Trump’s remarks on TPP prompts opposition to urge government to reaffirm its stance on trade talks

TOKYO, May 30 – The opposition parties urged the government on May 29 to reaffirm its position concerning bilateral trade talks with the United States, after U.S. President Donald Trump said during his visit to Tokyo that he is not bound by anything.

A joint statement issued by the two nations in September says that regarding Japan’s farm produce, “outcomes related to market access as reflected in Japan’s previous economic partnership agreements constitute the maximum level,” indicating that Japan will not open its markets beyond the level agreed upon under the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

In a news conference in Tokyo on May 27, however, Trump said: “I have nothing to do with TPP.” “I’m not bound by anything that anybody else signs with respect to the United States,” he added.

At the Lower House’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries committee meeting held two days later, Kaori Ishikawa, member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), said Trump’s latest remarks “are extremely significant” and asked for the Japanese government’s view.

In response, agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa said he believes Trump’s remarks only describe the fact that the U.S. has withdrawn from the TPP framework, reiterating that “there is nothing more significant” than the joint statement.

After playing golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 26, Trump tweeted: “Great progress made in our trade negotiations with Japan. Agriculture and beef heavily in play.”

Touching on the remarks, CDP member Kaichi Hasegawa said: “He is specifically mentioning beef. It is unthinkable that no specific negotiations have been made.”

“We recognize the remarks as the president expressing his expectations,” said a councilor of the Cabinet Secretariat, adding the government “does not intend to reach agreement that goes against the national interest with any country.”

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