Ichida questions Abe about TPP, Minamata disease, and collective self-defense right

October 19, 2013

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi at an Upper House plenary session on October 18 faced off against Prime Minister Abe Shinzo over issues regarding the TPP negotiations, the Minamata disease issue, and the right to collective self-defense.


Referring to news coverage that Japan made a compromise with the United States on removing tariffs on 240 Japanese products accounting for 92% in the liberalization rate, Ichida asked Abe if the report is true.

Abe denied the media report but withheld details about the TPP negotiations.

Ichida said, "Many countries are now moving to defend their food sovereignty. Japan should also work to improve its food self-sufficiency rate. To this effect, the government should set a national goal of protecting domestic farmers."

Abe in February, which was before the TPP multinational talks took place in Indonesia, promised the JCP representative that the government would provide all information on the talks to the Diet and the public, but he ended up hiding the details.

Minamata disease

Regarding a message, "Japan has recovered from mercury pollution," sent from PM Abe to the International Minamata Convention held on October 9-11 in Kumamoto Prefecture, Ichida said that many people are still suffering from the aftereffects of the disease caused by organic mercury in water discharged from a chemical plant.

Despite apparent Minamata disease symptoms, a number of patients cannot even apply for compensation because of the limited designated areas and age restrictions.

Ichida criticized the government for having refused to conduct health checkups on 470,000 residents, including victims in the designated areas and all the other symptomatic patients, and demanded that comprehensive relief measures be put into place.

The prime minister showed absolutely no intention to review the existing relief policy which divides the victims in accordance with their communities and ages.

Right to collective self-defense

Ichida said that the collective self-defense right invoked to wage wars was intended, in fact, for unjustifiable military interventions by great powers. He then asked Abe if he knows of any case in which the right to collective self-defense was exercised based on Article 51 of the UN Charter to "defend" countries concerned. Abe was unable to cite any specific case it was used for defense purposes.

Ichida went on to say, "The present constitutional interpretation, which prohibits Japan from invoking the right to collective self-defense, has functioned to keep Japan's Self-Defense Forces from engaging in wars abroad."

To entitle Japan to such a right will remove this brake and turn the county into a nation capable of waging wars abroad together with the U.S. forces, Ichida added.

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