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Analysis
24-09-2013
The pros and cons of TPP in Japan, inspiration for Indonesia
Author : Hendrajit, Executive Director of the Global Future Institute

Trans Pacific Partnership ( TPP ) or partnership across Asia Pacific countries has  now become a national threat to Indonesia, given the fact that the TPP is a tool for  some 600 U.S. global corporations to colonize economic sectors of developing  countries, including Indonesia. However , the members of the House of  Representatives Commission I for foreign affairs have not realized how crucial the  role and presence of the TPP that has the potential to divide the cohesiveness and  unity between countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the  ASEAN (Aassociation of Southeast Asian Nations).


But in Japan, there is an interesting story although Japan is one of the key actors  initiating the TPP along with such countries as the U.S. and Australia. However,  reports in December 2012 mentioned that Ja - Zenchu, the National Central Union  of Agricultural Cooperatives confirmed a strategic political stance that it would  support the parliament (legislative) member candidates and political parties that are  opposed the Japan's participation in in the TPP negotiations.

Interestingly, the Ja - Zenchu, ​​a Japanese farmer group representative organization,  denounced Yoshihiko Noda, Japanese Prime Minister of the Democratic Party for  being subject to the will and interests of the Japan's conglomerates and  bussinesmen, so he did not explicitly specify the criteria in taking a stand against the  Japan's participation in the TPP forum.

In fact, Prime Minister Noda of the Democratic Party of Japan, the  party opposing to  the Liberal Democratic Party, which since the end of World War II has practically  become a nest of big businessmen who collaborated with the Japanese  bureaucrats and politicians.

Likewise, when he came to power as prime minister of Japan since September  2011, Noda was powerless to resist the pressure from Japanese businessmen  interests collaborating with Japanese corporations that conspired to form the TPP  as a rival for APEC and ASEAN .

Even, the Japanese Labor Union Confederation (Rengo), which has remained  under the control of the Japanese business interests, also pressed Prime Minister  Noda not to oppose the TPP scheme in making Japan's economic policies when  the Democratic Party came to power. Understandably, Rengo was one of the  donators in winning Noda and the Democrats.

What should be an important lesson for politicians in Indonesia is that though both  the LDP and the Democratic Party finally supported the Japanese participation in the  TPP, there were a conceptual war between the those opposing and supporting the  TPP within the LDP and the Democratic Party.

This has not yet been realized by the members of the House Commission I for  foreign affairs and the House Commission for economic affairs, especially in  internal Central Executive Boards (DPP) of such parties as Indonesian Democratic  Party of Struggle (PDIP), Golkar, Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra),  People's Conscience Party (Hanura) or the National Democratic (NasDem) Party.

As a result, even though both parties were ultimately subservient to the Japanese  businessmen' interests who are members of Zaibatsu, in its development there were  new agreements because of the strong bargaining power of grassroots groups such  as Ja-Zenchu ​​and Rengo. In other words, the Japanese Zaibatsu businessmen must accept some  concessions and prerequisites proposed by the Ja-Zenchu ​​and Rengo.

Though the LDP and the Democratic Party tended to favor the TPP, there were several small parties strongly opposed to the Japan's participation in the  forum, such as the Democratic Social Party, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP),  Japan Future Party, the Green Party and so on. Unfortunately, the parties were considered mediocre ones for not being rooted in the  community.

Likewise, the JCP has now creatively mobilized support from the Japanese people. British daily the Guardian reported, in the last 16 months its membership has soared to more than 410,000 as the revamped party courts younger voters from the working poor. That contrasts with the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP), whose membership has plummeted from 5 million at its peak to about a million today.

By dispensing with ideological rhetoric and focusing on welfare and jobs, the JCP has struck a chord with students, the unemployed and the estimated 10 million Japanese earning less than 2m yen (Rp 200 m) a year.

Yasuhisa Wakabayashi is typical of the new Japanese communist. The 23-year-old Yokohama factory worker joined the party in January. "Unlike the mainstream parties, the communists aren't interested in seeking donations from major corporations," he said. "They talk about education and welfare and the problems of ordinary people. And they are honest."

The JCP is making its presence felt on the internet. Among its clips is a rousing tirade by the party's affable leader, Kazuo Ishii, against the exploitation of contract workers, which has been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube.

Likewise, at least the TPP has become a controversial issue in the Japan's politics. One thing that has not happened in Indonesia. A former chairman of the  Democratic Party of Japan Masahiko Yamada has strongly been opposed to the TPP as the basis for his new party, which he named the anti-TPP party and anti-nuclear weapons party.

Unfortunately, of the Japan's voters, 31 percent supported the Japanese  participation in the TPP. Only 16 percent were opposed to TPP, and 44 percent did  not state clearly their views.

It is time for Indonesia to see the TPP as a national threat. Imagine. If we look at the  anatomy of Asian countries declaring to join the TPP trade bloc sponsored by the  U.S., at least there are some ASEAN countries such as Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and Vietnam that have participated in the forum.

Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore have since independence, been tied to the commitment as the countries of the former British colonies within the association of Commonwealth countries.

While Vietnam, despite during the Cold War was the U.S. enemy,  it has been in the same front with Uncle Sam because both have put concerns over the strengthening of the China's influence in the Asia Pacific region.

Other countries which are members of the TPP trade bloc are also significantly the  U.S. strategic allies such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, and Peru.

Japan, since the LDP's Shinzo Abe took over the government from Noda in December 2012, in March 2013, officially decided to join the TPP free trade talks or the cross-pacific partnership.

At this stand, Indonesia as the largest country in ASEAN in particular and East Asia in general, should carefully take into account this trend. Because behind the TPP idea  to garner support of Asia-Pacific countries, its real goal is to stem the China's influence and power as a new superpower in Asia Pacific, and Southeast Asia in particular.



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