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
The Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party and eight other organizations asked the Supreme Court on Monday to prevent the implementation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) that the Senate ratified last week.
Activists from various organizations under the NO DEAL! Movement on Friday warned that the recently recently ratified Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) would set the precedent for more unequal economic agreements for the Philippines.
Senators on Thursday alternately praised and criticized the recently ratified Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement for removing tariffs on 95 percent of Philippine exports to Japan while allegedly violating Philippine laws on foreign ownership of local businesses.
The Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) reiterated today its warning that the ratification of Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) had institutionalized abuses against Filipino health personnel.
Bilateral deals like JPEPA enables beleaguered countries like Japan to pass their crisis to other economies in the region through more liberalization.
The basic norm of international law is that a party to a treaty cannot invoke its internal law, including its Constitution, as a justification for failure to perform its obligation under the treaty. Therefore, JPEPA will prevail over the Philippine Constitution.
The Philippine Senate finally gave its concurrence to the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), heeding to Palace appeals for the approval of the country’s first-ever bilateral free trade deal before the congressional break.
Today is a dark day for the Philippines’ sovereignty and patrimony but we vow to continue our struggle against the JPEPA, say the NO DEAL! Movement and Bayan. We will use all available means — from mass protests to the Supreme Court — to stop its implementation.
The Philippine government has used the annual entry of 400 Filipino nurses and 600 caregivers under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) as one of main reasons why the Senate should ratify the free trade accord. Yet foreign nurses and caregivers who want to work in Japan may find working conditions there exploitative or even discriminatory, according to a study.
As Sen. Miriam Santiago advises opposition senators to “love or leave” the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), research group IBON Foundation urges the Philippine Senate to choose the non-ratification of the deal and help reclaim the country’s economic sovereignty.