By Hideki Kitami and Hirobumi Ohinata
At a press conference on Sept. 12, Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura mentioned the “outline of policies related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other matters,” saying, “We will consider revising the outline as necessary.” The outline is a compilation of measures to support domestic agriculture as the industry will face tariff reductions in international negotiations. In response to the general agreement recently reached in the Japan-U.S. trade negotiations, some in the Liberal Democratic Party and agricultural cooperatives are calling for additional measures to be taken to support farmers. If the government reviews the outline, the amount of taxpayers’ money spent on the support measures could balloon.
The government first created the outline in 2015 when 12 countries, including the U.S., agreed on the TPP. Following the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union in 2017, additional support measures were incorporated in the outline. Based on this, the government has appropriated over 300 billion yen every year in the supplementary budget over the four years through fiscal 2018. This included a subsidy for capital investment in the livestock industry.
The outline does not specify the total amount of funds for the support measures or the scheduled time of completion of the measures. When they were created, the support measures were expected to be completed “in five years,” according to an informed source. If the government reviews the outline, the period of support will likely be extended beyond the five years.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Taku Eto also intends to request a review of the outline. “I want to take every opportunity to acquire budget for agriculture,” said the minister at a press conference on Sept. 11.