The Japanese government will make a decision on whether to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks by next week.
Both Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura and Trade Minister Yukio Edano told separate news conferences that Japan has been quite late in making a decision but will do so by the Nov 12-13 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Honolulu.
Fujimura also said that even if Japan signals its willingness to take party in the talks, the framework for the multilateral talks is not likely to be decided until well into next year, Jiji Press reported.
The TPP is a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to further liberalize the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. The original agreement between the countries of Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore was signed on June 3, 2005, and entered into force on May 28, 2006. Five additional countries – Australia, Malaysia, Peru, United States, and Vietnam – are negotiating to join the group.
On the last day of the 2010 APEC summit, Nov 14, leaders of the nine negotiating countries endorsed the proposal advanced by U.S. President Barack Obama that set a target for settlement of negotiations by the next APEC summit in November 2011.
However, with the APEC summit in sight, Fujimura told a news conference, "Negotiations are likely to take a year. It's not going to happen next week. So we have five Diet sessions dedicated to discussion of our participation in the TPP."
The issue has become a highly dvisive one in Japan.
Japanese farmers are vehemently opposed to joining out of fear that food imports would ruin them. The Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, backed by 161 ruling party and opposition lawmakers, have denounced the TPP, accusing the government of abandoning the agricultural sector and ignoring their opinions.
Meanwhile, supporters of Japan’s participation in the TPP said delaying the decision to join the talks will widen the gap between Japan and its competitors in the global market.© Japan Today