What the TPP portends for Japan–Australia agricultural trade

Akira Amari, Japan's minister in charge of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, attends a meeting of trade chiefs from 12 countries involved in the negotiations in Sydney on 25 October 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Australia’s farmers, particularly beef producers, may have celebrated too early when the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) took effect on 15 January 2015. The deal may be gazumped by another that is taking shape between Japan and the United States in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Read more…

After Japan’s status quo election, where will opposition come from?

Following a landslide victory, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks as President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, 15 December 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW

The 2014 Japanese election result was no more or less than a victory for the political status quo. All it did was reaffirm the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) predominance and the opposition parties’ collective weakness. Read more…

An election manifesto for the status quo on Japanese agriculture

Japanese Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Shinzo Abe shakes hands with opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Banri Kaieda and Japan Innovation Party co-leader Kenji Eda after a political debate for the upcoming lower house election in Tokyo, to be held on 14 December. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW

Only one party contesting this week’s Japanese election is advocating agricultural reform and it is not the LDP.

The party in question is the Japan Innovation Party (JIP). Its manifesto contains a series of measures that amount to a textbook prescription for agricultural reform. Read more…

Japan’s unnecessary election

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, 18 November 2014. Abe called a snap election for December and put off a sales tax hike planned for next year until 2017. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Prime Minister Abe is subjecting his ruling coalition — and his nation — to an unnecessary election on 14 December 2014. Abe claims his decision is all about policy, but in reality it is all about politics. His stated rationale for calling the election is the need to secure voters’ endorsement of his administration’s decision to postpone the consumption tax rise to 10 per cent until April 2017. But his real reasons are based on cold calculations of political self-interest. Read more…

Can Nishikawa resolve Japan’s TPP agricultural impasse?

Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Koya Nishikawa speaks during a press conference at the official residence of the Japanese prime minister in Tokyo, 3 September 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s appointment of Koya Nishikawa as the new Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is a big plus for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Nishikawa is an executive of the so-called ‘agricultural tribe’ (norin zoku) in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Read more…

Why the US struggles against Japan in TPP negotiations

US Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks to reporters while Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari looks on during a press conference at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, 20 May 2014. Trade ministers from 12 nations completed a two-day Ministerial meeting in Singapore targeted at creating a 12-nation trade pact in the Asian-Pacific region. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Real progress in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations has stalled until Japan and the United States reach some kind of basic trade agreement — which is still elusive even after numerous rounds of talks. The United States has been pressuring Japan to make concessions in key areas such as agriculture.

It is well known that current TPP negotiations are running on two separate tracks: the plurilateral track in which all 12 countries are participating and the bilateral track which amounts to a series of bilateral deals being negotiated on the side. Read more…

China responds to Japan–US ‘sushi’ diplomacy

Effigies of Shinzo Abe and Barack Obama are displayed at a May Day event in Japan. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The Chinese media exhaustively covered Obama’s visit to Japan on 23–25 April. There were references to the exorbitant cost of the Abe–Obama sushi dinner and the ¥25 million worth of entertainment laid on by Prime Minister Abe. But it was Obama’s verbal guarantees regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands that attracted the most attention. Read more…