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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

Japan to set upper limit in accepting Philippine nurses under FTA
Japan has agreed with the Philippines to set an upper limit on the number of Philippine nurses and caregivers — 400 to 500 annually — it will accept under a bilateral free trade agreement which is scheduled to be signed by leaders of the two countries on Sept. 9, government sources said Thursday.
Under RP-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement local settlement of disputes agreed on
The Philippines and Japan have agreed to settle all disputes domestically under the proposed Economic Partnership Agreement unless the Secretaries of Trade of both countries agree to bring the dispute to an international arbitration court.
Japan, Philippines aim to sign FTA in Sept.
Japan and the Philippines plan to conclude their bilateral free trade agreement in September and put it into effect by the end of 2007, it was learned Wednesday.
Japan: Free trade deal with Manila stumbles over labour
While 23 July marked the 50th anniversary of bilateral friendship between Japan and the Philippines, Tokyo has decided not to use the occasion to conclude a long-awaited free trade agreement (FTA) with a fellow Asian country.
SC has no jurisdiction over treaties, says Sol-Gen
The Supreme Court of the Philippines has no jurisdiction to issue a ruling on a petition filed by party-list group Akbayan seeking to stop the government from signing a bilateral trade pact with Japan without a full disclosure of its provisions to the public.
JPEPA: Arbitration framework readied
The Philippines and Japan are moving towards adopting arbitration procedures in settling disputes to avoid lengthy and expensive court battles in protecting investments from both sides as they finalize their proposed bilateral free trade pact.
Japan agrees to non-quota deployment of nurses—RP exec
Discussions on the labor component of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) finally moved forward after Japan agreed to a non-quota deployment of Filipino nurses and caregivers, a labor official said.
Filipino and Japanese workers to lose out in JPEPA
Both Filipino and Japanese workers will lose out under the proposed Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) according to a report by Mr. Takemasa Ando, a researcher from Waseda University in Tokyo.
RP sees Japan trade deal in July
The Philippines’ top diplomat said Wednesday he hoped to sign a delayed free-trade deal with Japan in July to mark the 50th anniversary of the re-establishment of relations after World War II.
International researcher hits Japanese aid to RP
A visiting Japanese researcher accused her own government of extending international aid that runs counter to the interest of the Filipinos. Kayoko’s observation came after members of the Philippine House of Representatives petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the government from finalizing an economic agreement with Japan.


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