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Gist of interpellations at Upper House special committee on TPP, Dec. 1

Following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Councillors special committee on the TPP on Dec. 1:

 

Bilateral negotiations

 

Toshio Yamada (Liberal Democratic Party, proportional representation): Even if the U.S. demands bilateral negotiations with Japan, it is important to refuse firmly.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: We are currently deliberating the TPP. It is inappropriate to consider a Japan-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) at this stage. It is important to share the benefits of the TPP under a single set of rules.

 

Motohiro Ono (Democratic Party [DP]): Are you rejecting a Japan-U.S. FTA?

 

Abe: I will refrain from commenting on how this relates to the TPP. First, we would like to ask the Diet to approve the TPP accord as soon as possible and make every possible effort to make the U.S. understand the significance of the TPP.

 

TPP renegotiation

 

Kenzo Fujisue (DP): With President-elect Donald Trump announcing the U.S.’s withdrawal, the prospects are now dim for the TPP.

 

Abe: We will not renegotiate to change the provisions of the accord. Even if asked by the U.S., we have no intention to meet this demand.

 

U.S. failure to join TPP

 

Daisuke Katayama (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party]): It is time to consider what to do if the U.S. does not join the TPP.

 

Abe: I would like to use the Diet’s ratification of the TPP agreement to make the U.S. change its mind.

 

Significance of free trade

 

Daisaku Hiraki (Komeito): What is the significance of Japan’s ratification of the TPP accord? Are you determined to ratify the agreement?

 

Abe: The TPP will deepen free trade further. Now is the time for Japan to take the lead in demonstrating its will to the international community.

 

Export of agricultural products

 

Hiraki: The National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (JA Zen-Noh) plays a critical role in expanding the export of agricultural products. Radical reforms will dampen its motivation.

 

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Yuji Yamamoto: JA Zen-Noh’s exports of agricultural products are way below its domestic transactions. We hope that it will engage in exports vigorously.

 

Yoshiko Kira (Japanese Communist Party): You should make rules to protect the people’s health and employment from the oppression of multinational companies.

 

Abe: The TPP will make rules to bring prosperity to small and mid-sized enterprises and working people and help small and mid-sized companies to do business overseas with ease. These are fair rules.

 

Yuko Mori (independent): State-owned enterprises are required not to discriminate against the other TPP members in international transactions. Japan does not have an appendix to the TPP agreement listing companies exempted from this rule and the annexes for other countries have not been translated into Japanese, so it is not possible to compare.

 

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: As in the case of various agreements in the past, the text of the accord will be translated in full. As for the annexes, the parts about Japan’s obligations will be translated and easy-to-understand explanations will be appended for the rest.

 

Masashi Nakano (Party for Japanese Kokoro): What will the government do if Japanese companies are subject to discriminatory treatment in other countries?

 

Economic Revitalization Minister Nobuteru Ishihara: Japanese companies must not be subject to discriminatory treatment. We will demand redress if they are treated in a manner violating the rules.

 

Remote islands near the national border

 

Kuniko Koda (Independents Club): It would seem that restricting land transactions will be incompatible with the TPP accord. However, I think we should have regulations on remote islands near the national border, such as listing the landowners and requiring them to register.

 

Abe: We are working systematically to verify landownership on remote islands close to the national border and in locations near defense facilities. We would like to consider further necessary measures in light of the importance of this for national security. (Slightly abridged)

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