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
RENEGOTIATE the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) now, rather than suffer the embarrassment of an impending defeat in the eyes of the public when the senators vote for its rejection.
The controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement should be accompanied by a supplemental agreement because the treaty in its current form “fails to make a reservation for future preferential, protective, or development measures over Japanese investments,” Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said Monday.
Filipino workers in Japanese firms based in Southern Tagalog oppose the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). They shared their stories of struggle against what they deem as “greed for profit of Japanese investors at the expense of labor.”
The greatest benefit from any increased banana and pineapple exports resulting from JPEPA will go to the big foreign agribusiness TNCs like Dole and Del Monte, not to Filipino workers and farmers as a whole, militant groups say.
Members of No Deal! JPEPA, Movement Against Unequal Economic Agreements, slammed the effects on agriculture of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Southern Mindanao Region and No Deal! Movement against Unequal Economic Agreements are spearheading today a protest rally against Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) in Davao City as the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs is expected to submit its report on JPEPA in the plenary.
The JPEPA was based on the Japan-Singapore Economic Partnership Agreement, literally employing the "cut-and-paste" method. Page 71 of the Working Draft of the JPEPA still contains the word Singapore in one of the provisions.
Some 2,000 Filipino nurses holding a convention in Cagayan de Oro lit candles and prayed on Wednesday for the Philippine Senate to reject the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and the No Deal! Movement Against Unequal Economic Agreements led a protest against the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) in front of the Japanese Embassy in Manila
The Philippine Senate will hold one more public hearing on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement to give the executive branch a last chance to refute the objections raised by various groups against the treaty and their argument that it is heavily lopsided in favor of Japan.