(Sankei: February 5, 2016 – p. 2)
The twelve participating countries including Japan and the U.S. signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) accord. Each nation hereafter will move forward with necessary domestic procedures to put the pact into effect.
The TPP will be a cornerstone of Japan’s development. In order to gain the maximum benefits from the TPP at the time of its effectuation, the Abe administration has to exert utmost efforts for structural reform of the economy including agricultural sector.
The government will submit to the Diet a bill to ratify the accord, as well as other relevant bills, which will kick off debate of the details of the TPP accord between the ruling and opposition parties.
We will pay attention to the Diet deliberations to see whether lawmakers will link the TPP with economic growth in a constructive manner.
Contrary to the administration’s aim, Japan’s economy remains without a firm basis for growth. Even a sense of stagnation is felt. The TPP will be the central pillar of the government’s growth strategy to break out of such a situation.
The liberalization of trade and investment, as well as common rules within the region, will help local companies and the service industry expand their businesses overseas. The TPP will also provide an opportunity for improving agricultural productivity and expanding exports. Consumers will broadly benefit from cheaper imported goods.
We are concerned, however, that both the ruling and opposition parties, without taking the TPP’s significance into account, may focus in debate in Diet sessions on “the accord’s negative aspects” such as the impact on agriculture. Prior to the signing ceremony, Akira Amari, former minister in charge of the TPP, resigned. But his resignation should not affect the administration’s efforts to promote the TPP. Lavish spending aimed at securing farmers’ votes will not bring about meaningful reform.
We will also pay close attention to the U.S., a key nation in effectuating the TPP. Many negative views against the TPP have persisted in the Congress from the beginning. We are concerned that we are hearing more inward-looking arguments on the TPP in the ongoing presidential election campaign.
We want congresspersons to recognize the TPP’s strategic significance anew. “The TPP enabled the U.S., not a country like China, to write the rules for the 21st century,” stressed President Obama in his statement in response to the signing of the pact. Judgment based on big picture is necessary.
Japan should also encourage the Congress to ratify the accord. It is the responsibility of both the U.S. and Japan as the regional major powers to ensure momentum toward the early effectuation of the pact.
It is important to note that Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and the ROK became interested in joining the TPP following the general agreement last fall.
Currently, on account of China’s unstable economic situation, the risk of depending excessively on China has been thrown into relief. Precisely for that reason, establishing a huge trade bloc centering on Japan and the U.S. is very significant.
We should also not forget that when the TPP when in this region, the agreement will not only have an impact on the economy but also keep China’s hegemonic ambition in check.