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Farmers voice anxiety and hope at local hearings on TPP

  • November 18, 2016
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 6
  • JMH Translation

The Upper House special committee on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact held local hearings in Obihiro City, Hokkaido, and Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Nov. 17. Participants expressed both opposition to and hopes for the TPP, whose enforcement has become uncertain after President-elect Donald Trump’s statements that the U.S. will withdraw from the trade pact.


Local hearings on the TPP held in Obihiro and Mito


At the Obihiro hearing, Masayuki Nishihara, chairman of the All Tokachi Farmers’ Union, said, “Most farmers are anxious [about the TPP].” Kan Higashiyama, assistant professor at Hokkaido University Graduate School, made a strong call for a cautious approach to be taken by the Upper House, saying, “Now is the time for Japan to watch what action the Trump administration will take. It would be inappropriate to move forward with Diet approval of the trade pact.”


In contrast, Hiroshi Yoshikawa, representative director of K.K. Tokachi A.I. Center, said, “We should stress the high quality of Japanese wagyu beef as we engage in international competition.” Ken-ichi Kosuna, [chairman] of health-food manufacturer Amino Up Chemical, said in reference to the unclear future of the trade pact, “Some kind of free trade system should be built so that the deliberations do not go to waste.”


At the Mito City hearing, Shuichi Yokota, representative director of Yokota Farm, said, “As the region’s population ages, the remaining farmers are pressed to think about how to effectively manage their operations.”


Katsuyuki Haranaka, former chairman of the Japan Medical Association, expressed his opposition to the TPP. After stating his concern that the universal health insurance system will turn into an empty shell with the TPP, he added, “The government is placing the highest priority on the success of Abenomics, but the goal of the government should be to protect the people.”


Masaya Taguchi, president of Minato Rubber, which manufactures rubber parts for automobiles, was enthusiastic about the TPP, saying, “We are working to expand business opportunities in Vietnam with an eye on the elimination of tariffs in ten years’ time.”


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