TOKYO, Nov 11 (KUNA) — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Friday announced that Japan will join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement to boost the domestic economy, despite mounting opposition within his ruling Democratic Party of Japan and agriculture sector. “We have decided to start talks with related countries at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting toward joining negotiations. I believe joining the TPP talks will serve Japan’s national interest,” Noda told a news conference. “We will protect what needs to be protected, and win what we need to gain,” the premier said ahead of his departure for the two-day APEC summit due Saturday in Hawaii, where he is expected to discuss the issue with US President Barack Obama and other leaders involved in the TPP talks.
His announcement was delayed by one day following his own party’s call for cautious to enter the talks for the US-backed TPP. Some lawmakers and farm groups have voiced opposition to joining the tariff-cutting pact due to concern that a massive flow of cheap food imports would damage Japan’s heavily protected agriculture sector. On the other hand, the business community supports government’s stance on the matter, stressing the need to achieve economic growth by increasing their exports to other countries and expanding regional trade and investment.
The free trade pact was launched by Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei in 2006, and negotiations are under way to expand the framework by including five other Asia-Pacific countries — Australia, Malaysia, Peru, the US and Vietnam. (end)