Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will be making a four-day visit to the United States this week, with one of his major goals to seek guidance on how to proceed with the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks. The 18th round of talks between 11 countries began last July 15, with Japan set to become the 12th country to join the negotiations by Wednesday.
Motegi is set to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on Wednesday and exchange views on how Japan will be able to integrate itself into the TPP talks when it joins the biggest free trade agreement in the world. Japan’s participation in the talks has been met with a bit of criticism domestically due to its impact on the agriculture sector. But the government plans to concentrate on five important agricultural products that they want to preserve the tariffs: rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products, and sweetener crops like sugar cane.
The trade minister will also be meeting with US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to discuss how the two countries can work together as Japan seeks to export US shale gas to Japan. On the table also would be ideas on dealing with nuclear energy and renewable energy sources. Earlier this year, Motegi also met with the acting energy secretary Daniel Poneman to request the quick approval of the exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan. The country has been struggling with the heavy costs of its dependence on fossil fuels for power generation since only two of its nuclear reactors are still online. The 48 other reactors were shut down in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima meltdown, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.