DPJ dissidents raise FTA concerns in Washington


A group of visiting Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers opposed to Tokyo’s participation in free-trade talks led by the United States restated their fears in Washington on Wednesday that the deal could harm Japanese society.

Wrapping up a three-day visit to the U.S., Masahiko Yamada, a former farm minister and one of the six-member DPJ delegation, told reporters in Washington that as long as the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade accord requires member nations to eliminate all tariffs without exception and to adopt common rules for all services, the people of Japan cannot accept it.

The group held talks with senior U.S. officials, including Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and Wendy Cutler, assistant USTR for Japan, South Korea and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum affairs, as well as congressional staff and academics.

Yamada said the group conveyed to U.S. officials that many Japanese, particularly young people, have growing concerns about joining the TPP talks.

“There is an impression among many Japanese people that the TPP is something being imposed by the United States and this could generate anti-American feeling in Japan,” he said, adding the group called on the U.S. government to disclose information about the negotiations to avoid misunderstanding.