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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

DENR opposed waste dumping in trade deal but gave in to DTI
The Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) tried but failed to stop the government from including toxic and hazardous wastes from the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), yielding to pressure.
Senate indignant, CBCP sad over ‘toxic’ accord
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, yesterday said he was saddened by the agreement that environmentalists fear would turn the Philippines into Japan’s dump for toxic wastes. Indignation was also voiced in the Senate and calls were made for an investigation of the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
RP-Japan accord ‘toxic’
A new dump for toxic waste may soon open for Japan — and it has 7,100 islands. This is how concerned environmentalists see the likely effect of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi signed on Sept. 9 in Helsinki on the side of the Asia-Europe Meeting.
The Right to Information in International Trade Treaties
The right of the people to information on matters of public concern is a fundamental right that has been enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the Philippine Constitution,and which has been held to be self-executory (i.e., not requiring enabling legislation) by the Supreme Court in a long line of cases.
Japan-RP Economic Pact Brings Dubious Gain
After negotiating away from public scrutiny for four years, the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) was signed at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Helsinki, Finland on Sept. 10, 2006.
Environmental Implications of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement
Last September 9, 2006 in Finland, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Japanese Prime Minister Junihiro Koizumi signed the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), a bilateral preferential trade treaty between Japan and the Philippines that seeks to remove barriers to investments and the trade of goods and services between the two countries.
Philippine congress urged to investigate Japan-RP FTA
The recently signed free trade agreement between the Philippines and Japan may have given economic concessions to Japan that go beyond Philippine commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO), a Filipino opposition legislator today warned.
Japan to prepare safeguard against imports from Philippines
Japan’s Ministry of Finance said Wednesday that it plans to amend customs-related laws and ordinances to enable Japan to invoke emergency restrictions on imports from the Philippines.
KMU sees more retrenchment with new RP-Japan trade pact
The militant Filipino labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said it fears more retrenchments and lower wages with the impending liberalization of the country’s automotive and steel sectors under the recently signed Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
Philippine FTA to reshape health care
The free-trade agreement clinched with the Philippines on Saturday will test whether Japan is serious about opening its labor market, a change that would trade homogeneity for a more youthful workforce.


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