Japan should play a leading role in the Trans-Pacific trade talks and toward the goal of striking a deal by the end of the year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday.
“Joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations is a far-sighted policy. Japan should play a leading role toward a yearend deal,” Abe told Cabinet members involved in the matter, a day after returning from a trip to Southeast Asia to attend TPP summit talks and other meetings.
In a statement released Tuesday after the TPP summit in Bali, Indonesia, leaders of the 12 member countries hailed the “significant progress” seen in recent months but noted that negotiators “should now proceed to resolve all outstanding issues.”
With the focus shifting to sensitive tariff-cutting negotiations, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has said it plans to examine five trade areas in particular, such as rice and wheat, to consider the possibility of abolishing tariffs on some specific items in those areas.
But deciding to open up the market would be challenging in a country known for its heavily protected agricultural sector.
Akira Amari, minister in charge of TPP issues, told a news conference Friday that the government will “await the outcome” of the discussions taking place within the LDP, while vowing to work toward protecting Japan’s national interests as much as possible in the multilateral negotiations.