TPP: 11,668,809 Signatures Against Joining "Free" Trade Agreement

You may not know it, but Japanese people are very vocal and very outspoken. They protest a lot! Foreign media usually does not bother to cover activism in this part of the world. The current protests here in Japan against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a case in point.

Over 11 million Japanese people have signed a petition against TPP. They realize that "free" trade is nothing but a massive assault that will force impossible conditions on their livelihoods. What is so "free" about that?

It could be called the fourth disaster to strike in 2011, after the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

Joining TPP negotiations to eliminate 90% of agricultural tariffs would make it impossible to live in rural Japan.

TPP might lead to a lowering of Japan's food self-sufficiency from around 40% to 13%.

Asking Japan to import 87% of its food? That would essentially kill one of the best reasons this country has for attracting tourists. It would kill a way of life, both for small restaurants that depend on local produce, and for fancy places that assure its customers that they provide the very best. It would make rice farming next to impossible, thus all related farm activities in areas that are known for their delishious rice to collapse. These are not empty words in a country that appreciates its farmers. Consumers here are strong supporters of the agricultural policy that has evolved in spite of external pressure.

I have no idea where all those people in rural areas would move, what they would do, how they are supposed to manage.

Farmers are the backbone of rural Japan, and they contribute to Japan's cuisine, with more Michelin Guide 3 star resturants than France, and a very high level of food safety we all can enjoy - also in the cities.

That is connected to postal services, banking and other services in rural areas. Pensions? Health insurance? Hospitals? Ambulance services?

These are other sectors that are targeted for the direct assault and deregulation by the proposed TPP rules.

But the people here clearly understand the gravity of the situation. Thus, they protest. Wouldn't you??

11,668,809 people (so far, and counting) are against the TPP.

On the other side of the fence, a few exporting companies that want us all to consume more of their cars and televisions. Soo 20th century if you ask me.

(Top image from NHK World, showing the massive gathering on Nov. 07 in Tokyo of farmers opposing TPP. Other images from JA, the agricultural cooperative movement, showing the 11 million signatures that they have collected against Japan joining TPP, instead urging the government to protect their livelihood. Click to enlarge.)

Other views on TPP:

Shisaku: Up Against The Wall On The TPP about Prime Minister Noda's "insane" schedule this week before he goes to the APEC meeting on Saturday

Japan Today: Big anti-TPP rally held in Tokyo as deadline for decision looms with a lot of pro-and-con comments, many bordering on the ludicrous while others try to point out facts

Consumers Union of Japan: Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement
We are particularly concerned about what this means for food safety and food security. Japan’s food self sufficiency rate, which is already low, will be further undermined. The United States, which will be a part of TPP, officially considers Japan’s food legislation as a “non-tariff barrier” and lists their concerns each year in the USTR report on trade barriers in foreign countries including Japan. Their goal is to abolish Japanese rules, for example regarding genetically modified organisms (GMO) and beef products, that they regard as one-sided.

Ten Thousand Things: Traditional Americans & Japanese Against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "Free Trade" Agreement (very much in tune with events both here in Japan and in the US):

Americans and Japanese opposing the TPP are the 99% who are actually conservatives. They want to conserve their economic and social systems as they are and renew what has been lost because of past American and Japanese unsustainable obsession with economic competition and growth—that unduly benefited the 1%.

NHK World: Farmers hold rally against TPP
About 6,000 farmers and others have held a rally in Tokyo to oppose Japan's participation in talks on an Asia-Pacific free trade pact.

Agricultural cooperatives and other groups organized the rally on Tuesday. The governing Democratic Party aims to work out an advisory opinion on Wednesday on whether Japan should join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

The head of the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, Akira Banzai, said that even though it's clear the TPP will harm Japan's economy and destabilize its food supply, the government and a ruling party are still inclined to join the talks.

The representative of a doctors' association said Japan's universal health insurance system will collapse if the country joins the TPP. He referred to a possible introduction of combined treatment, under which patients receive medical care that is both covered and not covered by public health insurance.

More than 100 lawmakers also took part in the rally. The politicians included members of the ruling Democrats, and opposition Liberal Democrats and Communists.

They called on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to refrain from announcing Japan's participation in the TPP at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that opens in Hawaii on Saturday.


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