Japan's Abe in on trade pact talks after BoJ win

Japan's hard-charging prime minister on Friday said he wanted in on talks to forge a huge trade pact, the latest bold move from a man who says he is determined to lick the frail economy into shape.

With caveats aimed squarely at reassuring the cosseted farming industry, Shinzo Abe said Japan could not afford to miss negotiations on thrashing out the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The announcement came just hours after his pick for central bank chief was approved by parliament, boosting the likelihood of more of the aggressive monetary easing he has been calling for to counter chronic deflation.

"A huge economic bloc that would account for roughly a third of the world economy is about to begin," Abe told a news conference.

"What the TPP is aiming to achieve is to make the Pacific Ocean a sea where goods, services and investment are freely exchanged."

Supporters of the TPP say participation would give Japan's flagging economy a boost -- the government estimates by as much as 3.2 trillion yen ($33 billion) over a decade -- and increase consumer choice.

They say opening up Japan's cosseted markets is vital if its stumbling economy is going to pick up speed, a key campaign promise from Abe.

But opponents claim it could be a body blow to the country's ageing farmers, removing the sky-high tariffs that have sheltered them and sending many to the wall, changing the face of the countryside in the process.

Japan's rural heartland is a crucial source of support for Abe's brand of conservative nationalism and any suggestion that farmers will lose their unparalleled protection could be politically costly for him.

But, said the premier, the agricultural sector could not stand still. He said it was already facing challenges and participation in the TPP presented an opportunity.

"I am sure that Japan's delicious and safe farm products will become popular all over the world," he said.

"The TPP is not a crisis but, rather, a huge chance. I have heard many who worry that Japan's agriculture would be devastated if we join.

"I promise that I will protect Japan's farm industry and Japan's food industry by any means."

The TPP forms a vital plank in US President Barack Obama's vaunted "pivot" to Asia, and is seen by some as part of a US bid to contain China's rising economic might.

Washington has been keen to get Japan on board because of the economic heft its participation lends to the project and Acting US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said the US welcomed Abe's "important announcement".

But the US Alliance for American Manufacturing, which is backed by the US auto industry and is nervous of allowing Japanese rivals unfettered access to the huge auto market, was critical of the idea of Japan joining the talks.

"Japan's closed market, currency manipulation, and many other concerns stand in the way. It's not worth sacrificing American jobs and American manufacturing to secure a TPP agreement at any cost," said AAM president Scott Paul.

The TPP has been on the global agenda for years, but a succession of politically weak leaders have been unable to commit Japan to involvement.

The fact that Abe appears ready to take the plunge is a sign, say observers, of the momentum he has gathered in the less than three months since he came to power in landslide elections.

He hit the ground running on taking office on December 26 and his calls for more monetary easing, coupled with threats to change the law governing the independence of the Bank of Japan, succeeded in driving down the painfully strong yen.

Helped by the slide in the currency, which helps the country's many exporters, the stock market is at more than four-year highs.

Friday's upper house approval for Abe's slate of central bank chiefs -- Haruhiko Kuroda was confirmed as governor, while Kikuo Iwata and Hiroshi Nakaso got the nod as his deputies -- boosts his efforts to pull Japan out of more than a decade of deflation.

The BoJ's new management team, which was approved by the lower house on Thursday, is set to take up their positions next week with the focus now squarely on their first policy meeting next month.

"High hopes are resting on the ability of the Bank of Japan's new leadership to revitalise the economy," London-based Capital Economics said in a note.

Kuroda, 68, is thought likely to back the premier's prescription of big spending and aggressive monetary easing, vowing during confirmation hearings to do "everything possible" to reverse years of falling prices.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions
    U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to Indonesia on Saturday not to execute 10 prisoners, including two Australians, for drug-related crimes. Indonesia has so far informed seven of the 10 death row inmates, including the Australians and one Nigerian, that they will be executed in a matter of days, possibly as soon as Tuesday. Nationals from Brazil, Ghana and the Philippines are also on Indonesia's death row. A temporary reprieve was granted to a French citizen who will not …

  • Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions
    Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions

    Indonesia on Sunday signalled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- that they would be executed by firing squad imminently, along with an Indonesian prisoner. The group have been moved to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where …

  • AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys
    AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is adopting a wait and see approach amid reports that China will soon deploy seaplanes to further strengthen its maritime claims in the disputed Spratlys. Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, spokesman for the military and commander of the AFP Civil Relations Service, said they have yet to ascertain the real purpose behind China’s continuing aggressive moves in the region. “We will wait and see before coming up with an official stand,” Kakilala said when …

  • US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations
    US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington’s next phase in its Asia “pivot,” deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia “pivot” has already seen US Marines rotating through the …

  • Washington bucks China’s aggressive actions
    Washington bucks China’s aggressive actions

    Short of condemning China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea, a senior US military official said Washington does not support any act of coercion and bullying. “We don’t stand for coercion, bullying and aggressiveness,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, assistant US military director for  Phl-US Joint Balikatan Exercises 2015. At the sidelines of this year’s joint military exercises’ static aircraft display held at Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Mahoney told a media briefing that …

  • ‘Giving Bangsamoro police control is constitutional’
    ‘Giving Bangsamoro police control is constitutional’

    The proposed grant to the chief minister of the envisioned Bangsamoro region of operational control over police forces in the area is consistent with the Constitution, a senior administration lawmaker said yesterday. It is clear in the proposed BBL that the Bangsamoro police will be part of the Philippine National Police (PNP), while the Bangsamoro Regional Police Board (BRPB) will be part of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) and will carry out Napolcom’s mandate in the region,” he …

  • Noy off to KL for Asean meet
    Noy off to KL for Asean meet

    President Aquino will arrive here this afternoon with Manila hopeful of support from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to achieve peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as well as economic prosperity and inclusive growth among the people in the region. Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said that with respect to the dramatic developments in the South China Sea, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman had called for the early …

  • Madrid Fusion Manila reignites Pinoy appetite for great food
    Madrid Fusion Manila reignites Pinoy appetite for great food

    After months of preparation and hard work from both the government and private sectors, the future of food is finally here in the country’s capital. Madrid Fusión Manila opened its doors on Friday to an international delegation who eagerly awaited the discussions of some of the most renowned and revered names in the culinary world. Madrid Fusión Manila is a historic gastronomic event marked by talks and exhibitions that showcases Spain and the Philippines’ shared cultural heritage, as well as …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options