The governments of Japan and the Philippines reached a basic political agreement on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) on 29 November 2004 at the ASEAN Summit in Laos. The agreement was then signed in Helsinki on 9 September 2006 and came into force on 11 December 2008. It was the Philippines’ first free trade agreement and Japan’s fourth.

JPEPA was and remains hugely controversial. Filipinos — and on some issues, Japanese groups — mobilised to stop the deal for many reasons, including the following:

- the small job market openings for Filipino healthcare workers are very limited (the workers must learn Japanese, undergo equivalency exams, stay for only a restricted time etc) and overlook the real potential for abuse of Filipino workers in Japan;
- concerns that Japan will gain access to and be able to overfish Philippine waters, ruining the livelihoods of small fisherfolk;
- any supposed benefits for increased pineapple and banana exports to Japan would in fact go to corporations like Dole and Del Monte, and their local business partners, who own and run the plantations in the Philippines — not to small or landless Filipino farmers;
- its unconstitutionality, since JPEPA allows Japanese corporations to own land, operate schools and practice certain professions in the Philippines which the Philippine Constitution does not allow;
- the huge imbalances in the deal, e.g. Japan excluded almost 200 tariff lines from the agreement, the Philippines only six; and
- the fact that JPEPA gives explicit legal ground for Japan to dump toxic wastes in the Philippines.

last update: May 2012


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  • 12-Nov-2014 Sun Star 300 Pinoy nurses, caregivers Japan-bound
    Notwithstanding the ruling on the legality of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) that is expected in the coming weeks, over 300 Filipino nurses and caregivers are bound for Japan in an attempt at gaining employment.
  • 30-Oct-2014 GMA Network SC inches closer to resolving JPEPA petition
    The Philippine Supreme Court has gone a step closer to resolving a six-year-old petition seeking to stop the implementation of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
  • 8-Oct-2014 GMA News Six years after JPEPA: PHL the world’s toxic waste dump site?
    Six years after the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) was signed, Philippines may be becoming the world’s dump site for toxic waste.
  • 28-Jul-2014 Kyodo 590 Filipinas not covered by FTA came to Japan to work as caregivers
    About 590 Filipinas who have come to Japan to work at nursing care facilities are not eligible for public support under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, Kyodo reports.
  • 16-Jun-2014 Business Mirror What you should know about the unusual Jpepa
    Although both governments said at its signing that the agreement would be positive for both Japan and the Philippines in terms of trade and investment, the pact is actually lopsided in favor of the more powerful Japanese economic interests.
  • 25-Apr-2014 PH sorts out Japan trade issues
    The Philippine government will continue to sort out the trade concerns raised by the Japanese government during the eighth meeting of the subcommittee on the Improvement of Business Environment under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa).
  • 27-Jan-2014 PDI PH to seek more concessions under deal with Japan
    The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry is seen to press for more agricultural concessions for the country under the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the general review of which is expected to be completed this year.
  • 23-Dec-2012 SRA wants sugar quota allocation from Japan
    The government is asking Japan that Filipino sugar exporters be given a regular quota of 150,000-200,000 metric tons per year under the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA).
  • 17-Mar-2012 Tariffs, access on agenda for JPEPA renegotiation
    The Philippines hopes to persuade Japan to lower tariffs further for over a thousand types of agricultural goods when the two meet to renegotiate a bilateral trade pact later this semester, a Trade official said.
  • 21-Feb-2012 Japan ‘very pleased’ with Jpepa—embassy
    Japan is very pleased with the economic fruits of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), which has made “significant strides” since it came into force in 2008, according to the Japanese Embassy in Pasay City.
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  • FairTradeWeb
    A broad multisectoral coalition of formal and informal labor, industry, agriculture, NGOs and youth pushing for the renegotiation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).
  • JPEPA Research Project website
    A research website on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) maintained by the Philippine APEC Study Centre Network
  • Magkaisa Junk JPEPA
    Multisectoral effort to defeat an unfair and environmentally unjust bilateral trade agreement with Japan