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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

Another JPEPA deception
JPEPA’s promise of opening up Japanese borders to Filipino professionals may not exactly be true and Filipino nurses and health workers delighted over Malacañang pronouncements may have celebrated too early.
Alliance forged vs RP-Japan trade pact
From militants to high society matrons, citizens’ groups have embarked on a joint effort to fight the ratification of a controversial Philippine-Japan economic agreement they fear would turn the country into a “garbage republic” for Japan’s toxic and hazardous waste.
Militants to take fight vs trade pact to Japan
The militant leftist group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) is bringing the struggle against the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) right to the heart of that North Asian country—the Diet—to ask its members to reject the onerous trade pact.
Fair Trade statement on JPEPA
We, at the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA), bewail the lack of transparency in the way the executive branch of the Philippine government is crafting the JPEPA.
KMP threatens boycott of Japanese products: Farmers’ group urges Japan not to push through with JPEPA
The Japanese government will send its big commercial fishing vessels to the Philippines’ most productive fishing grounds in search of yellowfin tuna and skip jack instead of importing it directly from the Philippines under the controversial trade pact between the two countries.
JPEPA will allow Japan to exploit RP’s tuna resources—group
A militant coalition of fishermen groups protested the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) as it will allow Japanese transnational fishing companies to corner the country’s tuna resources.
RP stands to lose P9b a year in tariff revenues under JPEPA
The Philippines stands to lose more than P9 billion annually in tariff revenues under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). Meanwhile, the gains to Philippine exports that government economic managers claim will happen under JPEPA are similarly overstated. Some 80% of Philippine exports to Japan already enter tariff-free and will not be affected by the free trade pact.
Int’l group urges Senate to reject RP-Japan trade pact
Saying Japan’s motives were "highly suspect," an international monitoring group urged the Philippine Senate on Tuesday to reject a controversial economic deal with Japan unless toxic wastes were removed from the list of products that could be brought into the Philippines.
Farmers picket Japanese embassy over economic pact
About 20 Filipino farmers picketed outside the Japanese embassy Friday to protest the Japanese-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
JPEPA to encourage trade in hazardous and toxic waste
A summary of the current debate over the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement by the Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism.


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