Japanese lobby groups to send officials to TPP Malaysia round

Japan's business, agriculture and labor circles will send officials to Malaysia to gather information on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks that Japan is set to join next week, it was announced Wednesday.

While the 11-day, 18th round of TPP talks began Monday in the Malaysian resort of Kota Kinabalu, Japan will not take part until July 23, when the United States completes its domestic procedure to include Japan as the 12th member.

Subsequently, the officials of the groups, including Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren, and the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, known as JA Zen-noh, will not be able to take part in the official TPP stakeholder forum and briefing on Friday.

But the Japanese groups plan to meet with other countries' stakeholders on the sidelines to exchange views on the negotiations and analyze the status of the talks, they said.

The Japanese government is seeking to protect its farm products by maintaining the tariffs it imposes on foreign imports, while eliminating tariffs other countries impose on Japanese automobiles and other products.

Keidanren has been calling for the elimination of tariffs other countries impose on manufactured goods imported from Japan, while the JA Zen-noh has been opposed to Japan's participation in the trade liberalization talks.

Other groups to be dispatching officials include the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, commonly known as Rengo, and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

As many Japanese organizations will visit Malaysia on the occasion of the negotiations, the Japanese government intends to hold briefing sessions on July 24 and 25, the last two days of the round, according to government officials.

Separately, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will dispatch senior lawmakers, including its TPP team chief Koya Nishikawa, to call for the retention of some of the tariffs Japan imposes on imported farm products, although they will not join the negotiations.