Lecture Series: Consumers’ Perspective on the TPP Problem

Consumers Union of Japan and other organizations have jointly started a lecture series to discuss the problems with free trade agreements from the consumers’ perspective.

During the APEC meeting in the fall of 2011, the Noda Administration expressed that Japan will participate in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Mass media made it appear as if only farm groups are opposed to trade liberalization, belittling the difficulties while emphasizing the potential economic benefits. It seems that there are many people who do not understand what kind of influence the TPP will have over citizens’ daily lives, also among ordinary consumers. Consequently, we started this lecture series with the theme “Food safety is being threatened.”
The United States has taken the lead in the TPP discussions, with the clear aim to take control over the market in Japan. The US has made seven demands that are related to food safety standards, including simplifying the system for rice inspection, the approval process for new food additives, and lifting Japan’s strict countermeasures to combat BSE.

During the initial lecture in January, Mr. Ono Kazuoki discussed how poverty spreads across borders as a result of globalization. Mr. Amagasa Keisuke explained how the US is trying to force Japan to import dangerous genetically modified foods. The lecture was a good opportunity to consider what consumers can do with regards to the TPP problem and globalization in order to ensure safe food.

At the second lecture in February, Mr. Mashima Yoshitaka from Nouminren, the Japan Family Farmers Movement, will talk about “TPP and food sovereignty.” Mr. Mashima strongly believes that securing a stable domestic food supply is more important than trade. Moreover, Mr. Yamaura Yasuaki from CUJ will discuss the importance of food labelling, and its links to basic consumer rights, namely the right to know, the right to choose, and the right to live safely. What will happen to food labelling rules if Japan participates in the TPP?

We regard TPP as a problem that influences the daily lives of citizens directly. Our aim is to protect citizens’ livelihoods from the ill effects of globalization, and to consider what consumers can do about this problem. The lecture series will continue in March.

Date: February 23, 2012 (Thu) 13:30-16:30
Place: Waseda Hoshien Center, Tokyo, Seminar House 6 ABC
Fee: 500 Yen
Directions: Subway Waseda station (Tozai line) or bus from Takadanobaba station towards Waseda Seimon, get off at the Nishi Waseda bus stop.