Top Japanese TPP Negotiator Resigns Over Corruption Allegations

Many have accused the TPP has merely being a handout for large corporations. Those making these accusations may be emboldened after Japan’s top TPP negotiator resigned after he was accused of taking bribes from construction companies.

There have been serious allegations made against Japan’s Economy Minister Akira Amari. According to a number of sources including the BBC, a Japanese magazine accused Amrai of taking bribes from construction companies. From the report:

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.

He was also regarded as the architect of Abenomics – Mr Abe’s plan to pull the world’s third largest economy out of deflation.

“This is possibly the biggest scandal the Abe administration has faced,” said the BBC’s Mariko Oi.

The report doesn’t link the allegations to the TPP and may very well be a more domestic issue, but that hasn’t stopped others raising questions about the integrity of the TPP. Techdirt comments, “it at least raises other questions about whether or not the TPP itself was compromised by similar corruption (of course, some may argue that the entire process, in which big companies basically helped write the thing, is itself corrupt).”

It’s hard to disagree with the assessment because the optics are pretty bad here. Even if Amari’s record in the TPP is squeaky clean, the idea that it attracts negotiators prone to accepting bribes may make some wonder how many other TPP negotiators have a less than stellar record. As the criticism already suggests, how can the TPP negotiators show that the process is an honest one – especially given how notoriously secret the process has been all this time both before and after the text was released?

It doesn’t appear that the signing process for Japan will slow as another representative will likely take Amari’s place. Still, it’s unlikely that this latest revelation will slow criticism for the TPP.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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