Japan joined the July 23-25 session of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade scheme in Kota Kinabaru, Malaysia. The TPP talks are unusual in that participating countries are obliged to maintain strict confidentiality concerning the content of negotiations.

It was not until Japan joined the Kota Kinabaru session that it was able to learn in detail what has been discussed in past sessions. Chief negotiator Mr. Koji Tsuruoka had to sign a contract under which Japan promised to strictly uphold confidentiality. Only after this were Japanese negotiators allowed to read documents describing the content of past discussions.

In view of the nature of the TPP talks, it will be extremely important that the government refrain from deciding whether it will sign the TPP accord before letting the public know about key points of the agreement. It should fully understand the fears that people harbor about the TPP with regard to possible harmful impacts on Japan's farm industry and communities, the safety of imported agricultural and industrial products, the national health insurance system and social policies including environmental protection, and the finance-insurance sectors if there is a massive influx of U.S. firms into Japan.