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Dec 15, 2012

[Ms. Nobuyo Yagi] Patriotism, Nuclear Power Generation and TPP

Ms. Yagi uses the word ‘patriotic’ instead of ‘patriot.’  She has a way with words.  I am not a patriot, either, but I think I could call myself patriotic.
I’d like to define as patriots those who are narrow-minded enough to think that Japan alone is an important country.
Strange enough, so-called patriots are those who work for U.S. for some reason as the country wants them to do.  I understand that it means that such people can easily be caught with the bait of money and power.

Masatoshi Takeshita
December 9, 2012

Nobuyo Yagi - Vocalist & Writer
Photo from Official Biografy

English translation of an excerpt from a Japanese article: Nobuyo Yagi’s Monologue – December 9, 2012 –

Patriotism, Nuclear Power Generation and TPP

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am patriotic.
I am good at cooking Japanese cuisine and love Japanese national costume ‘kimono’, which I often wear in wintertime.

Then, why do I, a patriotic person, oppose nuclear power generation and TPP?  Needless to say, nuclear power plants have not only damaged the beautiful nature of Japan and its safety on an incomparably larger scale than the Senkaku Islands and Takeshima Island issues but carry a finite risk in the future.  This is the biggest reason.  With regard to opposition to TPP, I don’t simply speak for Japan Agricultural Cooperatives.  Of course, issues on mixed treatment (treatment partially covered by insurance) and ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlement) are not negligible, but the biggest problem is that introduction of TPP will devastate Japan’s rice farming.

As I spend a couple months a year in Mexico, I know well that California rice is very cheap, one-fifth the price of Japanese rice, and is not of poor quality.  If conclusion of TPP results in import of California rice, even though by gradual process, Japan’s rice can’t win.

In 1994, Mexico signed the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) with the U.S. with great fanfare.  At that time Mexico greatly expected the agreement to create a big economic growth in the country.  Compared with the U.S., labor costs are overwhelmingly lower and agricultural products are cheaper in Mexico.  Mexico expected that they would be able to export their agricultural products and other products to the U.S., which would work to the benefit to the U.S.
And needless to say, this fell far short of their expectations.

Most Mexican agricultural products, almost everything but tomatoes and some fruits, was exploited by the U.S.  Even the corn, Mexican staple, for which self-sufficient ratio was 100 percent and which was considered rather as exports, (whose free trade, as you might expect, was not allowed at first for the reason that the corn is the staple food of Mexico, the foundation of the country, but later liberalization of the corn market was gradually carried out), have lost ground to American corns with a decline in self-sufficient ration to some 60 percent.

Why is the corn produced in Mexico with advantage of far more cheaper land cost and labor cost defeated in price competition by that produced in the U.S.?  Compared with small-scale farming in Mexico, American farmers not only grow corns like industrial products mass-produced on a large scale but also are subsidized by the U.S. government to make international corn prices cheaper than Mexican corn price.  This subsidy system caused Mexican corns to be defeated in competitiveness.

It can be said to be the way in which so-called big super market has a special sale with the slogan of slashed price immediately after expanding its business to destroy retailed businesses in the neighborhood.
In a word, Mexico was trapped.

Additionally, most of distributors in Mexico have been bought out by Walmart.  The work force has been changed into temporary workers and the disparity between the rich and the poor has been wider.  Finally, as a result of insecurity and aggravated conflict among mafias, many civilians have got involved in drug wars.

Looking back, Japanese rice is already expensive.  If the government introduces measures for deregulation without subsidizing farmers, it is perfectly clear that rice farming in Japan will be devastated in no time.
What will happen then?
It is not only an emotional problem that we will lose our culture (though it is also an important problem).
This is a problem on what we think about the fact that it is highly likely that we will depend on the U.S. for almost 100 percent of staple food in ten years’ time.

I can’t help wondering why people who call themselves conservatives or patriots could be indifferent to this problem which is strategically and diplomatically important.

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