The governments of Japan and the Philippines reached a basic political agreement on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) on 29 November 2004 at the ASEAN Summit in Laos. The agreement was then signed in Helsinki on 9 September 2006 and came into force on 11 December 2008. It was the Philippines’ first free trade agreement and Japan’s fourth.
JPEPA was and remains hugely controversial. Filipinos — and on some issues, Japanese groups — mobilised to stop the deal for many reasons, including the following:
– the small job market openings for Filipino healthcare workers are very limited (the workers must learn Japanese, undergo equivalency exams, stay for only a restricted time etc) and overlook the real potential for abuse of Filipino workers in Japan;
– concerns that Japan will gain access to and be able to overfish Philippine waters, ruining the livelihoods of small fisherfolk;
– any supposed benefits for increased pineapple and banana exports to Japan would in fact go to corporations like Dole and Del Monte, and their local business partners, who own and run the plantations in the Philippines — not to small or landless Filipino farmers;
– its unconstitutionality, since JPEPA allows Japanese corporations to own land, operate schools and practice certain professions in the Philippines which the Philippine Constitution does not allow;
– the huge imbalances in the deal, e.g. Japan excluded almost 200 tariff lines from the agreement, the Philippines only six; and
– the fact that JPEPA gives explicit legal ground for Japan to dump toxic wastes in the Philippines.
last update: May 2012
Photo: Karasantos / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
What the Japanese government and its transnational fishing clients are really after are the Philippines’ precious tunas.
JPEPA is said to harbor “highly anomalous" arrangements, one of which is reducing the Philippines government to an insurance company for Japanese investors
“In my view, the JPEPA is an atrocious treaty,” exclaimed international law expert and former Dean of the UP College of Law, Dean Merlin Magallona, one of the invited speakers at a roundtable discussion at the Philippine Senate today, which provided the venue for impacted sectors to share their findings on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos not to allow yet another surrender of our country to Japan. Reject the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement!
The Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is up for ratification by the Philippine Senate. However, there are socio-environmental and equity issues on fisheries trade and investments that demand answers or solutions from policymakers of both countries.
Despite the submission of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) for Senate ratification in the Philippines, some quarters are of the opinion that under the Tariff and Customs Code this bilateral economic deal can be considered an executive agreement and therefore does not need Senate ratification.
The main argument against ratifying JPEPA is not only that it would turn the country into Japan’s landfill, but that the pact is blatantly unfair against the Philippines.
A major labor group on Thursday called on the Japanese government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, to step into a row between two Japanese groups in the development of a property in Japan owned by the Philippine government.
Instead of addressing the longstanding issues of health workers such as inadequate
pay, poor working conditions and lack of opportunities in the Philippines, the JPEPA
will only give another reason for the government to push with its labor export policy
as a measure to boost the economy through strong remittance flows.
JPEPA is undoubtedly beneficial — for big Japanese corporations and elite corporate interests in the Philippines, not for the Filipino people.