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Gist of interpellations at Upper House special committee on TPP, Dec. 8

Following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Councillors special committee on the TPP on Dec. 8:

 

TPP-related measures

 

Shuji Yamada (Liberal Democratic Party): Although the TPP-related measures are supposed to be implemented after the TPP accord enters into force, these are also policies for building a new Japan, so they need to be implemented without fail.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: These are all policies needed to improve Japan’s economic productivity and put Japan on a new track of growth. It is necessary to implement them from a mid- and long-term perspective as a long-range plan for the country.

 

Yasue Funayama (independent): The execution of budget allocations premised on the effectuation of the TPP accord should stop now that effectuation has become improbable.

 

Abe: The outlays were made in anticipation of the effectuation of the TPP accord but they are not premised on effectuation. We are not thinking of cancelling these allocations. The spending is aimed at enhancing the competitiveness and productivity of small and mid-sized enterprises planning to make inroads into overseas markets. It is also meant to strengthen agricultural competitiveness and help farmers make efforts to move ahead.

 

Significance of ratification

 

Yoshihiro Kawano (Komeito): President-elect Trump has announced the U.S.’s withdrawal from the TPP. What’s the point of ratifying the TPP accord?

 

Abe: Japan joined the TPP not because it was forced to do so by the U.S. but because doing so is in its national interest. It was able to stand by its position in the negotiations on tariffs on agricultural products by playing a leading role.

 

Mitsuo Gima (Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party]): We would like you to convince Mr. Trump to change his mind.

 

Abe: Unfortunately, Mr. Trump is currently saying that the U.S. will withdraw from the TPP. However, the basic TPP agreement was reached precisely as a result of Japan-U.S. leadership. It will be meaningful to present free and fair trade rules amid the rise of protectionism in the world.

 

Kyodo Nakayama (Party for Japanese Kokoro): Is it not better for the 11 TPP nations to effectuate the accord without the U.S.?

 

Abe: The requirements for effectuation cannot be met without the U.S.’s participation. I think the common understanding is that the basic balance of interests will be upset. The 11 nations should complete their domestic procedures in order to prod the U.S. to ratify the accord.

 

Annex to TPP accord

 

Tomoko Kami (Japanese Communist Party): Is the “side letter” still binding even though the TPP accord is now unlikely to enter into force?

 

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: This document is a confirmation of efforts made by Japan so far and independent actions it will take from now on. These are efforts Japan is making on its own, so the document will not be scrapped.

 

ISDS

 

Taro Yamamoto (Liberal Party): Under the TPP agreement chapter on investment, the government’s translation of provisions on “indirect expropriation” — which is an injunction on the use of property — when sued under the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) procedures was distorted and different from the English version, making it impossible to argue.

 

Cabinet Secretariat councilor Kazuhisa Shibuya: The same translation is used for other agreements. ISDS is a necessary tool for Japanese companies to engage in investment.

 

JT litigation

 

Shigefumi Matsuzawa (Independents Club): The Japan Tobacco Inc. (JT) may be sued under ISDS for causing the closed tobacco market. Why is the government holding JT stocks and protecting this company?

 

Abe: We believe that even though the government holds JT stocks, it will not be responsible for paying compensation if the JT is sued.

 

Agricultural cooperative reform

 

Eri Tokunaga (Democratic Party): The government’s agricultural cooperative reforms constitute excessive intervention.

 

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Yuji Yamamoto: The JA Zen-Noh (National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations) reforms were drawn up with the agreement of JA Zen-Noh. The government’s policy is to encourage JA Zen-Noh to implement self-reform.

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