SINGAPORE (Kyodo) Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), have agreed that Tokyo needs to quickly join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Keidanren officials said.

In a meeting with Yonekura on Thursday, Lee said he hopes Japan will participate in the TPP negotiations as a member, not as an observer, the officials said.

Lee also told Yonekura that the TPP is a steppingstone toward the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, or FTAAP, which has been promoted by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and that the TPP should not make exemptions in scrapping tariffs.

Yonekura responded that Keidanren will step up efforts to urge the government to participate in the TPP negotiations as a member.

The government has said it will decide by around June whether to join the talks.

The TPP is intended to require members to scrap all tariffs in principle.

The talks are built on a free-trade accord that took effect in 2006 among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore.

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