• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told U.S. President Barack Obama during a meeting Tuesday in Cambodia that he hopes Japan can participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks despite opposition to the initiative at home.

“We hope to speed up talks to overcome issues between Japan and the United States” toward Japan’s entry into the U.S.-led TPP negotiations, Noda told reporters after meeting with Obama in Phnom Penh.

Japanese farmers are strongly opposed to the TPP. Some U.S. industries also oppose Japan’s participation in the trade talks, with the automobile sector arguing that Japanese regulations have barred foreign carmakers from penetrating the market and that the bilateral trade imbalance will widen if Japan is allowed to join the tariff-cutting framework.

Noda apparently aimed to accelerate talks with Washington on the trade pact before the next round of TPP negotiations is held in December in New Zealand.

During their meeting on the sidelines of a series of summits between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialogue partners, Noda and Obama also exchanged views on maritime security in Asia.

Confirming the two countries will deepen their alliance and enhance cooperation to ensure stability in Asia, Noda and Obama touched on Japan-China relations, Japanese officials said. They last met in late April in Washington.

Noda said he told Obama that Japan is dealing with issues related to China “in a calm manner.”

Relations between Tokyo and Beijing have soured since September over the Senkaku territorial dispute.

Noda, who dissolved the Lower House on Friday, has already stipulated that the Democratic Party of Japan’s platform for the Dec. 16 Lower House election will include the nation’s participation in the TPP talks.

In his Oct. 29 policy speech for the extraordinary Diet session, Noda proposed moving ahead with talks toward participating in the TPP, describing the move as serving the national interest.

On the security front, Noda welcomed and confirmed the importance Washington is placing on the Asia-Pacific region, and congratulated Obama on his re-election, the Japanese officials said.

Noda also said he raised concerns with Obama over recent crimes involving U.S. military personnel in Okinawa, including the alleged rape of a Japanese woman by two U.S. sailors in October, urging that preventive measures be taken.

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