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2015 October 21 - 27 [POLITICS]

Farmers in day of action call for cancellation of TPP basic agreement

October 23, 2015
The Japan Family Farmers Movement (Nouminren) on October 22 staged a day of action with the aim to push the government to cancel the latest basic agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal.

At a rally held earlier on the day in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, farmers holding placards, reading, “Stop TPP!”, shouted protest statements, “Get out of the basic agreement!” and “Gov’t must abide by the Diet resolution banning any concessions!”

Nouminren Chair Shiraishi Jun’ichi in his speech said, “Although Prime Minister Abe loudly proclaimed that Japan succeeded in exempting ‘sacred’ products from the negotiation, it’s a lie.” He said to the participants, “Let’s strengthen our unity with consumers and other organizations and achieve the cancellation of the basic agreement.”

Later on the same day, Nouminren made a representation to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, demanding that Japan withdraw its consent to the TPP deal.

The government a few days earlier released general information regarding what was agreed upon in the TPP negotiations. According to the released information, Japan will abolish tariffs on 95% of the items it imports. As for agricultural products, 80% or 1,185 of 2,328 items will become tariff-free. In addition, regarding the five key food categories which the Diet resolution calls for exclusion from the negotiations, Japan will import about 30% or 174 of 586 items with no tariff charged.

In the representation, Nouminren members fiercely criticized the government’s concession for delivering a heavy blow to a wide range of agricultural sectors.

Nouminren chair Shiraishi pointed out, “The government had insisted it will maintain tariffs on items in the five key categories (rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products, and sweeteners). But, import tariffs on 30% of such products will be abolished. In the beef and pork categories in particular, tariffs on 70% of items will be eliminated. How dare the government say that it abided by the Diet resolution?”

An agriculture ministry official cited the elimination or the drastic lowering of tariff barriers on imported products such as fruits and tea, and the setting up of special import quotas, and said, “This is the outcome of tough negotiations.” As measures for nearly 80,000 tons of tax-free rice imports, the ministry official said that the ministry will purchase the same amount of Japanese rice from the market in order to compensate for the effect of the import increase.

Nouminren Vice Chair Sasawatari Yoshio and other members in turn said, “What is the ministry going to do? Bury purchased rice in the mountains? Throw them into the sea? Import of tariff-free rice will inevitably affect the market. You don’t understand local farmers’ anxiety and concerns.”

Japanese Communist Party members of the House of Representatives Saito Kazuko and Hatayama Kazuya joined the representation.

Past related article:
> Japanese government must not sign TPP deal: Shii [October 6, 2015]
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