PM pushes to integrate Japan with four-nation alliance

Abe talks up trade ties with Latin American alliance

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed eagerness Saturday to bolster economic and trade ties with the four Latin American nations that make up the Pacific Alliance, after accelerating the conclusion of a free trade agreement with Colombia.

“Let’s strengthen economic relations between Japan and Latin America further,” Abe said in a speech in Sao Paulo, emphasizing that a Japan-Colombia FTA would finally link Japan with all of the countries in the alliance.

The alliance — an economic cooperation forum run by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru — was launched in June 2012. Japan has observer status in the group, which it sees as a potential supplier of natural resources and foodstuffs.

Tokyo already has FTAs in place with Chile, Mexico and Peru. Japan and Colombia began FTA talks in December 2012 but have been slowed by differences over tariffs.

Abe, meanwhile, pledged in the speech to make every effort to steadily execute the measures listed in the latest version of his government’s economic growth strategy, which was revised in June. The so-called third arrow of “Abenomics” centers on vows to deregulate Japan’s traditionally protected sectors, including farming.

“We have continued fearlessly to reform the agricultural, health care and energy industries,” Abe claimed.

Touching on his policy of “proactive contributions to peace,” Abe said the government will pass the laws needed to legally exercise the U.N. right to collective self-defense.

Abe added that Japan’s international contributions are appreciated by other countries and cited the Self-Defense Forces’ peacekeeping operations in Haiti after a devastating 2010 earthquake as an example.