Japan-EU Agreement Human Rights Clause Causes Controversy

SPA human rights clause in Japan-EU agreement causes controversy

In recent negotiations over an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between the EU and Japan, the news that the EU will insist upon a human rights clause in the SPA has not been well received by the Japanese delegation.

This means that any human rights violation on the part of Japan will allow the EU to cancel the EPA, but it is important to note that a reciprocal clause also exists — if the EU violates human rights, then Japan can cancel the agreement.

While the clause is standard for the EU in such agreements, the Japanese delegation perceive the clause as being discriminatory, since no such clause exists in the FTA with the US, while such clauses are common in agreements with emerging nations in order to promote democratic ideals. There is also the fear in the Japanese case that the EU may use this clause to put pressure on Japan for its use of the death penalty.

Netizens took to Yahoo! News and Twitter to express their outrage at the “racist” clause, while a smaller number considered it a good opportunity to look again at human rights issues in Japan.

From Yahoo! Japan:

EU Requires “Human Rights Clause” Of Japan; Violations Would Lead To Cancellation Of Economic Partnership Agreement

On May 5, it was revealed that the EU was insisting that a “human rights clause” be established in the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between the EU and Japan, the final negotiations of which are being held in parallel with the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which aims at trade liberalization. The clause states that should human rights violations or situations that oppose democracy arise in Japan, the EPA can be cancelled. Japan is strongly opposed to this, and it appears that this will be an major outstanding issue in the series of talks surrounding the EPA.

According to EU officials, it was decided internally by the EU to clearly specify a respect for human rights and the principles of democracy, as well as a respect for governance of law in the SPA, and it includes an arrangement whereby the EU can cancel the EPA should Japan violate this agreement. They also explained that as regards Japan, should human rights violations arise in the EU, Japan can also cancel the EPA agreement. Therefore the EU calls for understanding on this point.

Urging democratisation in exchange for economic benefits is a fundamental EU strategy in dealing with developing countries and emerging nations. In agreements with third world countries, the human rights clause is taken as a “vital element”, and the SPA with Japan is an extension of this same EU diplomacy. Still, in FTA negotiations with the US, the EU does not require the conclusion of political agreements in the same way as in the SPA.

The EU official emphasised that any situation with Japan in which the human rights clause would be invoked was difficult to imagine; however, when the death penalty has been implemented in Japan the EU has issued statements criticising that “the death penalty is cruel and inhumane”. There is the possibility that the human rights clause would become a silent pressure in order for the EU, which aims for the abolition of the death penalty, to strengthen its outreach to Japan.

It seems as though by having Japan accept the human rights clause, the EU may also anticipate that it will make the requirement of a human rights clause easier to force through should the EU hold FTA negotiations with China in the future.

Comments from Yahoo! Japan:


Whether we continue or abolish the death penalty is a domestic political issue for Japan, and we won’t accept the slightest interference from a foreign country. It’s only the will of the Japanese people that will decide whether or not we have the death sentence!!


What the hell is this human rights clause — they’re going to push it on Japan, huh? It’s just outrageous, it’s like that murderer in Norway who killed 77 people has his human rights protected and can do what he wants, while the victims cry themselves to sleep at night — what the hell does that have to do with human rights.
Those who protect the perpetrator’s human rights and ignore the human rights of the victims have no bloody right to force us. [NB Norway is not an EU member state]


To think that Europe, which up until quite recently had colonies throughout the world and discriminated between whites and yellow peoples is lecturing Japan on human rights! Hah! Don’t make me laugh (笑)
They’re in a completely rotten mood because they’ve had to lay off their colonies.


Ultimately, white people always go for white supremacy.
They see their thoughts as absolute truth, and just force others.


Don’t get this, how the hell can countries who close their eyes to China’s human rights abuses for the sake of business say anything about human rights!


“The death penalty is cruel and inhumane”
The system of capital punishment does not amount to a violation of human rights!
I wish the EU wouldn’t try to push its values on us.


Prisoners who’ve been given the death sentence have no fucking human rights.
Do you get it, EU? And do you get it, Japan’s scummy so-called human rights lawyers?


So what? After we’ve accepted the human rights clause, we’ll openly implement the death sentence, and then if they revoke the SPA, we’ll be able to signal to them very clearly Japan’s stance on this.


Seems like the human rights nuts in Japan are going to kick off over this.

Comments from Twitter:


So I guess the stuff that NATO did doesn’t come under the human rights clause then?


Don’t get what the point of strongly opposing this is.

aqua compact:

It’s unfair that there was no human rights clause for America, where they have the death penalty depending on the state. Ultimately, white people discriminate against people of colour I guess, they look down on us.


The white man looks down upon people of colour, and why are they talking so high and mighty when they’ve murdered people up to now.


I thought I’d been fooled, but I want people to look at the comments on this article that I’ve linked to. It seems that the low level of Japanese consciousness of human rights is apparent here. What’s more, it’s being trivialized into just an issue with the death sentence.


I don’t really understand the EU’s real intentions here, but this proposal will definitely not be a negative for Japan.We should take this as a good chance for us to recognise again that Japan is a backward nation when it comes to human rights. It’s not the time for a hate battle with China and Korea.


Right now there really are a lot of human rights violations going on. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I guess that’s just how Japan is now with it’s crazy representatives.


Trade and human rights clauses are essentially on two different dimensions, but when the EU sets up these kinds of tricky negotiations, it’s a chance for us to lay something that is also from a different dimension out on the table. If we erase enemy nation clause that has yet to be deleted from the UN Charter, then it might be useful when we have negotiations with China and Russia.


These are the ones who declare that whaling is a violation of human rights, we should just say right back at them that Christianity, which doesn’t accept any other religions, is a human rights violation.


Those idiots on the left-wing are just the height of hypocrisy. This is in fact discrimination by Europe.

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