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Japanese farm leader expresses concerns about TPP

Akira Banzai

Akira Banzai

The Japanese government’s decision to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership could result in negative consequences for Japanese and American producers and consumers, the leader of JA-Zenchu, Japan’s Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, told a gathering of U.S. officials and agricultural lobbyists Tuesday evening at a reception.

Noting that he had brought with him a shipment of “premium rice” to be served with sushi and sake at the reception, JA-Zenchu President Akira Banzai said he and his team had spent the last two days meeting with officials at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Agriculture Department Foreign Agriculture Service and farm organizations, including the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Farmers Union, and sugar and rice groups.

Banzai told the group that JA-Zenchu had filed comments with USTR in response to USTR’s request for comments on TPP.

In a copy of the comments distributed at the reception, Banzi noted that the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Committees of Japan’s House of Representatives and House of Councilors had adopted a resolution that “sensitive products, including rice, wheat and barley, beef and pork, dairy products, and sugar and starch crops, etc., must be excluded or set aside for renegotiations for the purpose of maintaining their sustainable domestic production. Any kind of tariff elimination schemes including phase-out of over ten years is unacceptable.”

Banzai also said, “Agriculture, as an indispensable industry to sustain the health and livelihood of people, deserves a separate, sensible and different way of handling from other industries.”