Lost in translation: Anti-TPP campaign befuddles Washington

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A photograph of the anti-TPP ad, which ran in the Washington Post on April 24. (Peter Landers/The Wall Street Journal)

Wall St Journal | April 25, 2012

Lost in translation: Anti-TPP campaign befuddles Washington

By Peter Landers

Japan’s agricultural lobby has taken its campaign against a global free trade agreement to the U.S., buying a full-page advertisement in Tuesday’s Washington Post opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The ad is titled “Don’t let the TPP rob your future,” and features a picture of a padlocked factory on the back page of the newspaper’s front section.

For American readers, it must have seemed a strange message. The advertisement doesn’t say what the proposed free-trade agreement consists of or how it would “destroy jobs” for Americans. JRT asked a colleague who doesn’t cover Asia to review it. The reaction: “What is it about? I have no idea what it means.”

That captures the disconnect between the two countries over the issue. In Japan, TPP has become a household phrase, with newspapers, magazines and TV shows prominently featuring the pact. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has made Japan’s entry into the agreement a top priority, and is expected to discuss the matter when he meets American President Barack Obama in Washington next week. While advocates say the agreement would lift Japan’s economy overall, it would likely require further opening of Japan’s protected farm sectors — hence the advertising campaign.

In the U.S., however, the pact gets virtually no press, and is largely unknown.

For its part, the group taking out the ad, led by Japan’s Central Union of Agriculture Co-operatives, seemed a little confused about U.S. developments. It told Japanese media that the Washington Post has a circulation of 670,000, but, alas, the U.S. capital’s leading daily long ago fell below that mark. As of last September, its daily circulation was 507,000, according to the U.S. Audit Bureau of Circulations.

source: WSJ