Taku Eto, head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s group of lawmakers against the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks, urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, July 23, to exempt key farm products from tax elimination in line with the Diet resolutions and negotiate with a determination to withdraw from the talks if the pledge cannot be kept. After meeting with Abe, Eto told reporters that he believes the prime minister took the request seriously.
In the meeting, Eto presented major points of the group’s resolution along with the members’ concerns over the early conclusion of the talks. Eto said he told Abe that the TPP talks have not caused so much stir among the party or the public because the details of the negotiations have not been disclosed, but the situation would change once the talks are settled and the agreement is announced. He also demanded that the government not set a deadline for the talks, adding that the group does not think the ongoing negotiations are final.
Although Eto did not elaborate on how Abe responded, he said Abe expressed worries over Japan’s agriculture and that the prime minister did not raise any objections to the group’s resolution.
The group’s written resolution asks the government to follow the resolution adopted by the Lower House agricultural committee in negotiating under the TPP scheme. The statement lists the adverse effects of largely cutting tariffs on key farm items and increasing imports of such products. It strongly urges the government to negotiate with a determination to win results that would enable farmers to continue business with hope for the future. The group approved the resolution on Wednesday, July 22, ahead of the ministerial meeting of the TPP member nations scheduled to start in Hawaii on Tuesday, July 28.
Eto was accompanied by the group’s secretary general Itsunori Onodera, director general Toshio Yamada and deputy director general Norikazu Suzuki. A total of 264 LDP lawmakers, equivalent to roughly two-thirds of all the LDP members of Upper and Lower Houses, participate in the group.
(July 24, 2015)