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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

JPEPA’s New Side ‘Agreement’: A Deceptive Exchange of Notes
The mountain labored hard and managed to produce a mouse out of the so-called “exchange of notes” on the anti-Constitutional Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
Working conditions of foreign nurses in Japan ’exploitative’: study
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.
Leave it and save RP sovereignty, senators urged on JPEPA
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.
Exchange of notes between RP, Japan for Jpepa ‘useless,’ says Tañada
FORMER senator and Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) lead convenor Wigberto Tañada labeled the exchange of notes between Manila and Tokyo for the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) as “useless” as it failed to address the numerous constitutional issues that were raised by several sectors against the deal.
Some senators considering JPEPA renegotiation
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
Sayonara JPEPA
Filipinos say no to the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement
Indonesia experience debunks claims of JPEPA advocates of increased economic gains
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.
RP-Japan trade deal nears OK
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.
What the JPEPA proponents have not told the nation (part 2)
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.
JPEPA’s approval hits minor snag
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.


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