The government aims to enact a bill to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and related bills at an extraordinary Diet session this fall. A total of 12 countries, including Japan and the United States, formally agreed on the TPP in February. Congressional approval of Japan and the U.S., whose combined gross domestic production (GDP) accounts for about 80% of that of the TPP member countries, is indispensable for the effectuation of the accord.
The cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe views the TPP as the trump card of its “growth strategy.” Since the opposition parties objected to the bills during the previous regular Diet session, they have been carried over to the extra Diet session for deliberation.
Meanwhile, dark clouds are gathering over congressional approval of the TPP. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s nominee for U.S. president, has called for renegotiation of the TPP. The Japanese government, however, has no plan to hold negotiations again. The Republican Party’s nominee, Donald Trump, has made it clear that he will withdraw from the TPP. If parliamentary approval of the TPP is carried over to the new U.S. administration, it will be difficult to effectuate the TPP at an early date.
The Japanese government will strive to secure Diet approval of the TPP at the upcoming extra session as well as draw up concrete agricultural measures. Many Japanese farmers are concerned that imports of agricultural products will increase. There is no time to waste in carrying out structural reform for increasing the competitiveness of Japanese agriculture; the farming population is aging rapidly regardless of the status of the TPP ratification. (Abridged)