Abe renews pledges to advance farm reform and trade deals

TOKYO, Jan. 23 — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has renewed his pledges for agricultural reform and early entry into force of recently-signed trade deals at an opening of a new session of parliament.

But he didn’t specifically mention his intention to overhaul the nation’s largest farmers’ group as he used to.

In a Jan. 22 policy speech at the first regular parliamentary session of the year, Abe said: “I will push to reform the entire sectors of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.”

He also said he will seek early entry into force of the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Japan-EU free trade agreement.

“Japan, as a standard bearer of the free trading system, will build a 21st century economic order that is based on free and fair trade rules,” Abe said.

In his address, the prime minister said he wanted to see the redevelopment of long-neglected forests across Japan by creating a “forest bank”.

The government plans to submit legislations related to forest management during the current session.

Abe also said he will challenge the traditional fisheries system to revamp the fishing industry. The Fisheries Cooperative Association, a local entity that has a vested interest in fishing rights, holds the right to set prices.

The parliamentary session is scheduled to run until June 20.

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