The Japan agricultural co-operatives (JA) group plans to send a delegation to Atlanta, where member nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade initiative are scheduled to hold a ministerial meeting starting Wednesday, Sept. 30. The delegation, to be headed by Choe Okuno, president of the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives (JA-Zenchu), will call on the Japanese government to protect key farm items in line with the Diet resolutions.
The group made the decision at a committee meeting on Friday, Sept. 25, along with its policy to also lobby lawmakers domestically in each prefecture.
JA-Zenchu officials pointed out that the prospects of the TPP negotiations remain unclear, as there have been no reports of progress concerning pending issues such as market access for dairy products and protection periods for biotechnology-based drugs, while some progress seems to have been made in the area of auto trade. At the same time, they remain cautious about negotiators seeking a quick deal, as Akira Amari, minister in charge of the talks, is eager to reach a broad agreement on fear that the negotiations could be stagnated otherwise.
The JA group’s delegation will include Yoshimi Nakano, chairman of the National Federation of Agricultural Co-operative Associations (JA Zen-Noh), and Toyokuni Kakurai, head of the national federation of farmers’ political organizations. They plan to urge the government and lawmakers of the ruling bloc to exempt key agricultural items from TPP negotiations. They will also meet with farm organizations of other TPP member nations such as the United States and Canada.
In Japan, the group’s regional branches will lobby lawmakers mainly on weekends when they return to their electoral districts. The group will call on politicians to pressure the government to avoid compromising and also disclose information on the talks, as farmers are increasingly worried over media reports on negotiations over farm products.
(Sept. 26, 2015)