month if you lost your measly paycheck.

The average US family has nothing in the bank. The average Japanese household still has about US$100,000 in savings. Why would Japanese want to be more like 'Murica? TPP is like wandering in a middle-east desert with a big sign asking ISIS to please cut your head off.

Unfair trade agreements were a major contributing factor to both world wars.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They work hard with small areas of land to earn a reasonable living. What's wrong with that?

They're subsidized to the tune of about 2M JPY each to continue farming economically unfeasible rice paddies.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japan would have to be crazy to go for theTPP. Any nation that loses control over its food-production is one that won't be around long. In this case, US agribusiness, and politicians who play ball with them, are the only parties that benefit.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@BertieWooster

Thanks for the informative comment. Have you ever read the Wikipedia article on Monsanto?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

bruinfan,

I hadn't read the Wikipedia article on Monsanto. I have now.

Thanks for the suggestion.

It is VERY informative:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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