Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement that Japan will join negotiations to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership with the U.S. and other Pacific Basin nations won early support from the Japanese people, according to snap surveys following his statement. The decision was also welcomed in official circles in Washington, D.C., where the Obama administration has long supported Japan becoming party to the talks.
Japan’s decision to join negotiations to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership with the United States and other Pacific nations reflects, in part, the sea change in public opinion that has transformed U.S.-Japan relations. The upcoming TPP negotiations will be contentious. But the political context in which these talks will take place is far more supportive than ever before.
The ultimate public verdict on a U.S.-EU trade and investment agreement has yet to be rendered, but on the eve of such negotiations, both Americans and Europeans seem disposed to try.
The U.S.-Japan relationship has gone through numerous ups and downs in the last few decades and Americans’ fears that Japan Inc. will overwhelm them have subsided. Yet challenges remain: how to jointly deal with China, North Korea and Iran, and whether Tokyo will join with other Asian governments and Washington in creating a transpacific free trade area.
The year ahead promises both challenges and opportunities for transatlantic relations. The next 12 months could prove to be consequential for both security and economic ties between Europe and the United States.