Toxic Trade News / 24 April 2008
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Japanese condemn JPEPA too!
by Nestor Mata, Malaya (Philippines)
24 April 2008 – Not only Filipinos but Japanese citizens are also passionately against the ratification of the flawed Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.

Just like the concerned citizens here, from constitutionalists and other legalists to environmentalists, the Japanese citizens, representing over 100 citizens’ groups, have cited similarly cogent reasons why the treaty should be rejected by the Philippine Senate.

In two letters emailed directly to the senators they stated that "the Philippines deserved a better and just deal from Japan"!

"JPEPA would establish a relationship between the Philippines and Japan that is completely opposite to our wish for equality and mutual respect between good neighbors," they said. And they warned that "JPEPA can even become a barrier in the long term friendship between the two countries."

The first letter transmitted to the Senate last week was signed by over 100 Japanese citizens’ groups, while the second letter was signed by 24 other groups composed of representatives from agriculture, environment, public health, human rights, trade and consumer sectors in Japan.

They echoed local opposition to the contentious economic and trade pact. "We fear about the dire consequences if JPEPA is ratified," they said. "From our view, JPEPA will facilitate the practice of sending Japanese toxic wastes, persistent organic pollutants, ozone depleting substances, among other ‘products’ into the Philippines in the name of free trade."

They revealed that for over two years now they have urged their own government "to remove all provisions in JPEPA that liberalize trade in toxic wastes and other banned or controlled substances but to no avail. We have likewise asked our government to immediately ratify the Basel Ban Amendment and to work towards achieving national self-sufficiency in the management of our toxic wastes instead of relying on developing countries, like the Philippines, to take care of the toxic wastes that our society generates." (Both Japan and the Philippines, by the way, have not yet ratified that amendment to the international convention that bans the exportation/ importation of toxic wastes.)

Not only this, they pointed out that JPEPA "would hurt Filipino companies while providing advantages to Japanese business."

And they also emphasized: "The potential for job creation for the Philippine people under JPEPA, as argued by the Japanese and Philippine governments, will in reality be extremely small when compared with the jobs lost as a result of the destruction of Philippine industry and agriculture caused by JPEPA."

These various Japanese citizens’ groups are aware of the efforts of Filipino environmentalists, led by the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition, to put up strong opposition to the JPEPA.

"They were right in condemning the secretive negotiations which did not benefit from the informed public participation," they stated in their two letters to the members of the Senate, the treaty ratifying chamber in Congress. "Your people were correct in disclosing the bad effects of JPEPA to the economy, the environment and to Philippine sovereignty. We find their arguments against JPEPA valid and we agree with them that the Philippines deserves a better deal from Japan."

And finally, they appealed to the senators "to consider what we, the citizens’ groups in both Japan and the Philippines, are saying, to resist pressures, particularly from our government, to ratify the faulty agreement and to decide in favor of what is best for the Philippines."

Yes, honorable ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, don’t – repeat don’t – ratify the faulty, flawed and unconstitutional JPEPA!

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