Japan may opt to give up ‘sanctuary’ on TPP items

Japan may opt to give up ‘sanctuary’ on TPP items
Akira Amari, minister in charge of TPP issues (second from left), speaks at a meeting of TPP-related Cabinet members at the Prime Minister's Office.

The government and ruling parties will begin considering whether tariffs on five categories of agricultural products that have been regarded as a "sanctuary" can be removed in tariff negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) multilateral trade initiative, in which 12 countries, including Japan and the United States, are participants, according to sources.

The government and the ruling parties have treated five categories of products-rice; wheat; beef and pork; dairy products; and farm products that are used as sweeteners, such as sugar cane-as key product categories for which tariffs should be maintained.

But now that the talks are facing difficulties, the government and ruling parties have to consider whether tariffs on some products in the categories can be removed.

Koya Nishikawa, chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's committee on the TPP, said Sunday he would consider removing items during his visit to Bali, Indonesia.

"We have to consider whether [some products in the five categories] can be removed [from subjects for maintaining tariffs]," Nishikawa told reporters.

Akira Amari, state minister in charge of TPP affairs, said Sunday in Bali, "It's helpful that our party will hold discussions," indicating that the government will start considering the issue in step with the LDP's review.

In response, LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba told reporters Monday morning at the LDP headquarters, "Unless we put individual items into consideration, we will not be able to lead the negotiations to our advantage."

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