• Kyodo News

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The government said Monday it will send senior officials to Vietnam to gather information about ongoing negotiations for a Pacific free-trade agreement initiative Japan is interested in joining.

The government has held talks with eight of the nine countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, including the U.S. Vietnam is the only one of the nine with which Japan hasn’t dispatched officials to specifically discuss the TPP.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said he will decide around June whether Japan should join the negotiations toward becoming a member of the TPP. The decision will be closely watched because the pact requires member economies in principle to scrap all tariffs.

Being part of the TPP would likely help boost the exports of auto and electrical machinery makers but present a challenge to the highly protected agriculture sector.

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