October 14, 2015
TPP Travel Costs Soared to 9 Hundred Million Yen Over Last 2 Years
According to a non-profit organization called Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC) located in Tokyo, the total amount spent between March 2013 and at the end of February, 2015 and for travel by Japanese public servants participating in the TPP negotiations reached at least 902 million yen. PARC collected this information using a method used by Tokyo Shimbun last year, which had demanded that the government departments in charge of negotiations (e.g., the Cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Forestry, Fishery and Agriculture) disclose the information on the expenses. PARC calculated the amount by summing the total expenses listed on 1,570 receipts that they obtained from the organizations. The Ministry of Land, Transportation, and Tourism sent their staff to the negotiations, but PARC did not obtain the receipts from MLTT. Thus, the actual amount of the cost is likely to be higher than 9 hundred million yen.
October last year Tokyo Shimbun reported that between July 2013 and March 2014, the Japanese government’s travel expenses for attending TPP meetings amounted to approximately three million and five billion yen (¥ 350,000,000 ). According to PARC’s research, the travel expenses of negotiation for the past two years was more than double the amount reported by Tokyo Shimbun, whose research covered a period of eight months.
This high amount was due to the fact that the meetings were held quite often and many government officials participated in each meeting. For each meeting, the Japanese delegation ranged from 50 to over 100 participants. Moreover, in order to maintain the dignity of Cabinet positions, whenever Cabinet members travel to TPP negotiations, they fly business class and stay at a luxurious hotels. For example, PARC reported that one round trip for one negotiation involving Cabinet member Akira Amari cost 2 million yen. The size of the Japanese delegations in the TPP negotiation sessions were the second largest, only smaller than the American delegation. As compared to other trade negotiations, the number of staff needed for the TPP negotiations is much much higher.