The government has no plans to introduce a quota for foreign car imports despite the U.S. auto industry’s opposition to Japan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said Friday.
“It is impossible to set numerical targets for automobiles,” Genba told a Diet session. “This is a high-level economic partnership agreement aimed at prohibiting this kind of measure.”
He also said the government plans to put all industrial and farm products, including politically sensitive items such as rice, on the table once it fully joins the TPP talks. Tokyo is currently holding preliminary consultations with Washington on its future participation in the regional free-trade initiative.
The U.S. and other countries engaged in the negotiations support Japan’s participation, but the American auto industry remains strongly opposed.
The industry fears the trade pact would allow Japanese carmakers to make even bigger inroads into the U.S. market while Tokyo keeps its market effectively closed to overseas auto firms.
In Japan, many government and car industry officials say the domestic market is already open and that the small volume of U.S. car sales is due to consumer preferences, not trade barriers. They also note that European brands sell well in Japan.
Camera sales off
Total shipments of digital cameras by Japanese manufacturers to both the domestic and overseas markets in 2011 fell 4.9 percent from the previous year to 115.5 million units, an industry body said Thursday.
The fall was attributable to the effects on supply from last March’s earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region and damage by floods to factories belonging to Japanese camera makers in Thailand, according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association.
Shipments to the domestic market plunged 10.1 percent to 9.5 million, while those to the overseas markets declined 4.4 percent to 106 million.