While activists and citizens in several countries prepare to protest Saturday's signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of its chief negotiators, the economic minister from Japan, has been forced to resign from the ruling cabinet because of bribery allegations.
Akira Amari, Japan's Economic Minister and an important figure in the negotiations around the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has resigned from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet amid allegations that he accepted bribes from a Japanese construction company. As the BBC reports:
Mr Amari, who has been minister of state for economic and fiscal policy since late 2012, has been widely described as one of Mr Abe's most trusted members of parliament.
As Japan's lead negotiator for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Mr Amari was expected to travel to New Zealand next week to sign the agreement.
The TPP signing ceremony in New Zealand will itself be the occasion for widespread protests. Wellington will be ground zero for such actions:
An anti-Trans Pacific Partnership hikoi is planned for Wellington on Saturday, ahead of next week's formal signing of the controversial trade agreement.
The "rally for democracy" will start at 1pm at the gates of Government House, where a petition will be presented urging Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae to command the government to hold a binding referendum on the agreement.
Two hours later, the hikoi will end at Parliament, where there will be a mock auction "selling off democracy".
Many public banking and economic democracy advocates are concerned that the TPP, with its "investor dispute settlement" provisions, will threaten the implementation of public banks and other attempts to remove financial decisionmaking from exclusively private hands. Although President Obama promised that "No trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws," it appears the TPP threatens to do just that. Trade agreements allow corporations to sue governments if the domestic laws those governments make threaten the profits of those companies. A provision in NAFTA, for example, has sparked a lawsuit by TransCanada against the United States for rejecting Keystone XL.
since activists have been expressing concern about the TPP, many commentators have speculated that the agreement poses an immediate, long-term threat to publicly owned banks like the Bank of North Dakota. The rationale for this concern is that public banks are “state-owned enterprises” that are seen as a barrier to private profits—something against which the TPP would throw considerable barriers.