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Langley Esquire’s initiative to deliver an up-to-date overview on political developments in the Japanese Diet.

This year’s Diet session has seen the ratification of the new U.S. trade agreement, amendments to the National Strategic Zone Law, sustainable whaling, and labour laws. The Government has announced that it would not extend the extraordinary session any longer— leaving the end of the current session on December 9th, running for a total of 67 days— even though the opposition tried its best to extend it. While the ruling parties hoped for a constitutional revision during this session, the opposition and ruling parties agreed to leave this discussion to the next Diet session. The Cabinet found itself at an impasse, after seeing two of its ministers, Sugawara Isshu and Kawai Katsuyuki, resign within a week in late October. Kajiyama Hiroshi and Mori Masako were both placed at the head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Justice, respectively. While the Prime Minister ruled out calling for elections due to the resignations and multiple scandals, he did touch on the possibility of dissolving the lower-house before the end of its term in 2021. 

This month’s edition of Policy Radar focuses on public policy in the Agriculture and Fisheries industries, changes related to taxation, the Government’s investment in future technologies and its participation in the United Nation’s COP25. 

Agriculture and Fisheries:

Agriculture Policy

Japanese Parliament passes bill seeking to eliminate trade restrictions on farm exports

 The Japanese Parliament approved a bill that aims to promote agricultural exports through the establishment of a coordinating body within the Ministry of Agriculture. The new body is expected take charge of procedures dealing with farm exports, as well as negotiations with trade partners to ease import quotas and tariffs. These tasks were previously handled by different ministries and Government agencies, with a process often thought as too complicated and time-consuming. It will be placed under the guise of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries with the Farm Minister, Etō Taku, at its head and the Internal Affairs Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Health Minister as key members. The body is set to be established by April 2020, with its first task of creating a roadmap that keeps track of its progress in eliminating trade barriers. The new law also enables private companies and organisations to carry out, under strict criteria, food safety inspections that were previously exclusively conducted by prefectural governments and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. However, the law still gives place to the latter over sanitary certificates and proof of origin processes.

Farm Ministry to delegate intellectual property rights of high-end products to private sector

The Ministry of Agriculture plans to delegate the protection of intellectual property rights of developed fruits and plants in Japan to a private organisation. This move by the Ministry is to assure that the rights and profits of developers of fruits and plants are safeguarded from illicit plantations overseas…

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