NGO ques­tions Ja­pan To­bacco’s claim

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY GRACE TING- ANN LEE

The John Tung Foun­da­tion (

) has ques­tioned Ja­pan To­bacco Inc. ( ) about its claims of in­ject­ing over NT$9 bil­lion in for­eign cap­i­tal into a to­bacco plant be­ing built in Greater Tainan.

In a press con­fer­ence yesterday, the non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion stated that “it is all a lie and the money is com­ing from Tai­wan cit­i­zens’ pock­ets.”

Ja­pan To­bacco raised the price on 21 kinds of Ja­panese cig­a­rette brands on Wed­nes­day by NT$5 to NT$10 per pack. The NGO said that the money earned by the price in­crease is meant to pay for the con­struc­tion of a NT$9 bil­lion to­bacco plant.

“There was no for­eign cap­i­tal all along,” said John Tung Foun­da­tion CEO Yao Si-yuan ( ). “In other words, Tai­wan peo­ple are es­tab­lish­ing to­bacco plants that harm our own peo­ple.”

“Many peo­ple have com­plained that the health costs around cig­a­rettes is grow­ing grad­u­ally, yet the gov­ern­ment has not ad­justed taxes on cig­a­rettes since 2009,” said Lin Ching- li ( ), a mem­ber of the foun­da­tion, stat­ing that the Ja­pan To­bacco has raised prices sev­eral times, by NT$10 to NT$30 per pack each time.

While NGOs have de­manded that the gov­ern­ment stop the plant’s con­struc­tion, the Greater Tainan gov­ern­ment has claimed that it would help the lo­cal econ­omy.

More­over, the con­struc­tion is al­ready half­way com­pleted and un­der the In­vest­ment Agree­ment be­tween Tai­wan and Ja­pan (

) , lo­cal author­i­ties can­not halt con­struc­tion, the Greater Tainan gov­ern­ment said.

The Min­istry of Health and Wel­fare also stated that the cig­a­rettes are for ex­port and will not af­fect the health of peo­ple in Tai­wan.

“How­ever, there is no pro­vi­sion that the cig­a­rettes pro­duced can only be ex­ported,” Yao said.

With over 35 per­cent of mar­ket share in Tai­wan, the John Tung Foun­da­tion stated that about 700 mil­lion packs of Ja­pan To­bacco prod­ucts are sold in Tai­wan per year. Through price hikes and the tar­iff saved due to the in­vest­ment agree­ment, Ja­pan To­bacco earns over NT$13 bil­lion from Tai­wan ev­ery year, “and this does not in­clude other tax con­ces­sions, which can­not be counted.”

The foun­da­tion pointed out that the In­vest­ment Agree­ment be­tween Tai­wan and Ja­pan is one-sided with re­gard to to­bacco pro­duc­tion. Ja­panese com­pa­nies can in­vest in Tai­wan while Ja­pan re­mains closed to Tai­wan, Yao said.

“In­vest­ment agree­ments be­tween na­tions should be equal ... (The in­equal­ity) shows that our gov­ern­ment ne­glects the health of peo­ple and to­bacco haz­ard preven­tion,” Yao said.

The NGO said that it hopes that the gov­ern­ment will stop the con­struc­tion im­me­di­ately.

“Ac­cord­ing to the In­vest­ment Agree­ment be­tween Tai­wan and Ja­pan, if there are more im­por­tant public poli­cies to achieve, the gov­ern­ment can choose to ex­pro­pri­ate (projects) un­der due process, if there is a le­gal public pur­pose and if there is com­pen­sa­tion,” Yao said.

”There is a price to pay,” Yao added, “but if you are not will­ing to pay it, it would cost you much more in the fu­ture.”

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