Japan’s ruling LDP calls for new farm aid to adjust trade deals

TOKYO, Nov. 3 — Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has started discussing new funding for farm support programs to help producers adjust to increased agricultural food imports entering Japan under new trade deals.

That move coincides as Tokyo and Brussels aim to complete the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) by the end of the year.

The LDP held a Nov. 2 meeting with an internal task force that deals with the Japan-EU EPA as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Whether we can win trust from farmers depends on how much money we can get from government spending,” said Hiroshi Moriyama, who has been appointed as head of the LDP’s election strategy committee.

As the Japan-EU EPA deadline looms, the government is expected to adopt a policy package by the end of November. Then it needs to get Diet approval for financing with a supplementary budget for fiscal 2017.

The policy package will likely include programs helping boost productivity as well as to modernize production facilities at cheese producers.

The LDP and farm lobby groups have stepped up demands to increase farm support to help farmers cope with agricultural products that are import-sensitive in the deal with EU, such as pork and cheese.

But the finance ministry has been seeking a cut in spending allocated to farm support to soften the impacts of a fully implemented TPP, because the United States pulled out the deal.

It also argued that the programs related to the TPP could mostly cover the Japan-EU EPA.

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