It was learned on Feb. 27 that coordination is underway to set up the secretariat for the 11-member TPP in Japan. This secretariat will be responsible for coordination among the member countries and take the lead in working for the effectuation of the TPP accord at an early date in 2019. It will also serve as the point of contact for countries interested in joining the TPP. Japan’s representative will announce this plan to obtain the other member nations’ approval at the meeting on March 8 for the signing of the TPP agreement.
The agreement will go into force 60 days after at least six members complete their domestic ratification procedures. Japan, serving as the secretariat, will monitor the ratification process in each country and offer advice to the other member states in case of problems in their process of explaining the TPP provisions to the public.
The U.S. has indicated its willingness to consider returning to the TPP on the condition of renegotiating its terms, while the ROK, Thailand, Colombia, and a number of other countries have expressed an interest in membership. Although new members will not be admitted until after the accord takes effect, Japan will take the lead in efforts to provide information to prospective members and engage in prior consultations with them in order to lay the groundwork of the TPP’s expansion.
Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi stated at a news conference held after the cabinet meeting on Feb. 27: “Japan will continue to play a leading role after the signing of the accord for its early effectuation.”
The government’s existing TPP headquarters will take on the secretariat’s role, and there are no plans to create a new body for this purpose. However, this secretariat may be transformed into a permanent secretariat with the expansion of the TPP in the future.