SEOUL -- The South Korean trade minister told the chairman of Japan's largest business lobby that the country will officially decide to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact sometime soon during a meeting here on Oct. 10, the Japan Business Federation said.
South Korea's Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Joo Hyung-hwan met with Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, commonly known as Keidanren, and requested Japan's support in joining the TPP accord. This was the first time the South Korean government had suggested the country's participation in the international trade agreement.
Seoul announced its interest in joining the TPP deal in 2013 and has since held bilateral talks with the 12 signatory countries, including Japan and the United States.
In October 2015, President Park Geun-hye indicated the country's intention to join the TPP at a summit meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, and in November the same year Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Park affirmed that Japan and South Korea will cooperate in the event of the latter deciding to sign the deal.
Ahead of the meeting with the trade minister, Sakakibara met with Park at the president's office. Park told Sakakibara that since the Japan-South Korea agreement over the so-called "comfort women" issue last year, the two countries are developing a "future-oriented" bilateral relationship. Park also requested Japan's cooperation in boosting investment in her country and promotion work to increase the number of inbound tourists from Japan to South Korea.