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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

Filipino nursing students want JPEPA junked
Nursing students staged in Manila a rally against the ratification of the proposed Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) for fear that Filipino nurses will only end up as nursing aides or attendants in Japan.
Senate rejection of JPEPA seen
After three hearings, the proposed trade treaty between the Philippines and Japan is on the verge of defeat in the Senate after government officials again failed to convince the senators of the treaty’s benefits to the country.
Santiago sees ‘dead’ JPEPA if gov’t won’t explain benefits
Philippine government negotiators have failed anew to answer basic questions from senators on the benefits of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) to the country. During today’s hearing, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairman of the committee on foreign relations, told government negotiators: “If I find it impossible to defend it on the Senate on the basis of your statement, then as chair, I will be compelled to defer submission of my committee reports. In other words, JPEPA will be dead.”
Militant groups picket Senate in time for JPEPA hearing
Cause-oriented groups under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan on Thursday picketed the Philippine Senate to coincide with hearings on the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.
Senators slam ‘fuzzy’ gov’t presentation of JPEPA
Philippine government officials are having a hard time justifying the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement to the Senate
Mass mobilizations mark the first Senate hearing on JPEPA
A crowd of more than 300 laborers, farmers, fishers, and environmentalists from the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition today called on the Senators of the 14th Congress to look beyond the rosy projections and government hype surrounding the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), and to carefully assess its short-term and long-term implications.
Fair trade group seeks JPEPA renegotiation
The Philippine Senate should hold back action on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement and instead go for renegotiation, this time involved affected sectors in the talks, said Quezon Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III.
JPEPA: Para Saan? Para Kanino?
We at the Fair Trade Alliance are not convinced that the JPEPA is a good template for a productive, balanced and win-win trade and economic partnership between Japan and the Philippines.
Group says new fertilizer aid tied to JPEPA
The Philippine national fishermen’s alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas has voiced out suspicions that the timing of the release of a P125-million fertilizer grant from the Japanese government was “closely linked” to the approval of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
Arroyo on FTA promo blitz but environmentalists worry
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s team has begun a high-profile public relations blitz to urge the Senate to ratify a free-trade pact with Japan.


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