Meetings held in Brunei on TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership scheme (participated by 12 nations), ended on August 31 with a release of joint statement to ultimately confirm that the negotiation talks would be concluded by the end of year and that the outline would be roughly agreed on in the occasion of the APEC (=Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit scheduled in October.
A 'SECRET CONTRACT' TO ALLOW US TO TAKE FULL INITIATIVE
The Brunei talks focused on market access (elimination of tariffs), intellectual property, investment, competitions, financial services and rules of origin of the goods. The meeting has finished, but every country continues to wage harsh struggles behind the scenes with each other to protect its own interests.
Japan goes with US
The Abe government, neglecting people's strong voices that 'the TPP scheme leads to destroying the nation and therefore Japan should retreat immediately' and pressing the opposition groups within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, attended the talks to declare, reportedly, that Japan would make utmost efforts to prevent the five key items (=rice, wheat, pork and beef, dairy goods and sweetening resources) from falling in the coverage of elimination of tariffs.
In fact, however, the United States takes full initiative of the negotiation, while Japan seems to go together with that country.
As for the five items, bilateral negotiation with the United States and Australia is put off after September due to coordination efforts in the domestic context or general elections. In the Brunei meeting the Japanese government offered, in its maximum efforts, a liberalization rate of 80% (of all the products for which tariffs could be removed). Currently Japan's liberalization rate counts 84-88%. In the TPP scheme the goal is 95-100%.
US has the right to decide
Meanwhile, the United States is scheduled to have mid-term elections next year and the TPP issue is of President Obama's biggest priority. The government does all that can be done to conclude the talks by the end of year to let Japan concede as it wants to take advantage of the consequences to lead the elections to victory on the side of the Democratic Party.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman came to Japan on August 19 to have a meeting with Minister in charge of TPP Amari Akira and obtained from his counterpart a favorable reply to agree by the end of year. On August 22 Representative attended a ministerial meeting on TPP and succeeded in making Minister Amari propose 'speeding up negotiation and concluding by the year end'.
Furthermore, reportedly, Premier Abe will declare the same during the APEC summit scheduled on October 8 when participants will confirm to reach an agreement by December. The TPP scheme is managed by the US.
While the Japanese government pronounces bravely that 'the five items must be defended for the sake of national interests', it, in fact, renders itself to be a supporter of the United States. The TPP is a trade practice in which the US can enjoy the greatest right of determination. You can clearly see the fact when you find the ministerial meeting was chaired by the US, though it was held in Brunei, and it scheduled a TPP summit meeting in October.
Negotiation is secretive - Not open for 4 years
The TPP scheme binds members with a nondisclosure agreement, which allows the United States to behave freely in the negotiation strategy and shuts out lobbying of NGOs and NPOs.
A nondisclosure agreement prohibits showing, leaking and letting people know about discussions in the meetings except to negotiators; without consent from the right negotiators, discussions can be kept in secret for four years after the agreement. The obligation is stringent.
September 10, 2013