Three groups each representing lawyers, university professors and housewives who are against the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks submitted a letter of protest to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Liberal Democratic Party member Koya Nishikawa on Wednesday, October 8, for considering modifying the list of five untouchable import tariffs to be discussed in the TPP negotiations.
The groups urged Nishikawa, head of the LDP’s committee on the TPP talks, to retract the remarks he made on Sunday, October 6, stating that the remarks “are totally unacceptable” because they go against the party’s campaign pledge and the resolution made by the agricultural committees of the upper and lower houses of the Diet. Nishikawa told reporters in Bali that it is necessary to reexamine whether the tariffs on the five key agricultural products can be reduced or not.
They said Nishikawa’s remarks are equal to abandoning the policy of protecting sensitive areas, and that such an act of trying to pave the way for ignoring the resolutions is inexcusable. They expressed doubts over the Japanese government’s determination to conduct a strong negotiating power in the TPP negotiations.
Kazuko Nakano, a member of the group of anti-TPP lawyers who submitted the letter of protest to the Cabinet Office, said Nishikawa’s remarks indicate the government’s intention to make compromises wherever possible and strike a deal by the yearend somehow or other. “The TPP negotiation process completely ignores the public,” Nakano said.
Satoshi Daigo, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and a representative of the group of anti-TPP professors, said Nishikawa’s remarks overturn the government’s policy of protecting the five key items, adding that it proves the validity of the group’s demands that the government should withdraw from the negotiations. Many university professors are deeply concerned over the issue, Daigo said, adding that the group will step up protest movements against the TPP pact.
Kaori Yamane, chairman of the Japan Housewives’ Association, criticized the government for rushing towards concluding the pact, apparently without having sufficient discussion and without disclosing any information to the public by using the confidentiality agreement as an excuse. She said she feels a stronger sense of distrust towards the government which violates the promise as a matter of course.
(Oct. 10, 2013)