Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On The TPP Negotiations And Abe Shinzo's Sense Of America

Friend Stephen Harner finds much to harrumph about regarding the purported proposals on the steps the government of Japan can take to increase the sales of U.S automobiles in Japan made during this most recent round of talks on the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership by the U.S. negotiating team. (Link)

And yes, Harner's post does not even touch upon the anachronistic and preposterous U.S. light trucks tariff, or the ridiculous U.S. suggestions as to a timetable for its abolition.

My only quibble with Mr. Harner's piece is his ending. I am reluctant to believe Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is willing give away much to secure a deal with the U.S. on TPP. Abe probably believes that pushing hard on the construction of a Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko in Okinawa and some sort of increase in the capacities of the Self Defense Forces to participate in international security affairs are together more than sufficient for him to pick up the big pencil and check off the "Took Care Of The Alliance" box. Making positive noises about TPP helps maintain international investor interest in Japan, particularly in the all-important Japanese equities markets. However, the decision to have Japan participate in the TPP was made by the now much-maligned Prime Minister Kan Naoto of the Democratic Party of Japan. The negotiations have dragged on -- but as a legacy, not a core, Abe Cabinet economic initiative.

Furthermore, as Tobias Harris sagely noted, TPP is, for Abe Shinzo, a part of the "second" opening of Japan (Link -- not the third one, as Prime Minister Kan insisted the trade partnership would be. (Link)

That little bit of contemporary revisionism on Abe's part tells a grand tale of his willingness or not to kowtow to America.

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