Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged on Thursday to renew his efforts in getting Japan into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade pact, saying that it was part of his responsibility to Japan to create a wide and dynamic market. Japan and the United States, allies in security and regional defense, have been at odds with the progress of negotiations for the TPP, with Japan apparently holding on strongly to tariffs for traditionally protected products – all the other members of the TPP have been vocal about eradicating the tariffs and concentrating on free trade.
“I want to push the TPP to a new dimension. The time has come to take a big step forward,” Abe declared, talking to a dinner event as part of the 20th International Conference on The Future of Asia. Japan is keen to ride the momentum of Asia, where tremendous growth has happened over the past few decades – per capita GDP has surged threefold in Laos since 1995 and sixfold in Mongolia and Vietnam. “Japan has been the exception,” Abe said. “If you ask a 40-year-old Indonesian to describe the last 20 years, he would be able to cite the enormous economic growth he has experienced,” Abe said. “It is not the same for a Japanese 40-year-old.”
The premier reiterated his goal that has been apparent since he took office in December 2012, and he said that it is to create an environment where young Japanese could once again experience growth and believe in the future. Abe is set to unleash next month a new set of reforms as part of the “third arrow” of his reform package. These three arrows of his economic policy mix, popularly called “Abenomics,” are fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms.