As the two-day ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum ended Sunday in Indonesia with calls to promote free-trade initiatives, Japan gained unanimous backing to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks from the 11 APEC economies involved.

Yet, the green light obtained on the sidelines of the 21-member APEC meeting only marks the start of more rounds of tough negotiations for the world’s third-largest economy, as it finally sets itself on track to join the TPP free-trade talks, with members committed to conclude them within this year.

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