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Japan to Set Up Agricultural Reform Panel
Source: japantoday.com
Source Date: Friday, November 26, 2010
Country: Japan
Created: Nov 30, 2010

The Japanese government decided Friday to launch a task force to discuss agricultural reforms, widely seen as necessary for Japan to reach more free trade agreements with other economies. The cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan agreed to have the panel discuss measures to improve the productivity and competitiveness of Japans agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries.

The move highlights the governments efforts to ease concerns among domestic farmers about a possible influx of cheap imports if Japan opens its markets by lowering tariffs under trade liberalization initiatives, including the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The task force is due to hold its first meeting on Tuesday. Headed by Kan, the panel is expected to work out basic principles for support measures for the agricultural sector by June, around the time when the government will decide whether to join talks on the U.S.-backed TPP.

Tokyo formalized in a cabinet meeting on Nov 9 a policy to establish the panel and to begin consultations with the countries negotiating the TPP initiative, triggering fierce criticism from farmers.

The TPP, which originated in a free trade agreement among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, is set to expand to include such major agricultural exporters as the United States and Australia.
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