The government plans to appoint Koji Tsuruoka, deputy foreign minister in charge of economic affairs, as Japan’s chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, sources said.
The first ministerial meeting on the free-trade talks, likely to convene Friday, will bring together Akira Amari, minister in charge of the TPP negotiations, and related officials, they said Wednesday.
Tsuruoka became deputy foreign minister last September. He was head of the Foreign Policy Bureau and minister at the Japanese Embassy in Indonesia.
His TPP team will include officials from ministries and lawyers versed in transactions with foreign firms, the sources said.
U.S. to Japan: No sacred cows allowed in TPP
Japan will need to put all items on the table if it joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks, Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said Tuesday.
Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Marantis said that a joint statement released in February by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama “made it very clear that should Japan join the TPP, it will commit to this goal of seeking the highest standard comprehensive agreement consistent with the goals that TPP leaders set out in November 2011.”
“And that includes putting all goods on the table,” he said.
Marantis also said Japan’s participation in the TPP means “huge untapped opportunities in our trading relationship with Japan.”
On the bilateral preliminary consultations with Tokyo, Marantis said the United States is working with Japan “to ensure that, should it join, it will be capable of meeting the highest standard possible.”
The U.S. has concerns with Japan in some sectors, including automobiles and insurance, but the trade official said: “We’ve made progress.”
Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, also welcomed Japan’s recent announcement that it wants to join the talks, saying Tokyo’s participation “would enhance the remarkable opportunity presented by the TPP to open a huge market to our world-class exports.”