RENGO Statements and Views
Statement on the Signing of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
23 July 2018
Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO)
Yasunobu AIHARA, General Secretary
- Great significance of the promotion of free trade
Japan and the European Union (EU) signed the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) at the Japan-EU Summit held in Tokyo on July 17. We recognize the importance of establishing an economic partnership framework between Japan and the EU, which are major trading partners, to maintain sustainable and stable growth in the Japanese economy and create and maintain employment. Furthermore, as protectionism emerges in international society, we understand that the conclusion of this economic partnership agreement between Japan and the EU, which accounts for approximately 30% of the world’s GDP, carries great significance for the promotion of free trade.
- The government must fulfil its duty of accountability to the people
The government expects that this agreement will increase exports and expand markets for domestically produced products, and promote international expansion through the abolition of customs duties and the creation of numerous free and fair rules, such as protection of rules of origin and geographical indications.
Having formalized the wording of the agreement, the government aims to present a bill to ratify the agreement to the Diet without delay. At the Diet session, we expect the government to fulfil its duty of accountability, such as by providing a precise explanation of the significance and impact of the agreement and the impact on citizens’ lifestyles, and responding to any concerns.
- Securing of workers’ rights and protection of workers is required
This agreement has a chapter titled “Trade and Sustainable Development,” and we see it as a positive step that it respects and implements the ILO’s core labour standards. However it is unfortunate that it does not include provisions relating to effective labour supervision sought by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). JTUC-RENGO will continue to keep a close eye on the handling of this agreement, and call for the government to take appropriate action to ensure that workers’ rights and protection of workers are secured.
Furthermore, of the eight conventions under the ILO core labour standards, two have not yet been ratified (Convention 105 on Abolition of Forced Labour and Convention 111 on Employment and Occupational Discrimination), and we strongly call for the government to ratify these without delay.
- Continued partnership with ETUC
JTUC-RENGO has recently sought transparency of negotiations, guarantee of workers’ rights, and the establishment of national safety standards, etc., by releasing joint statements and lobbying the government in conjunction with ETUC. JTUC-RENGO will continue to work with ETUC to take necessary measures, such as lobbying the government and political parties and engaging in policy debates, to ensure that this agreement not only creates sustainable growth and employment in Japan, but also improves the quality of life and contributes to the realization of “decent work” in Japan and the EU.