Editor in Chief, Kosuke Nagai
I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind making such a decision. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has, after all, announced his intention to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks. The TPP scheme will make Japan submit to the economic hegemony of the United States, and the Japanese society will be ruined, dominated by U.S. rules. There will be no future for the nation’s agriculture, and the people’s lives will be at stake. Entering the TPP talks is a leap into the dark, an act of utmost folly.
Abe proudly stated in a press conference the significance of participating in the talks. But vital as the decision was, his explanation was filled with high-flown rhetoric. Farmers and citizens who recognize the realities of the TPP talks will not be tricked by his speech.
Abe should be questioned whether he can really protect the national interests, such as maintaining tariffs on the five key agricultural products and keeping the national health care system. The nation’s agriculture and people’s lives depend on his decision.
We have had enough of political expediency. We know all too well from heaps of compromises Japan has made in the postwar history of bilateral negotiations with the U.S. that the Japanese government does not have a strong negotiating power. Japan’s agriculture has long been the victim of U.S.-dominated market liberalization and has been forced to deteriorate. If Japan joins the TPP talks whose principles are “zero tariffs for all items,” the agricultural industry will be completely stifled.
The TPP initiative is a device which takes away the nations’ sovereignty and gives global enterprises a free hand to legally seize all the wealth in the trans-Pacific region. The so-called “super-gap-widening society” is really coming truer than ever. Threatened by this move, protest rallies are held in front of the President’s Office and across the nation.
Yet the Abe administration ignores such public opinion and focuses only on the interests of the U.S. and business groups. The Liberal Democratic Party is equally deceptive. Many of the LDP-supported candidates won the Lower House election by pledging to oppose the TPP talks, but accepted Abe’s decision to join the negotiations, saying that the government is given the absolute authority over the issue. This is just an excuse and a breach of trust.
In the TPP negotiations, newcomers are at a disadvantage, because they do not have veto rights to what has already been agreed upon. In the preliminary negotiations with the U.S., Japan is pushed to remove non-tariff measures in the automobile and insurance sectors, in addition to relaxing regulations on beef imports. But the Japanese government put the “inconvenient truth” out of sight, and played up the outcomes of Abe’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama to make the public look only at the bright side. The public, deluded by the Abenomics policy leading to a weak yen and rising stock prices, gets carried away by Abe’s ambition of using the TPP talks as a key to restoring and strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance.
The TPP talks will harm the national interests and ruin the nation’s potential to realize healthy, domestic demand-led economic growth based on the principles of coexistence and sustainability. The talks will also hinder efforts to restore regions hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Japan Agricultural News is determined to continue taking a tough stance against the TPP talks and spread the national protest movement urging the government to withdraw from the talks. We should stand up to prevent the TPP talks from moving ahead for global corporate domination.
(March 16, 2013)