In an upscale neighborhood where Japanese buy their handbags and smartphones, furious farmers drove their tractors down the main road last week in their latest protest against a controversial, regionwide free-trade pact.
The stunt was an illustration of the way the country’s agricultural forces are pushing up against modern glitz. As Japan nears a self-imposed deadline to decide whether to participate in the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership, it must first resolve a clash between farmers who think the pact will ruin them and exporters who want to reach new markets with lower tariffs.
Nine other countries, including the United States, have committed to the agreement, which would eliminate tariffs and trade barriers within 10 years. In Japan, though, the prospect of across-the-board trade liberalization has roused fundamental questions about the nation’s shrinking economy — and which of its sectors, business or agriculture, need the most help.
Read the rest of the story: Japan’s farmers dug in against free-trade pact.