The Japan Playwrights Association, the Japan Theatrical Producers Association and the Japan Theatre Arts Association has jointly issued an appeal, opposing the Japanese government’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks.
Referring to the TPP initiative in which the next round of negotiations is scheduled to start in Brunei on Thursday, August 22, the appeal expressed strong concern that controversial issues on intellectual property rights are negotiated without any public debating beforehand in Japan.
It asked the government to hold open debate sessions for the public and parties concerned to discuss the issue of extending copyright protection from 50 years to 70 years. It also demanded that the clause on investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, which allows companies to sue foreign governments for losses, be eliminated from the TPP agreement, since it could infringe upon the Japanese people’s interests.
Yoji Sakate, chairman of the Japan Playwrights Association, warned that if copyright protection is extended to 70 years, many scripts will become anonymous and cannot be utilized as theatrical works, thus becoming unused treasures.
The groups urged the government to disclose as soon as possible all the information which indicates both the merits and demerits of joining the TPP talks, and promise to withdraw from the negotiations if they turn out to be detrimental to Japan’s national interests.
Concerning non-tariff barriers, the appeal stressed that domestic laws and policies designed to protect the Japanese people should be given priority. The government should not be given a free hand to go forth with the negotiations without disclosing information or providing chances for public debate, the appeal stated.
They hope to ask other theatrical associations and arts and cultural organizations to support the appeal and stir up public opinion.
The playwrights association, which has actress and stage director Eri Watanabe serving as vice chairman, is comprised of 460 members, and the producers association has 150 members. The Japan Theatre Arts Association, with 340 members, has leading kabuki actor Koshiro Matsumoto and television producer Fukuko Ishii serving as directors.
(Aug. 22, 2013)