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Matsumoto Hints At Decision On TPP By Fall

Friday, May 27, 2011

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Japan needs to add its voice to negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before it is too late, Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said Thursday, hinting that a decision on joining the talks would be made by autumn.

"There will be no point if Japan does not choose an early timing to make its views felt in the negotiations," Matsumoto told guests at a banquet for this year's Future of Asia conference.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November is seen as an important milestone on the way to the TPP.

Matsumoto also said Japan is open to foreign investment to help rebuild areas laid low by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

In light of the disaster, the cabinet agreed earlier this month to put off a decision on joining the TPP negotiations. Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government had planned to say yea or nay in June.

"The disaster made us painfully aware that the Japanese economy is what it is because of its close ties with the global market," Matsumoto told the audience.

He said Japan will seek progress in negotiations on an economic partnership agreement with the European Union and restart stalled talks soon on EPAs with South Korea and Australia.

Matsumoto revealed that Japan is planning to hold an international conference on large-scale disasters next year and to compete to host the third World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015.

Turning to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, he acknowledged that Japan has not supplied the world with enough information and pledged to do more.

"Products found to have above-regulation levels of radiation will subject to shipment restrictions and will not be exported overseas," Matsumoto said.

The banquet marked the end of the conference, which was hosted by Nikkei Inc. and the Japan Center for Economic Research.

(The Nikkei May 27 morning edition)

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.