PM Lee on Japan FTA: 'Let's go for ambitious review'

Singapore would like the ongoing review of its free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan to be an "ambitious review", and not one resulting in just minor adjustments, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Tokyo on Wednesday, after meetings with its top leaders.

The Japanese, he noted, had many other trade-related issues on their to-do list, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Singapore therefore had to work hard to push the FTA review "into a more prominent position on their agenda".

He gave no timeline for the review, which Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry is working on with its Japanese counterpart.

Speaking to Singapore reporters after meeting Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mr Lee said he also exchanged views with Mr Abe on such issues as Japan's engagement with Asean, its nascent economic revival and its disputes with China and South Korea.

On the dispute over the Senkaku Islands, known to the Chinese as the Diaoyu Islands, Mr Lee said the issue was tied up with the history of the Second World War. He called on all sides to put the past behind - noting how Europe had already done so - so as not to allow disputes from the last century to perpetuate themselves into this century.

"In Europe, the countries have come to terms with its history and have moved on. And whether you read a French history book or a German history book, you get essentially the same story... In Asia, that has not happened," he said.