Noda to tell Obama Japan positive about TPP


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will inform U.S. President Barack Obama during next week’s East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh that Japan takes a positive view on joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement.

Noda is aiming to accelerate talks with the Obama side on participating in the free-trade accord before the next round of multilateral negotiations is held next month in New Zealand, political sources said Thursday.

As Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers strongly oppose Japan’s participation in the TPP discussions, Noda is also hoping that expressing a positive intention toward the initiative might garner the support of like-minded voters ahead of the Dec. 16 general election, the sources said.

Still, Noda is carefully crafting the wording he will use to express his position to Obama on the summit’s sidelines, given fierce resistance to Japan’s TPP entry from the farm sector, which fears a flood of cheap produce from abroad after tariffs are eliminated would wipe out a swath of domestic farmers, the sources said.

Noda and Obama confirmed during a phone conversation Wednesday that they will work more closely to realize Japan’s participation in the ongoing TPP negotiations, according to government officials in Tokyo.

In his policy speech at the Oct. 29 start of the extraordinary Diet session, Noda proposed moving ahead with preliminary talks aimed at joining in the TPP and described Japan’s entry as serving the national interests.

Lawmakers stage rally

A nonpartisan group of lawmakers cautious about participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership submitted a resolution Friday to get Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to hold off on joining the negotiations.

Former farm minister Masahiko Yamada, who announced Thursday that he will leave the Democratic Party of Japan, and several other nonpartisan lawmakers went to the prime minister’s office to submit the resolution, which states that Japan is not ready to decide on whether to join the free-trade talks.

Also Friday, the National Governors’ Association submitted a statement to the agriculture ministry stressing that they want the central government to clearly explain the potential impact of the TPP and win public approval before joining the negotiations.

A Liberal Democratic Party study group on farm and trade issues adopted a resolution Thursday to bar Japan’s entry into the negotiations.

But LDP leader Shinzo Abe expressed a positive view toward the TPP talks, saying Japan can make its way through the preparatory consultations with the U.S. toward participation.