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Steer clear of TPP talks, Japanese professors urge

Kyodo

A group of university professors urged the government Wednesday not to take part in negotiations on the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement, saying the country may not be able to protect its national interests.

The group submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, a petition against Japan’s participation in the negotiations, which now involve 11 nations, signed by over 800 members of the country’s academic community.

Satoshi Daigo, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, and Keio University’s Masaru Kaneko said Japan’s planned participation in the TPP framework may not only harm farming but also alter the medical system and food safety standards.

Although the United States and Japan are expected this week to conclude their preparatory talks for Japan’s participation, Kaneko said there is no guarantee that Japan can win “sanctuaries,” or exceptions to the TPP’s general goal of eliminating tariffs, through the bilateral dialogue.

“We won’t know until the very end how (many sanctuaries) we can secure,” Kaneko told a press conference.

Even though Abe said after talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in February that joining the TPP talks will not require Japan to commit to completely end all tariffs, Kaneko said Obama cannot guarantee exceptions for products deemed sensitive to Japan if such protections violate U.S. laws.

Tokyo has agreed to allow the United States to retain the tariffs it imposes on automobiles and trucks imported from Japan effectively in exchange for the tariffs Japan imposes on sensitive agricultural produce.

  • seetell

    Well, only 2 of the 26 provisions deal with trade-related issues. The rest eat at the heart of Japan’s sovereignty in the guise of globalism. These professors are correct to be concerned. Such an all-encompassing pact will binds future Japanese governments and stifle their ability to adapt to a changing world. The US wants to legalize its hold over Japan as economic growth and vitality shifts from the West to Asia. The legitimate trade-related items can be negotiated without subjecting Japan to a US-controlled regional bureaucracy.

    And while everyone focuses on food, agriculture, and healthcare, the big elephant in the room is how Wall Street will be given access to Japan massive domestic savings. The TPP will allow a lot of very wealthy people to make a lot of money but will do little for the Japanese people. Even the government estimates a mere 0.66% increase in GDP, well within the margin of error for such an estimate and insignificant when considering the vast array of economic and fiscal problems facing Japan.

    • zer0_0zor0

      Good analysis.
      If they can’t hammer out a revised global pact (GATT), it seems likely to exert a corrosive influence all around. They have failed at the global level, so this is partly a divide-and-conquer strategy.
      It’s almost like an anti-tax Tea Party approach in the guise of promoting trade. It threatens food quality, the landscape, and increasing encroachment of corporate America at the expense of small farmers and local industry.
      Tariffs are being demonized as irrational protectionism because the holders of ill-gotten gain on Wall St. are out to preserve their income-bracket based status, and since they have broken the middle class at home, they’re looking for new conquests.
      The dysfunctional political class of the USA is out to promote corporatism through empire finance, and degrade the economies and quality of life of other countries down to the lowest common denominator to which they have reduced the USA.