Bangkok Post | 30 September 2007
Japanese civil groups join push against FTA
Fear toxic waste trade will step up
By Achara Ashayagachat
Japanese civil and consumer rights groups have thrown their support behind the Thai anti-FTA movement by petitioning their own government not to rush into signing the Thai-Japan free trade agreement with the interim Surayud Chulanont administration. Twenty-one Japan-based non-governmental organisations on Friday urged the Japanese government to stall the ratification of the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) because the trade pact had not received parliamentary endorsement from the Thai side.
Ratification of a trade pact without parliamentary scrutiny could be considered as a violation of the Thai constitution, they warned.
’’We, the Japanese citizen groups working on environmental, health, human rights, agricultural and consumers’ issues, urge the Japanese government not to commit itself to exchanging diplomatic notes with the Thai government without the JTEPA being sent to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for deliberation,’’ they said. ’’We also expect not only an issue concerning toxic waste trade, but other unforeseen problems that might crop up as a result of the JTEPA not being activated at a constitutionally-required forum,’’ they said.
The activists view that the trade pact will encourage transboundary movement of toxic waste from Japan to Thailand, which will become a ’’dumping ground’’ of Japanese industrial and electronic waste.
They made their call ahead of the coup-installed government’s exchange of diplomatic notes with Tokyo on Tuesday in order to bring the JTEPA into effect. The planned exchange of diplomatic notes is seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to keep his pledge with former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe that the JTEPA would take effect by Nov 1.
Gen Surayud’s decision to go ahead with the JTEPA is a violation of Article 190 of the new charter, approved by the referendum on Aug 19, which requires that international treaties, conventions and agreements be discussed and endorsed by parliament.