Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has expressed his view that it would be difficult for China to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement under the status quo.
Suga appeared on a commercial broadcaster's radio program on Sunday, and referred to recent remarks by Chinese President Xi Jinping that indicate China is positive about joining the pact.
Suga said he believes countries where businesses are run by the state will find it difficult to join the TPP because its regulations are set at levels that are too high for such a business structure to follow.
Regarding the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea, Suga said his predecessor, Abe Shinzo, expressed his willingness to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without preconditions.
Suga said he wants to stand by Abe's intention and hold direct negotiations with Kim on the matter.