The Straits Times
Published on Dec 24, 2012

New Japan govt hints at joining Pacific trade pact: Report


TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's new government led by incoming prime minister Shinzo Abe has suggested it may join a US-backed Pacific-wide free trade deal, a report said on Monday.

Tokyo has previously shown interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but remained non-committal in the face of fierce opposition from its cosseted farming industry.

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.

Referring to the possibility of joining the TPP, Mr Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its junior coalition partner New Komeito "will pursue the best path that would serve Japan's national interest", they said in their final coalition agreement, the Asahi Shimbun daily reported.