Japan to "boldly" expand trade across Pacific through TPP: minister

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that Tokyo will strive to "boldly" expand free trade through its envisioned participation in negotiations toward the multinational Trans-Pacific Partnership trade liberalization pact.

In a speech on Japan's engagement in Latin America during his visit to Mexico City, Kishida stressed Japan's intention to seek mutual prosperity by forging stronger ties with Latin American countries, which are undergoing rapid economic growth.

Meanwhile, he agreed with Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade and Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo in separate talks to strengthen bilateral coordination in the TPP negotiations, which Japan is expected to join in July and which participating countries are aiming to conclude by the end of this year, Japanese officials said.

Japan will follow Mexico and Canada as late entrants in the talks involving 11 countries now.

Noting that the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is working hard to revive its economy after decades of anemic growth, the foreign policy chief said in the speech that Japan will try to lead global development by turning perceived difficulties, including its shrinking population, into opportunities.

Kishida also disclosed plans to hold talks with representatives of the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States by the end of this year in a bid to strengthen ties with the region in such fields as climate change and development.

During his talks with the Mexican foreign and economic ministers, Kishida stressed he sees many areas of possible cooperation between the two countries, requesting speedier processing of visas and better security for Japanese firms seeking expansion into Mexico.

The Mexican ministers, for their part, welcomed Japan's envisioned participation in the TPP talks and suggested their readiness to work hard to better prepare the business environment for Japanese firms, according to the officials.

Kishida is traveling in Latin America this week, with plans to also visit Peru and Panama for talks with his counterparts in those countries. He is due to return to Japan next Sunday.

The countries already engaged in TPP negotiations -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam -- are considering holding talks in late July in Malaysia.