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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

RP, Japan agree PJEPA overhaul
The Philippines and Japan are in agreement to undertake a comprehensive review of its bilateral free trade agreement, but are likely to clash in their objectives as the Philippines is set to go for more protection of its interest, like higher tariffs on some imports from Japan, in contrast to Japan’s call for further trade liberalization and other sectors covered under the agreement.
Comprehensive PJEPA FTA review pushed
The Philippines is expected to call for a comprehensive review of its free trade agreement with Japan to put the country in a better position, but such move should not be in conflict with Japan’s stance that the review should only focus on further liberalizing this bilateral trade agreement.
Aquino may take up PJEPA
The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry is studying whether it has to recommend the inclusion of the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement or not in the agenda of the official visit of President Aquino in Japan later this month.
SC urged to rule against implementation of Japan-Philippine trade deal
A multisectoral group urged the Philippine Supreme Court to rule on its petition filed in 2008 that sought to stop the implementation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
Caregiver training
The third batch of Filipino caregivers who completed a pre-training course in Japanese left for Tokyo Monday to complete their training prior to becoming fully accredited caregivers in Japan.
Senate archives Chief calls Senators ’liars’
A section chief at the Senate accused lawmakers who signed the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) of being “big liars” and betraying public trust as she revealed that contrary to the interest and safety of the Filipinos, toxic and nuclear wastes from Japan will be brought into the country.
Malacañang urged to review PJEPA
Congress has urged Malacañ ang to make a comprehensive review of the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA) and focus on investments and exports.
Lawmakers seek entry of more nurses in Japan
The House committee on economic affairs endorsed yesterday a resolution seeking the renegotiation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) to allow the entry of more Filipino nurses in Japan.
Japan cuts Filipino nurses some slack
Since the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) was implemented in 2009, only one Filipino nurse qualified to work in Japan after going through rigorous application and hiring procedures, an official of the Japanese embassy in Manila said Tuesday.
Nursing exam to include English translation
A health ministry panel on Tuesday compiled a set of changes in the national nursing examination that include providing English translations to explain difficult Japanese terms for foreigners.


  • Magkaisa Junk JPEPA
    Multisectoral effort to defeat an unfair and environmentally unjust bilateral trade agreement with Japan