September 21, 2017

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Who Are the Negotiators?

Who is Akira Amari?

Akira Amari is a cabinet member in the current government of Shinzo Abe. He does not have a ministry, but he is the Minister for Economic Financial Affairs, the Minister for Japan Economic Revitalization, and the Minister for Comprehensive Tax and Social Security Reform. In addition, Amari was appointed as the Minister for the TPP in March 2013 after Prime Minister Abe decided that Japan would participate in the TPP negotiations.

Previously, he was the Minister of International Trade and Industry during the first Abe government (2006-2007). In Japan, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is a powerful agency that oversees Japan’s economic affairs. (Currently, Toshimitsu Motegi is the Minister for International Trade and Industry. He holds master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.)

Who is Michael Froman?

Michael Froman was appointed as the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in June 2013. Since the USTR is a Cabinet-level position, he has been negotiating directly with Minister Amari on the TPP. Froman is a friend of President Obama from Harvard Law School and a veteran of the Clinton administration. In 1999, he took a job with Citigroup and became a managing director there. When Obama became president, he returned to public life and served as an Assistant to the President and the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs.

As reported by an article in the Tokyo Newspaper on April 25, 2014, top officials at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) are weary of him and regard him to be a “a tough negotiator.” Many Japanese negotiators have felt burdened by his repetitive demands to significantly lower tariffs on five important agricultural items. In April 2014, after a round of TPP negotiations, Amari’s frustration with Froman became apparent when he admitted: “if somebody were to ask me now if I want to be a minister for TPP, I would say ‘no.’”

What is USTR?

The Office of the US Trade Representative (also denoted USTR) is an agency inside the Executive Office of the President that is responsible for trade issues. It primarily works on pushing foreign countries to open up their markets to US trade. For example, in the 1980s, the USTR demanded that Japan open its market for oranges and beef. This advocacy has given the USTR a reputation as a faithful ally of US industry. More often than not, it tends to serve the interests of US business, and it rarely yields to opposition from a negotiating partner. (source: April 25, 2014).

(Source, Tokyo Shimbun June 6th, 2014).

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