"The convergence between Japan and the United States is almost in sight. The two countries are heading toward the conclusion [of the talks]," said Akira Amari, state minister in charge of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, to a crowd of reporters on April 25 at the Cabinet Office in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.
He stressed his confidence that the bilateral TPP talks would conclude soon.
During the unusual marathon negotiations that continued even after a summit meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting US President Barack Obama on April 24, the two countries made significant progress.
After all, Abe considers the TPP a main pillar of the government's growth strategy.
The sum of gross domestic product of the 12 countries participating in the TPP negotiations accounts for about 40 per cent of global GDP.
If the TPP agreement comes into force, the countries involved will be able to export their products more easily because of low tariffs in this gigantic market.
Companies will also have an easier time making investments thanks to deregulation.
The TPP presents an ideal opportunity for Japan to harness demand in Asia's growing markets, including fellow participants Malaysia and Vietnam, at a time when the country is facing a chronically low birthrate and a rapidly aging population.
In terms of TPP negotiations as a whole, opinions still widely differ between emerging economies and industrialized countries, the former taking a cautious stance about eliminating or relaxing regulations. Japan and the United States need to join their efforts to lead the TPP negotiations to a conclusion.