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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

Woes of foreign nurses, caregivers in Japan
Jusuf Anwar, Indonesian ambassador to Japan, has bewailed the overly stringent Japanese national examinations for foreign caregivers and nurses. Out of the 500 Indonesians who took the examinations in 2008 and 2009, only two have passed and have become certified nurses.
Aquino pressed to review Manila-Tokyo trade deal
Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the review and possible abrogation of the bilateral trade pact between the Philippines and Japan could happen in the first 100 days of the Aquino administration.
Japan hits RP for auto tariffs
"The [JPEPA] agreement has been signed and only the implementation is not taking place,” said Yasuhiko Arimitsu, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines.
Auto workers slam DTI on JPEPA auto tariff talks delay
A group of 75,000 automotive industry workers has slammed the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry for lack of earnest efforts to negotiate a delay in the tariff elimination of imported vehicles under the signed Japan Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
Jpepa tariff lifting worries auto workers
The “horrors” of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) continue to haunt the country.
RP: no tariff lifting sans investment
The Philippines is likely to suspend its tariff-elimination commitments for Japanese vehicles and auto parts under the two countries’ economic partnership agreement starting in January, as the government still needs to determine if the “increased investment” that Japan promised has indeed come in already.
Group asks SC anew to junk JPEPA
A group led by former Vice-President Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. and former Senate president Jovito R. Salonga has asked the Supreme Court (SC) anew to quash the trade agreement with Japan.
Japan goes gaga over banana diet
More than 90 percent of Japan’s banana import comes from the Philippines, where Sumitomo Corp. has been operating for 40 years. Sumitomo’s profit quadrupled to Y 1.7 billion in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009, boosted by the morning banana diet.
Importers using JPEPA to cheat gov’t
Importers and brokers have resorted to using a controversial trade agreement between the Philippines and Japan to avoid paying the correct amount of taxes to the government, a ranking customs official said Monday.
NGO writes PM Aso to halt Japan biodiesel project
The public believes that the 600,000 hectare biodiesel deal between the Philippines and Japan is the Jpepa in action, says Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya)


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