Japan must decide on trade pact before polls: Minister
TOKYO (AFP) - A government minister on Friday said Japan have to decide on its participation in a huge Pacific-wide free trade deal before national polls, in what could be an early salvo in the election campaign.
Tokyo has been noncommittal on the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) amid fierce opposition from its cossetted farming industry, although it has previously flagged an interest in joining.
Participation by the world's third largest economy would give a shot in the arm to a pact seen as a key plank of US President Barack Obama's pivot to Asia, and a counterbalance to China's rising regional clout.
A newspaper on Friday said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda may declare a pro-TPP hand later this month, partially as a way of putting clear blue water between his governing Democratic Party of Japan and their opponents.