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On Wednesday morning at AEI, Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae outlined Japan's involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations as part of the country's ongoing growth strategy and as an opportunity for wider strategic collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region, and called for an end to trade friction in Japan.
The ambassador highlighted how as the third largest economy in the world, Japan is positioned to be a powerful US partner in pursuing commonly shared goals such as intellectual property protection, international cyber security, and environmental protection. He concluded that a successful TPP agreement with Japanese involvement would attract other similar trade agreements and shape the Asia-Pacific economic structure of the future.
A panel of trade experts then discussed how Japan's entrance is a game changer for TPP negotiations. Mac Destler of the University of Maryland stated that Japan needs to quickly and credibly establish that it will offer real market openings rather than move defensively as it has done in the past.
The Brookings Institution's Mireya Solis stressed that for the US, Japan's involvement increases the economic gains and credibility of the TPP as an Asia-Pacific platform. L. Gordon Flake of the Mansfield Foundation discussed Japan's participation as an opportunity for the country to advance its interests in and integration into the region.
AEI's Michael Auslin concluded the discussion on a less optimistic note, explaining that for Japan, the TPP is being adopted out of fear of economic isolation. Auslin warned that this attitude may cause significant problems once Japan enters into the complex negotiations.
In mid-March, Japan announced its decision to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The TPP — a proposed free trade agreement aimed at further expanding the flow of goods, services, and capital across its 12 member countries — is seen as a stepping stone to a larger free trade agreement for the Asia-Pacific region. It is also the main symbol of America’s diplomatic and security pivot toward Asia. As the second largest economy now in the pact, Japan tips the balance of the negotiations and does not come without controversy.
How will Japan’s TPP involvement change the dynamics and timeline of the negotiations? After a keynote address by Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, a panel of trade experts will discuss Japan’s participation in the TPP, the politics of the agreement in Congress, and the likelihood that negotiations will end successfully. This event coincides with the beginning of the next round of TPP negotiations in Lima, Peru.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Sarah L. Bell
Kenichiro Sasae, Japanese Ambassador to the United States
Michael Auslin, AEI
I. Mac Destler, University of Maryland
L. Gordon Flake, Mansfield Foundation
Mireya Solis, Brookings Institution
Claude Barfield, AEI
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Michael Auslin is AEI's director of Japan Studies. He was an associate professor of history and senior research fellow at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University before joining AEI. A frequent commentator in US and foreign media, Auslin is also a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. His writings on Asia and Japan include the book “Pacific Cosmopolitans: A Cultural History of U.S.-Japan Relations” (Harvard University Press, 2011) and the report “Security in the Indo-Pacific Commons: Toward a Regional Strategy” (AEI Press, 2010). He has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, a Marshall Memorial Fellow by the German Marshall Fund, and a Fulbright and Japan Foundation Scholar.
Claude Barfield is a resident scholar at AEI who researches international trade policy (including trade policy in China and East Asia), the World Trade Organization (WTO), intellectual property, and science and technology policy. He is a former consultant to the Office of the US Trade Representative. His many books include “Free Trade, Sovereignty, Democracy: The Future of the World Trade Organization” (AEI Press, 2001), in which he identifies challenges to the WTO and to the future of trade liberalization.
I. Mac Destler is the Saul Stern Professor of Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland and a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He specializes in the politics and processes of US foreign policymaking and the political economy of trade policy. He has consulted on government organization for economic and foreign policymaking at the Executive Office of the President and the US Department of State, and held senior research positions at the Institute for International Economics, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Brookings Institute. He is the coauthor, with Ivo H. Daalder, of “In the Shadow of the Oval Office” (Simon and Schuster, 2009) and his book “American Trade Politics” (Institute for International Economics, 4th Edition, 2005) won the Gladys M. Kammerer Award of the American Political Science Association for the best book on US national policy.
L. Gordon Flake is the executive director of the Mansfield Foundation. He was previously a senior fellow and associate director of the Program on Conflict Resolution at the Atlantic Council of the United States and, before that, he was director for research and academic affairs at the Korea Economic Institute of America. Flake is the editor of the companion volumes “One Step Back? Reassessing and Ideal Security State for Northeast Asia 2025” (Mansfield Foundation, March 2011) and “Toward an Ideal Security State for Northeast Asia 2025” (Mansfield Foundation, September 2010). He has authored numerous book chapters on policy issues in Asia and is a regular contributor to the US and Asian presses. He serves as co-vice chair of the board of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea for the U.S. Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, on the steering committee of the National Committee on North Korea, and on the advisory council of the Korea Economic Institute of America.
Kenichiro Sasae is the current Japanese ambassador to the United States and was most formerly the vice minister of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2008 to 2010, he served as the director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of Foreign Affairs. As ambassador, he has described several of his priorities as expanding cooperation in the maritime, space, and cyber realms; taking necessary steps for the US-Japan relationship to retain its role as an essential stabilizer in the Asia-Pacific region; continuing to build upon regional networks; and making progress on the realignment process in Japan, including the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
Mireya Solis is a senior fellow and the Philip Knight Chair in Japan Studies at the Brookings Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, as well as an associate professor at American University. An expert in Japan’s foreign economic policies, her main research interests include Japanese politics, political economy, and foreign policy; international and comparative political economy; international relations; and government-business relations. She is the author of “Banking on Multinationals: Public Credit and the Export of Japanese Sunset Industries” (Stanford University Press, 2004) and has published numerous articles and book chapters on implications of and responses to the recent economic crisis, Japan’s domestic politics and foreign and economic policies, and East Asian multilateralism.