(Asahi: December 12, 2015 – p. 1)
The government plans to earmark 99 billion yen in a supplementary budget for fiscal 2015 for a land improvement project as a measure for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact. The 99 billion yen accounts for about one-third of the 300 billion yen to be set aside in the supplementary budget as a TPP measure. With the House of Councillors election coming up next summer, Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers representing vested interest in agricultural affairs had called for increasing the budget.
A half of the approximately 6 trillion yen earmarked as measures for the Uruguay Round agreement in the 1990s was spent on agriculture-related public works projects, including land improvement. However, since many unnecessary farm roads were built, the measures failed to strengthen the competitive power of Japan’s agriculture. There is a possibility that the allocations for the TPP will fall into the same trap as the budget for the Uruguay Round.
The National Federation of Land Improvement Associations, chaired by LDP General Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai, had asked for boosting the budget for land improvement. Since the budget was drastically cut under the government-led by the Democratic Party of Japan, the LDP has called for returning it to the level under the LDP government. (Abridged)