Global Corporations Will Dismantle the State
The lawyer Koji Iwatsuki describes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as an agreement that will bring about a state of investor sovereignty and a tool for global corporations to establish world dominance. He asserts that the unnatural provisions of the Act Relating to the Protection of Specific State Secrets (State Secrets Protection Act) also should be seen as part of this strategy of the United States and global corporations. Gekkan Nippon asked Iwatsuki about the horrifying designs lurking within this legislation.
A Law for the United States and Global Corporations
GN: What is the real purpose of the State Secrets Protection Act?
Koji Iwatsuki: I believe that this legislation really is a means of establishing remote control by the United States and global corporations. Japan is being hijacked by the United States and global corporations. The law is a tool by which they will have efficient control over decision making in Japan and plunder as much profit as they can from Japan’s resources.
As I explained in the June issue of this magazine, as a result of the TPP’s investment rules and investor-state dispute [ISD] settlement clause, a situation will arise in which global corporations operating in Japan will become the sovereigns of Japan. Japan will change from a state of popular sovereignty to one of investor sovereignty. The TPP, so dangerous in this way, is no more than one in a series of acts aimed at enabling global corporations to usurp Japan. When we look at the State Secrets Protection Act from this angle, the reasons for its warps become quite clear.
Regarding the purpose of this law, the scholar Tatsuru Uchida has noted that by restricting information that people can know about, it reduces their room for discussing policies and speeds up the policymaking process. In other words, he writes, it is an attempt to reorganize the political system in imitation of the corporate model in which everything is decided in a top-down manner. Such a mechanism is extremely favorable for global corporations.
Already in the United States important matters relating to the state are decided by global corporations or their agents without the involvement of Congress at all. In the United States access to TPP-related information is limited to 600 companies or their agents; members of Congress basically do not have any access rights.
Drawing a hint from Uchida’s theory of the corporate state, I wondered who exactly would be making the decisions. Formally speaking, it appears as though the Cabinet Office and the government will be making the decisions, but I believe that it will be the US government doing the decision making. After all, it is the US government that is able to make overall policy decisions.
GN: What are your grounds for believing so?
Iwatsuki: The first odd thing about the State Secrets Protection Act is the gap between the professed principle that it is necessary for national security and the actual content of the act. It stipulates that all government ministries and agencies, including ministries and agencies that have nothing to do with national security, are “administrative organs” under the act. Even the Consumer Affairs Agency, which has not designated any “specially managed secrets” in the past, is included. In other words, national security is just a pretext; the act actually has economic information in mind.
Indeed, to begin with, the act does not stipulate any body to take charge of the management of specified secrets. Ministries and agencies will designate secrets at random, and secrets will continue to exist at random. There is no central body to designate and manage the secrets.
Ultimately, the act is going to minimize the functions of the Japanese government. Japan will become a state that is incapable of making unified decisions. While the government proclaims the importance of national security, for some reason the state will not be taking the initiative in managing secrets. This situation raises suspicions that the center of secrecy is not going to be domestic. Only the US government has the capability to bring together scattered important information, in other words, the so-called specific secrets.
Free Flow of Information to Global Corporations
Iwatsuki: What we must take note of here is the term “compliant businesses.” Article 5, paragraph 4 of the act stipulates that if special necessity is recognized, the heads of administrative organs can pass specific secrets on to these “compliant businesses.”
GN: Strangely enough, the issue of these “compliant businesses” has not even been discussed in the Diet.
Iwatsuki: The act states only that these “compliant businesses” should be “entities engaged in the manufacture of commodities or the supply of services that have installed facilities and equipment necessary for the protection of specific secrets and comply with standards stipulated in other government ordinances.” If they had wanted to set more stringent conditions, they could easily have done so, but in fact the law stipulates almost nothing at all.
In addition, these “compliant businesses” are able to pass specific secrets on to third parties. Even in the case of a leakage or outflow of a specific secret, the “compliant business” is not subject to any penalty. And what’s more, there is no nationality provision for “compliant businesses.” In other words, even in the case of information that might exert a significant impact on Japan’s national security, it is quite all right if the “compliant business” is foreign.
Global corporations could serve as “compliant businesses.” So, for example, specific secrets of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries might be supplied to Monsanto as a “compliant business”; specific secrets of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare might be supplied to Novartis Pharmaceuticals; specific secrets of the Financial Services Agency or the Ministry of Finance might be supplied to Morgan Stanley or Lone Star Bank; and specific secrets of the Consumer Affairs Agency might be provided to Walmart.
There is a danger that a situation will emerge in which a handful of global corporations and their lawyers, or agents, who believe that global economic rules are desirable, will sit as “compliant businesses” in the top echelons of the state, the very center of power, and make this country’s decisions for us.
In other words, it is likely that American global corporations will decide optimum solutions for policies in specific fields with the aim of maximizing their profits, and the US government will decide overall policy. Really, it does seem that this act is designed to establish a legitimate puppet administration.
GN: It forbids access to information by the public but allows the free flow of information to global corporations.
Iwatsuki: The law does not apply strict restrictions on “compliant businesses” themselves, simply seeking to establish a monitoring system for people working at “compliant businesses” in the form of aptitude assessments. Moreover, it stipulates that people engaging in “acts obstructing management by entities possessing specific secrets” shall be considered to have committed criminal acts. So even if a person is just involved in a bit of trouble, the compliant business can accuse that person of committing a crime by engaging in an act that obstructed its management. If they become “compliant businesses,” global corporations will be given carte blanche.
Rapidly Progressing Submission to Global Corporations
GN: How is the State Secrets Protection Act linked to the TPP?
Iwatsuki: If the TPP reaches an agreement and Japan’s systems are changed based on this agreement, the people’s resistance will probably gather steam. When that happens, the act is likely going to display its effect as a public order law.
The global corporations are thinking about how to eliminate the Japanese people’s resistance to their dominance. It is like the Patriot Act put into effect in the United States in October 2001 at the time of the Iraq War. Under this legislation, the US government expanded its powers to investigate people’s telephone calls, e-mails, medical information, and financial information, and opposition to the Iraq War was subdued.
GN: In what other ways are global corporations moving to establish their dominance, besides the State Secrets Protection Act and the TPP?
Iwatsuki: The invasion by global corporations is progressing at a really fast pace now. Operations relating to food safety and health are being greatly deregulated, although the media is not reporting this trend very much. The commercial cultivation of herbicide-resistant genetically modified soybeans is on the verge of being permitted in Japan, although it is not allowed even in the United States. Japan has greatly eased the standards for residual nicitinoid pesticides, which are said to be the cause of mass deaths of bees, even though the European Union has restricted their use from this month and will gather scientific evidence over the next two years. And cervical cancer vaccine continues to be used in Japan without being banned, even though serious side reactions have been recorded.
The submission to global corporations seems to be continuing. Japan Post is currying favor with Aflac; Nokyo [Japan’s association of agricultural cooperatives] is tying up with Nippon Keidanren [Japan Business Federation] to strengthen the competitiveness of Japanese agriculture; and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. has announced the appointment of Christophe Weber of GlaxoSmithKline, which sells a cervical cancer vaccine, as president and chief operating officer.
I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that the problem of the Tokushukai group has emerged right now, either. Tokushukai is a rival of US enterprises in the field of state-of-the-art medicine, and global corporations are using their financial clout to muzzle any forces of resistance.
Furthermore, in advance of the TPP, the Japanese government is going ahead with the establishment of so-called strategic special zones. In hearings conducted by a strategic special zone working group, Robert Feldman, the chief economist at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities, made lots of proposals for the remodeling of Japan. And it is said that Heizo Takenaka [a well-known neoliberal proponent of privatization] will be appointed as a member of the advisory council. The Japanese government really is attempting to build special zones in which global corporations have a free hand.
It is time for us to take a good look at the problems of the State Secrets Protection Act from the perspective of dominance by global corporations, which is gathering momentum behind the scenes.
(Interview and editing by Takahiko Tsubouchi)