(Kanagawa Shimbun: November 15, 2015 – p. 1)
The national government reached a broad agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact in October. On Nov. 14, Kyodo News released the results of its nationwide questionnaire survey of prefectural governors and municipal mayors on the trade pact. Those opposed to the TPP greatly exceeded those supporting the trade pact, with 36.9% opposed and 23.0% in favor. Hokkaido, Tohoku and Kyushu – all prefectures with large agricultural, forestry, and fisheries industries – stood out from the other prefectures in their opposition to the trade pact. Many cited concerns that the TPP could lead to the “collapse” of the local government and “decline” of the local economy by spurring people to leave primary industry and exacerbating the lack of successors. Others said that the TPP was contrary to the regional revitalization advocated by the national government.
Among those surveyed, as many as 39.5% responded “Cannot say either way,” showing that prefectures with commerce and industry or agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries are having trouble reading the overall impact of the TPP. It seems that the national government needs to offer thorough explanations of the future outlook and formulate measures to relieve the anxiety felt in regional areas.
From Oct. 15, questionnaires were sent to the governors of Japan’s 47 prefectures and to its 1,741 municipal mayors. Responses were received by Nov. 11 from 1,732 local governments for a response rate of 96.9%.
Looking at the local government responses by prefecture, the majority of local governments were against the TPP in 15 prefectures, including mainly prefectures in Tohoku and Kyushu, as well as Hokkaido, where 76.6% of municipalities were against the TPP. The majority of local governments were in support of the TPP in only four prefectures, including Nara.
The most frequently cited reason for opposing the TPP overall was “farming households will not be able to make ends meet and the food self-sufficiency rate will decline,” at about 60%. The second and third most common responses were: “the risk that the Diet resolutions [stating that the five core agricultural items, including rice, would be excluded from the elimination of tariffs] will not be followed” and “it is too early for the basic agreement” as not enough analysis of the impact of the TPP has been done.
The most frequently cited reason for supporting the TPP was “trade liberalization is a worldwide trend,” followed by “exports and the gross domestic product (GDP) are expected to increase.”
Infographic on survey of local governments regarding broad TPP agreement