(Nikkei: November 26, 2015 – p. 2)
The policy guidelines that the government has recently compiled to respond to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact are aimed at achieving sustainable growth as a global hub while leveraging this trade mechanism. But they focus too much on setting targets in agriculture and other sectors and lack specific steps to take advantage of the creation of a new economic bloc.
It is commendable that the policy guidelines do not heavily depend on extending financial aid to farmers. But specific measures are included to protect the “five key areas” that the government tried to protect from the TPP’s zero-tariff principle.
The consolidation of land is not the only way to boost rice productivity. The Ministry of Finance had proposed adopting a cultivation method that forgoes the transplanting of rice seedlings and switching to high-yield varieties in the process of drafting TPP measures. Policy details that the government will work out must include specific measures that are different from the conventional approaches.
Agricultural and fishery cooperatives should also change their conventional mindsets of seeking protection or financial aid from the government. They should see the trade liberalization as a business opportunity. They should look beyond Japan to develop new markets and come up with products that cater to the needs of foreign consumers.
The government also included aggressive numerical targets in policies for industries other than agriculture. It should make steady efforts to lower the effective corporate tax rate and ease regulations to attract more investment into Japan, rather than just touting eye-catching targets. (Abridged)