• Kyodo

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Tokyo plans to oppose a U.S.-proposed ban on fishing subsidies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks that Japan will join from July, due to the numerous adverse effects it might have on the nation’s fishing industry, government sources said Saturday.

If the interdiction is implemented by the 11 current TPP member states, the government will call for its scope to be limited to subsidies that would unquestionably lead to overfishing, as the Japanese fishing industry heavily depends on this source of funding, according to the sources.

The government’s position also reflects concern the ban may include subsidies for the construction of ports and other infrastructure, hindering recovery efforts in coastal regions where the 2011 earthquake and tsunami ravaged local fishing industries.

But the issue is far from a done deal, as differences remain between countries including the United States, Australia and New Zealand, which are hoping to protect the environment and fishing resources through the measure, and other TPP countries that are still opposed.

Japan will become the 12th member of the TPP negotiations during the next round from July 15 to 25 in Malaysia, but it has yet to obtain official documents detailing the discussions to date. The TPP members aim to agree on a Pacific Rim trade liberalization framework by the end of the year.

The information the government has collected so far on the subsidy ban from participating countries points to the possibility of the measure being comprehensive with only a limited number of exceptions, such as subsidies for installing distress signal equipment, the sources said.

A number of officials in Tokyo fear such a ban among the TPP nations could hand the fishing industries of nonmember countries such as China and South Korea the advantage over Japan’s.

Tokyo is involved in a similar debate in the World Trade Organization, where the United States, Australia and New Zealand are calling for the elimination of fisheries subsidies while Japan and Canada oppose the proposal.

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