The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) revealed a result of its investigation on October 7, regarding shady transactions of rice imported under “simultaneous buy and sell” (SBS) system by trading houses paying kickbacks of so-called “adjustment money” to wholesalers.
MAFF’s investigation found out more than 40 percent of the companied concerned confirmed deals with the “adjustment money.”
However, MAFF officials concluded that they could not confirm whether the transactions with kickbacks had been serving as factors to lower market prices of locally produced rice or reduce its demand, although the investigation has supported the appearance of lower-priced rice imported under the SBS format in the domestic market.
On the basis of the findings, MAFF will not plan to revise its estimate of an impact to be caused on rice prices in the country by foreign rice to be imported after the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact comes into effect.
On the other hand, MAFF made an announcement that the future SBS contract will insert a clause clearly prohibiting every deal with kickbacks. If contractors violate the prohibition regulation, they will be imposed penalties including revocation of a license as a qualified bidder in the auctions of the SBS format.
Meanwhile, opposite parties are raising strong opposition to MAFF’s judgement. A tug-of-war between the ruling and opposite parties over the beginning of Diet deliberation on the approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact is expected to further heat up in coming weeks.