Japan's Diet has begun deliberations on approving a free trade agreement among Asia-Pacific economies. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, will cover about 30 percent of the world's population and GDP when it takes effect.
At a full lower house session on Friday, Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu rejected concerns that the agreement could become a China-led framework.
Motegi said, "Japan wants to play a leading role in creating an economic order in the region by cooperating closely with countries such as Australia and New Zealand that are also in the TPP11 free trade pact."
Japan signed RCEP last November with 14 other nations, including the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China and South Korea.
The Japanese government hopes to get approval for the deal before the current Diet session ends in June.