RENGO Statements and Views

Statement on Agreement in Principle of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Negotiations

07 July 2017
Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO)
Naoto Ohmi, General Secretary
  1. At a joint press conference, held in Brussels on July 6 following the 2017 EU-Japan Summit, Japanese and European Union leaders announced that they had reached the agreement in principle regarding negotiations towards a Japan-EU EPA. The details of this agreement remain unclear, and the announcement has failed to dispel concerns in a variety of areas. JTUC-RENGO urges the Japanese government to make relevant information available to the Japanese public as soon as possible, and to engage in conscientious efforts towards the formation of a national consensus.
  2. JTUC-RENGO recognizes the importance of creating frameworks for economic cooperation between Japan and the EU, which are major mutual trading partners, in guiding the Japanese economy onto a stable and sustainable growth trajectory, and establishing sustainable employment. In addition, against the background of the rise of protectionism in the international community, and concern over the fragmentation of the European market with the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, we accept that the conclusion of an EPA between the two partners, representing approximately 30% of global GDP, will be of immense significance to the promotion of free trade. At the same time, it will be essential to both clarify the effect of this EPA conclusion on the lives of citizens and to identify areas of concern, in addition to adopting appropriate measures in response.
  3. JTUC-RENGO has been vocal in demanding that government efforts include ensuring transparency in negotiations, protecting workers’ rights, and maintaining domestic safety standards via the issuing of joint statements in collaboration with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), and direct government lobbying. JTUC-RENGO will continue to work with the ETUC to demand the institution of the essential responses through requests to governments, political parties, and policy consultations, seeking to ensure that a Japan-EU EPA contributes not only to sustainable growth and the creation of employment in Japan, but also to an increased quality of life and the guarantee of decent work in both Japan and the EU, in addition to assisting in maintaining the European market.