Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and New Zealand counterpart John Key agreed Monday to seek the early conclusion of a Trans-Pacific free trade pact, as well as enhance defense cooperation in light of Japan’s move toward a more active security role.
During talks in Auckland, Abe explained Japan’s recent reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution to enable its troops to defend allies under armed attack in collective self-defense, and Key expressed support for the major policy change, the Japanese premier said.
Japan and New Zealand will also study the possibility of signing an acquisition and cross-serving agreement that would enable the Self-Defense Forces and the New Zealand Defense Force to exchange supplies and services, Abe said.
“Japan and New Zealand are strategic partners that share basic values,” Abe told a joint press conference accompanied by Key. “We affirmed that we will make strenuous efforts toward concluding a TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement) at an early date.”
Meeting in Canada’s Ottawa, negotiators from 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Japan and New Zealand, are trying to reach an accord on the TPP by the year-end, to create a massive free trade area accounting for roughly 40 percent of global gross domestic product and one-third of all world trade.
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