Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has not yet made any formal announcement, but Japan’s largest farm group has already staged a protest against the country’s impending entry into the United States-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks. Approximately 4,000 people participated in the rally, according to the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (the JA-Zenchu).
JA-Zenchu is part of the Japan Agriculture group, who, together with groups from the forestry, animal husbandry and fishery industries, have been against Japan’s entry into the TPP from the beginning. According to the head of the union Akira Banzai, joining the talks will forever change the way the nation deals with food and the industries around it, as well as threaten its safety because participation in the TPP will remove tariffs on the industry. Cheap imports will also come in to the country, endangering the country’s agricultural sector. Currently, the countries involved in the TPP free trade talks are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. South Korea has already declined the invitation to join while Japan has yet to make decision.
The group is also calling on the Liberal Democratic Party to fulfil its campaign pledge last December to not join the talks, despite the strong encouragement from the United States. LDP secretary-general Shigeru Ishiba said that the party is not turning its back on that promise. However, it is already expected that Abe will announce within the week that Japan is indeed joining the talks after the LDP will present their proposal on terms, including measures to protect domestic farm products. Abe met with President Barack Obama last February in his state visit to the US and talks about TPP yielded two points: “all goods would be subject to negotiation” and that “the final outcome will be determined during the negotiations.”[ via NZWeek ]