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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

Tokyo concessions bared
A free trade pact with Japan has given Philippine agricultural products like sugar wider access to the world’s second-largest economy, an agriculture official said yesterday.
Japan to accept 1,000 Filipino nurses, caregivers under FTA
Japan will accept 400 nurses and 600 caregivers from the Philippines under the bilateral free-trade agreement signed over the weekend, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Monday.
RP-Japan pact must be scrutinized by Senate — Pimentel
The newly signed Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement must be scrutinized by the Philippine Senate because of apprehensions over its alleged disadvantages to the country, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said on Monday. Workers’ and other groups also slammed the signing of the agreement, while a Department of Labor and Employment official said he doubted many Filipino health care workers would want to go to Japan.
Japan, RP sign trade pact, allowing flow of Filipino nurses
Japan and the Philippines signed a free-trade pact after overcoming the thorny issue of Filipina nurses seeking work in the world’s second-biggest economy.
On the Japan-RP economic pact
The upcoming Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) will bring dubious gain to the local economy while severely limiting government’s policy options to develop domestic industries.
Economic partnership with Japan will not benefit Filipinos
It is contemptible how the Philippine government trades its citizens for export goods that will only push the country to even greater disaster. This is the aim of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to sign with Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi today during the Asia Europe Meeting in Helsinki, Finland.
Philippines and Japan sign FTA Accord - For Arroyo, the future of Filipinos is cheap - Migrante-Japan
For Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the future of the Filipino people has a very cheap price. So cheap that she has opted to sell it to Japan by further opening up the local economy in exchange for the annual deployment of 400-500 caregivers and nurses to Japan.
Medical workers may be losers in FTA
Philippine officials may be upbeat about finalizing the bilateral free-trade agreement with Japan this weekend, but there is some concern that the country’s medical workers will be the losers in the deal.
Bilateral Trade deal between Philippines and Japan should not be signed in Helsinki!
Filipino and Japanese groups participating in the Asia Europe People’s Forum in Helsinki expressed their strong opposition to the reported plan of Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi and Philippine President Arroyo to finalize the deal over the contentious Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement on the sidelines of the Asia Europe Meeting in Helsinki next week.
GMA, Koizumi to ink free trade agreement
Japan has said it will sign a free-trade pact with the Philippines, ending prolonged negotiations that had stalled largely over how many Filipino nurses could come to work in the world’s second-largest economy.


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