Japan to oppose fishing subsidies ban in TPP trade negotiations


Tokyo plans to oppose a U.S.-proposed ban on fishing subsidies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks that Japan will join from July, due to the numerous adverse effects it might have on the nation’s fishing industry, government sources said Saturday.

If the interdiction is implemented by the 11 current TPP member states, the government will call for its scope to be limited to subsidies that would unquestionably lead to overfishing, as the Japanese fishing industry heavily depends on this source of funding, according to the sources.

The government’s position also reflects concern the ban may include subsidies for the construction of ports and other infrastructure, hindering recovery efforts in coastal regions where the 2011 earthquake and tsunami ravaged local fishing industries.

But the issue is far from a done deal, as differences remain between countries including the United States, Australia and New Zealand, which are hoping to protect the environment and fishing resources through the measure, and other TPP countries that are still opposed.

Japan will become the 12th member of the TPP negotiations during the next round from July 15 to 25 in Malaysia, but it has yet to obtain official documents detailing the discussions to date. The TPP members aim to agree on a Pacific Rim trade liberalization framework by the end of the year.

The information the government has collected so far on the subsidy ban from participating countries points to the possibility of the measure being comprehensive with only a limited number of exceptions, such as subsidies for installing distress signal equipment, the sources said.

A number of officials in Tokyo fear such a ban among the TPP nations could hand the fishing industries of nonmember countries such as China and South Korea the advantage over Japan’s.

Tokyo is involved in a similar debate in the World Trade Organization, where the United States, Australia and New Zealand are calling for the elimination of fisheries subsidies while Japan and Canada oppose the proposal.

  • Justin Lindsay

    Interesting the comment above isn’t it?… Countries “that are interested in protecting the environment and fisheries” and others, like Japan, who are not. Japan’s economy is rife with inefficiencies and economically invalid practices: Currency manipulation, weighted voting, subsidies, tariffs, environmentally destructive practices. It is hard to imagine Japan ever being a full member of the TPP – but how much better Japan would be for the consumer when these unsustainable inefficiencies are removed.

    • Michael Williams

      Many say the United States is the world’s largest currency manipulator. In terms of subsidies, have you ever met an American farmer? They get paid by the government to leave land fallow. Tariffs are generally used to protect a nation’s businesses from foreign competition within their country; ask any Mexican corn farmer what they think about the influx of American corn and how it ruined their ability to make a living, tariffs protected them until Mexico joined NAFTA. Environmental views are in the eye of the beholder, and it is quite easy to assume that your only issues with Japanese environmental polices would be it’s fishing and whaling practices; however, if you eat tuna, then that would be highly hypocritical to gripe about that.

      Of your list of “economically invalid practices”, the United States exercises all but the weighted voting. So what is your point?

      • Justin Lindsay

        Why must the actions of another country be part of the discussion? The article is about Japan’s recalcitrance – not that of the US.

        Yes, what you say about the US is true. WRT Japan – so what? What in fact was YOUR point?