(TOKYO-Kyodo) A Japanese business lobby urged the government Monday to swiftly announce its participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, warning Tokyo could lag further behind in the talks otherwise depending on the result of the U.S. presidential election.

"If incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama wins next month, there is a possibility that movement involving the TPP would proceed at an accelerated pace," Yasuchika Hasegawa, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, told Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano.

Edano told Hasegawa he personally thinks the free trade initiative, which now involves 11 negotiating countries including the United States, is "important" for Japan's survival and he will make efforts so the government can come to a decision on the issue at an early date.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Hasegawa also said he is skeptical the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party will see Japan's entry into TPP talks as a top priority even if it wins the next general election, to be held by next summer.

Japan has yet to announce it will take part in negotiations for the TPP despite Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's willingness to do so, amid opposition by the largest farm lobby and some influential lawmakers.

October 16, 2012

Source: Kyodo News