November 24(Wednesday)

The Conclusion of APEC: Agricultural Revival -- We Can No Longer Wait!


"The Prime Minister declared the 'opening of the country in the 21st century,' but will that not adversely affect Japan's agricultural sector?" To answer this question, the Prime Minister himself explains his plan for securing and revitalizing agriculture.



Prime Minister: This is about aiming to create a close-knit community to promote a deeper form of economic integration.


Narration: APEC wrapped up on November 14 with a powerful Leaders' Statement. As the Chair, what stance did Prime Minister Kan take
for the discussions? He spoke with us in the evening of Friday,
November 12, the day before the start of the APEC Economic Leaders'
Meeting, about his resolve to conduct the meetings.


Prime Minister: It is the content of the meetings that is of importance, more than the program. For APEC, as the Asia-Pacific region is currently the fastest growing region in the world, I want to carry out discussion aimed at making the growth in this region sustainable and inclusive. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is also a topic of interest, and will be included in discussion. In addition to these topics, a significant challenge to be faced at this APEC summit will be how to advance liberalization even further.


--- Will you go straight to Yokohama after arriving at Haneda?


Prime Minister: That is correct. After arriving at Haneda, I will go straight to the hotel I am staying at in Yokohama, near the venue for APEC. The summit will kick off tomorrow. After arriving at the hotel, I will have two or three meetings and then will begin preparing for tomorrow.


Narration: At this APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, each economy
expressed its support for the Yokohama Vision, which calls for
lowering the economic barriers of the region even further and
creating a free trade area. One of the paths for achieving such
a vision is the TPP. The Prime Minister revealed his inner thoughts
about the decision whether or not to participate in the TPP, at the
APEC venue directly after the announcement of the Leaders'
Statement on the final day.


Prime Minister: The new framework, the TPP, is a tremendous challenge. It is a highly strategic proposal that aims to encompass wide-ranging issues and areas through the achievement of high-set targets. For the time being I am going to listen to various opinions and thoroughly consider what framework is most appropriate for Japan, what conditions are needed, and whether it is better to build up efforts bilaterally or whether it is better to pursue liberalization under a regional framework like the TPP as we proceed forward.


Narration: This issue is one of the points that the Prime Minister
emphasized at the Chair's Press Conference.


Prime Minister: I have just clarified in the Basic Policy that our aim is to balance the revival of Japan's agricultural sector with the opening up of the country. My main point is that the Cabinet will work as one in order to reform and revive agriculture by all means, while at the same time opening up the country and making Japanese trade -- or, the movement of people, goods, and money -- even more liberalized.


Narration: Prime Minister has already ordered Agricultural Minister
Kano and National Policy Minister Gemba to promptly create an
agricultural reform headquarters. This message that the opening up
of Japan is only achievable in conjunction with agriculture revival
is not just intended for the people of Japan.


Prime Minister: APEC is composed of 21 countries and regions and I firmly conveyed that sentiment to all of them during our discussions. A large number of the member economies also implement policies to secure agriculture, so I believe that everyone understood my position.


Narration: With the conclusion of APEC, the move to open up Japan
in the 21st century is going to pick up speed. Amidst such
developments, what examples has the Prime Minister seen that might
suggest the revival of agriculture?


Prime Minister: With the current agricultural structure, it is tremendously difficult for young people to engage in agriculture in the same way they might be employed at a company. It is important to expand the sector's entry point. In addition, there are people who are willing to pay a little more for good products. Japanese food is immensely popular throughout the world as a kind of healthy cooking. I would like to create a structure that generates such added value. Until now, people have referred to agriculture in terms of the primary industry alone. However, from now on I will be considering agriculture in a broader context, including such things as food, food products, and even various services that utilize food products. I am currently talking with people in various positions, sometimes on a personal basis, and having them share with me a variety of concepts and models.


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