The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held a joint meeting of its Research Commission on Agriculture, Forestry and Food Strategy and other major farm caucuses on March 10 to discuss possible agendas for the upcoming “Japan-U.S. economic dialogue.”
In a statement submitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on March 8, Donald Trump’s U.S. administration urged Japan to liberalize its markets of farm products, accusing Japan of imposing high tariffs on imports of agricultural products as well as maintaining state-controlled farm trade.
Responding to this statement, LDP’s Diet members raised oppositions one after another at the joint meeting against any kind of proposals on further opening of domestic farm markets to be made by the Japanese government to the bilateral talks, which will exceed the level of trade liberalization agreed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact.
Shinya Fujiki, a member of the House of Councilors, asked his colleagues to share his sense of crisis, saying “The TPP free trade deal was a maximum concession finally made by Japan. Further compromises could considerably erode the foundation of the Japanese agricultural itself.”
Former Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera reiterated that the TPP agreement should be a final concession, saying “Our negotiators must not take any step back.”
Kanehiko Shindo, a member of the House of Councilors, shared comments made by lots of Diet members urging the administration to avoid bilateral trade negotiations on farm trade with U.S. by saying “Our constituencies’ angers will flare up if something happens in the coming bilateral trade talks. The bottom line is that any kind of concession in the economic dialogue could not be accepted by them.”