A campaign against the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks has gained a strong reinforcement. University professors across the nation together stood up against Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations, supported by nearly 1,000 members of the country’s academic community. On Tuesday, April 9, they submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a petition calling for revocation of his announcement to join the TPP talks and withdrawal from the preliminary negotiations. They expressed a strong will to work with other groups and people to continue the campaign against the TPP until the government decides to walk away from the negotiating table. The members are experts on the TPP negotiations and have a strong outgoing power. We hope to support this network of theory and action.
Nearly a month has passed since Abe announced that Japan will join the TPP negotiations. Preparatory talks between Japan and the United States on such sectors as automobiles and insurance, dubbed the “admission fee to the TPP,” were expected to come to agreement as early as today. They are rapidly leveling the ground for Japan to join in the TPP talks. Meanwhile, various concerns are growing over the TPP’s top-secret negotiations, the serious damages they can give to the national interests and the danger that the TPP participants will conclude an unfair agreement most favorable to the interests of global enterprises.
17 university professors, who have worked on the TPP issue and who fear that the TPP talks will lead to the loss of the national sovereignty and interests, together established a group urging immediate withdrawal from the negotiations to join the TPP. Holding up opposition to this “unfair treaty of the Heisei era” as an ultimate goal, they have invited supporters from the academic circle since late March, and nearly 900 members joined the group for only two weeks. It is remarkable that staff from different universities and departments throughout Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa joined hands to cooperate under the common awareness and ambition.
It is outstanding that a small action grew into a nationwide network of the academic community. Supporting members are professionals in the different areas of negotiations and their voices have big social influences. They do not have any relationships with specific interest groups or political parties. They oppose to the TPP from genuine conscience as academics. Reflecting the 21 areas subject to the TPP negotiations, the members specialize in a broad range of sectors such as agricultural economics, labor, social policy, administration, law, civil law, finance, accounting, constitution, environment, social welfare, religion, history, philosophy and media communication. This indicates that the TPP affects all phases of the country’s structure and its social systems.
The message put forward by the group sharply points to the essence of the problems underlying the TPP with an expression of deep anxiety and resentment. It is filled with unsparing criticisms over the TPP, using such phrases as “abandonment of the national sovereignty,” “the negotiations controlled by the U.S.,” “the U.S. version of structural reform,” “breaking up of the Japanese society by global enterprises” and “ridiculing of voters.” The fact that all the members’ names and messages are disclosed shows their pride and determination as scholars.
The representatives of the group held a press conference on Wednesday, April 10, and expressed their strong will to urge the government not to take part in the TPP, stressing the importance of spreading the information and the movement. They said they will actively work on cooperating with the Japanese people, and promised to contribute through holding open debates with professors supporting the TPP, presenting evidences against the government’s estimates on the TPP’s impacts and collecting and analyzing information on the TPP negotiations.
Let us fully utilize the power of this network. We hope they will bring to light the deceitfulness of the TPP negotiations and the true nature of the problems by exchanging information and conducting cooperative research. In order to countervail the government’s information control and the distorted reports of the mass media, we depend on their ability to offer theoretical backing and the ability to explain them in a comprehensive way by relating them to the people’s lives. Let us extend the movement in and out of the academic community.
(April 12, 2013)