4

The Second Opening of Japan

TOKYO – US President Barack Obama is visiting Tokyo at a unique moment in my country’s history, with Japan’s economy moving onto a stable new growth path that will take full advantage of its geographic position. Japan no longer considers itself the “Far” East; rather, we are at the very center of the Pacific Rim, and a neighbor to the world’s growth center stretching from Southeast Asia to India.

There can be little doubt that this growth center will continue to propel Japan’s economy for the foreseeable future. Japanese direct investment is expanding in Vietnam and India, for example, which will boost demand for Japanese machine tools and capital goods.

But, to maximize its opportunities, Japan must open its economy further and become a country that actively incorporates capital, human resources, and wisdom from abroad. Japan must be a country capable of growing by channeling the vitality of a growing Asia.

To this end, we have sharply accelerated the pace of negotiations on economic partnership agreements, or EPAs, with various partners around the world. Earlier this month, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and I reached agreement in principle on a Japan-Australia EPA. Next in line is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would unite 12 countries in the world’s largest trading area.