Brief information on TPP in Japan #35

20 Dec, 2012
By Kondo

Liberal Democratic Party, the former ruling party won the election by gaining 294 seats well over the majority in the House of Representatives. With its partner New Komeito who got 31 seats, they have 325 seats well exceeding two thirds of the whole members of 480, while Democratic Party of Japan gained only 57 against its seats of 304 at the previous election and 230 seats prior to the election this time. Many DPJ members and most secessionists from DPJ who opposed to TPP lost their seats. There are certain numbers in LDP who are against TPP. But different from loose binding at DPJ, LDP will not let its members to show their opposition once the party decides to join the TPP negotiation. LDP and the new Restoration Party having 358 seats together are more right-wing conservatives and pro-TPP essentially. We civil groups now have to rebuild our tie with remaining opposition groups in the Diet and find a way to proceed with joint action again.

< Clippings from The Nikkei Newspaper >
1、Dec.6 editions:
A. The 1st negotiation on Japan/Myanmar investment agreement to start.
The negotiation will start on 11 Dec. Japan intends to claim MFN status, rules to protect investment against expropriation without compensation, rules to exclude local content and etc.
B. Japan to request Asian countries to ease financial regulations.
Japan has decided to steer its way to bilateral negotiation with Asian countries for financial deregulation, as the Doha Round is stagnant. It has set up a special working team to identify financial barriers to develop business of Japanese financial institutions in Asia.

2、Dec.8 edition:
Post-Doha regime of WTO. Japan, the US and Europe to start negotiation on the liberalization of cross border services, because of the stagnant Doha Round.
They are planning to start as early as in March next year and Australia, Chile, Peru, Turkey, Pakistan and etc. also join the negotiation, while China and India won’t. No deadline is set, but they seek for the close of the deal in a couple of years and intend to raise the agreement to WTO framework. Such negotiation already started on IT products.

3、Dec.12 edition:
State owned enterprises to open convenience stores in Indonesia.
Food Procurement Agency which is in charge of distribution of staple food opened its first store in May. It now runs fifty of them and plan to expand to 1,800 stores in five years. State owned Pos Indonesia opened “Post Shop” inside their post offices. A state owned farm is planning to open convenience stores next year and sell farm products and daily necessities. These state owned retailers are expected to stabilize food price and ease social unrest.

4、Dec. 12 and 13 edition:
The 15th TPP Round ended and time for Japan seems to be running out.
The prior consultation with the US hasn’t yet made significant progress and many election candidates seem not to take positive attitude toward TPP which may prevent next administration from making speedy decision on TPP. And in due course, Japan may loose chance to join the rule making procedures of TPP. In addition, it will affect other EPAs and FTAs in which Japan is engaged.

5、Dec.18 edition:
The first negotiation on Japan/Colombia EPA started in Tokyo.

6、Dec. 18 edition:
EU joint statement responded “Looking forward to the start of EPA negotiation with Japan” to the victory of Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.

7、Dec 18 and 20 edition:
President of LDP called Obama and referred to TPP saying he will consider how to address the issue after thorough review of the prior consultation. Government officials see the possible meeting at the Presidential Inauguration next month will be next important timing to find chance for Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiation. Some sources from government officials engaged in the prior consultation with the US said unofficially that the Japan was ready for the tradeoff between a compromise on the automobile issue and the tariff abolition matter, and the Noda Administration could have made a decision early in December. But PM. Noda was not ready facing the very possible loss at the election.

< Anti-TPP activities update. >
Nothing to report, in particular. We civil groups have to build new ties and find way to reorganize joint activities with lawmakers most of whom lost and left the House of Representatives.