Take our user survey and make your voice heard.

Voices
in
Japan

poll

Japan wants certain products, such as rice, exempt from tariffs, if it joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact. Do you think this is a reasonable request?

74 Comments
© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

74 Comments
Login to comment

If rice isn't on the table, then forget it! The deal with rice is that it is largely, ok probably wholly symbolic, nothing more or less.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Rice is a most important staple. Japan should try very hard to protect its own rice production and the farmers (still) busy with it. Otherwise, what will happen is that the farmers will go bankrupt, and sell the land (and become millionaire in the process) to real-estate companies. Then Japan will become dependent of countries like China, with its (initially) cheap rice, who will lose no time to use this advantage (like it happened with the rare metals story)

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Who didn't see this coming?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Japan always wants exemptions with deals. Join or be left in the dust.

6 ( +16 / -10 )

Japan wants certain products, such as rice, exempt from tariffs, if it joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact. Do you think this is a reasonable request?

Considering the fact that this is essentially a defacto FTA between U.S. and Japan and the former is also asking for exemptions on their products, the answer is YES.

-2 ( +10 / -12 )

Definitely, I don't want to eat low quality rice from overseas.

-10 ( +10 / -20 )

The US is also wanting sugar exempt for them so what is the difference?

Basically there no such thing as no boundary FTA agreements since each nation has it's own unique national interests. Korea & China has so much more that they can't even reach the starting line.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Definitely, I don't want to eat low quality rice from overseas.

You wont have to. It's not going to be a matter of no Japanese rice. You will still have the choice. The Japanese farmers are concerned about the cheaper rice hitting the market and taking away their monopoly.

While rice is a staple food here, it is way too expensive compared to the world market roughly 10 times more so if I recall correctly.

I will also say that it's only an ignorant person that will say that "all" foreign rice is inferior to Japanese grown rice.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

I'm not so worried about eating low (or high, or middling) quality rice from overseas. I am worried about relying on it. Why on earth would any people purposely allow themselves to become dependent on food (or water) imports.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

taj - exactly.. Rice is a strategic element, should stay beyond these economic discussions.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@Nigelboy

Considering the fact that this is essentially a defacto FTA between U.S. and Japan ...

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is currently being negotiated by : The United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

I agree with your point about the US also asking for exceptions, though.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

taj - exactly.. Rice is a strategic element, should stay beyond these economic discussions.

If every country takes exceptions to products that they consider to be "strategic" be it rice for Japan, or cars for America, or whatever for whomever, what's the point of TPP?

The Japanese for the most part will continue to purchase Japanese rice, it's not like the local market is going to suddenly dry up and disappear. Who ever says that is just fear mongering. Plus if one thinks that way, then just maybe their product isn't so great if the CONSUMER suddenly starts purchasing imports.

But that being said, the consumer should have the right of choice and right now that doesnt exist. Japanese importers have to learn to import more practically than they do now.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Plus if one thinks that way, then just maybe their product isn't so great if the CONSUMER suddenly starts purchasing imports.

Sad, but sometimes people don't know what is best for them. Of course they will chose with their wallet, and lead many rice growers into bankruptcy. Every child knows that.

But a country should never lose it's independence on such basics (rice, bread, water, self-defense). Especially knowing that China will start dumping the cheapest rice on the market, and once they own 80% of the import they will gradually start rising prices. That's exactly how they took over the rare earth market, by killing the competition with very cheap initial prices. Do you how how much they increased the price in the last 5 years? More than 10 times!!!

And this is a fact, not fear mongering...

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@Yubaru : Yeah, but regardless it is still very reasonable for Japan to push for rice exemptions. I would advise focusing more on opening up insurance, healthcare, professional services, etc. more than rice..

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Sad, but sometimes people don't know what is best for them. Of course they will chose with their wallet, and lead many rice growers into bankruptcy. Every child knows that.

Oh and like by your implication here the Japanese people wont know the difference between imported and domestically grown rice? The way you think makes it seem as if all the Japanese are children and don't know any better. That is arrogant beyond belief.

Comparing rare earth metals and rice is like trying to compare baseball and soccer and you saying they are the same thing. Ok they are team sports but beyond that nothing compares.

Japanese rice is highly subsidized and the growers KNOW they can not compete unless THEY adapt, if they lose those subsidizes some will fail, and rightfully so they should. But the SMART one's will prosper better than ever because there is less domestic competition and the Japanese will still purchase their rice.

But, with the constant rising costs it will become a "rich" man's commodity unless imports are increased(talking about rice) families will not be able to afford "Japanese" rice and why should they when they can get just as high quality rice for 1/10 of the price? Why pay 2,000 yen for a 5KG bag of rice that should only cost 200 yen?

Real smart economics there doh!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Yubaru, you'd think the Japanese would know better after what happened at Fukushima, but look whom they elected....

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Joining TPP is like one of the stupidest things Japan could ever do. In fact all of the Asian countries involved should tell the US to go take a hike. This is just a transparent ploy to prop up position of the US$ as international currency.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Oh and like by your implication here the Japanese people wont know the difference between imported and domestically grown rice?

Although I'm in agreement that depending on other countries for core essential foods is not a good idea, the concept here is that the Japanese PREFER their own rice and hence want to maintain the status quo. Again, I don't have a problem with that until it becomes a burden on the taxpayer, who do subsidise rice growing. Could other forms of rice be grown more efficiently to be more competitive? I think it is a question worth answering, and reducing food costs can't be a bad thing, and you could maintain some "premium" rice for those who simply MUST have their preference, or for those who can afford it

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They are still sniffing for a loophole...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Definitely, I don't want to eat low quality rice from overseas."

No worries, you can still buy "high quality" Japanese rice at 3-5 times the price of the "low quality" rice..

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@ebisen

Do you how how much they increased the price in the last 5 years? More than 10 times!!!

Looks alarming until you realise that the demand rose over 50 fold! I actually suspect it is event higher but can't find reliable stats. Nevertheless, the rise in usage is well documented, so prices being higher are just a factor of an open market.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I can see Japan being flooded with inferior food and mechanical products in the years to come - gas guzzling cars that can't go round corners, fat-filled food, genetically modified Frankenstein food products... to name a few. I think Japan should hold out for all it can get... once you sign that dotted line you open yourself up to all kinds of junk.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I voted no because this is an impasse. This privilege is against the spirit of such an agreement. If japan is granted this exempt, other countries will impose their own, which will damage ultimately the functionality of the agreement.

In the long run, TPP must become a regional version of European Customs Unions, helping economic cooperation between member countries. We know very well that sustainable economic cooperation also means viable peace.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Japanese can't tell the difference between Japanese rice and non-Japanese rice though. I've seen the taste tests on foreign media. As soon as there is no package, they don't know the difference, unless they are given low-grade long grains. They can't tell the difference between reasonable grade short grains from different countries and their own Japonica. Japan's greatest strength is that Japanese people have been raised to believe blindly in the superiority of Japanese products. Sometimes it's true, but often it's not true. Either way, wherever possible the Japanese will buy Japanese and the Americans won't, so fee-trade agreements favour Japan. They should embrace them for this reason.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

You really do not need blanket trade agreements like this -and they are foolish. Support tariffs (if needed) and buy local or made in Japan. On a country to country basis Japan can make these agreements.

If all the small farms (especially rice) were leveled -How bad do you think the flooding would get? Rice farming in Asia has historically been self-sustainable = reason for the large populations (China et al).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I never seen rice krispie treats in Japan... Now that will help the economy!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The FDA placed an "Import Alert" on cucumbers from Daniel Cardenas Izabal and Miracle Greenhouse, two suppliers in Culiacan, the largest city in the Sinaloa state of Mexico, on Thursday. The cucumbers were distributed by Arizona-based company Tricar Sales and were "purchased or consumed at multiple locations or restaurants." The CDC says "there is no evidence that contaminated cucumbers supplied by are still on the market."

I am posting the above hoping you demand your rights to your government to protect you and your family.

Make no mistakes that we have been dealing with a health safety issue from the day one since we started the NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico, Canada, and USA. I do not trust fruits and vegetable coming from Mexico and I do not buy them as they do not have a safety standard like we do. Some of them are fully contaminated with bacteria. Just last week, the contamination is now spread more than 19 states. The sources are from fruits and vegetables from other countries.

Be vigilant and alert for you and your family's health.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

globalwatcherJul. 30, 2013 - 07:22AM JST I do not trust fruits and vegetable coming from Mexico and I do not buy them as they do not have a safety standard like we do. Some of them are fully contaminated with bacteria.

Let's see, U.S. corn - 88% of US crop is GMO. Most of the Hawaiin crop of papaya is GMO. Those new pineapples with the pretty pink fruit? GMO. U.S. any better with California grown e-coli lettuce?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Farmboy Jul. 30, 2013 - 07:58AM JST Now if you ask me if I think Japan should join the TPP, I would say no. I think it makes no sense for them.

How long can J-goverment afford farm subsidies at high tax cost? If Japan opens up it's agricultural section, it would save $50 billion annually on farm subsidies. The price of 10 kilo California or Texas rice will be reduced by 75 percent from the current price in Japan. The average Japanese consumers can choose if they are willing to try California or Texas rice at substantial savings.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

sfjp330Jul. 30, 2013 - 07:45AM JST

globalwatcherJul. 30, 2013 - 07:22AM JST I do not trust fruits and vegetable coming from Mexico and I do not buy them as they do not have a safety standard like we do. Some of them are fully contaminated with bacteria.

Let's see, U.S. corn - 88% of US crop is GMO. Most of the Hawaiin crop of papaya is GMO. Those new pineapples with the pretty pink fruit? GMO. U.S. any better with California grown e-coli lettuce?

I am shopping only in Organic local stores for veggies, fruits, daily product, meats in my city known as the most environmentally progressive city in the world. We are well informed more than we want.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It doesn't matter. TPP is a farce, unless they put some kind of teeth into it to make sure all parties abide. Legally, there are no tariffs placed on American made cars in Japan, but somehow nealry 30% gets added to their retail price. Japan may agree to all terms, and charge no tariffs on rice, and then implement an "agricultural safety inspection charge" which effectively raises the price to current Japanese market levels.

These practices have been practiced in Japan for a long time, which is one of the reasons that some other countries did not want Japan to participate in the TPP. Japan abides by these treaties in the same way it selectively enforces certain laws, while largely ignoring others, like equal opportunity or workplace age discrimination. In Japan, culture overrules law, and other countries would like to see this change before they take anything Japan says at face value.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

No Miso

Looks alarming until you realise that the demand rose over 50 fold!

Huge BS!! look here:

http://www.namibiarareearths.com/market-demand.asp

For the production rising only 3 times. It is well known that the demand has actually stayed rather flat in the past 3 years, and only rose 2-3 times in the past 20 years. BTW, there is a graph there clearly showing China's strategic market overtake, first by dumping the materials on the market, driving competitors out of business, then by increasing both production (2X), and prices (10-15 times).

There is no reason to believe they will not try this with rice as well.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I don't know why Japan are even allowed to join the TPP.

They don't want a trade partnership. They want everything to be biased towards them.

They want to keep the high tax on foreign cars and rice into Japan, but don't want other countries to tax Japanese cars or rice the same.

The rice thing is pathetic. They want to protect the livelihood of the small population rice farmers, who produce an over-priced, over-hyped product.

Japan is the most insecure country in the world. If they make products and produce that is SO amazing, they shouldn't be afraid of people wanting to buy "inferior" foreign products.

The other countries should just say "you're either all in, or not in at all".

Wanting to join and making all those demands is selfish and petty; and not in the spirit of a trade partnership.

Again, Japan wants to do what is good for the politicians and business, not for the average people.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

No, absolutely not; such a deal would contravene the spirit, intent and benefits of the TPP. People have wrongly focused on the highly inefficient Japanese farmers that MAY go bankrupt. That is the best thing that could happen to them and the market. There will always be a market for high quality goods, but at present ALL Japanese consumers are forced to buy a those prices irrespective of quality. the TPP promises that economies of scale can be introduced into Japanese rice production; this along with the removals of BOTH subsidies AND tariffs ensures that the Japanese consumer can pay a FAIR PRICE for the products they purchase.

Many farmers here will be forced to become efficient or do something else, that is true and that is the heart of the problem... The typically xenophobic response that "we don't want inferior foreign rice" is as laughable as it is a total smokescreen. These farmers fear losing their welfare payments from the taxpayer... nothing more.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Inevitable. as soon as the US got involved there was always going to be pandering to lobbies and horse trading. Bet Japan gets this rice exemption.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Give me light, fluffy, tasty rice anyday over Japanese tasteless, stodgy rice!

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Let rice imports into Japan and effectively crush the incomes of millions of subsistence farmers?

Replace Japanese farmers' income with what?

It would be political suicide and foolhardy to do this.....

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

bilderberg_2015Jul. 30, 2013 - 10:59AM JST

Give me light, fluffy, tasty rice anyday over Japanese tasteless, stodgy rice!

I always bring a bag of Japanese rice weighing at least 15kg in my suit case and am willing to pay extra for the excess.. I only buy gourmet Japanese rice from Uonuma-gun, Niigata rice farmer. I pay almost 3,000 yen ($30) for 1 kg . It is very delicious compared to California Kokuhoo junk.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

globalwatcher, bildeberg has only eaten "rice" at gyudon shops. Uonuma rice is good, but I also recommend Yumepirika from Hokkaido.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Yumepirika from Hokkaido.

Yes, I have eaten that during this time visit, and I like that very much. And it was cheaper than Uonuma Rice. If you know how to spell "RICE" in Kanji, it says "hachi-ju-hachi" translating as a growing rice is labor intensive product.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

hidingout,

Joining TPP is like one of the stupidest things Japan could ever do. In fact all of the Asian countries involved should tell the US to go take a hike. This is just a transparent ploy to prop up position of the US$ as international currency.

Exactly!

And it's something that will backfire in the long run.

Importing produce from the U.S.A. will be cheaper for a while, but, as the cost of transportation goes up and the Japanese economy crashes (it's near the edge and Abe's pushing it closer), it's going to much more expensive than producing it locally.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

This is about food security, not taste.

If we as an island nation, become reliant on imports for basic life essentials such as food, we are at the mercy of anyone big enough to blockade us. (Or to protect us, from the other big guy).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Give me light, fluffy, tasty rice anyday over Japanese tasteless, stodgy rice!

Which says to me that you really haven't had any decent Japanese rice to make this comment.

If we as an island nation, become reliant on imports for basic life essentials such as food, we are at the mercy of anyone big enough to blockade us. (Or to protect us, from the other big guy).

Yet you are willing to let the poor starve and die when they can not afford to buy basic food stuffs including rice in an attempt to seal your self off from the rest of the world.

You have got to realize that the world is a difference place today than it was even 50 years ago, it is nearly impossible for Japan to have "food" security and be self sustaining to provide for it's entire population.

Just go take a walk through any grocery store tomorrow and see how much food is already imported.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

>FTC Inspects 5 Farm Cooperatives over Alleged Cartel

The Fair Trade Commission carried out on-site inspections on Tuesday of five agricultural cooperatives and related sites in Yamagata Prefecture

The five are JA Shonai Midori and JA Sodeura in Sakata, JA Amarume in the town of Shonai, and JA Shonai Tagawa and JA Tsuruoka in Tsuruoka. The five have a total of 44,000 members.

At issue are commissions that rice farmers pay the cooperatives to sell rice through the JA group network.

We all know this goes on. JA is just too powerful, they will have to be broken up for any TPP deal, IMO. THAT, will be Abe's challenge.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Probie: They don't want a trade partnership. They want everything to be biased towards them.

This same statement could be applied to every other country involved in negotiations. If it wasn't the case, there would be no need for negotiations and TPP would have been a fact of life years ago.

Everyone is looking out to protect their special industries. Japan and the USA are the two biggest economies, so most of the media attention is focused there.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

American Japonica rice grown in California is as good as what's grown here. In fact, under a forced WTO agreement, Japan already imports millions of tons of it every year but instead of reaching the market place it stored in gov't silos at a cost of ¥150 million per year. After a few years before it rots its sold on for animal feed. The gov't pays the entire costs of buying the rice, transporting it and storing it and recuperates a small sum when sold on for animal feed.

This is partially true, but much of the sushi, onigiri, and pre-cooked rice you buy at convenience stores uses California rice.

I have to laugh when people claim that Japanese rice is somehow "cleaner" and more pure than imported rice, or contains less fertilizer or insecticide. Japanese farmers use the same chemicals which are used in America, J.A. contracts with Bayer Crop Sciences and provides these chemicals to Japanese farmers. Bayer is also a top seller in American agriculture.

I also love these "clean" Japanese rice paddies located next to industrial areas, belching steam and smoke. One farm I pass from time to time sits between a machinery recycling plant, and a tidal canal through which orange water with a nasty stench slowly passes through. At least in America farm fields are generally well-removed from industrial areas. American rice is not cheap because it is poorer in quality, it is cheaper because American rice farms can be hundreds or even thousands of acres in size, and can be planted and harvested with far fewer people, in much less time. Added to that are the longer growing seasons in the southern American states.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Yes, Sangetsu03, I agree with you about American rice. I won't touch American pork or chicken though.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@ebisen It's your link, but kind of proves my point. I said demand has increased, your link says

In the last 20 years the importance of rare earth elements has skyrocketed due to three main factors:

My reason for saying so was that demand is so critical in some key areas, that it is actually slowing progress, and your link has quadrant graphs showing the critical concerns for supply over the next 5+ years.

Not sure if I should thank you for validating my points or if I should ask if you are actually awake!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I won't touch American pork or chicken though.

Odds are you wouldn't even know if you have, if you have EVER purchased any of the deli cooked pork or chicken items at any local grocery store chances are close to 100% that they used imported (from America) pork and chicken, it is by far cheaper for the stores to use than locally (Japanese) produced pork or chicken, and no one knows the difference.

Stores are in business for profit and using locally (Japanese) produced meats or poultry rises costs to the point of being unable to maintain profitability.

The only way to "never" touch imported American pork or chicken is to never purchase any pre-cooked or prepared items.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is no way that Japanese farmers could compete with U.S. rice farmers. Average farm size in Japan is slightly over 4 acres, and in the U.S., the average farm size is 440 acres, about ten times larger. And the average farmer is over 60 years old. In a long run, the consumer will benefit from quality rice from California at one fourth of the price. Money is tight in Japan and once they get used to California rice, they will switch.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Joining TPP is like one of the stupidest things Japan could ever do. In fact all of the Asian countries involved should tell the US to go take a hike. This is just a transparent ploy to prop up position of the US$ as international currency.

What is the alternative? Make an agreement with China and/or Korea? We all know how much little love there is between China and Japan, and what China would love to do to Japan were they given but half a chance. China is also the main reason Vietnam is participating. Japan is well aware of the dislike the Chinese have for the Japanese. As a Japanese, walk into a Chinese business pretty much anywhere in the world outside Japan and see what kind of service you receive. I suppose you would prefer the Yuan to be the world's currency? The US remains the world's number-one economy, and due to it's geographic location, land volume, natural resources, and agricultural resources, it will not be overtaken. America also enjoys having the longest unchanged government of any nation on earth. Therefore, it is logical that the dollar remain the standard currency. 

The sun has set in Japan, the birthrate is declining, the economy is mature, and there is nowhere to go but down. It was Japan's over-protection of their own markets, and an unadaptive business culture that has led them to this situation. America has been a friend to Japan for a long time, sacrificing much of it's own industry (read televisions, cameras, and other goods) in order to get Japan running again after the war. America does not charge any tariff on nearly any Japanese product, and it is primarily the American market which has been responsible for much of the quality of life which most Japanese now enjoy. TPP probably won't turn the tables on the decline, but it is one of the few cards they have left to play. 

The stupidest thing Japan could do would be to bite the hand which has done the most to feed it for the last 60-odd years, and throw their lot in with an ancient adversary. Fortunately, Japan is not that stupid, 

1 ( +3 / -2 )

sfjp330Jul. 31, 2013 - 04:00AM JST

There is no way that Japanese farmers could compete with U.S. rice farmers. Average farm size in Japan is slightly over 4 acres, and in the U.S., the average farm size is 440 acres, about ten times larger. And the average farmer is over 60 years old. In a long run, the consumer will benefit from quality rice from California at one fourth of the price. Money is tight in Japan and once they get used to California rice, they will switch.

I would not make a quick assumption. California rice is a junk. I still refuse to eat it after 50 years. Japanese farmers do not have to worry. They can sell it to high end world consumers. Japanese rice is a labor intensive agricultural product while California rice is not. California rice farmers just spray rice grains on hard land and let it grow. Hope you realize that.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@globalwatcher

I only buy gourmet Japanese rice from Uonuma-gun, Niigata rice farmer. I pay almost 3,000 yen ($30) for 1 kg .

And you can continue to do so, this will not change. There are other people however who would appreciate the choice that a free market brings, which Japan only seems to want when it suits...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@sangetsu03

You make some good points. I don't think my post was nearly as anti-American as you seem to feel it was. I like America for the most part and I'm grateful for the stability they bring to the region.

Simply, I feel that these "free trade" pacts cause more trouble than they are worth. Sure consumers have more choices and pricing will become more competitive in the short term, but poorer countries never benefit as much as they were promised (see Mexico) and it creates whole new levels of waste in maintaining the bureaucracy required to draft and enforce all the regulations that accompany such a deal. I can see a free trade pact for countries that are already closely intertwined but this TPP thing is too far flung and trying to cobble together a deal when the income disparity (and geographical distances) is so great seems like a losing proposition to me. Frankly I see the United States as the only sure winner in this deal. You say this TPP deal is "the last card" Japan has left to play. I'm curious, what do you think is in the deal for Japan - aside from going along with what their loyal friend America wants them to do?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You make some good points. I don't think my post was nearly as anti-American as you seem to feel it was. I like America for the most part and I'm grateful for the stability they bring to the region. Simply, I feel that these "free trade" pacts cause more trouble than they are worth. Sure consumers have more choices and pricing will become more competitive in the short term, but poorer countries never benefit as much as they were promised (see Mexico) and it creates whole new levels of waste in maintaining the bureaucracy required to draft and enforce all the regulations that accompany such a deal. I can see a free trade pact for countries that are already closely intertwined but this TPP thing is too far flung and trying to cobble together a deal when the income disparity (and geographical distances) is so great seems like a losing proposition to me. Frankly I see the United States as the only sure winner in this deal. You say this TPP deal is "the last card" Japan has left to play. I'm curious, what do you think is in the deal for Japan - aside from going along with what their loyal friend America wants them to do?

Free trade benefits all, provided it is really "free". The world's economies are beginning to face he consequences of the high-taxing, free-spending ways of their respective governments. These governments have played almost every card in their hand to encourage economic growth short of reducing their own size and scope. Reducing interest rates to nearly zero has had minimal effect, pumping vast amounts of cash into the sytem has done little. Vast government spending on "stimulus" has gone largely to unionized government employees and their pensions, and not to the private sector. High taxation has caused companies to flee to other shores in order to remain profitable. It s not high wages that is causing outsourcing, as payoll is not as large an expense to most businesses as tax is.

For years governments have increased in size and power under the guise of good intentions, and their main selling point is that they can provide medical care, education, pensions, and "safety nets" to protect people in need. By offering all of this "help", they have reduced many people's motivation to help and take care of themselves. These social programs are now much more heavily used (and often abused) than they were originally meant to be. We are nearing the tipping point where the spending to maintain these programs can no longer be born. Detroit went bankrupt earlier this month, and most of the money which will be raised by California's new sales tax will go to pay for pensions for state workers, with nothing left over to pay the state's very significant debts. Governments are loathe to admit that they might have been wrong in their planning and spending, and even more so to reduce their burden on the economy by reducing services, spending, or taxes.

Enter free trade agreements. These are seen as a way to increase economic activity without having to give up what governments don't want to give up. But by the very act of negotiating such agreements these same governments make it obvious that they understand that free markets work. But its not going to be enough.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

their main selling point is that they can provide medical care, education, pensions, and "safety nets" to protect people in need.

Oh, what thoroughly evil schemes. They'll be offering libraries and postal services next, damn their socialist souls....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/20/business/global/japanese-consumers-reconsidering-rice-loyalty.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Can Japan grow enough rice with land changing from paddies to homes? With the farmers get older, ave 65. There are restrictions but Japan still imports rice as well as other food goods. Japan can't feed itself without imports and it is a matter of time until the political clout of farmers declines. With events as Fukushima, imports will need to play more of a role. Then there is the problem of rising sea levels, so imports will have to grow. Since many of the countries in the TPP talks are food producers, it will be hard for Japan to get an exemption and still expect no push back on Japanese goods. The bad side of TPP is something that will make Sony happy; very restrictive copy right. https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ka_chan

Japan could feed herself if various regulations are lifted. The only reason why this does not happen is because of the strong resistance by Nokyo (Agricultural cooperative association) which has vested interest in keeping the farmers strapped down to maintain their monopoly on various items like herbicide, pesticides and chemical fertilizer as well the logistics of product that goes out from the farm lands. The biggest fear is for corporate investors to buy up the land and start corporate farming in which they can hire farm workers as labor and cut the middleman, Nokyo and purchase/sell various items directly. Nokyo would literary lose control over night of the large monopoly they had created.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oh, Japan! Is there anything you won't try to twist or search for loopholes and exits in? Either you are in or out!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan could feed herself if various regulations are lifted. The only reason why this does not happen is because of the strong resistance by Nokyo (Agricultural cooperative association) which has vested interest in keeping the farmers strapped down to maintain their monopoly on various items like herbicide, pesticides and chemical fertilizer as well the logistics of product that goes out from the farm lands. The biggest fear is for corporate investors to buy up the land and start corporate farming in which they can hire farm workers as labor and cut the middleman, Nokyo and purchase/sell various items directly. Nokyo would literary lose control over night of the large monopoly they had created.

Bingo! And Nokyo is not the only big middleman in danger if TPP is ratified. There is no "free market" in Japan, imports of nearly all goods are subject to various fees and costs before the Japanese consumer gets a chance to buy them.

Last night, Japanese news was showing how much the prices of imported goods have risen since the yen has weakened. I wish they would do a story on how no prices were decreased when the yen strengthened. The retail price of a Rolex, BMW, or Chevrolet remained unchanged, despite a 40% increase in value of the yen.

America will be interested mainly in how this manipulation occurs, and will likely want Japan to address it before Japan can fully participate with TPP. The ending of price-fixing and market manipulation would be an incredible boon to Japanese consumers.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@ Ebisen. Exactly !! Other farmers are already producing less as many stores choose to import the cheaper foods . Other countries will then control Japan as they can starve their people at any time by cutting of the food supplies. Need something to be able to rely on.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

jinjapan, have you heard of food stocks? What's the growing season for rice? Guess what, free markets prevent this cutting off of food supplies as any change in supply from one market is picked up in another market. Your argument could be worked against you as well, as in if there is a drought, what will Japan do?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stuff the trade agreement. Just look at how well US is doing. They are literally dying from debt.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Stuff the trade agreement. Just look at how well US is doing. They are literally dying from debt.

America's debt is less than half what Japan's is relative to GDP. America's population is still growing, vast energy sources gave been discovered, America will become the top energy producer by the middle of the century, and it is already the top producer of a variety of exported crops and foodstuffs. America's debt is $16 trillion dollars, a huge amount, but it is only about 3% of the considered "net value" of the overall nation and economy. That's not to say that it shouldn't be reduced, but America's debts are less threatening to their economy than the debts of other nations, who do not have the resources, insdustry, or population to repay them.

Japan is small, with no resources, has a shrinking population, an almost incomprehensibly large natiional debt, with no obvious means to repay it.

Japan needs to be in TPP, it is on the edge of a financial cliff without a parachute. America and the other countries could get by well enough without it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No and don't join TPP FOOL. TPP is NOT a free trade agreement.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japan seems in love for loophole and culture exception so the country can take the best of any treaties and reject all the part not very enjoying, like duties, opening your local market, etc... and I heard they even have a word for that => "zurui"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan seems in love for loophole and culture exception so the country can take the best of any treaties and reject all the part not very enjoying, like duties, opening your local market, etc... and I heard they even have a word for that => "zurui"

Which is why Japan is failing. Japan has entered countless agreements in the past, and not honored them, starting with the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of POWs. The only agreements the Japanese government cares about are those made with it's big industries. Other countries do not want Japan involved in TPP because they fully expect that Japan will dishonor their agreement by the usual cultural sleight-of-hand which they have used to get around opening Japanese markets in the past.

Commerce is a natural state, and free intercourse between buyers and sellers benefits both, and the environment in which they live. But commercial interourse is regulated in all of today's economies, the more heavily reglated commerce is, the less dynamic it becomes to buyers, sellers, and regulators.

TPP is not important for the elimination of tariffs, nice as that might be. TPP is important because if it is fully implemented, it must break much of the cronyism that exists between sellers and regulators. This greatly reduces the control which lobbyists, big business, and middlemen have over the government. It also reduces the likelyhood of corruption, as the special deals made between business and government cannot exist when the playing field is made flat and clear. TPP would require Japan to make the biggest structural change to the way things are done in this country since the end of the war.

Japan knows a change is needed, eonomic disaster is looming. That Japan even mentions TPP in passing, let alone enters into the treaty, shows they understand how dire their situation is.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

TPP is not important for the elimination of tariffs, nice as that might be. TPP is important because if it is fully implemented, it must break much of the cronyism that exists between sellers and regulators. This greatly reduces the control which lobbyists, big business, and middlemen have over the government. It also reduces the likelyhood of corruption, as the special deals made between business and government cannot exist when the playing field is made flat and clear. TPP would require Japan to make the biggest structural change to the way things are done in this country since the end of the war.

Excuse me? TPP IS made up by the lobbyists and big businesses... It's the other way around, if TPP is signed, then the big businesses will take over the government. It has already taken over the US government.

Has anyone actually looked into TPP, or do they just think that it will somehow "open up" the protectionist Japan and turn into a neoliberal, market fundamentalist dreamland?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Give people the choice to decide what brand/kind of rice to buy. There will always be Japanese who will buy only Japanese rice.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites