Japan urges US to endorse its bid to enter Pacific trade pact

WASHINGTON – Japan’s ambassador is urging Washington to endorse Tokyo’s bid to enter a U.S.-backed Pacific trade pact, pushing back against concerns of American automakers.

Last week, Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tokyo’s desire to enter negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in what could be a strategic boost for the Obama administration’s expanded engagement in Asia. But U.S. automakers in particular are concerned about access to Japan’s market.

Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae told the Brookings Institution think-tank Friday that Japan has shifted from localized production of vehicles and that its automakers employ 388,000 people in the U.S.

He said Japan’s participation in the pact would help revive both nations’ economies.

Sasae said without Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, “there’s no sustainable free trade in the Asia-Pacific.”