February 24, 2013
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, after holding his first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on February 23, told reporters that he will move towards Japan's participation in multinational free trade talks.
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on February 23 published a comment on the Abe-Obama summit meeting as follows:
Prime Minister Abe and President Obama held a Japan-U.S. summit meeting on February 23, Japan time, in Washington.
Throwing away Japan's economic sovereignty, Abe indicated his willingness to step into negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement which will severely affect every aspect of people's lives and Japanese industries as well as food and agriculture. It is impermissible for him to have not clarified his position in national discussions such as in the Diet at home but embark on Japan's entry into the TPP talks at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting despite the fact that TPP participation is a major issue splitting public opinion into two in Japan.
The Japan-U.S. summit meeting put emphasis on the strengthening of the Japan-U.S. alliance. Abe promised to have a new U.S. base constructed in Okinawa, build up Japan's military power, promote reinterpretation of the Constitution with a view to enabling Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, and promote further nuclear power generation and the resumption of operations of currently suspended nuclear reactors. His commitments have highlighted Japan's aberrant state of subordination to the United States, running counter to majority opinion of the Japanese public.
Abe said that unconditional tariff cuts are not a precondition for Japan to join the TPP talks.
However, the Japan-U.S. joint statement regarding the TPP states that "all goods would be subject to negotiation" and confirms that "Japan would join others in achieving a comprehensive, high-standard agreement, as described in the Outlines of the TPP Agreement announced by TPP Leaders". The Outlines states that the aim of the pact is to "eliminate tariffs and other barriers to goods and services trade and investment," stating clearly that the abolition of customs and nontariff barriers is the ultimate goal of the free trade pact. It is a deception on the general public for the prime minister to insist that the complete elimination of tariffs is not a prerequisite for Japan joining in the negotiations, while simultaneously "confirming" the goal of the Outlines.
The joint statement also states that "it is not required to make a prior commitment to unilaterally eliminate all tariffs upon joining the TPP negotiations." In fact, this only allows those nations to call in the talks for some exceptions to be implemented, and will give no guarantee to the outcome of the discussions.
It is absolutely unacceptable for the Abe government, with such a deceptive trick, to throw away its pledge to the public and promote the TPP that will cause serious damage to agriculture, medical services, food safety, and other broad areas related to local economies as well as people's lives.
The two leaders agreed to realize the early relocation of the U.S. Futenma base to Henoko in Okinawa's Nago City in accordance with the bilateral agreement. As shown by a petition signed by the mayors of all 41 municipalities and the chairs of these assemblies in Okinawa as well as a resolution unanimously adopted by the prefectural assembly, the opposition to the relocation to Henoko and demand for the closure and removal of the Futenma base are Okinawan consensus. To trample on this consensus and impose a new U.S. base on Okinawan people is unforgivable.
The Abe-Obama talks described the Japan-U.S. military alliance as a cornerstone for security in the Asia-Pacific region. Prime Minister Abe stressed that he is working on the nation's military build-up and promoting discussion on approval to exercise the right to collective self-defense. The exercise of the right to collective self-defense aims to allow Japan and the U.S. to jointly conduct military operations and use force abroad. This will change the bilateral alliance to an extremely dangerous and aggressive one and totally runs counter to the Japanese Constitution which prohibits Japan from using force outside the country.
Prime Minister Abe promised President Obama to conduct a "zero-based review" of the goal of achieving zero nuclear power by the 2030s set by the previous Democratic Party of Japan-led government. This is in essence his pledge to restart and promote nuclear power generation. The U.S. government had criticized the DPJ-led government's goal and worked to block the cabinet from approving it. In addition to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's failure to recognize its responsibility for spreading the "safety myth" of nuclear power generation leading to the severe accident at the Fukushima plant, Abe's promise neglects the majority of citizens' voices calling for an exit from nuclear power generation.
The prime minister will inevitably face stronger criticism from Japan's public for making these promises to the U.S. in disregard of citizens' demands. The Japanese Communist Party will continue to make efforts to promote joint struggles based on common grounds in protesting against the TPP, nuclear power generation, adverse revision of the Constitution, and strengthening of U.S. bases, as well as calling for unconditional removal of the Futenma base. It will strive to develop and strengthen public opinion calling for the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which is the basis of Japanese policies that fall in line with those of the U.S. government.