Letter from Japanese Farmers to Prime Minister of Thailand
Saturday, 31 March 2007
The Honorable Surayud Chulanont, Prime Minister of Royal Thai
We are a coalition of farmers, women, consumers and workers in Japan, who work for food safety and a stable food supply system, as well as for the sound development of domestic agriculture, which is the basis of achieving the former goals.
At the same time, we value the solidarity among people organizations in the world including Thailand, as we understand welfare of Japanese people has direct link to prosperity of people around the world.
From our standpoint, upcoming Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Thailand and Japan involves big problems which will bring misery of people in both countries. Although, there are several problems in regard to this agreement, we will present only one in this letter. It is a plan of Japanese government and transnational corporations (TNCs) to transform Asia into “dumpsite” through exploitation of this EPA.
The “trade” of waste will be carried out under the pretext of “recycling.” However, an international convention (Basel convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal, 1989) regulates transboundray movements of hazardous wastes even for “recycling.” Moreover, in order to achieve an exhaustive implementation, a draft amendment for the treaty, which prohibits all developed nations exportation of any detrimental wastes to developing nations, was adopted in 1995. However, Japan refused to ratify this amendment and intended to mutilate the clauses of “prohibition.” The already-signed Philippines-Japan EPA and upcoming Thailand-Japan EPA are the evidence, which show its nature in true colors.
Philippines-Japan EPA includes a clause, in which Philippines imports Japanese industrial wastes of “ash and residue containing arsenic, mercury, thallium, or their mixtures,” “medical waste such as gauze, bandages, surgical gloves,” “organic solvents,” etc. with free of duty. It is anticipated that similar clause will be including within Thai-Japan EPA. We are also apprehensive of the possibility that “radioactive waste” may be included.
A research done by a NGO in your country reports that in the first half of 2006, for example, 99% of slag and ash including residues from the incineration of municipal waste that Thailand receives come from Japan. It is apprehended that complete removal of tariff for waste “import” may accelerate this.
In addition, Japan is currently undertaking EPA negotiations with ASEAN and India. If the previous agreements with Thailand and Philippines are used as an indicator for the latter agreements, the problems are no longer confined in the two countries frameworks of Thailand and Philippines.
The former vice-president of World Bank, Lawrence Henry Summers, received global criticism in 1991 after his shockingly cruel comment of “logic of economics” that “if we transport hazardous wastes and pollution industries with low cost to developing countries where the “price of life” is cheap, we can save our cost. We should accept this truth.” It is clear that the current conception of Asia as industrial dumpsite is a reappearance of this shameful discussion.
This is an indicator of Japanese tyranny as an economic giant. We, of course, intend to stop this course taken by the Japanese government.
At the same time, we ask for you to postpone the signing and negotiate again with the Japanese government to completely delete the clauses of Thai-Japan EPA concerning wastes.
– National Coalition of Workers, Farmers and Consumers for Safe Food and Health, Japan
– Japan Family Farmers Movement (NOUMINREN)
National Coalition of Workers, Farmers and Consumers for Safe Food and Health, Japan (SHOKKEN-REN)
2-5-5 Shinjuku Nokyo Kaikan 4F, Yoyogi, Sibuya, Tokyo 151-0053, JAPAN
Phone: +3-3372-6112 Fax:+3-3370-8329 E-mail: email@example.com
Japan Family Farmers Movement (NOUMINREN)
Park-side Building 4F 2-23-2 Minami Ikebukuro Toshima-ku Tokyo, Japan 171-0022
Phone: +81-3-3590-6759 Fax: +81-3-3590-6953 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 31, 2007