22 Aug, 2012
Brief information on TPP in Japan #26 Tension among Japan, China and Korea caused by territorial conflicts in the East China Sea is increasing and it may affect the process of FTA negotiations for the time being in which the three countries are engaged. All of these countries are going to have either election or succession of power this autumn. It is said that the weakened Japan/US alliance is one of the major factors for the conflicts. But, we should be aware that from military point of view, Japan has been steadily built in the US strategy in the Pacific despite difficulties seen in Okinawan issues like the move of Futemma Marine Base and the deployment of the notorious Osprey to Okinawa. Japanese Self Defense Forces for the first time will station high ranking officers at the Pentagon, station its naval forces at some US bases in the Pacific, have been engaged in joint programs and/or maneuvers with US/Australia, US/Philippines in the regions, and etc.
＜ Clippings from The Nikkei Newspaper ＞
１、Aug. 12 edition:
Abrupt visit to Takeshima island by Korean President may affect Japan’s EPA/FTA strategy. ASEAN+6 might be the option.Takeshima islands were returned to Japan after the San Francisco PeaceTreaty, while Korea claims the islands are their territory and has built some military foothold. The islands are called Dokdo in Korea and Liancourt Rocks in English. President Lee’s visit is likely to make it one of the issues at Korean Presidential election to be scheduled on 6 November. And naturally, it will make it difficult for Japan, China and Korea to start the FTA negotiation expected by the end of this year. On the other hand, the recent political situation in Japan suggests dissolution of the Diet as early as in October which also makes it more difficult for the Noda Administration to unite opinions on the TPP. With respect to ASEAN+6, the Economic Ministers’ Meeting of concerned countries is to be held at the end of August and Ministers are expected to propose the announcement of the start of its negotiation at the East Asian Summit in November.
２、Aug. 14 edition:
Japan/US/Russia to start a regular high-level talk on securities and development in East Asia. The three countries upgrade the former meeting of leaders and well-informed persons, and the upgraded government members will be Deputy Ministers and from private sectors CSIS, The Japan Institute of International Affairs and IMEMO of Russian Academy of Sciences will participate. In addition to checking on China, participation by Russia will make it possible to deepen discussion on wider range of issues in the region which Japan/US bilateral talk only cannot fully pursue. Main agenda will be the oceanic security, safety of the sea lane, development of natural resources in Russian Far East and the Arctic Ocean, stable supply of energy, North Korean issues and such.
３、Aug. 19 edition:
The preparatory meeting for Japan/China/Korea FTA negotiation to start as scheduled. Despite rising territorial conflicts on Nilyicane Islands (Japan and China) and TAKESHIMA Islands (Japan and Korea), the Vice Ministerial Meeting of the three countries will be held on 21 Aug.
４、 Aug. 22 edition:
The Ministerial Meeting for Japan/China/Korea FTA was held on 21 Aug. as scheduled to start the official negotiation as early as in November. The decision was made because the meeting was not the official negotiation, but a preparatory meeting and it was considered that the territorial tension shouldn’t affect the economic issue. It was the second preparatory meeting.
＜ Anti-TPP activities update. ＞
As mentioned in the previous report our civil coalition is planning various joint activities in the coming months. The regular and continuous demonstration in front of Prime Minister’s Office started yesterday evening with approx. 300 participants which was more than expected thinking of the short period for preparation. Questionnaires to all the some 700 members of the Diet for their standpoints on TPP are being sent back. But it will take a long time before we get enough answers worthy to analyze. As the dissolution of the Diet is widely anticipated we are planning to use it as a kind of litmus paper and to try making TPP one of the issues in the possible election of the House of Representatives.