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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

Critique of the Japanese government’s strategy to export wastes to developing countries
A Citizen Groups Joint Statement of Opinion to the Japanese government on the inclusion of toxic wastes in Japan’s FTAs, such as JPEPA.
Japan parliament OKs Philippines free-trade pact
Japan’s parliament approved a free trade agreement with the Philippines on Wednesday, paving the way for the pact to take effect next spring, Kyodo News Service reports.
Senators in no rush to OK RP-Japan pact
The Philippine Senate isn’t keen on convening the committee of the whole to tackle the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) this month, further setting back the ratification of the economic deal.
“Davao pesticide poisoning to expand and increase with JPEPA!”-KMP and APC
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and the Asian Peasant Coalition lambasted the Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc. for causing the pesticide poisoning of at least 79 people in Davao del Norte, Philippines, stressing that "such poisonings would increase and expand when the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) is ratified.”
A critique of the Asian Peasant Coalition against JPEPA
Filipinos will just be getting crumbs for all the trouble and hardship that this agreement would entail. We urge the rural people to oppose JPEPA, launch campaign, education and action against the one-sided agreement. We call on our fellow farmers in Asia, especially in Japan, to help us campaign against this pact.
House resolution filed urging Senate to junk JPEPA
A resolution has been filed by the progressive party-list block in Congress urging the Senate to junk the controversial Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement for being ’one-sided, onerous and inimical to national interest.’
Furor over JPEPA: Will Davao’s banana workers benefit from it?
Most of the bananas from Davao are exported to Japan by Japanese companies such as Sumitomo. These companies and their contract growers or affiliates in Mindanao will benefit from any lowered tariff under JPEPA, not the farmers and plantation workers.
Briefing Paper on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA)
On December 11, 2003, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi agreed to formally start negotiations for a comprehensive bilateral agreement called the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
DFA official: JPEPA not well-negotiated
A senior Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official yesterday admitted that the Philippines may not have considered its national interest during the negotiations of the controversial free trade agreement with Japan signed last September.
Fair Trade Statement on JPEPA, October 2006
The Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), signed on the sidelines of the Helsinki’s ASEAN-Europe Meeting (ASEM) held in September this year, sidelines the development needs of the Philippines and further enhances the imbalances in the economic relations between the two countries.


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