Japan considering Taiwan's CPTPP inclusion

Taiwan previously blocked by Japan as it would not import products in areas affected by Fukushima incident

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Japanese alcoholic beverages from areas near Fukushima.

Japanese alcoholic beverages from areas near Fukushima. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan is reportedly seeking to include more Asian countries into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) — including Taiwan.

Formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade agreement was renamed CPTPP after the United States withdrew in 2017. The Japan-led trade deal now comprises 11 signatories: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Nikkei Asian Review reported that Japan plans to expand the bloc and reduce its reliance on China, a move prompted by supply chain disruption in China due to the coronavirus outbreak. Thailand, a major production base for Japanese automobile companies, is expected to join the bloc in April.

Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines are also reportedly being eyed by Japan as potential partners. Taiwan has long sought to become a member of the bloc, but has been blocked by Japan due to a dispute over import restrictions it imposes on products from Japanese prefectures affected by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant incident in 2011.

Taiwanese voted in a 2018 referendum against importing goods from prefectures that had radioactive contamination. This was despite strenuous efforts by the Japanese government to assure the international community of the safety of products made in these areas.

As a goodwill measure, Taiwan amended the Customs Import Tariff in 2019 that cut tariffs on 15 agricultural and aquatic products imported from Japan, including yam and sake. The preferential treatment was intended to create an amicable atmosphere for negotiations with Japan about CPTPP membership, wrote CNA.