Brief information on TPP in Japan #18

Brief information on TPP in Japan #18

04 June, 2012
By Kondo


The season of security politics in South East Asia started with ASEAN Defense Ministers Conference on 29 May and ASEAN Security Meeting on 1 June. And the US, Australia and Japan participated, and various programs
are moving forward. All of those agenda are targeting and checking on China.

US showed specific demands on automobile in the TPP prior consultation with Japan during Prime Minister Noda’s April visit to Washington. And serial joint action against TPP by our coalition has started.

<Clippings from The Nikkei Newspaper>

1,May 26 edition:
A. Mr. Mahathir, the former Malaysian Prime Minister commented in his interview with the Nikkei Newspaper that TPP was a framework proposed by the US and in an international negotiation, the proposer gained most usually. Participating countries had better make thorough examination in each particular issue and term, he emphasized.
B. Prior consultation .between Japan and the US shows different progress in different issues. The automobile seems delayed most With respect to beef or BSE, Japanese government already consulted with the Food Safety Committee last December and now the issue is the timing of their conclusion according to a government source. Japan Post has decided not to enter into the cancer insurance for the time being, the most profitable area many US corporations in Japan are engaged in.

As for the automobile, Japanese industry is somehow frustrated because US claims are not clear and specific.
Mr. Vegan, vice president of Ford said in his interview with Nikkei that the market share of imported cars was only 5% in this third largest automobile market. Technical regulation and restriction on new entry made it far difficult. He also mentioned that Japanese car makers are asking the government to intervene into foreign exchange market and because of the intervention JPY depreciated against USD by 5% since the ‘90s. In response to a question that US automakers sell only two types under 2000cc while Europeans more than 8,000, he stated that Ford sells every type and estimates one million car sales in Chinese market comparing to 3000 cars in Japan.

The Obama administration is confronted with a kind of dilemma that it has to show some consideration for the US auto industry in the election year, while the delay of Japan’s participation in the TPP may weaken the
effect of TPP.

C. The high level meeting of Pacific island countries hosted by Japan with the US participation for the first time to release the joint declaration checking on China’s presence in the Pacific. 13 countries and regions attended the meeting held in Okinawa with the US, NZ and Australia as observers, but Fiji did not where China is developing bauxite in a large scale.

Japan is going to discuss cooperation between its Self-Defense Forces and military forces of island countries.
And China, on the other hand, had a meeting on 25 May in Beijing with legislators of Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Micronesia and Vanuatu to strengthen ties. China keeps military exchange programs with these island countries
and provides with munitions, and Chinese naval vessels are visiting some of these countries including Papua New Guinea.

2,May 27 edition:
A. Korean President LEE Myung-bak said in his interview with CNBC that Korea/China FTA should be prioritized.
If Korea and China reach agreement, Japan has to join its framework and the three-country FTA will be agreed upon more smoothly than negotiating among the three countries.

B. ASEAN high level working team agreed on the draft to settle disputes with China in the South China Sea which has legal bindings. The draft assumes filing cases at International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. An official of Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation suggested the negotiation with China start sometime in July.

3,June 1 and 2 edition:
A. Mr. Emerson, Minister for Foreign Trade and Competitiveness of Australia said in his interview with Nikkei that it would be difficult to finish the TPP negotiation by the end of this year and the target for this year would be to achieve clear progress in preparation of the texts.

B. Preliminary negotiation of Japan/EU EPA completed on 31 May, but the start of the negotiation is still unknown according to Mr. De Gucht, member of European Commission. Ms. DYHR, Danish Trade and Investment
Minister also indicated it would be sometime later than autumn. France and Italy claim that government and railway procurement, and automobile market are not open enough.

4, June 2 edition:
The US raised six demands in automobile market at the prior consultation with Japan. The government official reported to the Project Team of the ruling DPJ that The US had shown their demands during Prime Minister Noda’s visit in April.

The US raised issues of transparency, distribution channel, technical standards, approval procedures, new and environmental technology, and the taxation system. The US complaints that regulations are decided behind the closed door, safety standards and approval procedures for selling are different from other countries which create additional cost to foreign car makers.

Japanese side argues that new regulations are adopted through prior consultations with foreign car makers and dealers, and that safety standards and other technical matters are required only because of different conditions such as roads and etc.

5, June 3 edition:
A. Japan/US/Australia Defense Ministers had a meeting in Singapore to strengthen cooperative ties. Japan/US/Korea meeting also took place to strengthen cooperation against North Korea.

B. Japanese Self-Defense Forces to participate in the “Pacific Partnership”, a multinational medical aid activities in marginalized areas in mid June. Medical officers and staff of the US Navy, Australia and other 8
countries join the operation and provide services in Vietnam and the Philippines. The operation is also checking on Chinese presence in the region.

<Anti-TPP activities update.>

1,Serial events in June has started..
People’s Action against TPP and allies had a meeting on 24 May and concluded to launch serial events continuously held until the departure of Prime Minister Noda for G20 such as a series of cinema events, small
assemblies the images of which uploaded in internet and etc.
Jane Kelsey is expected to join our event as a speaker on 21 June. Details are still under discussion. But, anyway we all thank Jane for her generous cooperation.