Trade minister Yukio Edano on Tuesday denied speculation that the government will announce a decision to join talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement during the East Asia Summit meeting next week in Cambodia.
“We are not in a situation of immediately making any new decisions — at least not in the coming several days or weeks,” Edano told reporters when asked how preparations toward Japan’s participation in the negotiations involving Asia-Pacific countries are proceeding.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in his policy speech last month that Japan will promote the TPP agreement and other regional free-trade initiatives simultaneously, and speculation has emerged that he may use the summit as an opportunity to announce Japan’s participation in the U.S.-led multilateral negotiations.
The EAS will be held as part of a series of meetings in Phnom Penh related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The EAS comprises the 10 ASEAN countries plus Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.
Japan has been holding consultations with the United States and other countries involved in the TPP negotiations but has yet to make an announcement on its participation, due in large part to opposition from the farm sector, which fears an influx of cheaper produce from overseas under lowered tariffs.
Noda riles farmers
The chairman of a major farmers’ group has lashed out at Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s plan to include Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks in his Democratic Party of Japan’s platform for the next general election.
“We are fiercely determined to prevent” participation in the TPP talks, Toshiomi Yamada, chairman of the group Zenkoku Noseiren, said Monday in the city of Fukui.
The group is under the umbrella of the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives.
Yamada also said farmers will not support candidates who are willing to promote the U.S.-led trade negotiations, suggesting his group will endorse candidates regardless of their party affiliation if they oppose the free-trade deal.
Japan has been holding preliminary talks with nations involved in the multilateral negotiations. It has yet to officially declare its participation in the face of opposition from the farm sector.