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Top leaders of countries taking part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade negotiations last Monday in Beijing failed to set a time frame for a final agreement. In doing so they abandoned the earlier goal of completing a broad agreement by year’s end. Slow progress on the talks between Japan and the United States on auto and farm trade issues is said to be affecting the whole negotiations. Still, it would be unwise for Japan to try to hurriedly rush through the talks. The Japanese government needs to first weigh the impact of the just-ended U.S. mid-term elections on the talks and consider how best to protect Japan’s interests.

In the Nov. 4 elections, the Republicans succeeded in taking control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress for the first time in eight years. The Japanese government needs to see how Washington will reshape its approach to the TPP talks under the GOP’s newly bolstered strength.

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