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Trade minister Takeo Hiranuma on Friday advocated the creation of a government agency that would be modeled after the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The agency would oversee trade talks relating to various industrial sectors.

“I have communicated this idea to Prime Minister (Junichiro) Koizumi,” the minister of economy, trade and industry said after a Cabinet meeting.

He also said he and Koizumi seem to share some common ground on the topic.

Hiranuma said Japan should revamp its current method of negotiating through various government ministries and agencies with representatives from foreign countries on trade affairs under their respective jurisdictions.

The trade minister said the proposal was submitted in light of the collapse Sunday of World Trade Organization talks in Cancun, Mexico.

The WTO talks broke down primarily due to differences between rich and poor nations over farm trade.

Japan dispatched Hiranuma, farm minister Yoshiyuki Kamei, and Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi to Cancun.

“It is necessary to go on negotiating steadfastly by creating a unified powerful agency, rather than negotiating with the three Cabinet ministers separately,” Hiranuma said. “Although Japan will face an increasingly greater necessity of concluding free trade agreements, it is necessary to have such bilateral talks and WTO talks complement each other.”

Hiranuma spoke after Koizumi summoned the three ministers to his office after the Cabinet meeting.

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