23 March, 2013
Prime Minister Abe announced Japan’s intention to join the TPP negotiation on 15 March as forecasted and the estimated economic effect of TPP was released as 3.2 trillion JPY increase in GDP. He assigned Mr. Amari, Min. of Ecinomic Revitalization, as Minister in charge of the TPP negotiation, and decided to form a team of 100 staff members to deal the TPP negotiation and domestic matters. Mr. Tsuruoka is expected to be assigned the chief negotiator. Mr. Abe and Amari expressed their confidence in dealing with the negotiation and achieving their promise of protecting national interests, but nobody knows. Everything is under the thumbs of existing TPP countries, the US in particular. Nothing new and nothing changed.
＜ Clippings from The Nikkei Newspaper ＞
１、March 16 edition:
A. Prime Minister announced Japan’s intention to join the TPP negotiation right as forecasted.
He has left LDP’s decision to the “TPP Committee” which led open discussion and then put them in shape in accordance with the election promise of last Dec. election to which nobody could oppose. Then on 15 March, Mr. Abe met with the chief secretary of LDP and President of coalition partner New Komeito before the press conference. He expressed his confidence that Japan would protect the five sensitive farm products. They are rice, dairy products, wheat and barley, pork and beef, and sugar beet and cane. He also expressed his resolution to lead the rule making negotiation of TPP together with the US.
B. Mr. Amari was nominated as the Minister in charge of TPP supervising the whole negotiation, and released the estimated economic effect of TPP as the following, while farm sectors will lose JPY 3.0 Trillion of production.
C. The chief secretary of LDP promised on 16 March that protecting the five sensitive farm products is the party resolution and promise to the nation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that not a single per cent of tariff reduction be acceptable, he added.
２、March 17 edition:
Outline of Japan’s standpoint. The followings are examples of what to achieve and what to protect..
３、 March 19 edition:
Replies at the House of Representatives. Prime Minister Abe replied at the Diet that he would not accept the expansion of mixed medical treatment and would not endanger food safety.
４、 March 21 edition:
A. Mr. Koji Tsuruoka, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs to be assigned as the chief negotiator for TPP. Major careers of Mr. Tsuruoka at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are international law and treaty, general policy for foreign affairs, deputy representative to the UN General Assembly and etc. He is 60 years of age and was born in 1952. He and additional negotiators will be assigned shortly.
B. Japan to adapt the international standards of automobiles on safety and environment (IWVTA) to proceed with the Japan/EU EPA negotiation. Mr. Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso will visit Japan on 25 March to agree on the start of the EPA negotiation. The first round of the negotiation will be held in Brussels on15 April. (Visit cancelled later because of recent financial uncertainty.) Japan expects reduction of EU tariff imposed on Japanese cars, while EU will push Japan to abolish non-tariff barriers. Japanese government is expected to adapt major standards of IWVTA and, instead, propose EU to adapt some modified standards to unify the standards of Japan and EU. The US also is pushing Japan to unify standards and import procedures of automobiles with US standards in the prior consultation for TPP.
５、 March 22 edition:
A. The opposition group in LDP criticized the government estimate of economic effect of TPP. The group held its meeting on 21 March and changed their group name to “the meeting to protect national interests in the TPP negotiation”. They claimed that not only the reduction of agricultural production, but the impact to allied industry should also be considered. They also demanded numerical impact to unemployment caused by TPP be included.
B. The first Cabinet Ministers’ Meeting on TPP was held on 22 March morning. Members are Prime Minister, Chief Cabinet Sec, Min. of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, Min. of Economy, Trade & Industry, Min. of Foreign Affairs, Min. of Finance and Min. of Economic Revitalization (in charge of TPP). Under the Cabinet Ministers’ Meeting, about 100 staff members will be assigned headed by the chief negotiator and the chief coordinator for domestic matters. 100 staff members will be divided into 70 dealing with negotiations and 30 dealing domestic coordination. Mr. Amari, Min. of Economic Revitalization and in charge of TPP, said at the press conference that Japan would seek for an extra round meeting of TPP when admitted to the TPP negotiation.
＜ Anti-TPP activities update. ＞
To be reported next time.