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2012年11月14日 (水)

「TPP解散」 首相は交渉参加の旗を掲げよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 14, 2012)
Noda should hoist flag of TPP participation
「TPP解散」 首相は交渉参加の旗を掲げよ(11月13日付・読売社説)

It is vital that Japan promote free trade and boost its economic growth. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda should decide that the nation will join negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade framework.

At the House of Representatives Budget Committee, the prime minister again indicated that joining talks on the U.S.-led TPP would be among the Democratic Party of Japan's policy pledges for the next lower house election. He said discussions on the matter would be held within the party.

A year has passed since Noda announced Japan would enter talks with nations concerned with an eye to eventually taking a seat at TPP negotiations. It is problematic that he has kept delaying a decision on TPP participation and failed to take necessary steps for joining the trade pact, such as strengthening the international competitiveness of the agriculture sector to brace it for further market liberalization.

Now, more than ever, it would be significant to clearly show a resolve to accelerate Japan's economic growth by harnessing the dynamism of other parts of Asia through joining the TPP.


Key election issue

The TPP issue will be a hot topic in the lower house election likely to take place at the year-end or early next year. Detailed discussions should be held on the issue.

Some DPJ members remain firmly opposed to signing on to the TPP. Maneuvering to block Noda from dissolving the lower house after making the TPP a key campaign issue has become increasingly active.

However, nothing will be initiated unless Japan sits at the negotiation table. We hope Noda will not wilt in the face of this opposition and exerts strong leadership.

The Liberal Democratic Party, on the other hand, maintains a cautious stance. It opposes TPP participation if it is premised on eliminating all tariffs.

But if the LDP is serious about regaining power, it will need to map out concrete steps regarding how Japan as a trading nation can expand trade and invigorate its economy.

Some LDP members support TPP participation. The party should hold exhaustive discussions and hammer out a convincing policy course.


A security issue, too

Of concern to us is that Japan could be left completely behind while it dithers over making a decision.

It already has been decided that Canada and Mexico would join TPP negotiations. As U.S. President Barack Obama, a vocal advocate of the TPP, has recently been reelected, negotiations involving 11 nations will likely accelerate through next year.

Under the current circumstances, negotiations could proceed without Japan's participation on issues including the elimination or lowering of tariffs and formulation of trade and investment rules. The fate of Japan's national interests will hinge on whether the nation is engaged in these rule-making processes and can reflect its opinions.

Participation in the TPP is also important in terms of national security. It will lead to stronger Japan-U.S. relations, and also could help restrain the behavior of China, with which the nation has been at odds over the Senkaku Islands.

In parallel with the TPP, Japan should strive to seal a free trade agreement with China and South Korea and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia, among others. It is time to pursue wise, robust trade strategies.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 13, 2012)
(2012年11月13日01時32分  読売新聞)


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