LDP to support Abe on TPP talks

Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Sanae Takaichi said Sunday that if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decides to join the talks on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, he will have his party’s backing because Japan still has the option of skipping the free-trade pact.

“It is possible that Japan will take part in the talks, while aiming to protect national interests, and drop out of them if Japan does not meet the requirements,” she said on a Fuji Television program. “It is for the Cabinet to decide.”

As policy chief, Takaichi is expected to draw flak for endorsing Japan’s participation because many in the party are opposed to the TPP and feel it threatens the nation’s well-protected farm industry, which traditionally backs the LDP.

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Noda says Japan to speed trade pact with Korea and China

Japan is promising to speed up efforts to forge a trade agreement with South Korea and China, opening the prospect of a formidable union rivaling the largest regional pacts in the world, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

In an interview with the Journal, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Japan wants to start negotiations on an agreement “as soon as possible.” The agreement would be called the FTA and rival the North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Union in size.

“We are pursuing high-level economic cooperation as part of our national strategy,” Noda told the Journal. “The Japan-China-Korea FTA is an extremely important piece of it.”

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Japan’s Membership in Trade Pact

Japan’s participation in a free trade group led by the U.S., if it agrees, could open up the country’s agriculture markets worth $48 billion to foreign exporters of rice, sugar and beef, boosting global prices.

Membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership could lift sales for Tyson Foods Inc. and Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd., as participants aim to eliminate import tariffs within a decade, according to Norinchukin Research Institute. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who risks splitting his party if he supports joining the trade talks, has said markets must be opened to boost the weak economy, which is struggling to recover from the March earthquake and nuclear disaster.

Tariff elimination could deepen the country’s reliance on food imports to almost 90 percent from 60 percent, the agriculture ministry has forecast. Imports could tighten global supplies and boost prices of rice, which has gained 12 percent this year, and cattle futures, which have advanced 14 percent. Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan is divided over whether to promote trade to lift economic growth or protect farmers who may be harmed by lower tariffs and increased competition.

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India and Japan PMs seal the deal on a new trade pact, discuss nuclear deal

India and Japan’s premiers Monday said they had broadly agreed on a pact to step up trade between the population giant and the high-tech nation but needed time for a deal on civilian nuclear cooperation.

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Naoto Kan also stressed the warm ties linking two of Asia’s biggest democracies, at a time of high diplomatic tensions between Japan and communist-ruled China.

Kan said after talks with Singh, who was on a three-day Tokyo visit, that "through this meeting, we were able to confirm and be confident about progress in the strategic global partnership between Japan and India".

The two leaders declared the completion of talks on a free trade and investment pact, with a formal signing expected in coming months, under which tariffs on 94 percent of trade would be phased out within a decade.

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