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
A number of Philippine senators are considering calling for a renegotiation of the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) as a “way out” of the debate over the pact
Filipinos say no to the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement
As proponents of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) continue to warn against the possibility of being left out if the pact is not ratified, the experience of Indonesia shows that its own bilateral deal with Japan has not resulted in increased economic gains.
Senate proponents of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) expect the country’s first bilateral free trade deal to finally pass scrutiny in October after a second side pact was sealed to respect Filipino-only provisions in the Constitution.
The multisectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade), a broad coalition of industry, agriculture, formal and informal labor, NGOs and youth pushing for trade and economic reforms, maintains its stance in the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) that it will not favor the agreement’s ratification without renegotiation.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said she would not submit the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) to a Senate vote until after an exchange of notes with Japan has been formally signed and exchanged.
The Philippine government has been making a hard sell on JPEPA — threatening that a failure to ratify shall be catastrophic to the Philippines, while a ratification of the agreement shall be a big boost to the economy. FairTrade, on the other hand, bolsters its position urging the government to renegotiate the treaty because of the agreement’s inherent economic and constitutional questions. The Senate must correct these patently one-sided contents in JPEPA so that it will effectively benefit Philippine industries and the Filipino people. In fact, what the JPEPA proponents have NOT told the Nation is that JPEPA is biased against the Philippines.
Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Thursday said she will ask Senate President Manuel Villar to postpone voting on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) until after a formal exchange of notes that will guarantee the treaty does not violate the Constitution.
A former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law on Wednesday criticized as unconstitutional the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) for allowing Japanese citizens to own land, practice certain professions and operate and administer educational institutions in the Philippines.
Philippine senators have suspended debates on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement pending a clarification by the Foreign Affairs and Trade departments as well as the Japanese government on the status of a side agreement that will address constitutional issues raised by lawmakers.