Japan ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement Friday, hours before the inauguration as U.S. president of Donald Trump, whose pledge to withdraw from the 12-party pact has put its future in limbo.
After the Cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved the TPP Friday morning, the government notified New Zealand, the country to which the pact is entrusted, that Japan had completed its domestic procedures.
The free trade deal appears unlikely to be fully implemented as Trump, who will be sworn in later in the day, has pledged to pull the United States out of the TPP as soon as he takes office.
Abe has said it would be “meaningless” to pursue bringing the TPP — signed by Japan, the United States and 10 other Pacific Rim nations in February last year — into force without U.S. participation.
Since his election in November last year, Trump has reiterated his campaign trail promise to immediately dump the TPP and focus on pursuing bilateral trade deals instead.
Despite Trump’s stance, Abe stressed the importance of continuing to lobby the United States over the TPP during his tour last week of Asia-Pacific countries, including TPP signatories Australia and Vietnam.
Nobuteru Ishihara, minister in charge of the pact, told a TPP-related meeting ahead of the Cabinet decision that a tide of protectionism can be seen rising around the world.
“(Japan) will resolutely work toward the construction of a common foundation (to underpin) the importance of free trade,” Ishihara said.
Japan’s parliament passed the TPP and related legislation last month. The subsequent revision of regulations and Friday’s Cabinet decision mean the country has fully completed its domestic ratification procedures.