post date : 2015.10.16
Asahi: “Transparency needed to make TPP a foundation for regional stability, prosperity”
Sankei: “System in place for free foundation”
Nikkei: “Use TPP as opportunity to stimulate global economy”
Mainichi: “TPP deal a chance for Japan to show vision as a trading country”
Yomiuri: “Boost economic growth in giant TPP free trade zone”
The twelve nations negotiating a deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade accord announced at an October 5 press conference that they have reached a broad agreement, after prolonged ministerial talks in the U.S. city of Atlanta. The breakthrough, which came after a 5½-year negotiation, would create the world’s largest free trade bloc, encompassing 800 million people in the Asian-Pacific region and accounting for nearly 40 percent of the global gross domestic product.
The Asahi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei), The Sankei Shimbun and The Yomiuri Shimbun discussed the TPP broad agreement in their editorials on October 6, while The Mainichi Shimbun’s editorial took up the issue on the following day. All five national dailies hailed the development, but aside from The Nikkei, they all mentioned that it will be necessary to provide the public with information about its contents. The Nikkei praised it as a “historic achievement,” while The Yomiuri said, “This will raise the degree of freedom in economic activities and TPP member countries will likely receive various benefits, including expansion of production and job creation.”
The Sankei pinned high hopes on the deal, saying “The TPP, which would bring a high-level of liberalization and set rules for building a common foundation in the bloc, is an ambitious accord that can set the international standard of the 21st Century.”
The Mainichi regarded the accord highly as well. “The consensus reached on Oct. 5 is of great significance to Japan because it will help the country lay the groundwork for incorporating vitality in the Asia-Pacific region into Japan’s economy while the country’s domestic demand remains sluggish due to its declining population.”
The Asahi said the “landmark trade agreement should be used as a foundation for prosperity and stability in the region,” but added that “... the governments should confront the challenge of allaying people’s strong anxieties and doubts concerning the TPP’s impact on their daily lives,” noting the importance of government accountability.
■ Whether to check China, or include China
The five national dailies have differing opinions about China, which is not one of the nations participating in the TPP.
The Sankei and The Yomiuri said the TPP will be effective in checking China.
The Sankei said there are many problems in hegemonic moves by China and that the TPP will serve to check China. “Of course, the importance of economic relations with China will remain unchanged for the participating nations even after the TPP accord is sealed,” the newspaper said. “Even so, at a time when there are fluid factors such as the slowing Chinese economy, creating a new economic bloc will be meaningful from the viewpoint of diversifying risk.”
The Yomiuri said: “We should not allow to pass unnoted the possible effect of both Japan and the United States, which lead the TPP talks, banding together and deepening the alliance. Such an effect will restrain China, a country that has been escalating its hegemonic activities lately.”
The newspaper also stressed the importance of urging China to change its practices. “The principles of [the] TPP, the world’s largest economic accord, will become ‘international standards,’” The Yomiuri said. “It is desirable to urge China to reform itself, to abide by fair and transparent rules and to have the world’s second largest economic power contribute to the prosperity of the global community.”
The Asahi and The Mainichi, meanwhile, stressed the necessity of including China.
“To enhance the effectiveness of the trade-liberalizing pact, … it is crucial to get China, the world’s second largest economy, and South Korea involved,” The Asahi said. “That would also help promote political stability in the region.”
The Mainichi also said: “Growth in the Asia-Pacific region cannot be achieved without China. The TPP is not aiming to create an exclusive economic zone. The 12 parties should enhance the presence of the TPP and integrate China into such an advanced free trade zone based on fair and transparent rules.”
The Nikkei did not directly touch on the inclusion of China, but, instead, pointed out roles that Japan can play. “Japan is the only country to participate in negotiations on all three of the TPP; the Free Trade Agreement between Japan, China and South Korea; and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is negotiated by 16 countries, including Japan, China and India,” The Nikkei said. “It is hoped that Japan will play a leading role in creating free trade zones in this region.”
■ Addressing woes of the domestic agricultural sector
The newspapers also discussed measures for the nation’s agricultural sector, a focal point after the conclusion of the TPP.
The Nikkei urged the government to refrain from simply doling out money to farmers, if Japan does not want to repeat the failure of the measures it took to buffer the adverse effects of the Uruguay Round trade liberalization agreement on the farm sector in the 1990s. “Funds should be distributed mainly for the abolishment of the rice production adjustment (acreage reduction) and measures to enhance agricultural productivity in synergy with the reform of the agricultural cooperative system.”
The Asahi also said, “Saddled with more than 1,000 trillion yen of debt, the Japanese government can no longer afford to make the same mistake of massive public spending on not-so-useful projects.”
The Yomiuri warned against pork-barreling. “With the House of Councillors election, scheduled for next summer, in mind, there are some within the Liberal Democratic Party calling for a large increase in agriculture-related budgets, under the pretext of measures to deal with the TPP accord,” The Yomiuri said. “The government will be tested on whether it can allocate budgets by prioritizing those projects that will help reinvigorate the nation’s farming sector, while eliminating the policy of handouts for farmers.”
The Sankei said it is an urgent task to realize a robust farming sector. “[Measures for the farming sector] must improve the nation’s agricultural productivity and sharpen its competitive edge,” the newspaper said. “It is the right course of action to raise the income of farmers by enhancing the strength of the agriculture business through such government measures.”
The Mainichi said: “... Japan’s agricultural sector has declined significantly partly because farmers are aging. The sector cannot look forward to a bright future if it is only protected with high import tariffs. Therefore, Japanese farmers should view the TPP as an opportunity to turn aggressive in their business activities.”
*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively. Those for The Nikkei and The Sankei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.