Japan finally entered the trade talks for hammering out the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement during the 18th round last month in the Malaysian resort of Kota Kinabalu. The delegates joined the talks on the afternoon of July 23 after Japan's participation was cleared by the U.S. Congress.

The TPP is a framework that aims to liberalize trade in the pan-Pacific region. It started as an accord that was signed in June 2005 (and took effect in May 2006) by Singapore, Brunei, Chile and New Zealand with the goal of eliminating trade tariffs virtually without exception.

Later, other countries including the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Peru negotiated to join, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in March that Japan would take part as well.