We oppose Japan's participation in TPP
-Statement by Zenroren Secretary General ODAGAWA Yoshikazu
The government is set to have the cabinet approve a "basic policy toward economic partnership agreements" on November 5. It also intends to decide to participate in negotiations for Japan's participation in the "Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)." The government of Prime Minister KAN Naoto is said to try to use the decision to appeal Japan's stance in favor of economic integration at the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meeting, which is due to open on November 13.
The aim of the TPP is to conclude a multilateral agreement comprehensively removing trade barriers, not only for goods and services, as covered by free trade agreements, but also for non-trade areas, such as movements of people, investments and government procurement.
Participation in the TPP will have an adverse impact on the countryfs primary industry such as agriculture and forestry. It will give rise to rampant activities of "vulture funds," which triggered the present economic crisis. It will lead to changes in industrial structures, which in turn will have adverse effects on employment. Workers, including foreign workers, will be directly affected. In disregard of these concerns, Prime Minister Kan in his policy statement before the Diet on October 1 said that the government will consider participating in TPP. A month later, the government decided to participate in negotiations with a view to Japan's entry into the multilateral framework without taking time for necessary discussion.
The Democratic Party government, which is making positive approaches toward conclusion of a free trade agreement with the United States and an economic partnership agreement with Australia, is now trying to seize the upcoming APEC meeting, which it hosts, as an opportunity to decide to participate in the TPP in defiance of public opposition to bilateral free trade agreements, by emphasizing effects that the removal of trade barriers even though only a handful of large exporting corporations would benefit from such multilateral agreement.
Such an approach could further exacerbate the Japanese economy that has been distorted by excessive dependence on exports and weak domestic demand. How reckless it is for the government to present political performance without examining possible adverse effect of the TPP on the domestic economy or considering taking necessary steps!
Since the start of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, the government has given priority to help some exporters survive the international competition, which began to intensify in the condition of gfree trade.h Consequently, the number of contingent workers has increased and wages have gone down in all workplaces. Human rights violations, such as the arbitrary termination of temporary agency workersf jobs and the abuse of foreign workers, have spread, and the use of throw-away workers has been prevalent. As symbolized by the effort to help people who lost both temporary jobs and homes at the same time survive the year-end and New Year holidays by providing temporary shelters, poverty among workers has increased, which is a social problem caused by expanded free trade.
A change of government took place in August 2009, brought about by public anger at politics that had disregarded workersf living conditions. The mandate the voters gave to the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives general election was a policy of giving top priority to stable employment, an increase in personal incomes and revitalization of regional economies, which are essential for turning the economy into one putting emphasis on increasing domestic demand.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have estimated that Japanfs full participation in the TPP will mean a loss of 3.4 million jobs and that in Hokkaido alone, it will lead to an economic contraction of 2.1 trillion yen. These figures show that participation in the TPP will betray the publicfs mandate to the Democratic Party government. We must stop Japanfs participation in the TPP because it will add to the hardships which Japanese workers have experienced most in the implementation of the WTO agreements.
The Kan government must listen to the workers and the general public expressing concerns about a possible adverse effect of the TPP instead of trying to meet the needs of some large corporations and the financial circles, advocates Japanfs participation in the TPP. We strongly demand that the government retract its decision to talks on the TPP, which will put the nationfs agriculture, forestry and fisheries in crisis and even accelerate job losses in local communities.