Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was asked by opposition lawmakers on Tuesday to clarify his statement on Japan's decision to hold talks with partner nations on the Trans-Pacific trade framework (TPP).
During an upper house budget committee meeting, Noda said the government would not compromise what is important to Japan's national interests. He said Japan has the option of not joining the TPP talks if it is not in the country's interests, Fuji TV reported.
Noda has been criticized for the vagueness of his statements since he announced last Friday that Japan will participate in talks on joining the U.S.-backed TPP talks, a decision strongly opposed by farmers who say the move will ruin them.
Noda said that joining the TPP talks will allow Japan to tap into the region’s dynamic growth.
But he admitted that the way he worded his statement slightly backtracked from a clearer announcement to join TPP to show his consideration to the divisive issue. “I’m fully aware that TPP could provide a big merit but is also causing tremendous concerns,” he said. “We will defend what we must protect, and try to make gains where we can.”
Asked by an opposition lawmaker if Japan would ask for rice to be excluded from the list of products to be liberalized, Noda said it would not be prudent to reveal specific tactics at this stage, Fuji TV reported. He acknowledged that rice is a sensitive subject and said the government would use common sense to discuss the matter.© Japan Today