May 28, 2017

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Cabinet Official Promises TPP Details Would Be Made Available to MPs, Then Retracts Statement and Apologizes

On May 4, during a press conference in Washington, Vice Minister of the Cabinet Office, Yasutoshi Nishimua announced that Japanese government would soon disclose the negotiated provisions of the TPP to members of the Japanese Parliament. Japanese MPs  and the Japanese public have long complained about the secrecy of the negotiations.

While in Japan the provisions have been kept secret from members of Parliament, in the US many of the provisions have been shared with members of Congress, who are required to keep them confidential. In March, the US administration even allowed Congressional staffers to see the materials.  During his press conference, Nishimura also said that trade promotion authority (TPA) is necessary in order for the US to conclude negotiations on the TPP.

However, on May 7, Nishimura held another press conference in Los Angeles, and retracted what he had previously said. Then, on May 8, Akira Amari said it would be impossible for Japan to disclose the provisions of TPP negotiation to members of parliament, adding that, on these matters, the Japanese constitution is different from American one.

On May 12, in the Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defense, Nishimura discussed his previous statement that the government would disclose information on the TPP, which led to a retraction. Nishimura apologized for inviting misunderstanding and confusion. He said, “I feel deeply sorry for what I did.” He mentioned that what he really meant was that even with the limitations on disclosure, he would like to find ways to provide good answers to the questions raised by opposition parties.

Members of the opposition parties, and primarily the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), have said they are not satisfied with these excuses. They claim that Nishimura has contradicted himself and that they deserve further explanation of his remarks.

(Source: http://www.jiji.com/jc/zc?k=201505/2015050500050 ,  http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH583JTNH58UTFK003.html , Tokyo Shimbun May 13, 2015 )

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