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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

Philippines: ’Diplomatic exchange’ on JPEPA toxic provisions not enough, Greenpeace says
The diplomatic notes state that "Japan would not be exporting toxic waste to the Philippines as defined and prohibited under the laws of the Philippines and Japan, in accordance with the Basel Convention." This is where the loophole and ambiguity lies.
Side deal on toxic wastes won’t wash, says lawyer
A proposed side agreement to the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement aimed at ensuring that no toxic wastes will be exported to the Philippines will not not solve the deeper, more substantive problems of the JPEPA.
RP-Japan pact won’t allow toxic dumping
Japan will give formal assurance to Philippine senators that it will not dump toxic and hazardous waste on the Philippines in an attempt to convince them to ratify the controversial Japan- Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
Japanese investors want RP-Japan trade pact ratified
200 Japanese businessmen expressed that they would invest in the Philippines only after the approval of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
JPEPA: The Philippine fall into the IPR bilateral trap
The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement poses serious questionable intellectual property provisions which ultimately undermine the rights of Filipino farmers, communities and the public in general.
JPEPA: A raw deal for the Philippines
How the trade deal with Japan would bring more pain than gain for the Philippines
Japan to ease license to take more Filipino nursing caretakers
Japan’s welfare ministry has decided to introduce a new eased license for nursing caretakers as part of measures to facilitate Japan’s acceptance of Filipino caretakers under a bilateral free trade agreement signed last year, ministry officials said Saturday.
PGMA hopes Senate will ratify JPEPA soonest
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo expressed hope Friday that the Senate would "ratify speedily" the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) so as to enhance the facilitation of goods and services between the Philippines and Japan.
Arroyo to push ratification of controversial pact with Japan
Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday said she will push for the ratification of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) when the new Congress convenes in July.
Manila-Tokyo deal: A toxic nightmare
I first thought that my Japanese clients were trying to patronize me (and us Filipinos) when they said that Japan did us an injustice in the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.


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