Brief information on TPP in Japan #36

30 Dec, 2012
By Kondo

No business, and everything is slow down during the period from 29 Dec. through 3 Jan. for new year’s holiday season in Japan. But there are some noteworthy moves in relation to TPP. Firstly, Medical Association may gradually change their position to TPP from opposition to monitor only attitude, while JA Group, Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives holds their firm opposition as you go through Dec. 22 and 28-A edition. On the other hand, Liberal Democratic Party, now the ruling party seems conservative in deciding their final standpoint. They take the election of the House of Councilors next summer very crucial for their stable regime. Main factors are opposition by JA Group and internal opposition members of more than 180 out of 294 seats of LDP newly elected in the House of Representatives who won the election by the recommendation from the farm sector with condition to express their oppositions to TPP.
<  Clippings from The Nikkei Newspaper >
1、Dec.21 editions:
A.    The agreement for coalition government between LDP and New Komeito goes beyond their election promise on TPP expressing “Further promoting free trade and seeking for best possible decision on TPP which satisfies the national interest.” Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito signed the agreement of coalition government yesterday which includes their position on TPP. The election promise of LDP expressed that they opposed to participation in the negotiation without exception for tariff abolition and set five conditions including their opposition to ISDS. The challenges will be internal opposition groups and the election for the House of Councilors scheduled most likely in August. There are a certain number of party members who won their seats by showing their opposition to TPP and collecting farmers’ votes.

B.    India and ASEAN to strengthen their economic ties and cooperation in oceanic security, and to raise their relation to strategic partnership. They had a summit meeting in New Delhi yesterday and released a joint statement. At the same time they announced that they agreed on the treaty covering investment and trade in services. Agreement on trade in goods was already effectuated on 1 October this year. Since India’s nuclear test, ASEAN has kept India at some distance. But growing Chinese presence in the region changed their standpoint and cooperation on regional security issues for the first time was agreed upon and joint maneuvers are expected to be held in the future. Indian defense minister is invited to ASEAN defense ministers meeting and the regular meeting by high level officials is to be held.

2、 Dec.22 edition:
Medical organizations resolved to oppose to policies which harms present public health insurance system, but no reference to TPP. The Conference to Promote National Medical System which includes Japan Medical Association adopted the resolution on 21 December. They were one of the big business organizations who took the strong position against TPP. The president of Japan Medical Association said that Negotiating capability of the new ruling party, LDP is much more reliable than Democratic Party of Japan and the association would watch their new policy.

3、 Dec.27 edition:
“Direction towards TPP is now clear with the New Administration, but the sense of distance unclear in terms of sensitive issues”, comment by sources from Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Sources from Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries commented that appointment of the new minister Mr. Hayashi not representing the interest of farm sector is the clear message by P.M. Abe. Mr. Hayashi used be working at Mitsui Bussan, one of the major trading houses and a graduate of Harvard Business School. He is pro-free trade. As the new coalition administration doesn’t have the majority at the House of Councilors the election of which is scheduled next summer, it is crucial for the new administration to win the election and stabilize its position to proceed with sensitive policies. This makes the administration note the fact that more than 160 winners were made to take anti-TPP loyalty test by agricultural cooperatives and got their letters of recommendation at the recent election.

4、Dec.28 edition:
A. Chairman of JA group, Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives suggested “If the coalition government announce official participation in the TPP negotiation, JA won’t vote for the ruling parties in the election of the House of Councilors scheduled next summer.”

B. Mr. Ishiba, the secretary-general of the ruling LDP said at press conference this morning that participation in the TPP negotiation would be an issue at the coming election and the party should make up a clear policy by then. On the other hand there are certain number of opposition group in the party who held a meeting of “conference to insist on an immediate withdrawal of participating in TPP” this morning when voices to oppose to participation in the TPP negotiation were raised one after another.Mr. Hayashi, the Agricultural Minister invited to the meeting of the group kept conservative position by repeating “As far as there’s no exception for tariff abolition, the administration will keep the election promise of not participating in the negotiation.”With newly elected lawmakers, more than 60 new members joined the group making the total membership of over 180 members. The ruling LDP won 294 seats in the recent election.

5、Dec.29 edition:
The start of new Prime Minister Abe’s diplomacy.
British, Australia, India, Vietnam, Indonesia
Phone calls on 28 Dec, closer cooperation mutually confirmed. Oceanic security issue in Asia.
Russia Phone call on 28 Dec, mutually trying to solve the territorial issue. Energy and China.
China Realistic diplomacy, but putting a check. Trying to dispatch a special envoy.
USA Phone call. Visit with President Obama in Jan. Seeking for the development of US/Japan alliance. North Korea Strengthening of pressure. Korea Dispatch of a special envoy decided.
<  Anti-TPP activities update. >
Nothing to report, all in holiday season.