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Diet debate on TPP thrown into confusion following Amari’s departure

  • 2016-02-09 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: February 9, 2016 – p. 4)

 

 The resignation of former Economic Revitalization Akira Amari, who had led the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact, is having an impact on budget deliberations in the Diet. In a House of Representatives Budget Committee session on Feb. 8, there was a scene in which cabinet ministers working on the TPP had trouble responding to questions posed by opposition parties.

 

 Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki had trouble replying to questions about the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision that grants investors who sustain damage from a violation of the TPP accord by a member country the right to use dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government.

 

 Rintaro Ogata, a member of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) asked Iwaki if priority would be given to an international organization or Japan’s Supreme Court if they arrived at different conclusions.

 

 First Iwaki said: “I cannot answer your question because it depends on the interpretation of the agreement.” Then he changed his answer, saying, “The authority of the Japanese court would not be negated.” After that, he changed his answer again, saying: “Ultimately, priority would be given to the judgment of the Japanese court.” Diet debate was suspended six times in the process. Budget Committee Chairman Wataru Takeshita called for Iwaki “to provide an appropriate response.”

 

 Shuichi Takatori, senior vice minister of the Cabinet Office, who dressed in traditional Japanese clothing to participate in the signing ceremony for the TPP agreement, wrote on his blog that “The blue cheese (I ate at the dinner party in New Zealand) was delicious.” Nobuyuki Fukushima, a DPJ member, said to him: “As a conservative politician, you should have taken into account the feelings of the dairy farmers (in Japan) who will suffer when tariffs are reduced by half or removed.” Takatori offered an apology, saying, “I’ve been sending messages to my supporters. I wanted to let them know I was doing OK. I apologize for causing misunderstanding.”

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