LDP Delays TPP Vote

In a bid to guarantee passage, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party coalition notified opposition parties Saturday of its decision to push back ratification of a recently signed Pacific free trade deal beyond the current Diet session ending June 1.

The Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito party believe there is insufficient time for deliberations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact during the current parliamentary session after they failed to advance debate with the opposition camp.

The ruling parties were concerned that if they stuck to their initial plan of securing approval during the current session, they would have to push ahead with Diet deliberations without resolving their conflict with the opposition camp, a move that could negatively affect the House of Councillors election this summer.

The ruling parties will aim to have the pact and related bills approved during an extraordinary session in the fall, LDP Secretary General Sadakazu Tanigaki said.

Opposition parties boycotted a lower house panel session a few days after debate started on April 5, claiming the panel’s chairman conducted discussions unfairly and criticizing the government for not fully disclosing documents on negotiations for the deal.

An opposition lawmaker also raised a question about the chairman’s forthcoming book that contains inside information about the TPP trade talks, asking whether government officials had provided any details of the negotiations for the book.

In Tokyo, farmers staged a protest outside the Diet building against the TPP.  They are concerned that TPP provisions will allow cheap foreign agricultural products into Japan by bulk causing them to lose footing in competition.  The TPP will slash agricultural tariffs by 75% ending Japan's infamously highest in the world tariffs.  In Japan, provisions also call for ending many of the subsidies Japanese farmers have come to depend on.

Yukio Edano, secretary general of the main opposition Democratic Party, said the ruling parties should scrap the bill and start deliberations from scratch.


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