Friday Five: April 12, 2013

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office agreed with the Japanese government this week on terms for Japan to accede to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. There will be 90-day comment period for the U.S. Congress, and then each of the other 10 parties to TPP must formally agree to allow Japan to join. However, the possibility that Japan could join the next round of negotiations in July 2013 is now much stronger, as CSIS Simon Chair Matt Goodman explains in his latest analysis here. With Japan in, the TPP group together would represent nearly 40% of the global economy.

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Northeast Asia at the end of this week to meet leaders in South Korea, Japan and China in an effort to defuse tensions built up on the Korean peninsula from North Korean sabre-rattling. Secretary Kerry met with President Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in Seoul on April 11 and April 12. Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping of China implicitly criticized North Korea during a speech at the annual Boao Forum for Asia.

Secretary of State John Kerry meets with President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea on April 12, 2013. Source: State Department Photo, U.S. Government Work.

Taiwan’s government announced on April 10 it reached an agreement with Japan to allow Taiwan’s fishing fleet unconditional use of a portion of the the East China Sea.  While China-Japan relations have recently deteriorated over the Senkaku/Diaoyu  islands row, Taiwan remains a claimant in the dispute as well. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the agreement on April 12.

In Southeast Asia, the week’s critical security story was the announcement by Indonesia’s foreign minister Marty Natalagawa that ASEAN plans to host a special foreign ministers’ meeting with China to advance progress on the maritime Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

India’s government attempted to address the bureaucratic short-fall in personnel for its foreign ministry by crafting a plan for doubling its diplomats in the next decade. Lack of diplomatic band-width is a frequent challenge for New Delhi as it strives to balance domestic economic development and its foreign policy interests.


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