Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi has expressed hopes that the United States will return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

Biden’s inauguration may serve as an opportunity for the country to rejoin, after outgoing President Donald Trump bolted from the TPP early in his term, Motegi suggested in a recent interview.

The top diplomat said that he will communicate closely with the incoming administration on a variety of fields, including trade.

“We have said many times that joining the TPP will be good for the United States,” Motegi said.

On the other hand, he said he welcomes interest by China and South Korea in joining the multilateral pact, but noted that Japan must make sure they can clear the necessary — and stringent — hurdles for admission.

Motegi stressed Tokyo’s commitment to continued strong ties with Washington, saying that Japan will seek to boost bilateral cooperation for achieving a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” as well as responding to climate change and international rule-making in the post-coronavirus era.

“It will continue to be critical for Japan and the United States to collaborate in urging (China) to act in accordance with international rules,” he said.

Motegi also said that Japan is working to achieve a summit meeting in the United States between Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Biden as soon as possible.

“I also want to hold a foreign ministers’ meeting as soon as incoming Secretary of State Antony Blinken takes office,” he added.

On Tokyo’s row with Seoul over the issue of “comfort women” who suffered under Japan’s military brothel system before and during World War II, the minister noted that ties with South Korea are at their lowest point ever, adding that Seoul must rectify its violation of international law.

On the Suga administration’s faltering public approval ratings, Motegi said that it is important for the government to show that a brighter future for its citizens awaits.

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