• Kyodo News

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Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other ministers affirmed Tuesday they will actively seek free-trade agreements, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima said.

It was the first gathering of ministers to discuss the issue since Kan succeeded Yukio Hatoyama in June, according to a government official.

“The Kan Cabinet would like to actively work (on the trade agreement issue) in the same way as the Hatoyama Cabinet,” Naoshima told a regularly scheduled news conference.

Participants at the meeting included Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Masahiko Yamada, according to Naoshima.

Japan has concluded 11 FTAs, including one with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and is currently holding negotiations with India, Peru and Australia.

Japan, China and South Korea have also started a joint study involving industry, government and academia as a step toward launching government-level negotiations on a trilateral FTA.

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