Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will not formally announce Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade arrangement negotiations when he meets U.S. President Barack Obama later this month.
At last November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit meeting, Noda said Japan would begin discussions with nations that are already party to the TPP talks to prepare the way for Japan's participation.
But strong resistance to the TPP agreement from within the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which is already facing divisions over raising the consumption tax, means Noda will not be able to formally announce Japan's participation in the TPP talks when he visits Washington, several government sources said April 18.
Noda is scheduled to arrive in the United States on April 29 and hold talks with Obama the following day.
The fact that many of the opponents to the TPP within the DPJ are also opposed to legislation to raise the consumption tax rate is compounding Noda’s problem.
Michihiko Kano, the farm minister, has said it is still too early to be talking about Japan's participation.
With censure motions in the Upper House expected to be passed against two Cabinet ministers, a declaration of Japan's participation in the TPP talks before or during his trip to the United States is seen as a threat to the political basis of his administration.
At an April 18 session of the Upper House Budget Committee, Noda said: "While the government will have to make a judgment, since this involves diplomatic negotiations, that does not mean we will push forward with the issue no matter what, if we have not obtained the understanding of the public."
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